How to Deal with Invades in SoloQ?
Updated: Feb 16, 2019
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Big thanks to the ChaosSquirrel, Sno, Judge, and BK Gluttony (Yung Rocks) from Squirrel Nation for their detailed responses to my questions. Also, thanks and shoutout to Visioned for sharing some insights regarding the topic. As always, credits to Samurai Gamers for some of the images.
The jungler, arguably, is the most difficult role to practice in soloQ. Unlike laners who can't be directly denied XP and gold by their opposing laners (by last hitting their own minions ala DotA), the jungler's "lane" is basically free for all, having neutral camps that can be taken by enemies and teammates alike. This is partly the reason why I very rarely take the jungle role (if I do, I make sure that I am taking a hero that is resilient to invades).
WHAT IS AN INVADE?
An invade is entering the enemy jungle with the purpose of taking away some neutral camps, with focus on the red or blue buff. Its main goal is to gimp the enemy jungler of XP to delay his/her level 4 powerspike. There is also the potential of having three buffs to the team. A successful invade is being able to take enemy camp/s (the buff included) without having any team casualties or your own buff getting stolen. The best case scenario is taking camps and getting some kills without a teammate dying.
Invades are better done as a team to increase chances of success. Supports can also solo invade and give the enemy jungler a traumatizing experience especially if his/her teammates won't come to assist.
Teammates can also "invade" their own jungler's camps. This is rather common in soloQ and automatically sets back the jungler even without enemy effort. I strongly advise laners not to mess up their jungler's first clear and just help protect the jungle.
In my opinion, an invade is the best gauge for determining if you are teamed up with good players in soloQ. Whether you are doing the invade or you are the one being invaded, you can see how teammates will respond, and from this you will have some insight on how the game will pan out.
HOW TO PREVENT AN INVADE?
As a soloQ jungler, the most convenient way is to spam ping "watch the jungle!" at least 3 times. The results would vary depending on how helpful your teammates are. If you are lucky enough, teammate/s would guard the jungle entrances to discourage invades or even reset the buff monster.
Teammates stealing camps, sadly, is unpreventable if you can't dissuade them from doing so. I strongly advise to nonjunglers not to mess up their jungler's first clear as doing so would gimp the entire team in the process. Also, try to stay away from your junglers when they are clearing so as not to leech XP/gold from them.
DEALING WITH INVADES
As a jungler, the best response to an enemy team invade is to do a counter-invade. Don't even bother to fight to defend your jungle. Just walk straight into the enemy jungle and steal their buff. Don't waste time. Even professional teams usually respond this way in rare games with invades. Instead of trying to fight it out, they just trade buffs and part ways like gentlemen, especially if the defending team has weaker fight potential. Contesting is just too risky, while being unsure of the rewards. Yes, you might be able to get some kills but the chances are pretty slim while the enemy has better chances of stealing a camp or two and escaping unscathed. In that case, you are left with nothing and your teammates even probably missed some minions. Even worse is getting killed trying to fight for your camps. Compare that to just going to the enemy jungle and taking the buff which has lower risks and greater chances of success.
There are scenarios where you can possibly wait for the enemy to invade and then ambush them, but that requires intensive knowledge of the enemy plan. Waiting for an ambush has its own risks. If the enemy decided to just lane and not proceed with an invade, chances are your laners will miss some farm. You have to be able to precisely read the opponents map movement in able to properly execute a good ambush. If it's a competitive team game where there is good communication and you have knowledge of habits/trademark strat of the enemy team, there is always a counterplay in an invade. This makes invading even riskier than being invaded. But we're talking about soloQ here and that greatly reduces the likelihood of properly pulling off a decent defense.
For nonjunglers, one thing that you could do is to make the enemies lose as much time as you can. This can be done by resetting the buff. It's actually very impactful because you'll make the invading laners lose on most of their first wave, which will even the trade. To reset a buff, just hit it once to make it chase you. You don't even have to stay to watch the jungle.
What if you get "invaded" by a teammate?
Clear their waves. Tax them. Heavily. As BK Gluttony (Yung Rocks) said, " (if) they want communism, they'll have communism."
What if you were not able to counter-invade?
as a jungler:
DEAL WITH IT. Don't get tilted. You're probably thinking of AFK'ing now (that occurred to me before), but don't do it. Treat it as a learning experience and just play the game normally (well, as normally as possible). Don't blame your teammates for not protecting your jungle. Negative thoughts won't do you any good. Stay positive.
DON'T DIE. Don't make risky plays that can get your teammates killed. Giving away kills will even get you further behind so avoid ganking especially if the enemy laners are stronger than your team's.
Never force an objective if you're not strong enough to fight for it. Take something elsewhere if the opponents are too busy taking incontestable stuff. For example, if they are going for a dragon, go for a quick invade for the opposite jungle or a turret if possible. Chances are you're not strong enough to contest anyway.
Find ways to make it back to the game. You are to avoid unnecessary fights but that does not mean you won't be looking for opportunities. Remember, playing defensively is different from playing passively. It means choosing fights wisely and not just rolling over to die. Check the map for free objectives or favorable fights. You are not just running away and avoiding the enemy. You are avoiding the enemy but running towards a low-risk objective, be it a turret, the enemy jungle, or a major jungle camp.
as a nonjungler:
Don't tilt and don't blame your jungler.
No one wants to get robbed. Kicking someone when he/she is already down will just make things worse.
Beware of the enemy jungler. Don't die. Chances are the enemy jungler has level and item advantage over you. Keep tabs of him/her especially if you're a roamer, but don't give them kills as that will further gimp you. Knowing where the enemy jungler is will give you insight of what possible plays the opponent might be setting up.
Watch objectives. Keep tabs of the abyssal dragon even if you're not able to contest. This can help your team to make low-risk plays or take alternative objectives elsewhere in the map.
Assist your jungler. Especially if he/she pings for reasonable plays. If you think his/her play is a bad idea, spam ping retreat.
Most junglers, especially assassins, are susceptible to invades. Snowball heroes like Batman, Ryoma, and Zill require hitting early powerspikes and taking advantage of it. These heroes are bullies and rely on being stronger than the enemy heroes. Because of this, they suffer a lot from being invaded since they need to be ahead of the enemy in order to be significant. Late game, they also don't do much thus making recovery even more difficult. A successful invade on these heroes is usually enough to break their tempo and make them almost irrelevant.
While Murad and Nakroth are vulnerable to invades, their fast farming coupled with late game capabilities allow them to recover to late game if played safely. They can just free-run/parkour around the map even through the enemy jungle camps and focus on farm until they have recovered sufficiently enough. Butterfly can get a lucky kill/s to get her back to the game. These heroes need to be repeatedly invaded to fully gimp them down.
Some junglers are blue buff reliant like Zephys and Violet who both need mana to speed up their clears. Both can still recover though as Zephys can stay relevant with a tank build while Violet, being a marksman can shine late game with items.
Marksmen junglers will stay relevant late game as long as they are able to get good farm. Fennik and Slimz though can have trouble doing their objective-focused playstyle as part of it revolves around hitting level 4 and getting the first dragon. Still, they can salvage the game depending on how well they can get gold. Among marksmen, Lindis can be the most resilient as she can clear fast even without blue. Her movespeed buff and traps allow her to sneak into the enemy jungle safely and take some camps.
While not popular in the jungle, Arduin and Wonderwoman are resistant to invades since they are more supportive, utility tanks than carry. I actually used to play unconventional junglers because of fear of being invaded. We even intentionally tried running a weird strat to some success, which focused on giving the blue buff to the midlaner while I played a support jungle style.
The most important thing when dealing with invades is to avoid tilting. Having the ability to play normally even in tough situations is needed in order for you and your team to recover from an invade. After all it is a part of the game and will surely be encountered as you rank up. Play smart and everything may come out okay. If not, try to learn something from it as the experience might be applied in your future games.
As always - observe, formulate, adapt.