I love this map because it suits players who like a short, fast-paced and action-packed game! The Twisted Treeline deserves more love than it is getting, so I wrote this guide in an attempt to rectify that. In my experience good players often do poorly when playing this map simply because they are not used to it and have no idea what to do. Games are less fun when teams are unbalanced due to inexperience, both for the players doing badly and those having to put up with them.
This kind of start to a game discourages both the 3v3 newcomers as well as veterans from playing more 3v3 games. With this guide I hope to provide players with a better understanding of the playstyle involved in Twisted Treeline, thereby making it more popular and more enjoyable for everyone.
When the minions spawn, two players will usually take the bottom lane and one player will go top. This is probably because people are used to playing solo top in 5x5 maps. The reason for this is because in 5x5 you want the duo lane to be bottom to participate in dragon fights. In Twisted Treeline the dragon is near the top lane so it would be better to have duo lane top, unfortunately that is not how the 3x3 metagame has evolved. With two champions in your top lane you can clear the jungle more frequently because the top lane has easier access to jungle camps. You can take advantage of the current metagame by going for dragon whenever the top lane champion has died or returned to base, the bottom lane champions will normally be too far to stop you.
Pushing your lane
Unlike Summoner's Rift, it is a good idea to push lanes in 3v3. It gives you time to kill neutral creeps, gank, destroy turrets, buy or pressure the other lane. In 5v5 you are at risk of getting ganked if you push, in 3v3 there is often no jungler (at lower elo anyway). If they do have a jungler, you should be more careful, but proper ward placement should give you enough time to get out even when pushing (more on that later). You don't want to miss out on last hits at the cost of pushing, but if you can get last hits and push at the same time it is usually better. The ability to push lanes fast and overextend without much risk, makes champions like Singed incredible on this map.
However, try not to push inhibitors unless you feel like you can end it, Twisted Treeline is built in such a way that a defending team can easily turtle and farm on super minions waves. By letting inhibitors survive you deny them that farm and force them to come outside the protection of their fountain in order to farm.
Your outer turrets in Twisted Treeline are extremely important so try to save them if at all possible. Once you lose them you will no longer be able to farm away from your base without running the risk of getting jumped on. You will also need to play more defensively while farming, which in turn gives up a lot of control over the neutral jungle creeps such as dragon.
A small map full of brushes make Twisted Treeline the ideal playground for assassins. If you don't keep your eyes open you get ganked and die, end of story! Communicate with your team and ping whenever champions in your lane are going for a gank in the other lane. Having said that, you can't always rely on your teammates to do so every time. Calling missing champions helps but it is also your duty to keep on eye on the mini-map and to buy wards. Particularly with champions that can jump walls, you need vision rather than relying on pings. Buy wards, save lives!
Vision and Warding
Vision is very important on Twisted Treeline, the smaller map and abundance of brushes make ganks more frequent and more dangerous. Keeping track of enemy champions also helps you keep an eye on what is happening with the jungle camps. You only really need 2 wards on Twisted Treeline, one at Dragon and one at the Lizard. These two locations are choke points through which virtually all champions will go if they are navigating the jungle or switching lanes for a gank. This is illustrated below:
Lizard is an area you want warded from the start of the game because it is the most central part of the map. If the enemy team has a champion that can jump the wall North of Lizard, not having a ward here is the equivalent to never buying boots. Champions that can jump these walls include: Shaco, Nidalee, Fizz, Lee Sin, Jax, Katarina, Tryndamere, Corki...
Dragon is the other key choke point on the map and only needs to be warded once you think the opponents are strong enough to do dragon. If they have a jungler you obviously want to have this warded straight away so you can pay him a visit if he gets to low HP.
Other ward locations
There are other locations where wards are useful but they are more situational. Optional locations for wards are in bushes around areas where most fights take places, such as the bushes connecting dragon to the lanes (orange). Another good spot is in the bushes near the minor creep camps (lower jungle).
If they are jungling it is a good idea to ward inside the bush at the enemy buff camp in the top jungle, ward here over dragon pit if there is a lot of jungling (red). Furthermore, if dedicated junglers do these camps they will probably gank soon so warding them will help you keep an eye on them, you might even catch them at low health for an easy kill.
Remember, there is a special circle in hell for people who don't buy wards! Buy wards and everyone on the team will be happy!
People sometimes forget how useful traps are on Twisted Treeline. Traps from Nidalee, Caitlyn, Teemo and Shaco are also especially useful when it comes to map control and vision. They will provide you with vision of incoming ganks while slowing them down. To make the most of these traps, try to place them in bushes (for vision) and in common paths so that enemies run into them (slowing them down).
Oracles and Vision Wards
Placing the two key wards is something most players will do effectively even without reading this guide. Yet countering enemy vision is something that the vast majority of players forget about. Getting a Vision Ward near dragon before it is about to respawn or buying an Oracle's Elixir on slippery champions like Shaco is something that helps your team out more than you may realise.
Although the Twisted Treeline map is much smaller, it has almost as many jungle camps as Summoner's Rift and more buffs! With this many jungle camps packed so close together, the neutral camps play a huge role in every Twisted Treeline game (not just for junglers). Jungling is also harder on this map because the creep camps are tougher and closer to lanes, so there is always a possibility to get ganked.
The jungle creeps are similar to those on Summoner's Rift but there are a few differences that people should be aware of. The minor creep camps are weak enough to tackle before heading to lane for the extra Gold and XP, similar to the golems on Summoner's Rift. The minor buff camps are hard to tackle alone at level 1. Nonetheless they can be advantageous to do immediately as the buff and level advantage can let you bully your lane opponent. The Red buff is for champions who are ganking and need the Slow (it does not give much Gold or XP). Finally, the Dragon is very similar to Baron on Summoner's Rift so you should fight for it because it provides your team with 280 global Gold (Nashor is 300 Gold).
New to jungling in Twisted Treeline? Not sure what champion to get for jungling? If so you are probably not alone and that is what this chapter is for. There are far less viable junglers on Twisted Treeline than Summoner's Rift for two reasons: no blue buff and tougher jungle creeps. Since many junglers are reliant on Mana for jungling (particularly early on), they are worse at jungling in Twisted Treeline. I will now go through which attributes are important for good junglers in Twisted Treeline.
The 3 attributes of good 3v3 junglers
1) Sustainability is crucial because there are a lot of jungle camps to be cleared and you do not want to recall frequently when you should be ganking and collecting Gold/XP. Another reason that sustainability is key is to prevent getting ganked from nearby lanes. This is something to be aware of when jungling with Tryndamere or Olaf because they both clear creep camps most effectively when at low HP. Most junglers will buy a Wriggle's Lantern so make sure your champion can survive in the jungle during the early game while saving up for that item. Generally champions with Mana will have more trouble sustaining themselves in the jungle early on but there are exceptions, like Nunu.
In fact, the MOST sustainable jungler out there in the early game is probably Nunu because he can jungle forever with only a Doran's Shield. Even though he is a Mana-based champion, some Attack Speed runes will allow you to keep casting free Consume to keep your Health and Mana up. This is illustrated below:
3) Dragon control is also worth considering when determining if a champion is good for jungling in Twisted Treeline. Since this buff is so powerful you really can't ignore it. Taking Smite is a must for virtually every 3v3 team and dragon control is the reason for that. Junglers that can help with this are great. Nunu's Consume can act as a second Smite. Alternatively, you can maintain dragon control through map control. Shaco's Jack In The Box can provide you control of the area near the dragon pit, giving your team the edge in Dragon fights. Sometimes the best way to get the dragon is to do it before the opponents are expecting it. Below is a Shaco route that lets you sneak in an early dragon kill:
Some good champions for jungling in Twisted Treeline include:
What these items have in common is that they become more useful the longer games become. Since Twisted Treeline is much shorter than your standard Summoner's Rift game, they are less useful on this map relatively speaking. Having said, that buying items still depends on your champion as always. If you can afford it, it is still a good idea to buy Rod of Ages on Singed and Ryze simply because of how much they benefit from extra Mana compared to other champions. So when buying these items bear just in mind that you are playing shorter games and that these items scale with time. If you do find yourself short on time and Gold, cheaper alternatives for Warmog's Armor and Rod of Ages would be Spirit Visage and Haunting Guise respectively.
Since there is no laning phase and the games are much shorter, don't wait until you can afford that legendary item to go back to base and buy. You can afford return to base more frequently to buy items because the distance is not that great and you will not lose much Gold/XP if you do it when your lane is pushed. Buying that minor item could easily be changing the course of the game in the next fight!
Should I get these?
Flat stats are better than regeneration
Try to go for items that give you Health and Mana as opposed to Health regeneration and Mana regeneration. You will be returning to base much more frequently to buy so you don't need a lot of regeneration if you have a sufficiently large Health or Mana pool. Flat stats are also more useful in skirmishes, ganks and dragon fights compared to regeneration stats. Also bear in mind that Health gives you more survivability early on compared to buying Armour of Magic Resistance.
You don't want to be late in dragon fights or ganks so get level 2 boots early on. There is no point in having a Needlessly Large Rod on your AP champion if you don't have the mobility to make it useful. You can get maybe one item worth ~1000 Gold but after that you really should be upgrading your boots as soon as possible.
Since the enemy team has only 3 champions it is often possible to get items that counter them all. Tryndamere and Singed for example are very powerful champions on Twisted Treeline but easily countered by crowd control. Consider getting items like Phage, Frozen Mallet or Rylai's Crystal Scepter to counter them. Every champion has weaknesses, if multiple enemies have the same one try to make them pay for it.
Wriggle's Lantern One great item to buy on this map for any AD champion is Wriggle's Lantern as it let's you jungle without losing HP/Mana while giving you a permanent ward. Chances are you will be facing at least 1 or 2 AD enemies so the extra armour makes this item even more worthwhile
Avoid champions with low base stats that need a lot of farm
Generally, try to avoid champions that need a lot of farm to get powerful because chances are you won't be able to farm in peace. Ashe and Kog'Maw have pretty low base AD and average attack speed, which means they need a lot of farm to become useful. Since games are shorter, try to go for champions with better base stats that need fewer items like Tryndamere (high base AD, high base HP).
Any champion that has some skill to jump walls can make great use of that on Twisted Treeline by increasing mobility around the map. Some champions can cross walls by themselves including: Kassadin, Shen, Jarvan IV, Tristana, Gragas, Ezreal, Tryndamere, Nidalee, Corki, LeBlanc, Fizz, Graves and Shaco. Others require a target like a ward, champions like Katarina, Lee Sin, and Jax.
Since most of the game will revolve around early game it is usually a good idea to get flat Runes instead of the leveled ones. Also try to avoid the Greater Quintessence of Gold, Greater Quintessence of Revival, Greater Quintessence of Spell Vamp and Greater Quintessence of Life Steal.
9x Greater Seal of Armor is a really good choice for most champions because many of the top tier picks are AD: Lee Sin, Tryndamere, Udyr, Yorick, Gangplank, Riven, Wukong, Skarner and Shaco. These are already top tier runes in their own right but even more so on an AD-dominated map that revolves around early game advantage and strong neutral creeps.
Twisted Treeline Game - AP Jungle Shaco
There are not many Twisted Treeline videos and streams so I added one here if you are interested! Since I used Shaco in the jungle video it seemed like a good idea to show that build in action during in a real game. I'm not the best player in the world but I hope you still find the video entertaining or useful in some way.
I hope this guide has been useful to you and that I will see you playing The Twisted Treeline! Constructive criticism to improve this guide is always welcome and I will try to keep it updated regularly. Remember to give it a vote please! Now go forth and carry your team to victory summoner!