GAM Levi locked in Nocturne jungle

Eight surprise champion picks that shaped Worlds’ group stage

The 2017 League of Legends World Championship continues into the knockout stage, yet there is so much to unpack regarding the group stage. The bottom two teams from each group have gone home defeated, and they will mentally replay every win and loss to make sense of it all. They will review their drafts, early game strategies, mid-game decisions and late-game execution.

Adaptation was a major theme of this year’s group stage. Each week, the teams who brought key innovations onto the stage defined the final standings. Pocket picks, surprise lock-ins and fulfilling match-up win conditions decided matches, which shaped teams’ chances to advance. Here are eight pivotal champion picks that shaped the first wave of 2017 Worlds.

GAM Levi Nocturne – Day 1 v. FNC

GAM Levi locked in Nocturne jungle at Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

After the first few matches included drafts that mostly went by the book, Gigabyte Marines decided to lock in Nocturne for Levi against Fnatic. This decision completely changed the tone of the 2017 Worlds stage. The surprise draft reminded audiences around the world why they fell in love with Gigabyte Marines at this year’s Mid-Season Invitational. Nocturne is such a feast or famine option that he is hardly ever played professionally. However, Gigabyte Marines set up Levi to reach level six in five minutes, and he carried them to a 24-minute victory. 

This game was significant for so many reasons. Firstly, it demonstrated that top teams from minor regions are completely capable of putting up a fight on the international stage. Other members of Group B cannot underestimate Gigabyte Marines. Secondly, this quick win gave Gigabyte Marines the confidence to continue bringing out “never before seen” drafts and strategies throughout the Group Stage. But, most importantly, the loss definitely shook Fnatic’s mentality for their matches in week one. Gigabyte Marines, and their successful Nocturne execution, set up Fnatic to start Worlds 0-3. 

G2 Expect Trundle – Day 3 v. FB

With Cho’Gath locked in for 1907 Fenerbahce’s Thaldrin, and Gnar and Shen banned away, G2 locked in the Trundle for Expect. This match was the first Trundle on the 2017 Worlds stage. With a little help from Perkz to secure First Blood, Expect pushed down first turret and helped Trick acquire Rift Herald. From there, he transitioned into split-pushing to win one-versus-one against Thaldrin.

While Expect was not the only major factor in G2’s day three victory, his pressure did result in G2’s first win after losing to Samsung Galaxy on day one. His Trundle game also set the precedent for Alphari, CuVee and Huni to gain wins with Troll King during group stage. Expect put Trundle on the board, forcing teams to consider him in future drafts, especially against super-tank top laners.

G2 Expect locked in Trundle top at Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

C9 Contractz Graves – Day 3 v. EDG

As one of the only junglers prioritizing high damage over tankiness and crowd control, Contractz surprised with a Graves lock-in on day three. Touted as a counter-pick to Jarvan IV, Graves still maintains fast camp clears and invasion pressure. The pick worked out similarly to Contractz’ Ezreal jungle. He farmed monsters rapidly, and he made sure to visit lanes to help poke out EDG’s laners.

More importantly, Cloud9 won their first game against China’s first seed. The same pick did not work out against EDG on day eight, but the first win basically prevented a tie-breaker match between the two teams for second seed in Group A. Even though no other players tried out Graves on stage, Contractz’ week one success with the pick turned out to be a saving grace for Cloud9’s advancement to quarterfinals.

LZ Khan Nasus – Day 4 v. FNC

What was not to love about this game? The top lane Nasus generated so much hype by itself, disregarding any memes about “dog champs.” Khan had already shown prominence on Lethality Jarvan IV, so everyone expected his Nasus to be nasty. Longzhu realized that Fnatic tends to abandon sOAZ in the top lane, so this champion would hard counter that choice. 

LZ Khan locked in Nasus at Worlds

Screenshot of LoL Esports broadcast

Khan did not disappoint. Longzhu destroyed Fnatic’s nexus in 20:52, the shortest match in the group stage. This victory solidified Longzhu at the top of Group B with a 3-0 record, and Fnatic at the bottom with an 0-3. Almost all of the drama of Group B’s week two would have been nonexistent without this stomp. The Nasus pick, in particular, reinforced the possibility of surprise picks on the international stage.

FNC Caps Malzahar – Day 5 v. IMT

Week two saw Fnatic on a momentous upswing. They won their second matches against Immortals and Gigabyte Marines, while Longzhu remained undefeated. The games played out to create a tie-breaker situation between Immortals and Fnatic, which is when Caps pulled out the first Malzahar of Worlds.

Malzahar is supposed to be a counter-pick to Ryze, which allowed Caps to neutralize Pobelter. The mid lane interactions allowed Fnatic’s other members to have the space necessary to gain advantages and push through neutral objectives. With this victory, Fnatic sent Immortals back to North America, and continued into their tie-breaker against Gigabyte Marines to finalize Group B’s standings.

MSF IgNar Thresh – Day 7 v. FW

MSF Ignar locked in Thresh at Worlds

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

This match-up against Flash Wolves was a breakout game for IgNar and Misfits. Their Thresh lock-in presented one of the first non-Ardent Censer supports at Worlds. It also proved that teams can opt for play-making champions in the bottom lane and find success. IgNar finished the game with a 0-0-10 scoreline, making the most of his roams and picks.

While Flash Wolves were not their main competition, Misfits started day seven with momentum. The unpredictability of IgNar’s champion pool allowed them to have flexible drafts, and to know that any member of their team is capable of carrying. Misfits cemented Flash Wolves’ fate in the group stage, since they fell 0-4 with this loss.

WE Mystic Caitlyn – Day 7 v. TSM

One of the most innovative strategies of the group stage, Mystic decided to race the Ardent Censer support build by drafting Caitlyn. Her combination of early poke damage, wave clear, and sieging allows Caitlyn to push in late-scaling AD carries such as Doublelift’s Twitch. Team WE executed the strategy perfectly, pushing through the game in just over 24 minutes. Mystic himself finished with a 10.0 KDA.

This game marked the turning point for TSM in Group D. WE pulled ahead to match Misfits 3-1, while TSM dropped below them at 2-2. This same strategy won WE their second match against Flash Wolves to finish at the top of the group. From a larger scope, this match also introduced another strategy to counter hyper-carries with enchanter supports. Caitlyn would go on to finish the group stage 4-0, including wins from EDG and Cloud9 on the final day.

FW MMD Renekton – Day 7 v. TSM

FW MMD locked in Renekton at Worlds

Screenshot of LoL Esports broadcast

Calling Renekton a “surprise pick” is a bit of a stretch. He is a staple lane bully champion for top laners. However, the 2017 Worlds meta has not seen him played much. Flash Wolves drafted Renekton for MMD to completely neutralize Hauntzer. Karsa and MMD killed Hauntzer twice within the first five minutes, which provided MMD with so much pressure that he zoned Hauntzer off of farm. MMD gained a 2,000 gold lead by 11 minutes, which transitioned into first turret, Rift Herald and complete dominance by the Flash Wolves.

The first seed LMS team had nothing to lose, seeing as they were already guaranteed to be eliminated. They took their only win off of TSM in this match, which forced the tie-breaker with Misfits to finish group stage. This single win, stemming from this single champion match-up, was the catalyst for Misfits to secure second seed in Group D. If TSM had won this game, then they would have graduated into quarterfinals instead of Misfits.

From the first day of group stage to the last, we have seen individual champion selections have huge impacts. Countering the meta, or countering specific team playstyles, these surprise performances influenced the standings. They allowed and denied entry into the knockout stage. Teams, players and the tournament itself are creating highlights, and even legacies to be remembered for World Championships to come.


Featured Image: LoL Esports Flickr

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Team and Player Statistics: Game of Legends

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Patch 7.13 solo lane tier list

With Patch 7.13 upon us, it’s time to take a look at how the changes impacted solo queue picks. In the following tier list, the top three champions in each role, alongside an honorable mention or two if applicable will be assessed. The following picks are based upon item, champion and other meta changes. It is worth noting that this tier list is primarily for solo queue ranked environments and not competitive play. Most of the champions mentioned are strong as a result to changes in patches prior to 7.13, however, there have been some minor changes.

Top Lane

Changes to the top lane this patch are a result of the nerfs to Doran’s Shield and Doran’s Ring in patch 7.12. The Doran’s Shield price was increased by 50 gold preventing a second potion buy during early laning phase, while the Doran’s Ring’s mana reaping passive was made unique, nerfing champions who benefited from early Doran’s Ring stacking to compensate for their mana problems.

Exclusive to patch 7.13, Galio was nerfed and Gnar was buffed. While Gnar is definitely in a viable spot, there are still better picks than our prehistoric yordle. Currently, there are a lot of viable top laners, so not all will be mentioned. The following list includes a few champions you should add to your pool if you are a top lane main.

Pantheon has a dominant early game that can be used to snowball allied lanes. Take TP and as soon as you hit level six roam to bot lane for an easily snowballed game. Courtesy of leagueoflegends.com

Pantheon– Slamming down onto the Rift, Pantheon’s armor shredding build is as strong as ever. While this early game champion falls off late game, his new build path (Youmuu’s, Black Cleaver, Guardian Angel) allows him to chase down squishies even after a poorly placed ultimate.

Heimerdinger– The Donger is back, and with a new glass cannon build to boot. To raise your donger correctly, build standard APC items: Morello, Hourglass/Veil (matchup dependent), Liandry’s/Rylai’s. Heimer excels in pushing waves and surviving ganks. This is made all the better with his new movement speed passive and increased utility on his grenades. Heimerdinger is borderline overpowered currently, so jump on the donger wagon to raise your LP.

With a buff to the length of his ultimate as well as an increase in base health, an already strong Maokai is now even stronger. Courtesy of leagueoflegends.com

Maokai– Already at a relatively high win rate in Patch 7.12, Maokai has just gotten stronger. The premier tank has benefited from a buff in base health at level one and an extension to the range of his ultimate. In addition to this some of his itemization was buffed. Abyssal Mask now gives Maokai some much-needed mana, while Adaptive Helm grants an additional 50 health for free. Expect to see Maokai coming back to the pro play and therefore solo queue this patch.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Swain– While the Doran’s Ring nerf hurts Swain, he still has a lot of great matchups in the top lane. While less popular than other top laners, Swain is the go to top laner if your team lacks magic damage.

Kled– Greatly benefiting from itemization paths established in earlier patches, it still feels like the duo came out yesterday. With Guardian Angel becoming a core item on AD bruisers, Kled can rejoice for its synergy with Skarl. This slippery warmonger is stronger than ever and is finally seeing play in the competitive scene as well. 

Mid Lane

The mid lane tier list is primarily a result of changes made in 7.11 to items like Banshee’s Veil. Due to the nature of this powerful item, AOE mages are stronger than ever. Even in the LCS, it seems as though mid laners with incredible late game scaling are priority picks.

Froggen’s guide to match-ups in League of Legends. Courtesy of u/Gudin

Anivia– The bird has been one of the most consistent mid lane picks due to her ability to stall out the game like a Ziggs on steroids. Safe and reliable wave clear, paired with constant AOE damage makes the bird the number one Solo Queue mid laner. Take fights into the Jungle, and Anivia has the ability to create unavoidable zones of high damage and CC.

Kassadin– Giving players a Season Two flashback, Kassadin is making a return into the solo queue realm. As a late game hyper carry, Kassadin’s Realm Warping Lich Bane procs carry unavoidable single target burst. With the cooldown of his ultimate being so short at level 16, Kassadin not only has reliable damage, but also a way to safely escape enemy retaliation. With mid lane being so jungle dependent right now, Kassadin’s post-six laning phase is also ridiculously safe.

Vladimir– If Anivia and Kassadin had a baby, it would be Vladimir. Vladimir is as safe as Kassadin in his resistance to ganks, delivers huge AOEs like Anivia and scales just as well the two of them. Hextech Protobelt is a must on Vladimir and enables his burst through the ability to re-position aggressively and throw in extra damage. Paired with Stormraider’s Surge, Vladimir can have surprisingly high mobility while also bringing consistent damage and tankiness to the middle lane.

 

Honorable Mentions:

Malzahar– With a low pick rate and an incredibly high win rate, Malzahar is back to form. Malzahar’s simple, dump my spells on your face, playstyle was given a buff this last patch as using Quicksilver Sash no longer ends his ultimate, but instead turns it into a leash like ability (think Karma W). Malzahar is freelo right now. Just do yourself a favor and take Deathfire Touch over Thunderlord’s.

Aurelion Sol splash art. Courtesy of u/Fidel420Castro

Aurelion Sol– Huhi is still a strong champion, and greatly benefits from the new Banshee’s Veil. With the exception of the Banshee’s Veil, the star dragon’s core build has not changed much: Rylai’s, Liandry’s and Hextech GLP. If you are interested in picking up this champion, take a look at how CLG’s mid laner plays it.

That’s it for solo lanes, stay tuned for both bottom laners and jungle tier lists soon.

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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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TSM Playoff Profile

TSM Playoff Profile: Long Live the Kings

No one should be surprised that TSM finished the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split at the top of the standings. Finishing the regular season 15-3, this squad was a challenge to all others. Since making a run at the World Championship last year, TSM has done its best to prove that they are still an international threat. However, this team has shown themselves to be far from perfect, and playoffs will be the time for others to capitalize.

TSM Playoff Profile: Mid laner Bjergsen

courtesy of Riot esports

TSM has remained anchored in the mid lane by Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. An NA LCS icon, continually an MVP candidate, and a world-class mid-laner, there is little to question about Bjergsen’s gameplay. He hardly ever loses lane. His teamfight positioning is stellar. There have been several instances where all seems lost for TSM, and Bjergsen cleans everything up. He is just that good. Of course, he will still need to play 100% to beat other contenders, but Bjergsen has been dependable time and time again.

TSM Playoff Profile: Top laner Hauntzer

courtesy of Riot esports

In the top lane, Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has had his best split yet. Some fans have also nominated him as NA LCS MVP. Exerting constant pressure in top lane, Hauntzer has become a true force. He can play tanks or carries with high dependability. It is hard to blame TSM losses on the top laner’s play. Hauntzer is also adept at safely absorbing pressure when he has the lower hand in his lane. Expect TSM to play well around Teleport advantages and mid-game side lane pressure, in thanks to his continual improvement. 

TSM Playoff Profile: Jungler Svenskeren

courtesy of Riot esports

Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen has been a moderately consistent jungler this season. His kill participation (65.1%) and his death share (27.4%) are fairly bad compared to other NA junglers. Svenskeren also trends behind in gold, XP, and CS at 10 minutes. What Svenskeren does contribute to the team is vision. He leads junglers in wards per minute (.81). This is partially attributed to his fondness for playing Lee Sin, but it is one of his biggest strengths for TSM’s laners. He also contributes some of the most kills and assists among junglers, but his KDA is middling due to his high death count. While playing against strong jungle talent such as Juan “Contractz” Garcia, William “Meteos” Hartman, and Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun, Svenskeren will need to exhibit much more calculated play.

TSM Playoff Profile: Bot laner WildTurtle

courtesy of Riot esports

TSM’s most widely fluctuating position is bottom lane. Most analysts would agree that Jason “WildTurtle” Tran has proven to be a downgrade from last season’s Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Vincent “Biofrost” Wang has not synergized to the same level with him either. If other teams are to defeat TSM in the playoffs, it will be off the back of bad bottom lane plays. WildTurtle’s kill participation and damage per minute are the lowest in the league, and his death share is one of the highest among playoff ADC’s. He averages even in lane, but only does 23.7% of TSM’s damage. Other marksmen, such as Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon, make a much larger impact in the game, and may prove too challenging for TSM to overcome.

TSM Playoff Profile: Support Biofrost

courtesy of Riot esports

On the other hand, Biofrost has the second highest KDA among supports, high kill participation, and a low share of TSM’s deaths. His Thresh, Braum, Lulu, and Malzahar have 75% or higher win-rates. Biofrost tends to draw important bans from enemy teams. He helps WildTurtle get through the laning phase as much as possible, and then executes teamfights well. Fans should expect big plays out of Biofrost, and be confident in his consistency.

Overall, TSM stand a good chance at winning this whole tournament. The organization has always proven itself in high pressure LCS situations, especially longer series’ like Best-of-5’s. TSM should have a strong showing, regardless of which team they face in the Semifinals. Cloud 9 will be difficult to overcome if they are TSM’s opponent in the finals. However, if TSM are on their A game, they should close this split in first.

Prediction: TSM make it to finals and beat Cloud9 3-2. Any other opponent will lose 3-1.

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Discussing the URF meta

Ultra Rapid Fire mode is up on the North American servers again (Finally!). To prevent some readers from making critical mistakes picking, banning, and building their champions this article will provide some very helpful tips.

If you’ve never seen URF mode before, watch this helpful video.

The distinct difference in the game mode URF is the “Awesome Buff of Awesomely Awesome Buffing” Practically speaking, the buff grants tenacity, free secondary bar, crazy attack speed, reduced healing, and 80% cooldown. With these buffs in mind you build one thing in URF: Damage. With no mana or cooldowns, things like Morellonomicon have way less practical usage than Rabadon’s or Liandry’s.

The ABoAAB in its entirety. Image courtesy of leagueoflegends.wikia.com

The ABoAAB in its entirety. Image courtesy of leagueoflegends.wikia.com

It’s also really easy to permanently lock a champion down. For example, Kennen is a very good URF champion. Kennen’s passive is that he puts marks on champions when he hits them with abilities. When a champion gets three marks they get stunned. With Kennen’s spells being on one or two second cooldowns it becomes very easy to just mark up an enemy champion enough to stun them three times right in a row. At this point, the champion either will be dead or right on death’s doorstep.

Items like Rylai’s Crystal Scepter make it really easy to shut champions down. This is specifically true on champions with AoE spells. Gragas, Sejuani, Zyra, Lux, Morgana, Kennen and even champions like Malphite or Zac can really lock a champion in one spot with Rylai’s.

Item activations also have 80% cooldown. Items like Randuin’s Omen, Righteous Glory and Lockett of the Iron Solari have much more usability in URF. Also, if it comes down to it, champions can grow to higher levels in URF, so more oppertunities to benefit from the Valor passive on Catalyst the Protector exist.

Some of the more unfair champions in URF that I would suggest banning if you aren’t specifically going to play:

  • Gragas
  • Sona
  • Lux
  • Shaco
  • Sejuani
  • Wukong
  • Malzahar
  • Warwick
  • Galio
  • Malphite
  • Xin Zhao
  • Morgana
  • Ziggs
  • Fizz

It’s easy to see why some of these champions are on this list. Warwick’s and Malphite’s ultimates are just unfair on those low cooldowns. Sona has unlimited healing for an ungodly amount of health. Lux, Morgana and Ziggs can zone way too much. It’s just impossible to kill Xin, Shaco, Wukong and Galio after ten minutes. Sejuani and Gragas just infinitely charge you and stun you until you die over and over.

Malzahar is a different case. While, with most mages you build raw AP and dominate fools, Malz has…well, he has a different strategy. Malzahar in URF doesn’t try to do any damage with his spells. You see, Malzahar spawns a Voidling after every fourth spell. This is good for URF since you can cast 75 spells every second. This influences the build because the Voidlings do AD. See, the plan with Malz is to cast a bunch of spells and let the Voildings destroy turrets and champions alike. When it comes to URF mode, the Voidlings are the true stars. If you happened to have watched that helpful video above, you can see the destructive power of AD Malzahar in URF.

Absolutely devastating. Image courtesy of https://www.etsy.com/listing/207498586/malzahar-voidling-plush

Absolutely devastating. Image courtesy of https://www.etsy.com/listing/207498586/malzahar-voidling-plush

Another true turret destroyer in URF mode is Fizz. The Tidal Trickster’s W benefit’s greatly from URF mode. When activated, his basic attacks do an increased amount of magic damage. The increased cooldowns mean that a diligent Fizz player can keep this on the whole game. This also works very will with Lich Bane. Lich Bane, which is built from Sheen, gives a huge boost of damage to the first basic attack after a spell was cast. With his ability to give a huge amount of damage to them, and negate a huge amount of damage from them, Fizz is one to pick or ban and not leave open for free.

Supports also run rampant in URF. AP Alistar is a nightmare to deal with. With his immense passive Trample damage, healing potential, and that ultimate, which negates almost all damage, being on such a low cooldown. Yikes. Blitzcrank’s grab, pop up, silence combo is off cooldown almost as soon as it ends, so try to avoid getting grabbed.

Some of the greatest champions in URF history. Image coutresy of http://orig15.deviantart.net/a4c7/f/2013/160/3/8/league_of_legends___support_wallpaper2__by_hit3n_by_xmarquinhos-d68dk55.png

Some of the greatest champions in URF history. Image coutresy of http://orig15.deviantart.net/a4c7/f/2013/160/3/8/league_of_legends___support_wallpaper2__by_hit3n_by_xmarquinhos-d68dk55.png

Hard engages are also extremely great in URF. Leona, Malphite, Zac, Gragas, Sejuani, Hecarim, Sion and Bard can destroy in URF. If you are even one step out of position you can get locked down by any of these champions. Even grouped up in a team fight atmosphere, these champions can isolate you and break you down.

I hope this guide helps you when playing the League Community’s favorite game mode. For more helpful videos on URF check out LoL Esports YouTube page and watch some games from URFs past. However, the best way to learn is to pick a champ you think will do well and hop onto the rift.