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Colorful Drafting: Playing Around the First Conditional Champion

* Author’s note: This article is a bit dated at the time of publishing, but I wanted to at least get my thoughts out there and flex the analytical muscles a bit.

Wow, Cloud9 are really leaning into the LS philosophy of League of Legends. Ivern mid was not something that people had on their Bingo boards, but now the rest of the LCS are on notice. Cloud9 are ready to make picks that some viewers would previously deem “skeptical at best”, and now no one wants to miss a single draft from them.

[Previously on Colorful Drafting: Cloud9 vs. Golden Guardians Week 1]

“Colorful Drafting” is a new series from TGH that will walkthrough how LS’ draft strategy differs from traditional theory, and how his “color theory” of drafting works using real life examples. After seeing the first impressive draft from Cloud9, people weren’t sure if they could replicate that success. Sure enough, C9 brought out the coloring book once again to find a win against Evil Geniuses.

Phase 1 Bans

Cloud9: Twisted Fate, Senna, Karma
EG: Corki, Zeri, Caitlyn

Traditional Theory

Cloud9’s bans are aimed at some of the more popular Evil Geniuses picks. Karma is an interesting ban as it signals to the opponent that Cloud9 want to first pick their ADC or grab some time of engage support. It also shows their hand a bit as it most likely means Cloud9 don’t want to opt into a Ezreal/ Karma lane, and they don’t seem interested in seeing EG have that lane either. Twisted Fate is just an overall solid choice to blind pick as a mid laner, so for that reason it’s out. 

Even after witnessing the unique composition Cloud9 unveiled against Golden Guardians, Evil Geniuses still opened with standard bans against some of the more overpowered champions at the moment. Corki and Zeri are just crazy at the moment, and because Cloud9 did not ban those champions, EG is forced to either ban them or hope Zeri gets through. Then EG end the ban phase by removing Caitlyn, to take away any one of the more lane dominant ADCs in the game at the moment. 

Color Theory

Twisted Fate is one of those characters that dips a little bit into every color. He plays well into several different compositions and can basically slot into any team that needs a reliable stun. His map presence is unmatched, and doesn’t need a whole lot to remain relevant. 

Senna is an interesting ban out of the side of Cloud9, as it removes one of the strongest blue/black champions in the game. Cloud9 most likely want to draft into a blue-based themselves, and don’t want to give EG that win condition that plays into the “do nothing” strategy blue loves so much. Karma is another blue/green champion that could cause problems for Cloud9 if they aren’t able to grab it on the way back. Karma’s ability to start fights and retreat from fights at will is problematic without knowing the rest of the team strategy. 

EG give Cloud9 a big boost into narrowing down their own strategy by removing two heavy hitting, multi-color champions. Zeri and Corki just do everything well, and removing them saves all 10 players from realistically having to answer them.  

First Three Picks

Cloud9: Thresh
EG: Jinx, Xin Zhao

Traditional Theory

Thresh is a solid blind pick, as there aren’t many bad matchups for the Chain Warden. Locking in Thresh also allows Cloud9 to opt into a more immobile carry if thats the line they want to take. 

Jinx is one of the strongest carries at the moment, and in the hands of an exciting player like Danny, it seems like a no-brainer for EG. Grabbing Xin for Inspired allows EG to aim to make plays early in the game, and ultimately try to match anything Blaber may try to do in the jungle. 

Color Theory

Thresh is the first primarily red champion that C9 has selected in their young 2022 campaign. Thresh’s playstyle at a first glance is pretty linear – hit hook and engage. But the benefit of selecting Thresh is that he performs well with a few other color pairings. As a blind pick, Thresh gives C9 the option to adjust their game plan as the draft progresses. Best of all, Thresh opens the window for another Aphelios pick, which would shift Cloud9 back into some form of blue-red composition. 

Evil Geniuses have decided to lean heavily into red at the start of their draft picking Xin Zhao as their jungle option. Already there could be a similar situation as to what fans saw in the C9/GG game, where Cloud9 could bait the opponent into a more dive-centric red composition just so they could move into a blue reactive composition. 

Closing Out Phase 1 Picks

Cloud9: Olaf, Aphelios
EG: Leona

Colorful Drafting Conditional Champion

Traditional Theory

Olaf is one of Blaber’s most prolific champions, that often times will just be banned away regardless of meta. However when it does get through, there is little doubt that Blaber will lock it in. Aphelios is a solid, safe choice for Berserker. He performed well on the champion in the previous game, and it makes sense to ride the momentum. 

Vulcan loves Leona.The amount of roam potential that this support has is incredible. Vulcan can easily look to make plays around the map on this pick, and if something prevents him from roaming, he can always look to get his carry ahead by winning the 2v2 in bot lane. 

Color Theory

Cloud9 looks to try their hand at a red-based composition as they opt to run Olaf in the jungle. Olaf is primarily red/black, with the condition that the team needs to support him as he recklessly sprints at the opposing carry. Though the Aphelios pick takes away from the aggro plan, making this draft a bit suspect on the side of Cloud9. Aphelios serves a saftey valve of sorts, allowing C9 to have some amount of late-game inevitability. 

On the other side of the draft board, EG just confirm their goal to be a red-centric team with a late-game threat in Jinx. Leona is one of the premier red supports, because all she can do is go forward and try to kill something. Leona/Jinx can be a scary bot lane, but Leona did pick into its own counter inThresh. The bot side of the map is shaping up to be insanely volatile with 4 red champions looking to make something happen early on. 

Phase 2 bans

EG: Lulu, Ivern
C9: Ryze, Renekton

Traditional Theory

EG want nothing to do with Ivern. After seeing how oppressive it wound up being against Golden Guardians, it’s just a safe ban against this new look C9. Lulu is another hedge against some enchanter-mid pick, one that would specifically mesh well with Olaf running around. 

Cloud9 remove Ryze knowing that it is another late-game threat that would pair very well with EG’s aggressive team composition. Banning away Renekton removes a safe lane option from Impact, as well as removes another aggressive threat from the side of EG. 

Color Theory

EG banning away two blue/green champions is exactly what they needed to do at this point. Right now without knowledge of the top laner, there is not enough information for them to ban away other specific champions from Cloud9. The Ivern ban may have been more important than the Lulu ban as it allows Olaf to both survive longer and to gain more access to single targets. Lulu is capable of nullifying a lot of red aggressiveness of EG, and so she receives a ban.

Cloud9 now have a better idea of where to go in terms of color after the first half of picks. They remove Ryze because of his late-game strength, and right now Cloud9 want to shift a bit more into some blue. Ryze doesn’t fit into their own comp at the moment, but they can’t afford to let EG have another big blue option to steal the game away. With the last key blue champ removed, they then look towards another strong red champ in Renekton to remove from the game. By removing Renekton, Cloud9 hamstring the early strength the top side of the map could leverage into early objectives. 

Last Picks

EG – Viktor
C9 – Soraka, Camille
EG -Tryndamere

Colorful Drafting Conditional Champion

Traditional Theory

Viktor is what he is – a control mage that every LCS mid laner knows how to play. It is interesting to see the priority on Viktor for a champion that is pretty average in most matchups. Viktor is a completely safe and reasonable mid laner that has power in the late game.

Cloud9 select Soraka and Camille for the first time this year, and Fudge now has the honor of playing a supporting mid laner in back to back games. Summit gets his hands on something a bit different in Camille, mainly because C9 still don’t know what EG will select for top side.

The very last pick in the draft ends up being Tryndamere for Impact, which is quite the clever final pick in this game. Trynd provides a secondary win condition for EG because of his split-pushing prowess. Camille can hang a little with Trnd in the 1v1, but one wrong move and Impact could easily solo kill Summit and cause a massive shift in C9’s game plan.

Color Theory

When looking at the bigger picture,  Viktor doesn’t really gel with the aggressive bottom half of the map. He needs to position aggressively in order to add damage to the fight, but once he pops the one defensive cooldown, Viktor is an easy target for someone like Olaf or Camille. Trynd on the other hand fits oddly well with the rest of the primarily red EG composition. Trynd’s team needs to be able to fight 4v4 and win as he proceeds to split push. The black/red nature of Tryndamere serves as the premier threat against C9.

Soraka is the definitely of a blue/green champion. She needs a key item, and certainly can’t win the game by herself. However her role in this game is to allow Camille and Olaf to survive prolonged engagements in order to win fights. Camille is an interesting character who is a bit blue/white in nature, as she is flexible in her playstyle. In this game, her job is to match the Tryndamere and just survive the early aggression. If that happens, Camille can become an equally threatening late-game champion.

Final Composition Color Traits

Evil Geniuses
– Tryndamere (Red/Black)
– Xin Zhao (Red)
– Viktor (Blue)
– Jinx (Blue/Red)
– Leona (Red)

– Camille (White/Blue/Red)
– Olaf (Red/Black)
– Soraka (Green/Blue)
– Aphelios (blue/white)
– Thresh(Red/Blue)

Bringing it All Together

Evil Geniuses had a solid draft, in terms of team cohesiveness. The only issue is that the team never decided where it wanted to go during the game. Tryndamere’s black typing means that the rest of the team has to sacrifice something in order to bring out the biggest strength in a character. In this case, Trynd wanted to be split pushing all game and force Cloud9 to come deal with it. At the start of the game, where all of the red champions are strongest, EG appeared to have had a handle on this strategy. Impact found ways to pressure C9 over and over again on a side lane.

The problem from EG was when they decided to team fight, they didn’t account for the Cloud9 composition and what their goals were. Cloud9’s team fighting was a bit unorthodox, as they wanted to take fights slow in order to find the right angle to get onto the enemy Jinx. Both Olaf and Camille can get to the back line, but if they dive in too early, EG just dive harder. Instead, Cloud9 baited out cooldowns in pivotal fights, in order to turn the fight back around thanks to the sustain from Soraka.

Olaf oddly enough has the same color-pairing as Trynd, but their conditions are a bit different. Olaf has the condition, where the team must support his agressive advance through the opposing team. If the team can’t, Olaf is just an easily kited threat that needs to do something early to be any bit relevant in the mid game. Thanks to C9’s heavy blue/red/black team composition, Olaf had all of the support he needed to cut through EG.

Next Time on Colorful Drafting

Now that Cloud9 has shown they aren’t scared to try something new, it only makes sense that drafts may continue to be weird. It isn’t all just blue champions for Cloud9 however. Against Team Liquid, people finally figure out what kind of composition would work around a jungle Karthus.

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