Each position’s top underperformer in the MSI group stage

The 2018 League of Legends Mid-Season Invitational group stage concludes, with Royal Never Give Up surpassing Flash Wolves in a tie-breaker for first place. The six participating group stage teams represented elite organizations, each major region’s Spring Split victor. Every roster featured big names with historic reputations and colorful narratives. This event is designed to be a clash of major players with unique strengths and diverse talents.

However, like every other tournament, MSI brought out the worst in some individuals. Although fans have faith in their favorite players’ work ethic, ambition and talent, certain players could not put their best foot forward this time around. The group stage saw several teams suffer from lackluster individual performances out of each position. Here are the worst offenders who did not show their true potential over the 10 to 11 games.

Top – Khan

Kingzone Khan underperformed at the 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

The only true top lane carnivore coming into the tournament, Khan is known as a monster that only played three tank games in the 2018 LCK spring regular season. He played significantly more matches on Gangplank, Gnar, Camille and Jayce, unlike the rest of the top lane field at MSI. Just like Worlds 2017, Khan came into this tournament as a touted weapon for Kingzone to wield against his island opponents.

But the anticipated results did not really come to fruition. Sure, Khan tops the charts in laning differences at 10 and 15 minutes, but he failed to transition these leads into major advantages for his team. Other than Kingzone’s match-ups with EVOS, Khan took the back seat to the rest of his team. Khan made poor team-fighting decisions, often over-aggressively diving the back line without back up. Like other tops, Khan over-extended in the side lane without proper vision or communication to back off.

Of course, Khan did not perform poorly in the MSI group stage compared to the rest of the field. He simply underperformed compared to audiences’ expectations. His 21.4 percent MSI kill participation pales in comparison to his 60.9 LCK Spring. He dropped his DPM from 570 to 356 without significantly less gold share. And Khan’s 2.2 KDA ranks lowest among MSI tops, while his 5.9 KDA was number one among LCK tops. He has not been able to perform to expectations just yet, which could be critical to Kingzone’s third place group stage finish.

Jungle – mLXG

Royal Never Give Up Mlxg underperformed at 2018 MSI Group Stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Though Royal Never Give Up finished group stage at the top of the standings, Mlxg stands out as an under-performer. Despite RNG’s high average gold difference at 15 minutes (+430), Mlxg averaged behind 308, second to last among junglers. While similar statistics are not available for the LPL, his gold per minute and damage per minute dropped six and 18 percent from Spring Split to MSI, despite playing fewer tanks. RNG’s First Blood percentage also dropped from 50 percent to 27.3 percent, with Mlxg contributing only 30 percent participation.

Similar to Khan, Mlxg did not perform poorly compared to the field. He definitely came across as a top three starting jungler. Mlxg mostly just played lower than fans have come to expect from him, especially in the earlier stages of the game. Few matches felt like he controlled the tempo. Comparatively, Karsa clearly controlled the pace of RNG’s game against Flash Wolves on day four.

By day five, Mlxg looked warmed up. His Xin Zhao against Flash Wolves and Graves against Team Liquid felt more controlled, more calculated. Hopefully, this form transitions into the bracket stage of MSI. Peanut, Broxah and MooJin essentially played to or above expectations. For RNG to reach the next level in a best-of series, Mlxg needs to channel his more aggressive early-game style. He is certainly capable of greater play than he has demonstrated during most of MSI.

Mid – Pobelter

Team Liquid Pobelter underperformed at 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

While Pobelter is not considered to be a major threat by NA LCS fans, most considered him to be on an upward trajectory since Spring Split playoffs. His role in the finals against 100 Thieves awarded him Most Valuable Player of the series. MSI has brought that momentum to a screeching halt, as Pobelter has not lived up to expectations.

Team Liquid’s mid laner ranks last in laning stats at 15 minutes in the MSI group stage, which is not necessarily surprising, considering he was middle-of-the-pack during the regular season Spring Split. During playoffs he was roughly fourth or fifth in laning among mids. But, what he lacked in early game dominance, Pobelter made up for with team-fighting prowess. He knows the limits of his champion once he hits the two to three item mark, which is how he earned a 7.2 KDA and 527 damage per minute in playoffs.

At MSI, Pobelter has a 2.8 KDA and 363 damage per minute. Team Liquid drafted him slightly different champions, such as Malzahar, Karma and Taliyah, but that does not make up the discrepancy between playoff Pobelter and MSI Pobelter. He seemed off all tournament, often getting caught during his split-push or roaming between lanes. This bump in the road is unfortunate, as many fans were enjoying Pobelter’s success. Caps, Maple, and even Warzone put their teams on their backs at times. Team Liquid could not count on Pobelter in the same way this time around.

AD Carry – Rekkles

Fnatic Rekkles underperformed at 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Recency bias will cause European fans to turn their heads away from Rekkles’ overall lowered performance at MSI. From awkward drafts featuring Sivir when no other AD carry was playing her, to overly passive skirmishing, Rekkles had major issues during group stage. Unsurprisingly, Rekkles only composed of 27.1 percent of his team’s damage, while other members of the team stepped up to make up for his lack of presence.

For example, Uzi, PraY, Doublelift, and Betty output anywhere from 90 to 110 percent of their 2017 Worlds’ damage at 2018 MSI. Rekkles’ damage per minute dropped to 80 percent of his Worlds’ numbers. He put up a 6.5 KDA, third among AD carries, but mostly from lower deaths, not higher kills or assists. Rekkles’ champion preferences essentially gave up Fnatic’s early game pressure around bottom lane, while other teams prioritized more aggressive champions and playstyles.

Rekkles’ final Xayah game versus Team Liquid should restore hope for EU LCS followers. For seemingly the first time during the tournament, Rekkles and Hylissang exhibited substantial early laning pressure, and transitioned their power throughout the map. Rekkles output larger damage numbers and higher kill participation, which constricted Team Liquid the way Fnatic dominated Spring Split playoffs. As the West’s last hope of an MSI victory, Fnatic will need more of this Rekkles during the bracket stage.

Support – Olleh

Team Liquid Olleh underperformed at 2018 MSI group stage

Image from LoL Esports Flickr

Without beating a dead horse too much, Olleh fell flat at MSI, and was arguably the largest liability in the entire event. From sub-par day one play, to stepping down at one point, to further reduced execution, Team Liquid’s support looked completely out of sorts. His decision-making with Tahm Kench, Alistar and Braum was questionable, which is why safer supports, like Janna and Morgana, better suited him.

With supports having much less statistical analysis to back up their play, eye testing becomes much more important. Compared with SwordArt, Ming, GorillA and even Hylissang, Olleh felt outclassed. While every other support player showed off clutch play-making, particularly on Rakan, Olleh’s best plays were in the background and his worst plays remained memorable.

This tournament is far from Olleh’s best, and anyone who has followed his time in North America knows his potential. He was a top support in North America on Immortals, and he was strong this spring. Olleh will most likely come back even stronger this summer. However, this MSI will be a dark stain on his record, as he severely underperformed when Team Liquid needed him most.

credits

Images: LoL Esports Flickr

Player and Team Statistics: GamesofLegends.com

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Overwatch League Expansion Tier List: What cities will we see next?

It was recently reported that the Overwatch League was looking to expand with a price tag of a cool $30 to $60 million. Activision Blizzard also announced that they are now looking to add four or six teams instead of the two they were planning on originally. This adds numerous possibilities, and many different cities will be vying for spots in the league.

With that in mind we are going to look at which cities have the best chance of getting Overwatch League teams and rank them into three tiers.

Rankings will be based on the following questions:

  1. How big is the city?
  2. Has the city had any involvement in esports before? If so, how successful have those events been?
  3. Is there a known investor/franchise that is from that city that would want to put it there?
  4. Are there teams in close proximity to this city already? (i.e. another LA would not be likely)

There will be other factors to keep in mind as well. If they only go with four teams will they just keep the two divisions? If they go six do they split them up? Also, they will want to keep the divisions equal. To do so, there are only so many teams from certain areas that can can be considered.

Not happening this time

There are some cities that will probably be mentioned but, it is very unlikely that they will get a spot for one reason or another.

Detroit, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Kansas City- While all of these cities have a good amount of traditional sports teams, it is unlikely in this first expansion that they will pick two Midwest cities – especially ones that don’t have a huge connection to esports just yet.

Rome, Barcelona- Both are huge for soccer/futbol. That being said they aren’t necessarily known for esports and while they could eventually get teams there is no chance they beat out most of these other cities.

Tier 3- Unlikely but Possible

Brooklyn-  This was originally going to be a complete no, but looking at a couple factors changed that. To start, the Season 1 playoffs are happening at the Barclays Center. Also, most traditional sports have at least two teams in the big apple. Lastly, Los Angeles already has two teams so why not put two in New York as well? The main reason this is a long shot is that the Overwatch League wants to be a global league and there are areas of the United States and Europe that need teams more. Remember, there can only be two or three teams coming from the Atlantic area.

Overwatch league expansion

Courtesy of: Knights.gg

Beijing- The market in Asia is huge for just about any esport, especially China. Beijing did host the 2017 World Finals for League of Legends in an arena that held 91,000. The real problem is that there are at least two other cities that will be on this list that the OWL will want more for their Asian market. Truthfully, if Shanghai hadn’t come first, it is very likely that Beijing would be a higher priority.

Pittsburgh- This city is the least expected one on this list. That being said there is already an established esports organization that is officially the esports team of the city, the Pittsburgh Knights. With investors already coming in and the city backing them, it would be very easy for the OWL to establish a team in this city. Also Rob “Leonyx” Lee, owner, already has a ton of experience within the world of esports and would be able to help grow the new league.

The major problem is that without the already established team, Pittsburgh would never be considered. They don’t host any big events, it’s one of the smaller cities on this list, and the Philadelphia Fusion are in the same state.

Denver- DreamHack being in Denver put this city on the esports map. It’s in a very good location as there aren’t any teams already established anywhere nearby. That is about all it has going for it when it comes to a potential team, though. Unless a major investor with connections to this area comes forward, it is hard to see the Mile High City getting a team this time around.

Tier 2- Close but just out of reach

Atlanta- There is a lot to like about putting a new team in Atlanta. To start, there are no other teams in the area, so they could hit a whole new demographic. Their newest team in the MLS is bringing more fans to their games than any other team which means that this city receives new teams with enthusiasm. Lastly, Atlanta is a hotbed for hosting esports events such as DreamHack, the CWL, and more. The only thing going against Atlanta is that there are a limited number of spots.

overwatch league expansion

Courtesy of: Dribble.com

Washington D.C.- With a plethora of investors to choose from, a brand new NBA2k league team, and it being the capital of the United States it makes it hard not to at least consider D.C. The city is obviously big enough. The problem is that there are already so many teams in close proximity, such as New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. If D.C. wants a team and they don’t get one this time around, it wouldn’t be surprising to see one in serious consideration next time.

Cleveland- The Midwest desperately needs an Overwatch League team. The closest ones are either on the East coast or in Dallas. While Cleveland may not have been on the list before, that has changed majorly in the last year and a half. There is clearly investment interest as Cleveland has added two major esports franchises in the Cavs Legion from the NBA2k League and 100 Thieves from League of Legends. Both franchises are expected to perform well as the Cavs Legion have a top team lead by Hood and 100 Thieves recently finished 2nd in the NA LCS.

Tier 1- Very Likely

Chicago- We will start with the city that most likely will take Cleveland out of the running this time. Chicago is a major sports city and it has hosted numerous major esports events. Most consider Chicago to be the New York of the midwest and for good reason. It is a very cultural city that has incredibly loyal fans and has the biggest population in the Midwest. Did we mention that the Midwest needs a team? Even if there were only two spots available it is likely that Chicago would be highly considered, now with the possibility of three, Chicago had better be ready for an esports team.

Courtesy of: Leagueoflegends.com

Hong Kong- Like Cleveland being overshadowed by Chicago, Beijing won’t be considered because of this city. Hong Kong has been one of the major Asian cities for the last century and is one of the most Westernized cities on the continent. Combine this with the fact that it is likely that the OWL wants to reach more fans in China, and you get a top tier city. With a company like Tencent being in the area it is highly likely that they may want a piece of the OWL pie as well.

Paris- MSI for League of Legends will be happening here in just a few days. Paris has hosted esports events and is one of the major cities in Europe. Lets not forget that the London Spitfire are the only team representing Europe in a global league. If you don’t think Nate Nanzer is thinking about this then you’d be dead wrong. This city makes a ton of sense and like Chicago, even if they were only bringing in two teams overall it is likely Paris would be near or at the top.

Berlin- Almost everything that has been said about Paris can be said about Berlin. Although there is one distinct advantage, League of Legends EULCS is based there. This shows that people will attend games and the esports scene is growing there quickly. That being said, this may also be a reason why the league wont go here. As of right now it seems as though both leagues aren’t exactly on great terms (check out what happened to Immortals), so it is possible that the OWL could look elsewhere for now.

Seattle- Esports are based on the West Coast. It is where most of the studios are and it is where every team currently is based. With connections to Microsoft, many esports events being hosted there, and the general acceptance of esports in this city, it is likely they would be considered. Seattle would continue building the base of esports in the west and thus continue to grow it.

Overwatch League Expansion

Courtesy of: TheVerge.com

Toronto- The fact that there was not a team in Toronto to start was a little surprising. This city has a massive esports culture. It has hosted many events and it has one of the new NBA2k League teams. Canada needs to be represented in this league and Toronto is an obvious choice to make it happen.

Las Vegas- A year ago this may not have been a top choice. But with their new esports arena (used by Ninja for a Fortnite tournament), a new hockey team that is doing extraordinarily well, and a new NFL team, this city is ripe for an OWL team. The stereotype of Las Vegas being the sin city is still there. However, in the last decade or so it has become much more family friendly. With all of the new major venues and teams coming to Vegas, an OWL team just makes sense to join them.

Tokyo- Last but certainly not least is the biggest city in Japan. There is a massive culture built around gaming and esports in this city and country. They even have heroes and a map representating them in game. If a slot buyer comes forward with connections to the city then it would be very hard for the OWL to pass up the opportunity to bring Tokyo into the mix.

What do you think?

These are some of the top cities that could be considered for Overwatch League spots. As of right now there have been no announcements as to the bidding process, who has made a bid, or just about anything other than what we know from that original report. Speculation will increase the hype as the league starts their last stage this week.

What cities do you think will receive teams? Are there any that were missed? Comment below and let us know!

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Postmortem: Flash Wolves vs Gambit Esports

Last week, the Play-In stage of the 2018 mid-season invitational (MSI) concluded not with a bang, but with a whimper, as CIS representatives Gambit Esports found themselves on the wrong end of a barely-contested 3-0 clean sweep at the hands of the LMS’ Flash Wolves. Gambit came close to victory only in the very first game. In this postmortem of Gambit’s defeat, I want to look at the teamfight that ultimately decided that game, and see what it tells us about Gambit, the Flash Wolves and why things turned out the way they did.

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Setting the scene

Before we can analyse the fight, we must understand the context in which it took place. Gambit’s soft-scaling composition, featuring champions most comfortable in mid to late game teamfights like Cassiopeia, Kai’sa and Trundle, had come online after 20 minutes of being forced to cede objective after objective to the Flash Wolves’ stronger, more early-game focused composition. The Flash Wolves attempted to engage multiple times after this point, trying to carry their momentum forward, but to no avail. After one particularly successful fight and an opportunistic baron, Gambit marched down the bot lane towards the Flash Wolves’ inhibitor turret to begin a siege. They had a gold lead, an active baron buff, and the tempo of the game in their hands. It seemed theirs to win or lose. It was here, exactly 29 and a half minutes into the game, that the pivotal teamfight occurred.

 

The Fight

One of the most important features of the Flash Wolves’ composition was Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh’s Rakan. Representing both their primary engage and counter-engage potential, SwordArt had a vital role to play. Thus, when he slightly overstepped on Gambit’s flank, toplaner Alexander “PvPStejos” Glazkov (Maokai), saw the chance to swing the odds in their favour and went for the pick, chaining his Twisted Advance and his ultimate to lock him down. Meanwhile Gambit AD Carry Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk, representing much of Gambit’s damage on a Kai’sa at the peak of her power, immediately blew his own ultimate ability to rush to his toplaner’s side and help secure the kill.

Of course, the kill never actually happened, and SwordArt escaped by the skin of his teeth while the remaining elements of each team clashed at the entrance to the base. The Flash Wolves’ Cho’gath traded his life for that of Gambit jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov (Trundle) while their own carries (Karma and Xayah) dealt as much damage as they could from the back. A tense trade of summoner spells and cooldowns later, Gambit retreated, health bars low. The fight was over, and though it looked like little was ultimately lost, the moments before the fight were the last in which Gambit had any measure of control over the game. In the next several minutes, the Flash Wolves would push out from their base, re-establish control of the map and win the game after a single well-executed teamfight.

 

Image courtesy of Riot Games

 

Mistake #1: Over-committing

 We know what happened, but what did Gambit actually do wrong?

The first mistake that Gambit made was to commit so much to an uncertain play. Gambit spent the ultimates of Maokai and Kai’sa for the prospect of a kill on a Rakan. Though perhaps a fair trade, the cost of these ultimate abilities cannot be overstated. Maokai’s Nature’s Grasp was the central engage mechanic that Gambit relied on. As a lane-wide ultimate with long range, the ability could both force a fight or  zone the Flash Wolves away from important objectives. In the context of a siege, expending a Maokai ultimate for a single pick is more than a little risky.

Kai’sa’s ultimate, meanwhile, looks far less impactful on the surface. It provides a shield and the ability to quickly reposition, but by itself it provides none of Kai’sa’s substantial damage output and tank-shredding ability. However, the difference between having this ultimate available or not is the difference between being able to step forward and provide damage with a safety net versus having to play from the backline, and the difference between being able to forcefully clean up a fight or letting it get away. Though Kai’sa represented only half of Gambit’s primary damage output, with Lodik less than a percentage away from midlaner Mykhailo “Kira” Harmash’s (Cassiopeia) damage share in this game (29.6 to 29%), spending this ultimate came at a substantial cost.

That’s not to say it wasn’t worth it. Any good team knows that sometimes, you have to spend valuable resources to try and get ahead. What makes the play so questionable is how uncertain it was, as SwordArt had both Cleanse and Flash summoner spells available to him, which allowed him to escape. Gambit either failed to properly track his summoner spells, or failed to consider how strong they’d be in avoiding the pick. Either way, Gambit messed up.

 

Mistake #2: Mechanical missteps

A team could have the perfect draft and an unbeatable plan, with every possible risk or outcome accounted for; but at the end of the day what decides games is how well a team executes their plan. Gambit, unfortunately, did not execute their plan well at all.

The first mechanical error came from PvPStejos. We’ve already covered how important the Maokai ultimate could be, however it would’ve been entirely possible to use it for the pick on SwordArt whilst also helping the main fight. If he’d angled his ultimate towards the botlane tower, Gambit may have fared better. PvPStejos instead angled it away from the tower, meaning that aside from (briefly) rooting SwordArt, the ultimate did nothing except zone the Flash Wolves’ least relevant teamfighter, a Kha’zix.

But this had little bearing on the pick itself, and things may well had gone differently if SwordArt had gone down. What more directly influenced that was Lodik’s positioning. Rakan’s ultimate, The Quickness, causes Rakan to gain movement speed and charm whomever he touches. Maokai would almost necessarily be hit by this. A well-positioned Kai’sa, however, would be capable of firing off the crucial extra auto-attacks necessary to secure the kill before succumbing to the CC. It’s therefore tragic that Lodik, in his rush to follow up PvPStejos’ engage, positioned himself in melee range of the Rakan, meaning he was CC’ed and locked out of auto-attacking almost instantly and was unable to secure the kill. Each of these crucial mechanical errors snowballed against Gambit in their own ways, each contributing to their losing the fight.

 

Image courtesy of Riot Games

 

Mistake #3: The follow-up

While SwordArt was making his great escape, toplaner Su ‘Hanabi’ Chia-Hsiang stepped slightly out of the base to support him, and the remaining Gambit squad rushed forward in an attempt to punish him. It’s here that another issue with Lodik’s dive becomes clear: Gambit had no good way of dealing with Hanabi’s Cho’gath.

Gambit had a Trundle, whose Subjugate ultimate shreds through tanks resistances. Effective as this is, Hanabi had both substantial health scaling from his own ultimate, as well as a Gargoyle’s Stoneplate which can temporarily make any tank virtually unkillable. In order to be able to properly utilise Subjugate to burn through Cho’gath and make it to the backline, Gambit needed their consistent damage sources at the ready to take him out. Unfortunately, the best tank-shredder on the team was Lodik, who was busy being CC’ed by a frustratingly not-dead Rakan at the point that Diamondprox and Kira decided to engage on Hanabi. Meanwhile both of Flash Wolves carries were present and dealing incredible amounts of damage to every Gambit member, safe in the knowledge that both the most salient enemy damage threat and the main source of engage were preoccupied.

Though PvPStejos and Lodick did soon rejoin the central fight, Diamondprox was already dead and PvPStejos was forced to use his most reliable remaining method of locking a target down, his Twisted Advance, to secure the kill on Hanabi, allowing the Flash Wolves’ carries a further measure of safety for a few seconds. Meanwhile Lu ‘Betty’ Yu-Hung’ (Xayah) had a full health bar, his flash, and his own safety-net ultimate at the ready.

In other words, at the point that Gambit engaged onto Hanabi they had neither the damage output nor lockdown to secure the kill, or any method of stopping the carries Hanabi was protecting from dealing damage. By the time they were able to secure the kill, Gambit had low health bars across the board, and neither Flash Wolves’ mid or ADC had a scratch on them. Diving SwordArt was problematic in itself, but committing to a fight which had little chance of success with a Cho’gath and two carries was arguably the bigger mistake.

 

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Lessons learned

This teamfight serves perfectly to elucidate Gambit’s issues when faced with a team of the Flash Wolves’ calibre. Gambit demonstrated awkward and poorly considered calls, mechanical errors, and a failure to understand both where the power in their composition lay, and how much of it would be required to stand up to specific elements of the Flash Wolves’ composition. Though this fight only cost them one game, it was the game they were best positioned to win, and what we learned about how Gambit functioned under pressure helps explain how they were so outclassed by the Flash Wolves throughout the series. Yet as tragic as the loss was for Gambit fans, at the end of the day, the better team won.

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Featured photo from Riot Games

msi day 1

MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs RNG

MSI Day 1 – Fnatic vs Royal Never Give Up

“My goal is top two, otherwise I will be disappointed.” Martin “Rekkles” Larsson had high expectations ahead of the 2018 Mid Season Invitational. These feelings are understandable coming from the EU Spring Split, as he is surrounded by a team that dominated both the regular season and the playoffs. However, as they faced RNG in the first game of MSI Day 1, Fnatic needed to be ready. In RNG they were up against tougher competition than they faced all year. Most notably, the RNG roster boasts Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao who has been ranked by most (including Rekkles himself) as the best AD Carry in the world.

Early Game

As the teams took their spots on the stage, they showed their strategy in the Pick & Ban stage. Fnatic attempted to limit the impact of Uzi, not by banning his champions, but instead banning Supports and Mid Laners like Karma, Morgana, and Lulu that would make him unstoppable. RNG decided to focus their bans on rookie Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau by taking out Sion, Swain, and Gangplank. Bwipo only recently took the starting spot in Fnatic’s Top Lane due to an injured Paul “sOAZ” Boyer.

RNG started the game by attempting to punish the rookie once again, and Liu “Mlxg” Shi-Yu (Olaf) Ganked top early. Though Mlxg took him down to very low health, Bwipo (Vladamir) managed to escape without using Flash.  In response, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen (Trundle)  Ganked the Mid Lane shortly after, and managed to force the Flash from Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao (Ryze).

msi day 1

FNC Broxah. Credit: LoL Esports

First Blood

RNG began to assert their dominance early, taking the farm lead in every lane as Fnatic played safe. This patience paid off at 12 minutes when Broxah and Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov (Braum) joined Rasmus “Caps” Winther (Yasuo) in the Mid Lane, giving Broxah First Blood on the Flash-less Xaiohu. Then, just seven minutes later, Caps and Xaioho faced off in the Bottom Lane. Caps flashed under the tower to get the solo kill. Xaioho returned immediately to the bottom lane, and was caught again. After a Pillar from Broxah and Last Breath from Caps, Broxah walked away with another kill and Xaiohu found himself at 0/3/0.

RNG Finally shut down Caps as they caught him near the Baron Pit, but he was able to force out Ultimates from both Mlxg and Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming (Tahm Kench). He led them both on a chase that would allow Fnatic to take the Mid Lane turret. Both teams continued through the Mid Game very cautiously, prioritizing vision and Baron pressure without either looking to engage the other.

At 31 minutes, Caps once again forced a fight, and killed the enemy Jungler behind the Baron Pit. With this advantage, Fnatic looked to take the Baron, but were foiled as Caps attempted to prevent RNG from stealing it, and was deleted by Uzi. The Baron Buff went to RNG, and with it, Fnatic’s Bot Lane Inhibitor.

msi day 1 uzi

RNG Uzi. Photo: LoL Esports

End Game

Shortly after, RNG set up a “Death Brush” on the top side of the Mid Lane, but Fnatic was able to turn this ambush against them. A Pillar of Ice from Broxah allowed them to single out and kill Mlxg. Continuing to engage, they followed up with a kill on Yan “Letme” Jun-Ze (Cho’Gath). Fnatic pushed the 5-3 advantage down the Mid Lane to take the enemy Inhibitor. Rather than recalling after this, they decided to make a Death Brush of their own in the RNG Jungle, which proved to be their downfall.

Though RNG had no wards in the area, Uzi was suspicious, and used Living Artillery blindly. Aiming wisely, he managed to hit the tightly grouped Fnatic team. In the resulting fight, Fnatic looked to focus the enemy AD Carry. As Uzi was saved by Ming’s Devour, Fnatic was unable to adjust, and ended up losing four members. RNG easily walked down the Mid Lane and ended the game.

Though Fnatic looked to be a match for RNG throughout much of the game, they could not win out in the end. In truth, the LPL team was able to keep a gold lead and played to their Win Condition more successfully. Through smart Macro play and playing around Uzi, RNG came away with the first victory of the MSI 2018 Group Stage.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

MSI

MSI Play-In Round 2 Breakdown

MSI Play-In Round 2

Four teams are still in the running to fill the last two Main Event spots for the 2018 Mid Season Invitational. Gambit Esports, SuperMassive eSports, EVOS Esports, and Flash Wolves will all face one more hurdle in their quest to take on the best team from the top regions in the world. The competition will be intense as they fight to keep their MSI dreams alive.

Series 1 – SuperMassive eSports vs. EVOS Esports

Tuesday, May 8th

SuperMassive eSports

SuperMassive eSports breezed through the initial Play-In Stage as easily as they won the Turkish Champions League (TCL) this Spring Split. Winning their group with a 5-1 record, there was no doubt that they deserved to move on. All members looked exceptional throughout the stage and their teamwork made them stand out against their opponents.

Their only loss came in their last game of the stage after they had already secured first place. The lack of pressure on the outcome resulted in a game that looked more like an ARAM than a competitive match. After SuperMassive locked in a team consisting of three Marksmen and an Irelia Support, their opponents, KaBum! E-sports locked in a Rammus for their Top Lane. The result was a fast-paced match that lasted less than 25 minutes and had an excessive 75 kills.

EVOS Esports

This year, the Vietnam Championship Series is being represented at MSI by EVOS Esports. Founded in 2017, they won the 2018 VCS Spring Promotion, and immediately went on to finish first in the league and take first place in the postseason. With a 12-2 record, the newcomers dominated the VCS.

Though Nguyễn “Slay” Ngọc Hùng and Đoàn “Warzone” Văn Ngọc Sơn have been on the competitive scene for a while now, the team is made up of mostly unknowns. That is unlikely to remain the case for long as they look to make a name for themselves in their first international tournament.

MSI Supermassive

Photo: Leaguepedia

Prediction

SuperMassive eSports 3:1 EVOS Esports

EVOS has had a great season and are a strong team, but they have several things working against them. First, they are still a new team, with no experience on the international stage. Not only does SuperMassive have experience at MSI as an organization, but they boast some seasoned veterans on their roster as well. Midlaner Lee “GBM” Chang-seok has played since 2013 on varioous teams in the LCK, EU LCS, and NA LCS. Their Support, No “SnowFlower” Hoi-jong played several seasons in Korea for Afreeca Freecs and Jin Air Green Wings before finding his way to the TCL.

In addition to the experience advantage, SuperMassive also has the upper hand when it comes to momentum. Coming off of a season where both GBM and AD Carry Berkay “Zeitnot” Aşıkuzun were tied for first place with 8 “Player of the Game” awards apiece, they continued to play and improve throughout the first Play-In Stage. While they have of course been practicing, it will be just over a month for EVOS since they were last on stage. Inexperienced and out of practice, they will have a big hill to climb if they want to keep up with the dynamic SuperMassive Gaming.

 

Series 2 – Flash Wolves vs. Gambit Esports

Wednesday, May 9th

Gambit Esports

Gambit Esports followed up a dominant split with an equally impressive run in the first Play-In Stage. The winners of the League of Legends Continental League have a truly impressive amount of experience throughout the team, and it shows. Not only have Jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov and Edward “Edward” Abgaryan both been playing since early 2012, but they have been teammates for nearly that entire stretch. The game knowledge and synergy that comes from this history compliments the mechanical skill of the rest of the team.

Flash Wolves

As has often been the case, Flash Wolves once again topped the League of Legends Master Series this split. With the legends Huang “Maple” Yi-Tang and Hu “SwordArt” Shuo-Chieh leading the team from the Mid Lane and Support position respectively, they also boast impressive young talent in the Solo Lanes. Additionally, Lu “Betty” Yu-Hung had an exceptional season and looks to be one of the few that could rise to the challenge of the AD Carries that will be waiting in the Main Event. 

Though they tend to stumble at Worlds, they traditionally do well at the Mid Season Invitational.

Flash Wolves MSI

Photo: Leaguepedia

Prediction

Flash Wolves 3:2 Gambit Esports

This matchup is shaping up to be one of the closest ones of the tournament. The veteran duo of Diamondprox and Edward is one of the few that can rival the experience of  Maple and SwordArt. Both teams rely on top level Macro play to dissect their opponents, and it will be a constant mental battle to see who can get the upper hand.

Wrapping up their season at the end of April, Flash Wolves did not have the long break that EVOS will have to come back from. In the end, the deciding factor may be the AD Carry matchup, and this is one that Flash Wolves will likely win. Though Stanislav “Lodik” Kornelyuk has been playing quite well, he gained the starting role late in the season, and only has 10 games under his belt with the team this year. Facing off against Betty who has been part of the Flash Wolves lineup for a few years and has been in great form, Lodik and Gambit will likely fall just short.

 

 

 

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MSI

What to Watch For at MSI 2018

Mid-Season Invitional (MSI) 2018 is here! Amidst all the excitement, here are a few key things to keep an eye out for as the tournament progresses.

ADC Pool

One thing that is constantly brought up when discussing MSI 2018 is the roster of Attack Damage Carries (ADCs) that will be there – and with good reason. The top four teams boast Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, Kim “PraY” Jong-in, and Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao.

Doublelift

Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng joined Team Liquid this season, and was able to turn around a rough start to the split. His exceptional play eventually led his team to 10-1 in the playoffs, taking the trophy. Though not a perfect season by any means, Peng’s impressive mental resilience is something to be admired, as it allowed him to come back from an 8-7 start, going on to win the finals. When he is on form, he can hold his own with the best.

Rekkles

EU LCS Spring Split MVP Martin “Rekkles” Larsson is looking better than ever. Averaging .75 deaths per game, Larsson’s positioning and decision-making are unrivaled in his region this season. Though he was successful on many champions, he earned an insane 65.0 Kill Death Assist Ratio (KDA) over 7 games when allowed to play Tristana. With a Fnatic team around him that looked dominant nearly all season, Larsson is looking to make a big impact at MSI this year.

PraY

Kingzone DragonX are favored by many to win MSI, and that is thanks, in no small part, to Kim “PraY” Jong-in. With a team made up of some of the best players in the world in all positions, Jong-in still finds a way to shine. He has long been considered a top ADC, but will have to break his tradition of coming up just short in international competitions in order to take home the MSI title.

Uzi

Jian “Uzi” Zi-Hao is the best ADC in the world, by nearly all accounts. While he has always been top-tier mechanically, it seems that his mental game has recently risen to match. A calmer approach has helped him synergize better with his team, and earned him his first League of Legends Pro League (LPL) Championship. If it comes down to a battle of the ADC’s, Royal Never Give Up (RNG) should be feeling good about their shot at winning MSI.

 

MSI Kaisa

Kai’Sa (Courtesy of Riot)

Kai’Sa

If recent competitions are any indication, Kai’Sa will have a noticeable impact on MSI. Most notably, Afreeca Freecs allowed Kim “PraY” Jong-in to play her in all four of the League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) LCK Spring Split Finals. He ended up going 22/4/17 during the series, earning Kingzone DragonX the title. Additionally, Kai’Sa can potentially be played in the Jungle or even other lanes, and this flexibility only adds to her value. The high damage, high mobility Marksman has shined since her competitive release, and will likely be picked or banned in most games.

Although she made her mark in the LCK, many regions have not yet been able to play Kai’Sa competitively. Released on Patch 8.5, she was unavailable for play throughout the end of the Spring Split for most. This creates an aspect of mystery around which teams will prioritize picking her, prioritize banning her, and which teams will stick with what they know. Though if teams have been paying attention at all, they will keep her out of Kim “PraY” Jong-in’s hands.

Mid Lane Excitement

With Patch 8.8 came several nerfs to the control mages that have been dominating the meta recently. Champions like Azir, Ryze, Galio, and Taliyah have all taken slight nerfs, which opens the door to the possibility of Assassins showing up in the mid lane. These high risk, high reward picks often add a good amount of excitement in professional matches where mechanics are at the highest level. The potential for surprise assassinations and tricky outplays makes for some of the most gripping moments on the rift.

Diamondprox

MSI Diamondprox

Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov (Courtesy of Gambit)

Gambit Esports has been tearing up the LCL since Summer 2017. However, after a dismal 0-4 performance at Worlds last year, they will be looking for redemption on the international stage. Much of their plans for success will rest on the shoulders of veteran Jungler Danil “Diamondprox” Reshetnikov. The former EU LCS All-Star has been in impressive form recently as he led his team to first place in the 2018 LCL Spring Split.

His most popular champion is the tanky Sejuani. Her kit allows players to provide a safe front line for their team while also getting picks on the enemy with Glacial Prison. With six wins out of seven games played on this champ, as well as a 8.75 KDA, Sejuani is his favored pick. It’s safe to say that Gambit’s opponents will try to keep the Fury of the North out of his hands. If they do manage this, however, Diamondprox should still have an impact. He can always go with Kha’Zix, Olaf, Trundle, Skarner, Jax, or Zac – all of which he has a winning record with in 2018.

A New Fan Favorite

It seems that at nearly every international tournament, a relatively unknown team does surprisingly well. These teams tend to gather a large following of those fans who love the underdog story. In recent years Albus NoX Luna and GIGABYTE Marines have both caught the eye of new fans by making unexpected runs through some of the worlds best teams. Once the Play-In stages are done, there will be a large fanbase pulling for one of the lower ranked teams to beat some of the best organizations in the world.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Fnatic heading to MSI on a new patch

Given the long break between the end of the LCS and MSI, Fnatic will have several adjustments to make in order to continue their streak of success. Though all teams will be affected by these changes, Fnatic may feel it most of all in some of their key roles.

Braum

Fnatic

Courtesy of Riot Games

The first big change that Fnatic is likely to feel are the nerfs to Braum in Patch 8.8. While this may seem insignificant (Armor growth reduced by .5, and Stand Behind Me bonus resistance decreased by 7.5 at level 1 => 1.5 at level 5) every little bit counts for the pros. Braum was the most picked champion by Fnatic this past season, with Zdravets “Hylissang” Iliev Galabov playing him in 11 of their 25 games. Additionally, an adjustment to Targon’s Brace (passive gold generation per 10 seconds reduced from 4 to 1) in Patch 8.7 has been a nerf to tanky supports overall.

If these changes are enough to keep Fnatic from picking Braum, it will not only affect their Bot Lane, but may force Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen or (likely) Paul “sOAZ” Boyer onto tanks when they would rather play a carry.

Rekkles

Luckily for Fnatic, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson may have received a huge buff in recent weeks. Although it is unlikely that any team will let Kai’sa through, it could be huge for Fnatic if they do.  The powerful scaling mixed with the early play-making potential could be lethal in the hands of the EU LCS MVP. As this may be a must-ban for many teams, it could possibly create an opportunity for a champion like Tristana or Xayah to slip though.

Another possible bonus for the Bot Lane is the buff for Lucian that came through in Patch 8.6. While the champion has been out of the meta for quite some time now, it remains the most-played champion on stage for Rekkles. With damage increases on both Ardent Blaze and The Culling, the mobile marksman could be strong again. Multiple ADC bans could result in him pulling out this pocket pick.

Caps

Rasmus “Caps” Winther has a sizable champion pool, playing 13 different champions on stage so far in 2018. Even so, he is not immune to nerfs. Azir, Taliyah, Galio, Ryze and Swain all took big hits in the last two patches which could be trouble for the Mid Laner. Caps shines on play-making Mages. With so many from his champion pool being taken down a notch, he will be much easier to ban against.

Some of these nerfs may be small enough where Caps can play through them. Also, he could break out the recently reverted LeBlanc or the newly buffed Lissandra. However he decides to deal with so many changes, it will be something that the team as a whole will have to adjust their play style to.

Death Brush

There is one additional change that could benefit teams like Fnatic. In Patch 8.6, the Sweeping Lens trinket was removed completely from the game. It was instead replaced by its former upgrade, Oracle Alteration. While in general, Oracle Alteration is seen as a better version of the Sweeping Lens, there is one major drawback. The sweeping area is centered around the champion rather than a selected point. This lack of range makes it a much more dangerous item to scout brush with.

fnatic

Courtesy of LoL Esports

Against the team that created the phrase “Fnatic Death Brush” this can be a worrisome change. Fnatic has always been famous for predicting where the enemy team will be pathing, and sitting in an un-warded brush to ambush them for a quick kill. While teams can still scout from distance with a Farsight Orb or certain skillshots, removal of a safe way to scout brush that Fnatic may be hiding in is a buff to them, although and obscure one.

While many of the recent changes, both positive and negative, seem to focus on things that are pivotal to Fnatic, the truth is that all teams will need to make adjustments. At MSI, the best teams from each region will be facing off. Victory will likely come to those that adjust the best.

 

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Featured photo courtesy of Fnatic

SKT

SKT T1 falls short in playoffs, misses MSI

SK Telecom T1

SK Telecom T1 has been the most dominant League of Legends team in the world for as long as many fans can remember.  For much of the past five years, they have been the top team in the toughest region in the world. They have racked up 13 first place titles between splits, playoffs, and international competitions. With their recent playoff loss however, they will be missing MSI for the first time, and people are beginning to question whether the stumble that started last season is turning into a true fall for the masters of the Rift.

Although having Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, who many regard as the best League of Legends player ever, has been a big part of this success, it is far from the only factor. They have consistently had some of the best talent in all positions. This versatility allowed them to rely on their other lanes to carry if the enemy devoted too much of their time to shutting Faker down. Along with long-time Head Coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun, former SKT T1 players Lee “PoohManDu” Jeong-hyeon and Bae “Bengi” Seong-woong are also part of the coaching team. For years, they had the talent and discipline to take down any opponent, and they looked unstoppable.

Troubles arise

Then came the 2017 Summer Split. The same team that easily won the Spring Split, Spring Playoffs and MSI was suddenly losing games. They went 13-5 and finished 4th, their lowest ever, before going on to lose to Longzhu Gaming in the LCK Finals. Though surprising, second place is a respectable finish, and SKT T1 was still headed to Worlds.

SKT T1 and their supporters were hoping to put the Summer Split and talk of their recent struggles behind them. Unfortunately, they faced stiff competition on their way to the finals, beating both Misfits Gaming and Royal Never Give Up 3-2 in the elimination rounds. In the Championship matchup, Samsung Galaxy defeated SKT T1 3-0, and the esports world was stunned.

SKT

Courtesy of Dailycal.org

Shorty after the loss at Worlds, Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho left SKT T1. Throughout the Spring Split, they shuffled their roster for both health reasons as well as in an effort to regain their winning style. Only Faker and Bae “Bang” Jun-sik remained as starters throughout the split. Despite a dismal early season, SKT T1 were able to rally and secure 4th place once again. To the surprise of many, they found a way to make it to the playoffs.

2018 Spring Playoffs

Their first opponent was 5th place KSV eSports, the team that purchased the LCK spot from reigning world champions Samsung Galaxy. Along with their place in the league, KSV kept the same roster. Throughout the Spring Split they fielded the same lineup that won the Summoners Cup only months ago. Despite a strong start, KSV struggled down the stretch, losing both of their match ups against SKT T1 during the regular season. In the first stage of playoffs, SKT T1 completed the sweep, defeating KSV 2-1.

Up next for SKT T1 was KT Rolster, a team that defeated them twice during the split. With names like Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho, Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong and Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu on the roster, it’s no surprise that KT Rolster was one of the top teams in the LCK.

Game 1 went well for SKT T1, with Faker, Bang and Park “Thal” Kwon-hyuk each doing impressive damage, and Kang “Blank” Sun-gu dominating the Jungle. Despite being down early, they were able to win an important team fight which led to them taking back the gold lead, several objectives, and soon, the game.

Things turned against SKT T1 in Game 2. Instead of playing Azir, Faker had to face him. Newcomer  Son “Ucal” Woo-hyeon more than held his own, going 5/2/3 and dominating the Mid Lane.  His Double Kill at 12 minutes helped give KT Rolster a significant lead. Other than for a brief stretch in Game 4, they kept this lead for the rest of the series.

KT Rolster took Games 2, 3, and 4 in a decisive fashion, outplaying their opponents in nearly every way. The disappointment of SKT T1 was clear as they packed up after the game. Falling short of the full comeback that many secretly expected. From 9th place to a playoff run, most teams would be proud of such a turnaround. For SKT T1, though, anything short of a championship title tastes bitter.

Greatest no longer?

For the first time since the tournament’s start in 2015, SK Telecom T1 will not be in the finals of the Mid Season Invitational. In a sport that is seeing so many of its dynasties fall worldwide, this is perhaps the most shocking. Along with his team falling in the rankings, many have been speculating that Faker is no longer the greatest player in the world. While the results of recent competitions may seem to prove this, to watch him is a different matter. He is still Faker. However, the gap is narrowing. Other players are closing in on his skill, opponents are learning how to limit his influence, and he can no longer carry games alone against such strong teams. Times are changing, and new things are coming.

 

Find the rest of my articles here. If you would like to contact me or keep up with things I like, find me on Twitter: @_mrdantes. For more of the best esports news, follow The Game Haus on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for reading!

Featured image courtesy of PCgamesn.com

Coming to America: Levi’s story

Little was known about star jungler Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh heading into last year. He had been an all star for the small region of Vietnam. Heading into last year’s MSI he helped put Gigabyte Marines on the map. His wide champion pool and unpredictable aggression sprung him to fame fast.

After the All Star event, he expressed his desire to come to North America to play. He believed it offered him much better competition to improve and to make a name for himself outside of Vietnam. The 100 Thieves have acquired Levi to play on their academy team. While it’s not an LCS position, it’s still a good chance for him to be eventually picked up by LCS teams.

100 Thieves have already used their two import slots on their solo laners so it will be interesting to see if he stays with the organization moving forward. Teams have already seen what he can do at Worlds and MSI so he’ll be one of the most hyped players in the academy league. If he performs well, a struggling LCS team may be able to acquire his services.

MSI 2017

While Levi was named an All Star the previous season he didn’t really become well known until MSI. Before this, many were expecting Gigabyte Marines to be the typical wildcard team: cheese picks and close games with no late game macro. The Gigabyte Marines heavily defied expectations while nearly beating TSM in a best of five series and finishing the group 3-7.

Levi was a huge factor in their wins as a hyper carry style jungler. Gigabyte Marines didn’t care for the meta and weren’t afraid to play their own pocket picks. Levi’s aggression was calculative and impressive to see from a smaller region.

While their style was unorthodox, it worked well with what the team wanted to do. They knew they couldn’t beat teams in standard play, so they’d adapt their play styles to fit their team.

Worlds

Photo by: Riot Games

After MSI, many teams thought they knew what to expect from Gigabyte Marines. They had a sample to look at from MSI so there could be no cheese left. They were wrong. In the most interesting games ever played at Worlds, Gigabyte Marines had Levi play Nocturne. Nocturne wasn’t meta at the time, but with lanes swapped for longer lanes it was perfect. Levi was able to hyper farm to level 6 in five minutes. From there, his full lethality build prevented Fnatic from ever getting back into the game.

They would earn a three way tie for second place and barely miss out on making it out of the group. The world thought the hype for Levi had died down, but it was only starting.

Coming to North America

As Levi heads to North America he has the chance to improve his English and communication. If he can keep his hyper aggressive style there’s no telling where he could go. Many teams may look to acquire him if their LCS starters are struggling.

People have expressed how important communication is in succeeding in LCS. It will be vital to see how he can adjust to American culture, but the future looks bright for him. One can only hope he can keep defying expectations and playing like the monster that he has shown to be.

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Cover Photo by Riot Games

 

 

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