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Pro Tier: Kassadin Riftwalks into Competitive

Kassadin is a champion that usually surges back and forth between popular and irrelevant in competitive play. The fact that he has a weak laning phase, is matchup dependant and should never be blind picked makes him a very volatile pick, especially in pro play.

 

Recently he’s sprung back to relevance, but it hasn’t so widespread. Europe has seen The Void Walker 13 times in the last few weeks, while in the LPL over in China and LMS in Taiwan have picked him 16 and 12 times respectively. The pick seems to have not have such high priority in the two other major regions, with only 5 games each in Korea and North America.

 

Interestingly enough, the pick hasn’t done so well either. The pick has a sub 50% winrate in 4 major regions, the exception being Taiwan, with a soaring 83% Win Rate over 12 games played (10-2 currently).

 

Region NA EU CN KR TW
Kassadin Winrate 20% 46.2% 37.5% 20% 83.3%

 

 

So what’s behind this sudden resurgence, even if it’s not doing consistently well?

 

1. Favourable itemization changes

 

While it’s been quite a while since the mage itemization rework, in general, most of changes helped Kassadin. While Rod of Ages now gives less mana, imperative for Kassadin’s ultimate, the new Catalyst passive is much stronger in combat, not to mention the lower price. Aside from that, all the other changes help Kassadin immensely.

The introduction of Cooldown Reduction to more items and the abundance of the stat in Ability Power itemization. With Abyssal Scepter and Zhonya’s Hourglass now giving CDR and alongside items such as Lich Bane and Ionian Boots of Lucidity, there are multiple ways for Kassadin to itemize and guarantee he has lower cooldowns without having to change his usual build.

 

2. Good mid lane matchups in the current meta

 

Another factor that helps Kassadin immensely. While he was never a strong blind pick champion and will likely never be, most matchups currently are easy for him to handle. Aside from the frequently banned Malzahar and a resurging Cassiopeia, no other meta pick can really punish him that much.

Vladimir, currently the most popular mid pick in all regions, doesn’t have enough early game pressure and is usually picked due to his fantastic scaling.

Viktor has a good laning phase but is in no way oppressive enough for Kassadin, especially since he needs to get his Hex Core upgraded before he's a real menace.

On the other side of the spectrum and to give another example: LeBlanc, a pick that is frequently used to dominate and snowball from the get go can’t do much against Kassadin due to his passive, Void Stone, reducing incoming magic damage by 15% and Null Sphere, that gives Kassadin a shield that absorbs incoming magic damage.

 

3. Frequency of Lane swaps

 

While it is likely that this will change soon enough with Riot’s update on changing lane swaps and their prevalence, it certainly has been a factor that helps Kassadin get through laning. While the mid lane isn’t directly affected by lane swaps, junglers have to do special, vertical pathing close to their strong side (where the support, adc and top laner are). Since jungle pathing is more predictable in lane swaps and the other 3 members are just shoving and hitting a turret, the mid lane becomes more isolated, allowing Kassadin to get past what can be a rough laning phase pre level 6.

 

 

The Rift Walker's Problem

 

As mentioned previously, Kassadin is very weak early on, he’s extremely easy to gank and kill as he’s not very mobile before level 6. He needs to fully stack up Rod of Ages and start building towards his second item before really being active in skirmishes and teamfights. Besides all this, his waveclear is extremely weak and when his turret gets sieged, he can’t really do much unless his team rotates to help him out. This gives the opposing team a lot of time to work with and build up an advantage. You’ll frequently see Kassadin’s tier 1 mid tower fall early and his team relegating him to a side lane, where he can farm up and get to the mid game point when he’s finally strong. Not all teams have been able to exploit this weakness, but good coordination from the opposing side can easily result in a tower and drake advantage so they can be ready to fight Kassadin later on.

 

Fnatic set up a dive in between turrets, take down Kassadin and his Tier 1 turret.

 

His Biggest Strength

 

Kassadin’s is extremely versatile at what roles he can fulfill come mid game. Once he closes 2-3 items he can fulfill the role of a splitpusher as he frequently runs Teleport, but this doesn’t detract from his strong skirmishing and teamfighting in the late game. With Kassadin and most current top lane meta picks such as Fiora, Gnar or Irelia, a 1-3-1 Split Push composition can be set up. But this is a very dynamic split push composition as it can easily translate into a full blown teamfight by having both solo laners join with their globals and good flanks.

 

 

Splyce set up a 1-3-1 and eventually force a teamfight with Teleport flanks

 

Kassadin Standouts

 

Chres “Sencux” Larssen

 

Splyce’s Mid Laner Sencux is the only mid laner in EU who seems to be comfortable enough with the Rift Walker to show him frequently with 5 picks this split, quite above from his counterparts who have only picked him twice at most. Not only has Splyce locked in Kassadin frequently, they also seem to do extremely well with it, Sencux has an 80% winrate, 10.40 KDA and is present in 73.2% of Splyce’s kills in these 5 games.

 

Unique Itemization:

 

In Europe it seems the build is somewhat different to what other regions have been going for. After Rod of Ages completion, most players tend to build Morellonomicon second. Not only is it a strong Ability Power item that grants 20% Cooldown Reduction, it now also gives 400 flat Mana, that contributes to increasing Kassadin’s Rift Walk damage.

Aside from this, Morellonomicon has two extremely strong passives. Grevious Wounds, that can cut healing from champions such as Trundle or Vladimir and a restore on 20% of maximum mana on kills and assists, allowing him to use Rift Walk more frequently without worrying about the increased mana cost.

Recommended games to watch:


Chu "FoFo" Chun-Lan

 

FoFo, J Team’s mid laner in the LMS has only pulled out Kassadin twice and it seems like it is used specifically as a mid lane counter to LeBlanc. With the Rift Walker, FoFo has taken down eXtreme Gamers and Maple’s Flash Wolves.

In his match against the Flash Wolves, FoFo delays his Rod of Ages and opts for an early Negatron Cloak, in order to completely negate LeBlanc's early game pressure.

 

Recommended games to watch:

 

 

Conclusion

 

Kassadin is a weak laner with exploitable weaknesses in the early stages of the game as he needs to fully scale up before he is relevant to participate in fights or turn into a strong split pusher. The lack of wave clear in his kit is also a gigantic problem early on, so teams that don't bring a strong waveclear AD Carry pick such as Sivir will definitely falter as their towers fall one after anohter

These problems is more than enough for opposing teams to build up significant leads and neutralize the Kassadin pick, but if left unpunished, he can completely dominate fights and skirmishes in the later stages of matches.

LolKing's Pick of the Week: Support Leona

We've teamed up with Shakarez to create a new bi-weekly video segment called LolKing's pick of the week.

 

This week, we've decided to take a look at Leona. She just got updates to her kit recently with some quality of life changes alongside more Crowd Control. New players aren't doing so well with her as she takes some games to master and this is where we come in, to help you understand the champion better and do well with her.

 

 


Watch the video below to learn more about why Leona is currently a solid pick in the meta.

 

 

 

Be sure to subscribe to LolKing's YouTube channel for upcoming stat videos and other League of Legends coverage!  

 

To recap, here's some of the strengths Leona brings to a team:
  • Deadly Level 2: Leona is one of the strongest level 2 supports. With Zenith Blade and Shield of Daybreak she can lockdown a target for 1.5 seconds and with Ignite and the help of her AD Carry, instantly blow up a target at level 2.
  • Natural Tankiness:  Leona's W, Eclipse, gives her Bonus Armor and Magic Resistance for a short amount of time, allowing her to tank a ton of damage whenever she goes into the fray. As an added bonus, she then does AoE damage at the end of the spells duration
  • Strong Roamer with a ton of Hard CC: After level 6, Leona is insanely strong at locking down a target. With R, E and Q she has a total of 3 seconds of Hard CC she can do to a single target, which is usually enough time for her teammates to react and help her take down an opponent. After grabbing Boots of Mobility, her roam potential is strong and if enemies don't have Flash, it's very likely that they'll be dead soon enough.

 

Learning with LolKing

If you want to learn Leona, we have tons of resources at LolKing:

C9 Pro Picks - Smoothie's Bard

Welcome to Cloud9's pro picks

 

In this series, members of C9 guide you through playing League's top champions. Today, Smoothie whips up a guide on everyone's favorite Caretaker: Bard

Bard has been part of League of Legends for over a year now (time really flies, doesn’t it?) and as time has gone by he has progressively become more and more popular, from a pocket pick to a staple, part of any professional support’s champion pool.

 

In many ways, people consider him a jack of all trades, as he can fulfill multiple roles in a team composition, from there, it’s not much of a stretch to compare him to Thresh. What do they have in common?

Their depth

 

Click here to access Smoothie's Bard Guide

 

Both champions have a wide variety of tools in their kit that can be used in multiple ways. Learning these two champions is hard and mastering them is probably even harder, which unlocks a whole other level for the most mechanically adept players, who can truly shine with flashy plays to carry their team in small skirmishes or full blown out teamfights.

Some might even say that he’s the new Thresh, now overtaking him in popularity.


Laning

 

Bard is known for having an oppressive laning phase. Cosmic Binding can lock up one or even both target so the AD Carry can dish out damage and he is deadly in short trades, where a basic attack paired with meep damage and cosmic binding will swiftly proc Thunderlord’s Decree and do a ton of damage. A good Bard Player will constantly look towards locking up someone with his Cosmic Binding, by comboing it with a wall, minion or another enemy champion.

 

 

 

 

Roaming and Out of Combat Mobility

 

Another of Bard’s strongest points is the ability to roam and move around the map. Firstly, collecting a chime grants him out of combat movement speed for 7 seconds, that stacks up to 5 times. This enhances his roaming ability if he’s ever moving to try to set up a kill in another lane. In addition, Magical Journey allows him to traverse walls and quickly cover ground, making him strong at showing up unannounced and helping his whole team rotate from Point A to B.

It’s worth mentioning that while Caretaker’s Shrine isn’t the strongest of abilities, it does grant 50% movement speed for a short time, that can be essential to close the gap or escape.

 

Pick Off

 

One of his specialties, most of Bard’s kit allows him and makes it easier to isolate one or a few targets and lock them down before they can escape.

Cosmic Binding is can easily catch targets close to each other or to terrain, Magical Journey is extremely useful to catch up and surround an opponent and last but not least, Tempered Fate is the epitome of Bard’s strength as a pick off champion, allowing him to lockdown opponents for 2.5 seconds while he and his team close the distance, swarm him and promptly layer all the crowd control before he can even blink.

 

 

 

 

Teamfighting and Objective Control

 

 

The beauty of Bard and his skills, especially his ultimate, is that it has a wide array of uses. When fighting to contest objectives such as Baron or Dragon, you can ult the jungler to prevent his smite, hit part of the team to wipe out the rest before the other half can do anything or simply ult the objective to gain time or reposition. The possibilities are endless but deciding correctly in a split second and hitting the right targets are the real challenger for any Wandering Caretaker Player.

 

 

If you haven't checked Smoothie's Guide yet, you can do so by clicking here!

Huge Changes to Laneswaps Coming Before Playoffs

In a pretty surprising move we are seeing some huge changes to early game coming before Worlds. There are some pretty sweeping changes to the early games, and teams who are able to adapt quickly will have a huge advantage on the competition. 

A quick summary of the changes:

  • The first turret taken will grant a "first blood" and award additional gold.
  • The early game damage reduction on turrets goes to 5 minutes instead of 7 minutes, however it's been boosted to 50% damage reduction up from 30%.
  • This bonus no longer applies to the bottom lane turret. You are supposed to really want to push and defend this turret early. This is one of the least subtle changes aimed at laneswapping we have seen.
  • Cannon minions spawn offset, bot lane at 3 minutes, mid at 4 minutes, top at 5 minutes, and then repeat.
  • After 20 minutes cannons alternates between 1 mid and 1 both top and bot.
  • After 35 minutes all lanes get a cannon in each wave.

These are some pretty huge changes, it really makes an effort to punish people who aren't properly defending their bottom lane. Even in a situation where you are trying to go against the 50% damage reduction, you still have to wait longer for your cannon minion to even spawn in those waves, so you've been double dipped in punishment and will likely have teams rotating to stop you before you can even trade. We will really have to see which teams can find ways to exploit these changes once they go live and which will fail to adapt. 

If you want more details check out the full post by Riot: Pre-Worlds Early Game Update

6.14 Bans: What Champions Shouldn't Make it Through Champion Select

The big mid season patch has finally hit and everything is up in the air again, so we figured it was about time to re-visit the most banned champions at platinum+ and explain why they’re so strong--as well as why you should be banning them (or maybe even picking them if they’re available).

In case they do get through, we're also providing some counters so you can prepare yourself better
 

Season 6 Ranked Bans 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hecarim is currently the most banned champion across all tiers and there's a good reason why everyone is banning him.

The reason why he's so popular right now is due to a combination of factors. First off, the buff to Trinity Force, giving him more attack speed for clears and the much needed extra Cooldown Reduction.

The other factor has to do with consecutive nerfs to carry junglers, specifically Kindred, Graves and to an extent Nidalee. The jungle meta is dominated again by bruisers such as Rek'sai and Gragas.

With carry oriented junglers losing part of their early game power they can no longer constantly invade and this opens up for picks such as Hecarim to be safer early on and get past that power trough. Hecarim's first clear is not the best and not running flash means he can be prone to invades early on.

Getting a good early invade and setting him behind is one of the best things you can do, so you can attempt to do so if you're playing aggressive junglers such as Shaco or Elise. The more you can delay his Trinity Force, the better!

Other than that, defensive abilities such as heals and shields are extremely strong to limit his high damage engages, so having a Karma or Janna on your team can work wonders.

 

Vladimir has been at the center of attentions since he was reworked back on patch 6.9.

The nerfs on Patch 6.13 intended to put a stop to the Crimsom Reaper. He's supposed to be tanky and deal damage, but he's not supposed to deal so much damage while ONLY building defensive, so his HP to AP passive ratio was nerfed to limit this.

That said, he still does more or less the same thing, albeit now doing a bit less damage unless he's going for a more AP centric build.

In lane he's hard to kill with all that innate sustain combined with a spell that makes him untargetable means he can escape most gank scenarios. Most Vladimir players also run Flash + Ghost making him extremely slippery and mobile in fights.

Once Vladimir gets to late game it's pretty much over. He becomes this tanky mage that can do tons of damage with Tides of Blood and amplify all of his team's damage with Hemoplague.

If you're looking to stop him, Anivia is the go to champion. Bursty, can limit his mobility with her wall and outranges him, meaning she can avoid Transfusion.

If you're playing against top lane Vladimir, Riven or Pantheon can be good options, anything with enough burst to kill him fast and not allow him to sustain back up.

Oh, also make sure your team is buying Executioner's Calling, Morellonomicon and bringing some Ignite summoner spells. Cutting his sustain is the best way to limit him.

 

SURPRYZE! Ryze is back with yet another rework and yes, that running blue thing is still extremely bursty and annoying to deal with.

Patch 6.14 brought Ryze's newest rework and Riot's hope it's the last time they need to change him.

Anyways, have you ever banned champions in fear of your team picking it? If yes, then this is probably one of those situations.

The new Ryze can be good and by late game he's a comboing monster that destroys waves of minions and squishy champions in a blink of an eye but truth be told, he takes quite some time to master and you definitely don't want someone who is playing the new iteration of the Rogue Mage in your Ranked Game.

 

If he happens to get through and is on the enemy side, you can pick mages that outrange him, such as Lux or Xerath or simply go for champions with good crowd control abilities such as Veigar and Cho'gath, who can impair him and burst him down hastily

 


Irelia has been amongst the most dominant top lane ever since patch 6.11.

Buffs to Trinity Force were absolutely gamechanging for her and pushed her back into the meta. More Cooldown Reduction is welcome for more stuns and dashes and the extra attack speed will prove to be very strong in trades.

The added attack speed will translate into an extra one or two autos on targets that you’ve stunned with Equilibrium Strike.

Her laning isn't the strongest but it's not like she's useless. But like every Trinity Force user, the real power spike is when she finally completes it.

If Irelia ever gets an advantage you can be sure your top laner isn't going to be to duel her ever, and in skirmishes and teamfights, her passive, Ionian Fervor, kicks in, meaning crowd control doesn't last for long.

If you're looking to stop her, Darius and Renekton can stomp her in lane. Volibear and Pantheon are other two good alternatives for laning.

 

Malzahar was nerfed on 6.14 but it was frankly not even close to be enough to stop the Prophet of the Void.

He's not currently in the top 10 bans but after seeing what he's been accomplishing in both pro play and higher brackets we would advise you to ban him out.

Early on he's not much of a threat and doesn't really have kill potential in 1v1 scenarios, but his passive allows him to stay in lane without worrying about ganks too much and constant uses of Malefic Visions constantly push the lane, making sure your opponent can't leave to roam and impact other parts of the map.

Added to this, he scales phenomenally into late game and once he grabs Rylai's Crystal Scepter alongside some Ability Power he becomes extremely frustrating to play against, as he'll be able to chunk opponents with Malefic Visions and little Voidlings hitting you incessantly.


Denying his all in will definitely limit him, so Kayle can be a great pick up for your team.

Other than that, heavy crowd control will not allow him to fully pull off his combo, provided you have put Void Shift Cooldown before, so champions such as Zac might do the trick.

In lane, mages that can outrange and do damage from afar are probably amongst the best choices, so you can try Xerath or Vel'koz if you're looking to have an easier time early on.

 

Sona is currently not even amongst the top 10 or top 15 bans.

But I can assure you she'll be there in the following days.

Patch 6.14 brought insane buffs for Sona allowing her to reach 67% Cooldown Reduction on her basic abilities.

Alongside the 6.13 Buffs to Healing and Shielding, granting items such as Mikael's Crucible and Ardent Censer non unique buffs to healing, the Maven of the Strings is now a walking ambulence, distributing powerful Auras to teammates.

and how to stop her? Traditionally, full engage supports such as Leona, Alistar and even Nautilus are good picks against her. CC Lock her and burst her down before she can do anything.

That said, her massive 56% overall winrate (58% in Platinum+ Games) are a sign that your team should be banning her or taking her no matter what.

After laning and after grabbing items Sona can simply buy Mikael's Crucible and escape if the Crowd Control is directed her and then go back to spam healing everyone back to full HP to fight.

 


 

 

 

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