Fans who have been tuning in to programs like Phreak Show and Vedius’ Picks to Watch knew what to expect when games started. Due to subsequent buffs in recent patches, Ekko was ready to provide the utility and damage needed to make him viable on the Worlds stage. The teams had been paying attention too, and just as Phreak and Vedius predicted, Ekko showed up in four of the six games played on the first day of Worlds 2019. What they didn’t predict though, was that The Boy Who Shattered Time would go 0-4.
Not Exactly their Main
He was picked in the first game by Clutch Gaming for Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo, the second and fourth games by Detonation FocusMe for Mun “Steal” Geon-yeong, and in the third by Unicorns of Love for Kirill “AHaHaCiK” Skvortsov. Though the predictions weren’t wrong in that the buffs to the champion were strong, the fact that he was played this much today is still surprising. Not only have these Junglers rarely played him on stage before (AHaHaCiK has NEVER played him on stage prior to today), but not a single one of these players have ever won with Ekko professionally.
It would be ridiculous to assume that they haven’t been playing the champion in practice, but playing him on stage matters as well when the pressure of Worlds hits. Steal last played Ekko on stage in the Spring of 2016, and Lira last played him in 2015 – the year he was released. To be fair, a long history on a champion is not necessary to be successful. Just look at how often newly released champions have been played with success professionally all season. However, the proof is in the pudding, and judging by Day 1’s games Ekko is no different.
Not only did Ekko lose every game he was played, but the Junglers that only played him one game both won their games in which they didn’t. This doesn’t necessarily prove that Ekko was to blame, but it certainly implies it.
What Went Wrong?
With League being such an intricate game, especially at this level, it’s never easy to pinpoint one thing as the reason for a failure or a success. When trying to figure out what happened to Ekko on Day 1 though, there are a few things that stand out. The first comes back to what was mentioned above. With all of the Champion’s strengths, there was a lot of hype going into the tournament about him being a top tier Jungler. This likely pushed him higher up on the priority list than these players would normally be comfortable with. This discomfort often manifests with early game caution or hesitation, and since Ekko is an Assassin, he is most effective when he gets ahead early.
Another comes back to the basics of his kit. Ekko has an extremely powerful AOE stun that also gives him a shield. Pretty OP, right? But in order to make such an ability balanced, it was also made fairly difficult to execute. A three-second delay from cast to landing, coupled with the fact that it is a skill shot, and that he must be in the area to cause the stun necessitates a high level of foresight and execution. Additionally, enemies have sight of the affected area a full second before it lands. Though more casual players may feel that it is easy to execute, it becomes drastically more difficult as the targets are more experienced – and at Worlds, the targets are the best there are.
Not only do the enemy teams know to avoid this stun, but they played compositions that made it easy to do so. Rakan, Hecarim, Tristana, Ezreal, Gnar, Gragas and more were all on the Rift against Ekko today, which is a lot of mobility to try to get the jump on.
These issues were on display as early as the first game, as Lira repeatedly either had poor timing or aim on his stun, missing the enemy team completely. This repeated throughout the following matches and with the other Junglers. Whether it was due to the lack of experience on the champion, the enemies awareness and mobility, or most likely a combination of those things, it is guaranteed that the teams will be making adjustments on how they play the Chronobreaker. Or more importantly how they draft their Jungle in the rest of the tournament.