Immortals suffered their first 0-2 score in Week 5 of the 2020 LCS Spring Split, their worst week so far. While no one has been singing Immortals’ praises as a best team in the league, they do have strengths that have netted them wins (covered here). However, they have fallen from 4-2 to 5-3 to 5-5, a decline from second place to fourth, indicating that recently Immortals are unable to play to their strengths. One worrying trend has appeared in three of their five losses, and has become the most surefire way to beat Immortals: early jungle invades.
Jungle Invade Examples
Cloud9 (Week 2)
Cloud9 were the first to exploit Immortals’ weakness to early jungle invades in Week 2. Both jungler and bottom lanes moved into Immortals’ blue side and C9 stole the buff. Shortly thereafter, Nisqy solo-killed Eika in mid lane. This lack of jungle-mid pressure allowed C9 to get rolling with the first Dragon and Rift Herald.
By 14 minutes, Cloud9 had 4 kills, 7 turret plates and CS leads on every member. Immortals had none. They never got close to coming back. Of course, Cloud9 has been dominant over every team, but this was the first instance of a level 1 invade snowballing out of Immortals’ favor.
Evil Geniuses (Week 4)
Immortals tried to invade Evil Geniuses in Week 4, but it completely backfired. They pushed Svenskeren off of his red buff, but Bang and Zeyzal chunked out Xmithie to the point that Jiizuke could roam down and kill him. EG also killed Hakuho to give Jiizuke’s Leblanc a Double Kill. At 8:30, Jiizuke tried to dive Eika, but that backfired and he died to Xmithie.
Nonetheless, EG accrued a 2,500 gold lead. They secured the first two Dragons, the full bottom lane turret, and three kills. Immortals only had one kill, which Jiizuke gifted, and the Rift Herald, which did not net any turret plates before 14 minutes. Like the game versus Cloud9, Immortals never recovered and lost the game pretty convincingly.
Dignitas (Week 5)
The most recent, and most egregious, example of this jungle invade weakness was versus Dignitas last week. Grig and DIG’s bottom lane moved into Xmithie’s blue side and stole the buff. They nearly killed Xmithie, as well. A minute later, Grig invaded the red side and did kill Xmithie, with help from Huni. This pressure set Xmithie pretty far behind, while his laners were defending turrets.
Fast forward to 14 minutes. DIG built a 2,000 gold lead with two Dragons, Rift Herald and five turret plates. Meanwhile, Immortals took one turret plate. DIG did not snowball quite as hard from just farming and lane pressure, but they crushed Immortals in two crucial teamfights. This all grew out of Grig’s initial two invades.
It Starts in the Draft
To understand invades in the first five minutes of the game, teams have to start in the draft. Immortals’ cracks start to show there. This early jungle pressure might play out differently if they drafted differently.
Cloud9 (Week 2)
Pantheon and Karma are the champions that jump out of this draft. They indicate where each team is stronger in the early game. Cloud9 have kill pressure mid lane with Elise and Pantheon, while Immortals should look to punish the Gangplank with Gragas-Karma. Cassio-Thresh in bottom lane could be aggressive, but Senna-Kench can play very safe.
Immortals’ composition scales very well, compared to Cloud9’s. The Gragas-Yasuo combo itself gets strong at level 6. Cassio and Yasuo get very strong with every item. Gangplank has strong scaling damage for Cloud9, but Pantheon and Elise really prefer to get kills early and snowball. Once Blaber pulled off the level 1 invade, and Nisqy solo-killed Yasuo mid, Cloud9 got rolling and never let up. Gangplank never got pressured. The Pantheon could join any fight with his global ultimate.
Evil Geniuses (Week 3)
In this draft, Rek’Sai is the only early play-maker on Immortals. On the other hand, every champion on Evil Geniuses excels in the laning phase. Nonetheless, Immortals invaded EG’s red side and ended up giving Leblanc the Double Kill. The composition that already lacked pressure would no longer have jungle support in the early levels. The Lucian-Yuumi, in particular, perma-pushed this lane to take first turret and force the Ezreal’s Flash multiple times.
Dignitas (Week 5)
This Week 5 draft was similar to Immortals’ versus EG, but Xmithie traded damage for utility, while Altec and Hakuho gained more lane presence and early damage. The Mordekaiser and Orianna held strong lane pressure in the first waves which allowed Grig to freely invade Xmithie on both sides. Once Xmithie died and lost several jungle camps, Dignitas could continuously pressure lanes. On top of that, they won two crucial teamfights for a dominant victory.
How Can Immortals Adapt?
Immortals cannot continue to give Xmithie the only champions with early game agency. If the laners prefer to take the early game slow, then at least give Hakuho more presence in the early game. Braum is a strong champion, but Hakuho always feels more impactful on Nautilus, Thresh and Rakan. Maybe even try a roaming Bard or Leona. If Altec sticks with safer ADCs, like Ezreal and Xayah, then Immortals should unleash Hakuho from the lane.
If Immortals needs Hakuho to stay closer to Altec, then either sOAZ or Eika needs a counter-pick for lane pressure. The Ornn-Corki cannot happen. If Immortals gets forced to draft Ornn, then they need to either pick a control mage mid or flex the Ornn mid and give sOAZ a top laner with pressure. Surprisingly, Immortals has not drafted the Cho’Gath since their one win with it.
On top of the drafting adaptations, Immortals has to come up with better level 1 gameplans. They need wards. The laners need to be ready to leave lane and give up pressure to help with invades, or they need to communicate with Xmithie that they are not contesting so he can back off. Immortals’ best wins have been from strong pathing and vision control out of Xmithie and Hakuho. If they are limited from level 1, then Immortals’ chances of winning drop dramatically.