VIT Nukeduck is trending in the EU LCS week five

Trending in the EU LCS: Week 5

Keeping up with the EU LCS can be difficult at times. There is a ton of information to balance within one’s head. Some people prefer power rankings, others look at tier lists. Today, however, we will be looking at what is trending in the EU LCS. Which teams are rising through the ranks? Which player’s stock should you sell now? What champions and playstyles are making their way on and off the Rift?

Trending Up

These are the teams, players, and gameplay factors that are on the upswing after week five of the EU LCS. They may have won a key series against a tough opponent. A teammate may have put their team on his back to keep it together. Maybe a particular champion pick was able to shine. These are upward trending in the EU LCS.

Fnatic are trending in EU LCS week five

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Fnatic

Already at the top of the league, Fnatic boosted their stock by taking down Splyce in a dominant 2-0. Fnatic now sits at the top of Group A with two full wins over the rest of the group. Splyce dropped down to third in Group B. No other team in the West is currently exhibiting such dominance, which is why Fnatic should have a great showing at upcoming Rift Rivals.

H2K

Similar to Fnatic, H2K are on the rise after taking down Group A’s Misfits. Coming off of a week four loss to Fnatic, H2K beat Misfits 2-0 and bring their game score to 11-4. H2K had not won a series against a top team since their week one victory over Splyce. While they fell behind early in both games, H2K was able to hold it together, regain control and play intelligently around late-game Barons to win.

NiP are trending in EU LCS week five

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Ninjas in Pyjamas

Although they sit at the bottom of the EU LCS as the only team without a series win, NiP are on the upswing. The nascent squad took Unicorns of Love to a three-game series and averaged 3,500 gold ahead at 15 minutes. They ended up losing both series in week five, but their performance on Saturday should leave NiP fans wanting more.

Erlend “Nukeduck” Våtevik Holm

Following Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s EU LCS mid lane power rankings, Nukeduck has been the center of attention. In week five Team Vitality won 2-0 over Roccat, and Nukeduck is much to blame. In game one Vitality drafted a mid lane Kog’Maw that finished 5-1-4. Game two they gave Nukeduck Corki, which finished 8-0-6. Granted, Felix “Betsy” Edling has been underperforming.

Mid lane Corki

While Corki was sprinkled into week four, his presence has shot up in week five. There were only three games in 12 where the Daring Bombardier was not picked or banned. Corki is tied with Orianna for the highest mid lane win rate this split at 67 percent (with more than four games played). He also has the highest average damage per minute of all mid laners at 650 (with more than four games played).

Trending Down

These are the teams, players, and gameplay factors that are on the downswing after week five of the EU LCS. They may have lost a series against to an underdog. A teammate may have faltered over several games. Maybe the meta is shifting and a playstyle is being left in the past. These are downward trending in the EU LCS.

ROC are trending in EU LCS week five

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Roccat

Team Vitality beat Roccat 2-0 in week five. No one player stands out as the underperformer. Petter “Hjärnan” Freyschuss and Kim “Wadid” Bae-in did not put up numbers that they are used to. Betsy has been down all split. Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes and Ambrož “Phaxi” Hren played over-aggressive and sacrificed several avoidable deaths. With G2 and NiP looking better in week five, Roccat may be in trouble.

Unicorns of Love

UOL nearly lost their series 2-0 to NiP. While it was exciting to watch as a fan, this was dire for the Unicorns. Samuel “Samux” Fernández Fort looked somewhat consistent throughout each game, but every other player showed points of weakness. Fabian “Exileh” Schubert is slumping. Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir looked out of sorts and Kiss “Vizicsacsi” Tamás got camped in game one. They both got better as the series went on. Finally, Zdravets “Hylissang” Galabov picked Blitzcrank support in two of the three games, but had little impact with the champion.

Top lane Rumble is trending in EU LCS week five

Image from Surrenderat20.net

Top lane Rumble

Although Rumble has the 10th highest champion presence (63 percent) in EU LCS this split, he only has a 31 percent win rate–fifth lowest among all champions with four or more games played. Rumble’s high pick and ban rates do not match the low impact that EU top laners are bringing with him. For example, Shen also has a 63 percent presence, but sports a 74 percent win rate.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

Other Images: LoL Esports FlickrSurrenderat20.net

Champion Statistics: Games of Legends, Oracle’s Elixir

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League of Shields

How strong are shields in ranked exactly? Currently, the only support champions that can shield allies with over a 50 percent win rate and significant play rate (above two percent) are Sona and Thresh. In the jungle, there is only Ivern, who sits at a solid 52 percent win rate in plat and above, but Ivern’s power is found in more than just his two-second long Triggerseed. For more on Ivern, check out my Playing Ivern Like the Pros.

While I understand players’ outrage over a six-second duration Lulu shield, Lulu has struggled recently with quest itemization, alongside some awkward Whimsey bugs leaving her at a 47 percent win rate. In short, it’s not the champion that is particularly strong that has the community in arms over shield power, but instead the ability to layer shields with specific team compositions and item paths.

 

2017 College Championship Finals show both supports rushing Locket of Iron Solari after their upgraded sightstone. Courtesy of Riot Games.

Possible Solutions Open Up Unique Gameplay Opportunities

That being said, shield stacking still seems to be very powerful, and a lot of this comes from a lack of support item diversity. Redemption and Locket of the Iron Solari seem to be the go-to items for supports, and a lot of this comes from the lack of viable build alternatives. Knight’s Vow is too expensive and doesn’t give cooldown reduction (the most vital stat for a support), while items like Mikael’s Crucible are too cost inefficient. It is frustrating that a champion like Blitzcrank, who is centered around making picks, has the most commonly built item as Redemption instead of something else that may highlight his pick-off play style. This does not go to say that Redemption should be gutted entirely, as the item is fun to play with and requires a certain amount of skill to use effectively. It does go to say that other items should become more available for supports who want to do something other than heal and shield.

As someone who plays support quite frequently in Diamond Elo, I will never play Soraka again. This is not because I have internalized the “Soraka is cancer” monologue coming out of the loads of players plagued by over-committing aggression, but instead because there is an 800 gold item that reduces the impact of three of her four abilities by 40 percent. Playing just once against an ADC that buys this item first back is an experience that ultimately becomes too frustrating to ever pick this champion back up again. As Soraka in this matchup, you can go from dominating a lane to barely surviving in just one buy. That is insane because once the enemy AD has this item, your champion is significantly less impactful.

That being said, I do understand how frustrating playing against the likes of Janna and Soraka can be, and I do want to see counterplay to the growing power of shields. I just want to see this counterplay come from something more dynamic than a cheap one item buy. This problem actually gives game developers an opportunity for Strategic Diversity, a Riot hot word that will make developers salivate instantly.

The perfect counter for the shield meta could arise in a new champion design. A new “support” champion could have an ability that does damage, but when it hits an enemy with a shield, it completely takes what damage it does to that shield and creates a shield for itself. This ability would have to still be decent enough to be used against team compositions without shields; however, having a hard counter to shielding champions in the bottom lane would add a greater diversity of support champions.

 

The Consequences of a Grievous Wounds for Shields

So what happens if Riot follows the congregation of shield animosity all the way to the Rift? The first thing we would expect to see is the removal of an entire summoner spell, Barrier, as well as the removal of some strategic items, such as Locket of the Iron Solari, Seraph’s Embrace, Sterak’s Gage, Face of the Mountain, and Bloodthirster. But an item that diminishes the effectiveness of shields won’t only cut out the diversity of defensive items, but also defensive masteries. Courage of the Colossus will take a huge hit, and every champion that benefits from the massive late game shields of this mastery will also drop in win rate substantially, or be forced to take a different mastery entirely. This would lead to a situation similar to the league of Thunderlord’s, or Grasp for each and every top laner.

Already, the effective amount of items and masteries would be diminished from the inclusion of a grievous wounds item for shields, but the viable champion pool for many roles would also take a huge hit. Orianna, Camille, Nautilus, Shen, Skarner, Urgot, and most supports would be devastated by such an item. This item would hinder the Rift more than anything.

 

Why Shields Are Here to Stay

So what about nerfing shield duration? This is a common go-to for many, but what these individuals do not realize is that shields have a pretty short duration as is, aside from some variables, such as Lulu and Janna. Locket of the Iron Solari has only a 2.5 second duration, Karma shield only lasts four seconds, Rakan’s Battle Dance only lasts three seconds, and Sona’s shield only lasts 1.5 seconds. Sure each of these numbers can be nerfed, but that would be the nerf of an entire subclass of Support champions; but more than that, it would be an indirect nerf to marksmen.

The classic Mega’Maw team comp makes a return in the MSI Group Stages. Courtesy of Riot Games.

When the ADC in 2k17 meme was at its peak, the most viable support champions were all Ability Power Carries. Brand, Malzahar, and Zyra dominated the Rift, and they did so by devastating other supports in lane and being able to one vs. one the enemy carry early on. ADC was weak at this time due to itemization, but also due to the nature of bot lane. Quite simply, ADCs did not have someone enhancing their abilities; they had no support. What they had instead was a Mage who was ready to kill the enemy carry at any time. What a spooky era. Alas, supports got Redemption, and a few other healing and shielding items were buffed. Then, ADCs got their item paths made more efficient, and with the combination of defensive supports and offensive build paths, the Yin and Yang of bottom lane was finally able to take a crack at the ADC in 2k17 meme.

While ADCs have been stronger, the current shield meta allows them to duke it out in the late game with the protect the carry strategies that have been ever present in League of Legends. These compositions enforce cooperation and teamwork. The claim to fame Mega’Maw and other similar compositions are healthy for competitive League of Legends and solo queue environments alike, just as long as they don’t become the only composition.


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Video Courtesy of OGN. Featured Image Courtesy of leagueoflegends.com

MSI Semifinals 2017: Team WE v. G2 Esports

MSI: Team WE vs. G2 Esports Preview

Saturday May 20, 2017, the second semifinals match of MSI will be underway. Team WE will face off against G2 Esports for a spot in the finals. Both teams have exhibited their fair share of stellar and underwhelming performances throughout the tournament. They will be doing their best to shore up the weak spots and study their opponents in order to reach peak performance. This best-of-five series will be all or nothing.

Team WE

The LPL representatives have made it through MSI with a 7-3 record, just below SKT. They dropped games to TSM, SKT, and GAM. Every player has had standout performances throughout the tournament. Team WE will be favored to win in this match-up, since they defeated G2 in both of their Group Stage bouts.

How They Win

WE outclasses G2 in almost every statistic. Gold difference at 15 minutes (+1,047/-342), first three turrets (80 percent/10 percent), dragon control (47 percent/30 percent) and baron control (54 percent/38 percent) all heavily favor the Chinese team.

In both of their victories against G2, WE drafted Ashe for Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun and Malzahar for Nam “Ben” Dong-hyun. WE’s jungler, Xiang “Condi” Ren-Jie, massacred Kim “Trick” Gang-Yun in the early game. Su “Xiye” Han-Wei played AP diver-assassins LeBlanc and Kassadin. And Ke “957” Changyu has been most impactful on tanky disruptors, particularly Kled.

All of these pieces come together to form a bursty pick composition. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen was most often caught out by Enchanted Crystal Arrow, Nether Grasp, Explosive Cask, or Chaaaaaaaarge!!! and deleted before he was able to output enough damage. Team WE should maintain this draft strategy and playstyle, because G2 does not seem to have an answer at the moment.

Both wins were secured between 28 and 31 minutes. Team WE took first turret in both matches, which led to the first three turrets in just under 20 minutes. They then proceeded to take baron between 21 and 25 minutes, which allowed WE to break G2’s base and win. In their first game, G2 secured one tower and one dragon. In the follow-up match, WE did not allow them to take any towers or dragons.

How They Lose

Karma and Nami are champion picks that stick out in Team WE’s losses. Xiye lost both games when taking Karma to the mid lane, and Ben lost both games when playing Nami support. 957 looked weak on top lane Jayce, as well. The individuals cannot be fully to blame, but it seems like a good idea to keep these picks on the bench for now.

All of WE’s losses came off the back of sub-30-minute barons secured by their opponent. Against TSM, the gold difference never rose to more than 2,000 until they took a baron. From there, TSM closed out the game, taking a second baron and only ceding 4 kills. Team WE was leading SKT by 2,100 gold at 22 minutes, but Han “Peanut” Wang-ho landed a baron steal. SKT broke their base, took a second baron and won. Team WE’s loss to GAM was mostly due to Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh’s Kha’Zix getting fed a triple kill around 10 minutes.

If WE gives over baron, their chances of losing are high. When viewing statistics for the four semifinal teams, their win rates align with their first baron rates. This objective is pivotal to their playstyle. Properly pressuring around baron was a main catalyst for drawing in G2 and picking off key carries. However, if WE is sloppy in clearing vision or shot-calling around Smite, then it could spell disaster.

Player To Watch

Team WE’s top laner, 957

Team WE’s victory will rely heavily on 957 in the top lane. They have won every game that he has drafted Kled, and he has maintained a 27.0 KDA with the champion. On the other hand, his single Jayce game fed TSM their first 5 kills. G2’s Ki “Expect” Dae-Han is not necessarily the same carry threat that SKT or TSM have. WE will rely on 957 to repeat the masterful disruption he exhibited against G2 in their prior match-ups.

G2 Esports

Making it into semifinals by the skin of its teeth is G2 Esports. The EU LCS representatives finished the Group Stage with a 4-6 record, only picking up wins against Flash Wolves (2), GIGABYTE Marines (1), and TSM (1). Seeing as they lost both matches against Team WE, they are the underdog in this best-of-five series.

How They Win

G2’s victories varied drastically from each other. Three of the four wins were secured 42 minutes or later, and allowed the enemy team to secure at least one baron. Two of those three late-game wins involved G2 falling behind 8,000-9,000 gold at some point. The only champions drafted in multiple wins were Caitlyn, Nunu, and Orianna.

In all of their wins, Zven had two or fewer deaths and had a gold lead on the enemy AD Carry. It is obvious that he is their primary carry threat. G2 lost both games that he drafted Ashe. Zven only has wins on Caitlyn, Twitch, and Kog’Maw thus, G2’s draft will need to revolve around these champions. Ivern, Lulu, Karma, and Orianna have at least 50 percent win rates for G2 thus far. Combining multiple enchanters into the draft may allow Zven to break even through the early game and fully carry in the mid-late game.

Luka “Perkz” Perković has also been a consistent source of damage throughout MSI. Mid lane is arguably the most stacked position at the tournament, and Perkz has been going toe-to-toe with some of the best in the world. He has been averaging 28.8 percent of G2’s damage, the highest among all mid laners (second highest overall behind Zven). Putting Perkz on a champion that can control side waves, particularly Fizz, could be a good back-up if Orianna is banned.

How They Lose

There are several situations that G2 should avoid. Keep Trick off of Lee Sin, he failed horribly twice on the champion. Also, they should not draft Ashe for Zven or Zyra for Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodriguez. Zven needs to be able to output immense damage, and Mithy plays much better on protective champions. Even Tahm Kench or Braum are preferable to Zyra if Lulu or Karma are unavailable.

If Trick continues to have poor early games, then this will most surely be G2’s defeat. Trick has the second lowest KDA and the second highest death share of all players at the tournament. He also has the lowest average damage of all junglers at the event.

While their best strategy generally results in early deficits, G2 will need to play intelligently between 15 and 30 minutes. Team WE’s average game time is over 5 minutes shorter than G2’s, which means if they cede 4,000-6,000 gold leads, then it will be highly unlikely for G2 to win.

Player To Watch

G2 Esport’s top laner, Expect

Expect has been putting up some big games this tournament. He has maintained a 3.7 KDA while only contributing 11.9 percent of G2’s deaths. The top laner has secured wins on Jayce, Gragas, Shen, and Nautilus. G2 also released a video of the final shot-calling from their win over TSM, showing the team’s faith in Expect.

The flip side is that Expect has some of the lowest damage of the top laners at the tournament, and his kill participation is low compared to 957. G2 will need him to be more involved as a proactive member of the team, matching 957’s map movements. Perkz and Zven can pump out the damage. Mithy can shield and provide vision. And Trick is under-performing. Expect may be the biggest factor that could turn this match-up on its head.

Prediction

Unless the stars align, and G2 are able to draft a true “protect the ADC” composition, then Team WE will skunk them 3-0. Trick got steamrolled by Condi in both of their Group Stage games. Mystic and Ben have been performing well enough to keep up with Zven and Mithy. Expect and 957 will most likely be trying to execute similar strategies, but 957 has proven to be more successful up to this point. Perkz matches up against Xiye pretty well, but the synergy among the entire team is heavily in WE’s favor.


Player/Champion Statistics: Oracle’s Elixir

All Images: LoL Esports Photos

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