At first glance, Cassiopeia is not what would come to mind when thinking of a top laner. Due to her overall squishiness and lack of mobility, ganks can be incredibly punishing for her. Since she is a carry, Cassiopeia is very dependent on gold to be effective, and a couple of early deaths can take her out of the game for several minutes.
Because ganking is usually easier on an elongated lane, where wave manipulation can be extremely punishing, it is much more common to simply use her as a mid laner.
However, the half snake has shown up as a top laner from time to time, most notably in Fnatic’s series against TSM on the very first day of MSI 2015. To this day, the tilting properties of Seung "Huni" Hoon Heo locking in Cassiopeia remain unproven but, regardless of this, the 2017 summer meta has increased the instances where the choice can be justifiable.
With the addition of Rift Herald, her immense 1v1 pressure and lane control are perhaps more valuable than ever before. As teams learn how to play with Herald, top lane control becomes more rewarding, and the priority of the pick rises.
Whether the choice ends up working or not is mostly dependent on her getting out of the laning phase in one piece. Once she has acquired a few items, she offers a great deal of strategical variety. From splitpusher, to baron melter to teamfight kiting machine, few top laners are as scary as a mid-to-late game Cassio.
But getting her out of laning phase is far from an easy task, and teams will need great early macro to be able to pull it off. Comparing Longzhu’s use of the pick with SKT’s will give us a good understanding of how the pick can be punished.
Longzhu’s choice of the Cassiopeia here is very smart, and works brilliantly against SKT’s composition. Because of how easy it is to know when Kennen is engaging onto her, she can reliably use Miasma to kite back and inflict a serious amount of damage onto him.
Pair this with the risk Kennen runs when engaging against Petrifying Gaze and you have a very favorable matchup, as Kennen’s natural range advantage is not as relevant versus the Cassiopeia.
These factors, combined with Gragas’ weak early clear, will make her able to abuse the Kennen early, only to fall back to a more moderate approach once Gragas reaches level 6.
Longzhu’s early execution was practically flawless. Because Gragas revealed himself on an invade, paired with the first blood they managed to get on him, Kim "Khan" Dong-ha was free to push up his lane and ignore the enemy jungler.
Once Gragas reached level 4, Kha’zix would lean towards the top side and invade. Not only did this benefit from the laning strength of Cassiopeia, but it also helped keep tabs on Gragas and made it easier to set up for a counter gank if needed.
But this strategy couldn’t go on for much longer. Knowing that Gragas would soon reach level 6, unlocking his true ganking potential, Cassio roamed mid for a gank onto Faker.
This gank worked on several fronts. The fact that Gragas was level 6, combined with Taliyah’s strong push in the mid lane, would have made it very easy for SKT to set up top lane dives. If Taliyah also joined the play, the chance of SKT getting a kill and first tower would have been huge, as terrain creation punishes Cassiopeia’s lack of mobility heavily.
By roaming mid and trading her flash for Taliyah’s, she alleviated the pressure derived from mid lane priority. Even though Faker still had pushing advantage over his lane counterpart, he needed to play carefully against Zed, as he was left without tools to avoid a forced all in from the ninja.
Under these circumstances, it became much harder for SKT to secure top side control, and for Taliyah to threaten a roam by walking into the fog of war. Cassiopeia could now simply stay under her tower, as diving her with less vision and without Faker was a much bigger risk for the SKT lineup.
In this manner, Longzhu secured another safe period for Cassiopeia but, as it happened before, this can not last forever. Once Taliyah’s flash came back up, they would be back to square one, and LZ would need a new play to keep her safe.
This is why, as soon as Faker’s flash came back up, Zed and Cassiopeia lane swapped. In a single move, Longzhu managed to protect their medusa; while simultaneously making SKT’s itemization absolutely terrible in the new matchups.
Had SKT chosen to match the lane swap, Kennen would have been in a situation where he would not be able to pressure his lane. Due to mid lane’s reduced lane length, his ultimate and constant harass from basic attacks and Q’s simply isn’t as big of a threat, and wave manipulation is much less effective as a denial tool.
In addition, Taliyah’s ultimate would now be unable to influence the bot lane, heavily diminishing the value of Faker’s pick.
Even though Zed’s lack of teleport can be seen as a slight disadvantage for LZ’s map plays, it’s a reasonable price to pay for getting Cassiopeia out of laning phase, as well as giving both solo laners heavy item advantages.
On the other hand, Huni was not as effective with his Cassiopeia.
This draft suggests that SKT were toying around with Cassiopeia, instead of tryharding for a win.
Against Jarvan IV ‘s gap closing combo and terrain creation ultimate, Cassiopeia is at a much bigger risk of dying. Her lane dominance won’t last long as, once Jarvan hits level 6, he has tremendous gank setup against her, which can easily be abused by Graves.
Despite Graves not being the best ganker in the game, the immense lock down provided by Cataclysm makes his lack of crowd control irrelevant. Furthermore, it makes it very easy for him to land all his AOE damage, punishing further Cassio’s squishiness.
The jungle matchup does little to alleviate this pressure. Gragas doesn’t bring much into a 2v2 scenario, and will either have to rely on Graves not being top to pull off successful ganks or head to other lanes.
This is not the case for MVP. Top lane is by far the best lane for Graves to gank. Faker’s mobility and lane pressure makes it very difficult to land either a shockwave or Graves’ burst on him.
On bot lane, MVP have the push advantage and, because of Tahm Kench’s Devour, diving Bang and Wolf can be too risky. Since Graves is not the best diver, Cassiopeia becomes even more of a tempting target than she usually is.
In spite of SKT’s best efforts to obscure Peanut’s jungle start, this was not something that MVP concerned themselves with. Graves straight out camped the Cassiopeia as much as possible, almost disregarding Peanut’s early pathing.
This camp would ultimately result in two deaths by Huni and a big advantage for MVP. It’s hard to say that Huni is without blame on the lost top lane. Knowing himself to be in an inferior 2v2, there is hardly any justification for him to be as pushed up as MVP would often find him. Because he is traditionally overaggressive, it’s hard to think of this as a planned choice, and looks more like a mistake.
Abusing Cassiopeia’s lane dominance is no doubt very tempting, but the risks far outweigh the rewards. Knowing that MVP would have no tools to deal with his splitpush once he reached a tipping point, it made no sense to risk losing the lane that hard. Especially when Graves has little ganking options elsewhere.
Had Huni hugged the tower, as Khan did, he would very likely not even get camped. Despite MVP’s strong dive, under tower, the risk of a Gragas counter gank becomes all too real.
As it was the case of the previous example, Faker’s dominant mid lane matchup would have easily granted SKT enough vision and river control for Cassiopeia to have a much easier time under tower.
Despite their unstoppable split push later on, SKT’s early Cassiopeia display was disappointing. In contrast with their victory over MVP, which banked on their opponents' poor mid game shotcalling, their victory over Longzhu’s forced them to overcome one of the best early displays of Cassiopeia top lane ever.
When not even the best team in the world can pull off a convincing Cassiopeia, it becomes apparent just how difficult the champion is to properly execute. Take notice of how both teams save the pick to the very last moment of the draft, yet are still presented with plenty of issues they need to navigate around.
You won’t see Cassiopeia often in the top lane, and SKT getting outplayed and failing to repeat their opponent’s success is even less common. But if you are lucky enough, and the stars align, you might get to see both.
Article Written by Manuel 'Cabramaravilla' Martínez
You can check him out on Twitter by clicking here
This week, I’m going to take a look at breaking down some of the psychology of solo queue. League of Legends is an extremely complex game, and your mindset is an important aspect of this. Using psychological knowledge and theories, there are some steps you can take to improve your mindset in game, such as using the priming theory.
What is Priming?
Priming is the theory of making somebody think in a certain way, which subconsciously affects their behaviour. For example, one study found participants took longer to walk to an elevator after listing either words associated with the elderly (such as “lonely” and “slow”) compared to listing neutral words. The participants had been primed to think like an elderly person, and this unconsciously affected their behaviour to walk slowly (Bargh, Chen & Burrows, 1996).
Another study found participants who were primed to think like a professor answered more general knowledge questions correctly compared to participants who had been primed to think like a secretary (Dijkssterhuis & van Knippenberg, 1998)
How is priming used in League of Legends?
One of the most frustrating instances of priming I experience in solo queue is when somebody has been searching up our opponents, and types in chat about the insane win rate an enemy has on the champion they are playing. Not only does it instantly put people in a negative state of mind if they know they are against a very strong opponent, it primes teammates into having a losing mentality, and this subconsciously affects their play.
My advice is to simply not look up the information, and more importantly, not share it with your team. Conversely, you can also prime you team into a positive mindset, by typing how confident you’re feeling about the game or how certain your team will win the game; it may seem silly, but subconsciously, it can greatly benefit your team’s play!
A redditor investigated a similar experience after priming a teammate to believe x player is bad, causing the teammate to flame x player, before revealing x player was in fact the redditor - read more about it here
Psychology plays a huge, yet undervalued, role in League of Legends, and the priming effect is one such example. Remember to avoid negatively priming your teammates, and instead, positively prime them into a winning mentality!
Rilea is a Diamond Support Player and a Psychology student, you can follow him on twitter by clicking here
Patch 7.12 changes brings us a ton of focus on Support Itemization and some champion rebalancing. Enchanter Supports are now rewarded for building their usual items, while Tank Supports will prefer going for items such as Locket and Knight's Vow. This Patch should reduce the prevelance of Redemption and Locket on every support as an almost mandatory two core item build.
Check out the full changes below and in our other post to get ready for the patch to hit live:
Continuing our Patch 7.12 changes, listed below are the numerous changes to champions for the upcoming Patch.
Check out the full changes below and in our other post to get ready for the patch to hit live:
What on Earth Does a Professional Analyst do?
Analysts, they’ve become commonplace everywhere from the highest levels of competitive League of Legends such as LCK and LCS, to the national leagues of regions like Europe and Latin America South. Yet, despite the now almost total prevalence of this position across all high-level League of Legends, the role remains somewhat poorly defined in the public eye.
So, what does an analyst do? Most fans probably have an image of someone burying their head in massive amounts of numbers, and spitting out almost their conclusions in something that hardly sounds like English, or maybe they have an idea of someone who shouts buzzwords at a team like “rotations,” “wave control,” or “macro play.” While these are undoubtedly part of the most basic frame work of League of Legends analysis, the reality is much more complicated. I’m going to try to paint the picture of it for you today.
To start with, there are two different styles of analyst. In my own work, I lean heavily towards these types one of analysis, so I talked with my friend, Samuel “Arrowhead” Moreno, former Head Analyst of KIYF esports in the Spanish LVP and current Head Analyst of Vega Squadron in the LCL who uses a very different style.
He described his job as “[working] with large amounts of numbers and data and [then having] to give [data] that a useful meaning that can be useful both for players and coach/coaches.” He continued on to say that, “my basis are numbers and what I do is…make conclusions and recognize patterns in these in game numbers.”
Arrowhead is what I would call a Quantitative Analyst. Quantitative analysis focuses more on the raw numbers. These sorts analysts prefer to cultivate large sets of data and statistics and use the stories and trends found within those numbers to draw their conclusions.
They often collect this data using Riot’s API, which Arrowhead says can yield a remarkable wealth of data,
“When I work with the API I use [it] to pull out individual stats such as Gold and XP minute by minute, total damage to champions and the percentage of every player, [I] also [do] this for the gold. We can make comparatives [sic] between players and the EU/KR average and also [each] player’s role, [as well as] players position on the map. it's usually used for jungle proximity. Also to control support that have roaming tendencies in the early game.”
While collecting this data takes effort, the real skill comes in interpreting it. Anyone can learn to use Riot’s API to collect data, but knowing how parse through and interpret it, then in turn coming to correct and useful conclusions is the hard part. Not only is it does it take lot of work and skill with numbers to sort through this mass of numbers, but it takes a deep and strong knowledge the game to know which numbers mean what, and more importantly what patterns they reveal and what strengths and weaknesses they show.
An example of spreadsheet work from Arrowhead, which tracks the champion by champion solo queue statistics of a professional midlaner.
While Arrowhead’s approach is effective, I’ve largely preferred to use a different approach in my time as an analyst for Baskonia Esports, also of the Spanish LVP. I’m what I would describe as a qualitative or gameplay focused analyst. I prefer to watch VoDs, scrims, and even solo queue matches, to draw my conclusions then use numbers to either prove or disprove my conclusions. If the numbers do not line up, I then go back to the VoDs to see what I missed or got wrong.
While gameplay focused analysis is often not as easy to prove or backup as quantitative analysis, it does have the benefit of having its results based directly in what can be observed through gameplay. This means that the data is not only more relatable to what the players and coaches are actually seeing, but it is also more flexible. It can be not only be easier to identify patterns within slight deviations, but it can also be easier to view the game from a macro strategy perspective.
Instead of seeing the numbers, which often only show the end result, you get to see the push and the pull, the rotations, the warding, the plays, the mistakes, all the things that might lead to a massive team fight win, or a sneaky baron, or even something as small as a lane advantage or blue buff steal.
As well, gameplay focused analysis allows you to focus on certain numbers when you reference them. Now, this can be risky as it can sometimes cause you to overlook at certain stat that might help you or even occasionally contradict what you think you’ve seen, but mostly it allows you to focus on the numbers and statistics that you know can either prove or disprove your conclusions. The latter case is usually very frustrating, but often leads to you learning more than you thought you would have found in the first place.
The biggest key to being a good gameplay analyst, much like a quantitative analyst is a strong knowledge of the game. This is necessary to spot the “rights” and “wrongs” of gameplay when you are reviewing competitive VoDs or scrims. That being said, the supplementary skills are much different. Instead of a strong understanding of statistics and numbers, you need to have the ability to quickly and confidently identify patterns, then figure out ways to exploit or play around those patterns. Additionally, you need an eye for detail in order to recognize the more subtle flaws in team’s game play as, when playing vs high level competition, the exploitation of these little flaws can be the difference between winning and losing.
What Analysts can do for a Team
Both sets of analysis have their merits, and actually complement each other quite well when done in conjunction with each other. When both are applied right, the data and conclusions they yield can be invaluable to a team. Analysts can do a variety of things. One of the most common things I have done is construct scouting reports about opposing teams. These reports contain information about the strengths, weaknesses and tendencies of an opposing team, as well as strategies, synthesized from the data, which should give a team an upper hand.
"Tracking Jungle Pathing is one of the many things an analyst can do to scout the opposing team"
Another major part of just about any analyst’s job is understanding the meta, particularly how it shifts with each patch. This can mean doing a bunch of math to understand how a change to an item or champion will affect their damage, tankiness, utility etc. It can mean breaking down the overall changes and predicting resulting meta shift, per say from a control mage meta in the mid lane to an assassin meta, or simply reordering tier lists around the myriad buffs and nerfs that happen in any given patch.
Lastly of course, analysts can help a team itself improve. The massive troves of data analysts collect, can help teams identify weaknesses that are not immediately obvious to the naked eye. As well, when sitting in on scrims or watching real matches, an analyst with a detail oriented mind can pick out mistakes or bad decisions, point them out to the players or coaches and let them know what needs to be done to fix them and/or what should have been done instead.
This variety of things that an analyst can do, as well as the raw value of any data or observations they may make, turn them of various kinds into critical assets for any League of Legends team hoping to compete at all levels of professional play.
Written by Cody 'Avin' Gerard
You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here
For Jeon "Ray" Ji-won, it might just be another Jarvan IV lock in, one of his most played champions in his competitive career. But what was a pocket pick for Cloud9’s top lane sub has now become one of the most prominent meta picks in that lane.
Itemization now is very different from Ray’s earlier full AD Jarvan builds however. The Exemplar of Demacia will usually go for builds that feature items with more defensive stats, with an offensive 2 core to back it up.
Jarvan’s kit didn’t undergo any major changes to push him to the spotlight. The 7.7 changes to his shield were obviously a nice bonus for teamfighting, given that he gains a stronger shield depending on how many enemies he hits.
With that said, that buff alone wouldn't be enough if his laning, itemization and comp versatility weren't all in a very good spot currently, let's have a look.
Itemization changes and his Build
Typically, Jarvan’s build includes a Black Cleaver and a Titanic Hydra as the two core items, which give Jarvan plentiful damage, cooldown reduction, wave clear and a ton of health. With these two items, Jarvan hits a really strong power spike during the mid game.
While both of these items are seen as offensive purchases, the health they grant is enough to make Jarvan durable in skirmishes while he then itemizes for resistances to compliment what defensive stats he already has.
The introduction of Gargoyle Stoneplate in midseason fits this build perfectly. With 950 bonus health all Jarvan IV needs for the mid game is resistances, and what’s better than 40 of each, doubled when facing 3 or more opponents.
In addition, the damage reduction active (even though it states it increases health it effectively works as damage reduction - click here to learn more) is perfect for his play pattern in teamfights.
+40 Magic Resistance
UNIQUE Passive - Stone Skin: If 3 or more enemy champions are nearby, grants 40 bonus armor and 40 bonus magic resistance.
UNIQUE Active - Metallicize: Increases maximum health by 40% and increases champion size, but reduces the damage you deal by 60% for 4 seconds. If Stone Skin is active, instead increases maximum health by 100% (90 second cooldown).
Jarvan IV has a lot of upfront burst in his kit. He initiates with his flag and drag combo (Demacian Standard + Dragon Strike) and then follows up with damage from his Cataclysm, first auto attack that will activate Martial Cadence and Titanic Hydra’s active.
After that he runs out of juice and needs to wait for his cooldowns to come back up, which is a perfect time to activate Stoneplate to buy time and tank up all incoming damage until his cooldowns come back up.
Top Lane Meta
Currently, the most popular picks include Galio, Shen, Gragas as the other 3 most picked top lane champions. Jarvan typically does well in lane and can then even split against these champions, as the armor shred from Dragon’s Strike and Black Cleaver can add up to close to 44% of an opponent's armor. This is useful both for dueling in a side lane and in teamfights, as armor reduction affects any source of physical damage to a target.
Versus carry matchups it’s a whole other story. Jarvan can’t stay in the side lane against Kled or Fiora from mid game onwards unless he’s significantly ahead, but he can lane just fine. Against Kennen and Rumble he might get pushed in, but Dragon Strike and Demacian Standard give him tools to farm from a distance and with Doran’s Shield it becomes hard for these two champions to punish his laning.
Overall, Jarvan is a solid blind pick, he does well versus most tanks and can hold his own against carries.
In addition, the need for a tankier AD pick is sometimes necessary, with the more contested picks in the jungle including AP junglers such as Elise, Zac and Gragas.
A Jack of All Trades
Besides being strong against tanks and in general a very decent blind pick, Jarvan is also a jack of all trades in the sense that he can fit multiple roles in a composition.
With his EQ + Ult combo it’s easy for him to force plays while covering a lot of ground, locking down targets, which makes him valuable for pick compositions.
Jarvan is not close to being the best in his role for initiation, damage or tankiness but he’s very respectable in all three of these aspects, which allow him to fulfill the role of the initiator, follow up initiation or simply playing as the back line threat due to his aforementioned upfront burst damage.
Synergy with Meta Mids
Finally and to round up the pick even more, Jarvan is a good fit with the some of the current meta mid laners, for Orianna, he’s a ball carrier facilitating shockwaves and dissonances in teamfights, not to mention the shield to initiate with more room for maneuvering without dying.
With Galio mid, he can be the initiator providing the forward position for Galio to follow up on with Hero’s Entrance and with Cassiopeia, Miasma and Cataclysm can completely lock down multiple opponents with no chance of escape.
After the introduction of quests for the support role and the improvements to end-game stats, Riot have been giving a lot of attention to supports recently. This trend continues with a slew of changes to many of the support items.
Ricklessabandon shared an overview of all of the changes on the PBE, with some changes being more important than others
I am thrilled to see Riot (finally) adjusting Redemption – it felt strange and wrong to have supports with no heals or shields build Redemption because of how strong the active is. Though I still believe the damage component of Redemption is unnecessary, it’s great to see Riot encouraging the item to be an enchanter-exclusive item by making the heal scale drastically with the number of shield and heal amplifiers you have, and discouraging it from becoming a mandatory item for all supports.
+30 Magic Resistance
+10% Cooldown Reduction
UNIQUE Active - Conduit: Bind to an ally without an existing Conduit.
UNIQUE Passive: Casting your ultimate near your ally summons a local frost storm for 10 seconds. As the storm rages, nearby enemies are slowed by 20% and your ally's attacks burn their targets for 50% bonus magic damage over 2 seconds (45 second cooldown).
Frostfire Covenant - Basic attacking a burning enemy ignites your frost storm to deal 40 magic damage per second and slow by 40% instead for 3 seconds.
Zeke’s Harbinger, now called Zeke’s Convergence, has received the most drastic changes. This is a welcomed change – despite being a fairly good item in protect and buff the ADC comps for enchanters this season, the item has been neglected this season with the introduction of Redemption and Knight’s Vow, and the changes to Ardent Censer.
Zeke’s Convergence can work really well on champions with aggressive/engage ultimates who focus on protecting your ADC, such as Sona and Karma, but doesn’t particularly work with champions with defensive ultimates, such as Janna and Soraka.
Furthermore, the item works best with ADCs with strong burst, such as Jinx and Xayah, and less well with ADCs with an emphasis on poke, such as Ezreal and Corki. The cooldown is reasonable and often matches up with ultimate cooldowns, and the duration is very generous; typically lasting for the majority, if not all, of team fights and skirmishes.
Conceptually, it’s fantastic to see Riot provide an alternative item to Ardent Censer to buff ADCs; while Ardent Censer is a great item, the fact its active hinges on the use of shields and heals makes it centred around defensive abilities (though they can be used for offensive purposes).
Zeke’s Convergence, on the other hand, is centred around the use of aggressive ultimates, while also encouraging you to be in the fray. This contrast is fantastic to see, and accommodates for both offensive and defensive playstyles. Finally, Riot has made a great step forward in decision making for support items; the standard build of Redemption, Ardent Censer and Locket of the Iron Solari for enchanter supports has been too predictable for too long.
It’s great to see Riot add another viable option to the selection, forcing supports to adapt to the gamestate and offering a more aggressive, proactive item as opposed to the current plethora of reactive items.
Knight’s Vow seems to be a fairly underrated item at the moment - it sees some use, but is often neglected in favour of other buffing/protecting items (i.e. Ardent Censer and Locket of the Iron Solari). However, the shift in stats (removal of health regen and the inclusion of 10% CDR) makes this item much more favourable, particularly to the enchanter supports.
Locket of the Iron Solari
Ah Locket. Even with Riot’s attempt to make it less mandatory with the pre-season changes, it has crept back into every support build, and is once again the standard. The current changes, making the shield scale with bonus health, is another attempt to make it less mandatory, but definitely makes it more favourable for tanky supports, such as Alistar and Braum. Whether the changes are severe enough to make it more situational will be determined with time, but it’s a step in the right direction.
With the drastic changes to Zeke’s Convergence, it’s fantastic to see Riot mixing up the support items; for too long, Redemption, Locket of the Iron Solari and Ardent Censer have reigned supreme for enchanter supports. Zeke’s Convergence works well with all kinds of supports, and I look forward to seeing its usage (and the changes to support itemisation) in both pro play and solo queue.