First Split Champions are being crowned all over the world in 2017 but Competitive League almost never stops. The Mid Season Invitational starts tomorrow with Round 1, featuring the former wildcard regions, battling it out to get a chance to face off against the big leagues.
The 8 minor region league champions were split into 2 groups of 4 teams and only 1 will get out of each group to face off against the Flash Wolves and Team SoloMid and earn a chance to compete in Round 3.
Tier 1 Teams
The Red Canids are this year’s Brazilian representatives and are sure to be heavily supported by a fantastic crowd. After 2 splits in the bottom half of the league, the ex-INTZ sister team invested heavily for 2017 and the majority of the lineup is not a stranger to international events. Brtt and Dioud, RED’s bot lane, represented Brazil at worlds in 2015 when they played for PaiN Gaming and the team’s starting mid laner is Tockers, who played for INTZ at worlds last year.
The team finished the split in second place, tied in the standings with INTZ at 11-3 in games. The team won a lot of their games from straight up winning lanes and snowballing early leads, but
also showed good decision making in the mid/late game stages.
Going into playoffs they beat paiN gaming 3-1 and then clean sweeped Keyd Stars in the finals. The team showed a lot of growth throughout the season and in playoffs showcased superior macro and good understanding of lane assignments and lane priority, which isn’t very common in minor regions.
Key Player: Tockers
Tockers is Red Canids’ most important piece. A wrist injury hasn’t allowed him to play all games but the sheer game knowledge that he acquired from his time at INTZ was instrumental for his team’s success. Whether in or outside the game, you can expect him to be impacting the team in more than one way.
Supermassive has been in the top of the Turkish scene since their inception in 2016, they won the IWC tournament in 2016 and qualified to MSI, where they managed to take a game off of Counter Logic Gaming. After missing the 2nd IWC qualifier losing to Dark Passage in the 2016 Summer Finals, they’re back to the international stage.
They were the clear cut best team during the regular split and then beat Fenerbahce and Crew e-Sports Club in playoffs in two 3-1 series to reach MSI.
The core of the roster is still the same that attended MSI in 2015 and all players have played at international events, Supermassive has a very experienced roster.
Key Player: Stomaged
It’s hard to pinpoint what is Supermassive’s strongest member given they function very well as a team. While their weakest link is probably Naru, the other 4 players have all been solid performers throughout TCL. With that said, while Zeitnot is their main carry and Dumbledoge a big name, Stomaged was responsible for a lot of their wins during playoffs, with impressive performances on Rengar, Ivern and Graves to name a few.
Tier 2 Teams
The Dire Wolves have been a consistent performer in Oceania and after consecutive splits of Chiefs dominance they finally managed to win the OPL. They finished the regular split with 25 points in first place, which granted them direct access to the finals, as the Oceanic League uses a gauntlet system, similar to the LCK in Korea.
They ended up meeting 2nd seed Legacy in the finals and they took them down with relative ease by beating them 3-1 in the Finals.
Key Player: Shernfire
Dire Wolves jungler Shernfire is one of the main carries for the team and frequently racks up the same or even more kills than his teammates. Initially a sub, his promotion to the main roster in the beginning of the OPL split was the change the team needed to reach the next level.
The Japanese scene is quite recent compared to other minor regions. The LJL has mainly been dominated by Detonation FocusMe and Rampage in the last splits. After a close regular split, where 3 teams ended 8-2, Rampage head into the playoffs as the 2nd seed and after a close BO5 with Unsold Stuff Gaming, they surprised in the finals and clean sweeped their biggest rivals.
Key Player: Tussle
While Rampage has relied on ADC YutoriMoyashi as their main carry, who managed to go deathless in 9 consecutive games, Rampage will be very dependant on Korean jungler Tussle to be able to reach the next level and surprise international competition.
He has shown stellar mechanics on Lee Sin and Graves in past IWC tournaments and has recently picked up Elise, his most played champion during playoffs. Expect teams to target ban him to limit his influence in games.
Group A was immediately called the group of death due to the presence of both Brazil and Turkey, two minor regions that have qualified to main international events multiple times. Considering both teams have veteran players with international experience, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where either Red Canids or Supermassive aren’t the main contenders to make it out of Group A to face off against Team SoloMid.
With that said, expect Dire Wolves to put up a fight, the Oceanic Region has shown improvement and with Shernfire leading the pack the team can definitely pull off some upsets, especially in a BO1 format.
Rampage is the expected last place for this group and while the regions performances in other events have always left them 1 step away from top 4, in the group of death it seems like they won’t have much room to perform.
We recently had the chance to interview some of the Professional League Players over in the LPL in China. We asked Doinb about his mid Kled Pick and Rookie about his 3 favorite mid picks currently. For ADC, we asked Mystic about picking Kog'maw and Imp about Jinx.
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The Brief Fall and Quick, Knife Shooting, Resurrection of the Deceiver
After her nerfs in patch 7.5, Leblanc was supposed to be gutted. Her main source of damage was gone, turned into a glorified mobility tool. Instead, she came back as broken as ever, sporting a new, wacky looking build that had many coaches, analysts, and casters scratching their heads for a while.
This new build involves rushing a Hextech Gunblade, sometimes followed by a Lich Bane. On the surface the build makes no sense. For starters, in rushing Gunblade, Leblanc is wasting 40 AD in stats that a traditional Leblanc will make little to no use of, and the components make even less sense.
While Revolver is helpful in trades, it offers no CDR or mana regen, stats a traditional Leblanc needs to succeed, and Cutlass offers her almost nothing as a component item. The active is decent, but its stats, life steal and AD, are almost entirely irrelevant to her.
Upon further digging though, the build not only makes sense, but is actually extremely powerful.
The most obvious benefit are the extra AP ratios offered by Gunblade and Lich Bane, which supplement the damage Leblanc lost with the nerfs to her distortion. This offers her not only the same (if not more) ridiculous burst she had before, but allows her to do it much quicker and at a much safer range.
Leblanc gets to use a combination of Gunblade, her Q, a Lich Bane empowered auto attack and her chains to burst a target quickly and from long range. This frees her up to use her Distortion as a gap closing or repositioning tool, rather than a risky damage dealing ability. Gunblade’s active also offers a slow, making it easier for her to stay in range to land follow up abilities, especially her chains, which often provide the finishing blow on her burst combo.
To top this all off Gunblade turns Leblanc into a self-sustaining monster. Her Q interacts with Gunblade’s heal on spell damage effect in such a way that she can regain up to 300 or 400 health on a minion wave. The initial hit is counts single target damage for the purpose of healing and any subsequent bounces count as AoE. This sustain allows her to take even or slightly disadvantageous and turn them into winning ones, making it nearly impossible to bully her out of lane at any point after she has completed her Gunblade.
Combine this sustain with the AD from Gunblade’s stats and the tower pushing potential of Lich Bane and you get a champion that becomes nearly impossible to deal with from the mid game and onwards in 1 vs 1 situations, if they get even slightly ahead.
Other Champions Who Might Enjoy Shooting Knives
The brutal, quick, safe burst and sustain the Gunblade, Lich Bane build provides is not exclusive to Leblanc. There are other champions who can use this build effectively. What a champion needs to abuse this build are the following things:
- A safe wave clear or low cooldown poke spell which allows them to abuse Gunblade sustain.
- A kit that has an auto attack buff or encourages weaving auto attacks in between abilities or ability rotations to make a Lich Bane viable option.
Ideally, the champion has some form of mobility, allowing them to get in and out of Gunblade and auto attack range safely, as well as give them safety in the split push.
These are some of the champions which fit these criteria.
From kite mage to full on Assassin
Ahri has already seen Gunblade picked up on her numerous times in competitive matches to devastating effect, as seen in this clip from the NA LCS quarter finals.
Here, CLG’s mid laner Huhi kills Kennen almost instantly. He Sprit Rushes over the wall, hits Altec with a full damage combo, including Gunblade’s active and a Sheen (not even Lich Bane) empowered auto attack after he had cast all his spells, taking Kennen from about 90% to about 5% health. All the while, Huhi gets to save the final charge of his spirit rush to help finish off Zyra. In another circumstance, this might have been needed to as an escape, affording him a degree of safety he might not have with a traditional Ahri build.
Ahri also makes great use of Gunblade’s sustain with her Q, which she can use to hit every minion in a wave twice, thus sustaining off Gunblade’s passive and possibly her own, which already heals her every few spells. The mobility provided from the speed burst on her Q as well as the three dashes on her ult can also make her a slippery split pusher in addition to a brutal duelist and assassin when paired with Lich Bane.
The 700 range burst mage
Viktor is an interesting case. He lacks the mobility and thus the safe split push and assassination potential that other champions on this list have, but he passes all the other tests to abuse this build with flying colors. His E allows to instantly clear waves, hitting every minion twice, making him an ideal candidate for abusing Gunblade’s sustain and he naturally builds Lich Bane anyways because of the auto attack buff on his Q.
The real reason I put Viktor on this list however, is his Hex Core. The Hex Core, when maxed out, is the highest AP item in the game, sporting a whopping 180 AP. This additional AP allows Viktor to thrive with the extra AP rations provided to him by Gunblade and Lich Bane, giving him the ability to absolutely delete any even slightly squishy champions that might step into his fairly sizable range.
Bringing back the Alex Ich burst
Kayle checks all the same boxes as Viktor, but like him lacks the mobility, however, her E and the attack speed she’ll gain with her Nashor’s Tooth allow her to be a brutal split pusher, with her ult and the heal and speed boost from her W providing a fair degree of safety.
What the Gunblade and Lich serve to do is give her with the ability to duel any squishier champion that might try to stop her. She already thrives against tanks due to her passive, but is vulnerable to burst when her ult is down. Having Gunblade and Lich Bane ensures that any champion that has the damage to burst you and gets close is met with a quick and swift death.
Less Mobility, More Burst
Ekko would be perfect candidate for this build. His primary place in late game team compositions is already as a split pusher and flanking assassin. He is a Lich Bane user with an auto attack buff, mobility on his E and the ability to clear entire waves with his Q. This gives him a perfect sustain ability for Gunblade to synergize with.
The problem is that building Gunblade would prevent him from building an item that is currently core to his build, and even with Gunblade would be hard to justify removing: Hextech Protobelt. Protobelt provides Ekko with the extra gap close he needs to reach targets sometimes, as well as the extra bit of burst Ekko’s kit is designed to lack. Gunblade can satisfy the later condition, but not the former, at least not in the same way. It provides a slow which could be used to help run down the target, but it is not the same as the quick dash provided by Protobelt.
This means Gunblade would open up more opportunities for opponents to CC or out run Ekko than Protobelt. The trade-off of course is the increased dueling potential and sustain offered by Gunblade.
There are other Champions that might fit on, such as Kassadin, Kennen, and Aurellion Sol to name a few, but these are the four which, in my mind, are most well positioned to abuse the unique sustain and safe burst that Gunblade brings to the table.
Preview written by Cody 'Avin' Gerard
You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here
Welcome to LPL's Post-Game Review: a detailed analysis of team compositions in League of Legends. In this video, caster Remember looks at the Global composition Invictus Gaming ran recently with Taliyah, Shen and Rengar.
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Most classes in League of Legends have a default item that a majority of champions will purchase as part of their core build. For most mages that item is Morellonomicon and for AD Carries one could argue that currently, either Infinity Edge or Blade of the Ruined King are the class wide staples.
In the Support Role, this item is the recently introduced Redemption. The item gives important stats for any support champion, such as Health and Cooldown Reduction. But more importantly, it has a powerful active heal that can completely turn the tide of a fight, or allow a team to reset before going back into the fray.
The issue with Redemption is that ever since its release, the item has completely overshadowed any other purchase for supports, killing any chance of item diversity once again.
Redemption is at the point where almost every support builds it first often. The item is tailored towards enchanter supports such as Lulu, Nami and Janna that play around healing and shielding. However, especially in competitive play we’re seeing mage and tank supports such as Zyra, Alistar or Tahm Kench purchase it first as well because it’s that strong.
+125% base mana regeneration
+75% base health regeneration
+10% cooldown reduction|
UNIQUE Passive: +10% bonus healing and shielding power.
UNIQUE Active: Target an area within 5500 range. After 2.5 second, call down a beam of light to heal allies for 65 - 490 (based on target's level), deals 10% of maximum health true damage to enemy champions and 250 true damage to minions (120 second cooldown). Can be used while dead.
The 7.2 changes were a step in the right direction, decreasing the health and increasing the mana regen to make the item less attractive to tanks and more attractive to its intended main users: Enchanter Supports
Aside from that, Riot has been slowly buffing other support items. Ardent Censer and Knight’s Vow have been seeing more use as a result and there is currently more diversity than there was earlier into the season. But I don't think it's enough.
This problem isn’t new. Not long ago, most supports were rushing Aegis of the Legion and eventually completing Locket of the Iron Solari as the Magic Resistance Aura was quintessential to protect carries from getting bursted by mages going into the mid game. Aegis completely nullified the Sorcerer’s Shoes purchase from mages and games became very stale and repetitive in terms of support itemization.
The issue I have with the item is that the fact that it’s so accessible to any support combined with the fact that the active is very powerful can make teamfights very stale. It’s no longer unforgiving to botch an engage, in most cases that team can back off, regroup, get the Redemption heal and try again.
In this clip, UOL uses Redemption to reset and keep pressing, while G2 use their active to heal up and keep defending. The game stalls for a bit as both teams wasted some cooldowns but are too healthy to risk a fight
So should Redemption be changed? It’s a tricky question. But I do think certain aspects could be changed.
Increase the Item’s Cost
First off, let me preface by saying that supports need to have strong items with low gold costs or else they won’t be able to afford anything due to their lower gold income.
In an interview months ago, EU LCS caster Deficio stated:
“Giving support strong items is not a bad thing. Supports usually get one or two big items and they need to feel good to use.”
This is definitely very true. If the role isn’t satisfying to play with limited resources then nobody has incentives to play Support.
With that said, increasing its price could possibly work to help increase diversity. Support items can’t be too expensive or nobody will buy them, but the fact that an item with such a potent active only costs 2100g, which is the the same price or lower than other support items means it blows the competition right out of the water.
In my opinion, it should be one of the more expensive support items, the Infinity Edge or Deathcap of Support if you will. It would be a high investment for a powerful AoE heal.
Increasing its price to 2300-2400 gold would place the item at around 80% gold efficiency for its base stats, which would mean you’re actually paying 400-500 gold for the strong active (and to an extent the passive).
Other items with powerful passives/actives such as Thornmail, Guardian Angel or even the current Locket of the Iron Solari are not close to being gold efficient based on base stats alone but the tradeoff is that they have powerful actives or passives.
In essence you’re paying a premium to have access to those add ons.
Remove some of the active’s features
For the most part, you’re buying Redemption for its fantastic AoE heal, but it also has way too many extras on the side that make it too strong. It has a 5500 unit range, making it a semi global ability, you can use it while dead and it also does damage to enemies, 10% maximum health true damage no less.
“I don’t even know why it deals damage, I would just remove that.”
Even if it was just a heal with a smaller active range, people would still buy it, that’s how good it is. So removing some of its extras would be a good first step to remove some fringe cases where it’s too strong.
On the topic of fringe cases, double Redemption isn’t nearly punished enough. Summoner Spell Heal for example has a 35 second debuff. If you’re healed twice in a short window of time your second heal will have diminishing returns. For Redemption that limitation only lasts 12 seconds, which can make compositions with double Redemption incredibly frustrating to watch.
Reward good usage of the item
Another option could be to change the active so it rewards correct and precise usage of it without making the item useless or weak. The radius of the active could be reduced, to better reward good positioning. As it stands, the radius occupies such a big area that it’s very easy to move into it and have multiple team members get the heal.
Alternatively, Redemption’s active could work similarly to Ziggs ult, with an inner circle where the receiver would get 100% value of the heal and a reduced value (70-80% efficiency) for the outer circuit.
Roccat Support Sub 'Treatz' also suggested making the heal scale with % missing health, to make it less effective in situations where a team fumbles an engage and wants to heal up before going back in and more effective in clutch situations where the heal comes in right before a target dies.
To conclude, I feel like Redemption is an item that has a lot of room to be changed without straight up nerfing it to the ground. Its powerful active is too good to pass up and Redemption ends up overshadowing the competition, hurting the itemization diversity in the support role.
Swords drawn and horses at the ready, the finals are upon us. In the west coast of my resident country of Canada, four teams are preparing to give it their all for a shot at the title of North American Champions. Well, that being the well-known Esports mavericks TSM and C9. Both taking their respective semifinals series 3-0, will now face each other for the ninth time in NA LCS history.
With both teams stomping their semifinals opponents, Phoenix1 and FlyQuest, there’s no doubt that TSM and C9 both deserve their spots as top contenders, in this split and from their consistent dominance in past seasons. We can all agree that the finalists deserve their spot, but the question on everyone’s mind is who will take the Spring title this Sunday?
Using Manuel Martinez’ first blood analysis, which breaks down TSM, C9, P1 and FLY’s advantages with First Blood picked up. TSM and C9 have a similar style, both using to extend early game advantages. Out of the two teams, TSM does it better, sporting 700g-1k gold leads with First Blood under their belt, more than any other team in the League. On the flipside, TSM takes the least amount of losses in the early game, managing to close the gap when First Blood is drawn on them. From a theoretical perspective, if TSM and C9 still play their early-oriented styles in the finals, TSM is more likely to win, games and overall. But as we all know, one-trick ponies don’t make it to the top.
Both squads can easily switch up their game plan for the finals, either further accentuating their early game play styles, or try and cut potential losses with draft changes and different macro plans. From C9’s perspective, if TSM is consistently better in the early game than C9, then focusing on mid-game/late-game strategies would be more beneficial. From TSM’s perspective, strong arming the early game from C9 could lead to more success than handshaking during the draft phase. Overall, it’s up to both teams’ coaching staff to ultimately decide how they play this series, but I have an itchy feeling that neither team will play like they did last week in the semis.
From roster perspectives, Hauntzer’s resilience and low-econ playstyle gives him the edge in such an oppressive duo of Impact/Ray, while Jensen’s track record against Bjergsen isn’t exactly shining. As I’ve mentioned in my previous pieces, we’re looking at a mix of rookie fervor and tried and true skill on Cloud9.
Contractz has shown his ability to blow almost every jungler out of the water, but can he stand up to Svenskeren’s immaculate pathing and early playmaking over a Bo5? Will Sneaky and Smoothie be able to suppress the explosive laning of WildTurtle and BioFrost? Even if Contractz manages to get a strong start on Kha’Zix or Lee Sin, Cloud9 can't realistically expect to win a game off a single advantage.
With such early-oriented playstyles, extremely quick junglers, superstar supports and reliable, consistent carry threat laners, you could easily amount this matchup to draft picks and objective leads. Due to the statistical edge, and consistent showing across the split, I give the win to TSM, 3-2. I expect Cloud9 to battle it out to the very end, or TSM to come back in a reverse sweep. For you C9 fans out there, hope Hauntzer doesn't get the Camille pick.
Photo Credit: Riot Esports Flickr
Preview written by Aidan Adams
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On Saturday, 4PM Berlin time, EU LCS watchers will witness one of the greatest games in the league’s history. And the winner will be an unexpected one.
Ah, finally, the conclusion to the 2017 EU LCS Spring Split. With Misfits fighting for third against Fnatic and G2 taking on the Unicorns of Love once more, we are bound to have some superb matches on our hands. Will Rekkles be able to get more silverware under his belt? Will the Misfits be able to become Europe’s third best team in their very first split? And will a single hit onto the Nexus decide the fate of the Unicorns once more? Find out by reading our preview!
Fnatic against Misfits, the old kings of Europe against the newcomers to the region. Ironically, both Fnatic’s and Misfits’ sister teams made it to the LCS as well, so this match might be an indicator on which organisation is the greater one within the European League of Legends scene as well.
Despite all of Misfits’ efforts though, it will be Fnatic who will come out victorious. Not only did they terminate H2K’s hopes and dreams, but they also almost led the series against G2 by 2-0 if it hadn’t been for minor mistakes costing them big time in the second game. Misfits on the other hand barely scraped a victory over Splyce, and even though they managed to take one game off of the Unicorns of Love, they seemed completely out of control in each of their losses. The rabbids are, at the moment, simply too inconsistent to be a match for the former champions of Europe and their leader Rekkles.
This is it folks, the grand final. The match that every avid EU LCS watcher has been waiting for: The reigning champions of Europe, G2, against the team that got so close in pretty much every tournament they competed in, but were only able to succeed in those where they didn’t have to fight another European team, the Unicorns of Love. It will be a match that will be remembered for a long time, that is for certain. And it won’t be G2 who will carry home the trophy once more.
But before I elaborate further as to why I think that the Unicorns of Love will become the new champions of Europe, let’s take a look at each of the roles individually:
In the Toplane we have the Korean wonderkid Expect going up against the European Veteran Vizicsacsi. The latter managed to get voted into the EU LCS dream team of the split, for good reason as well: The Hungarian consistently makes calculated but risky plays, priding himself with both the highest Kills per Game and second highest Deaths per Game stat for all European Top Laners. He’s also a very consistent farmer as he has the highest farm at ten minutes out of all his European lane opponents and due to smart communication is able to make teleport ganks happen all the time.
For Expect on the other side, communication might be an issue. Other than this, the G2 Toplaner finds himself to be rather average when comparing almost every relevant stat of his to all European Top Laners. This matchup is an easy win for the Unicorns.
Here we have the two-time MVP of the Split-Award winner Trick vs the Rookie of the Split Xerxe, and oh my, what a joy this will be to watch. Xerxe managed to successfully prove himself when he was put to the test against Jungle legend KaKAO and even managed to draw specific bans onto him. Whether it’s Warwick, Ivern or Graves, Xerxe excels at almost every Jungle Champion, and his champion pool is what might become an issue for G2: Trick is predominantly known for one Champion, Graves, but Xerxe has at least a handful of successful picks in his arsenal. If the Unicorns decide to ban out Graves, they’ll force Trick onto a sub-par champion for his own liking, and this is where Xerxes will be able to bola strike if needed.
Even though this is a tough call to make, if the Unicorns make the correct decisions during Champion Select, Xerxe will take home the honor of being Europe’s best Jungler once this series concluded.
The way this matchup will go, will entirely depend on three factors:
- G2’s ability to ban out Exileh
- How much pressure Xerxe will be able to exert unto Midlane
- Whether Perkz will be inting or not
In terms of individual skill, this matchup is pretty one-sided. I’m a huge fan of Exileh, he’s a fantastic talent slowly proving his worth, but as of now he’s too inconsistent and dies randomly. This was also shown in the series against Misfits, when the only way that Misfits were able to pressure the Unicorns came through the Midlane. This matchup isn’t decided by strength on paper however, so maybe Exileh will be able to have a miracle performance due to the pressure of the situation.
Bot lane is the lane that G2 should heavily focus on, it’s the basket that they need to put their eggs into. Despite Mithy’s very inconsistent performance, it’s Hylissang that has been dieing too many times in recent matches. As for ADCs we have the second best ADC of the region, Zven, going up against someone who is practically a Rookie still, Samux. Even though Samux has shown that he is able to stand up against many carries within the region, the almost Korean-like consistency of Zven might be his nightmare.
If Trick does decide to roam down Bot and get a few early kills, that might be the end for the Unicorns. Safe picks like Ezreal could be needed.
G2 is a dominant force within the European region but falters during international competitions due to one reason: Consistency. They are, by far, the most consistent team in Europe, almost every game that G2 plays in is decided at ten minutes in - even when they lose! They try to gain small advantages in the early game, only make safe calls and then slowly but steadily snowball this lead into the late game. But this is a tactic that only works against most teams, not all of them. And the Unicorns will give them a run for their money.
The Unicorn’s playing style is essentially the key opposite to G2’s: Forcing fights very early on in the game, having a heavy focus on ganks and risky plays. This disruption is not something that G2 is used to, and given that this might be the first time in any European competition that they’re unable to outshine their opponents with pure individual class, this will mean their inevitable downfall. I’m not saying that it will be a sweep, far from it, but on this Saturday, the Unicorns were born to make history.
Winner: Unicorns of Love
Photo Credit: Riot Esports Flickr