As part of our world coverage, we decided to briefly introduce INTZ e-Sports and Albus Nox Luna, the two Wildcard Teams in this year's League of Legends World Championship
There are 8 Minor Regions whose champion qualifies to compete in Wildcard Tournaments in order to qualify for Worlds and also the Mid Seasonal Invitational.
While Wildcard teams are far from favorites, their performances have been getting better year after year.
This year, the Wildcard representation includes the Brazilian Team INTZ e-Sports and the CIS side Albus Nox Luna.
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Worlds is right around the corner and one of the biggest questions is who will show up at worlds. Most teams last played on 6.15 (aside from International Wildcard teams who played their qualifier on 6.16) and the patch we will see at worlds is 6.18.
In between those 2-3 patches a lot of small nerfs and buffs were given to multiple champions, which in professional play can be enough to tip the scales for some changes to champion pools.
There’s also a lot of interest to see what is going to show up after what happened last year. The Juggernaut patch came right after teams qualified and it was a gigantic set of changes that completely shifted pick priorities.
This year’s changes pre-worlds have been much more mild, but with no teams playing competitively in these last two patches, a lot of testing has surely been done by a lot of teams and those paying more attention to rumors might have heard of some new champions showing up once more.
The Flex Pick
Probability to show up: Very likely
We covered Jayce last week, who started showing up much more after his 6.17 patches:
Jayce is a hybrid type of fighter, who can poke from afar and then use the movement speed to close the gap, go melee and finish off a target. Changing stances to hammer form grants resistances which encourages going melee without getting blown up.
Right now, he’s seeing play in both solo lanes. In the top lane, he can outrange and poke melee matchups. Ranged auto attacks are also very useful to deny Gangplank’s Powder Kegs.
Top Lane Jayce skips Tear of the Goddess and rushes Black Cleaver, as trades and all ins are more frequent in this lane. He also runs Stormraider’s Surge, to allow him to close the gap as melee after landing an accelerated Shock Blast from afar.
In the mid lane he plays a more poke oriented style, usually with Tear of the Goddess and Thunderlord’s Decree as his Keystone Mastery.
Probability to show up: Low
Kled was released back on 6.16, so he hasn’t seen his competitive debut, but slowly, professional players that are attending the world championship started to slowly pick the Cantankerous Cavalier.
Kled is an incredibly strong duelist and deceptively tanky with his mount Skaarl. Bursting him down is next to impossible, as his dismount animation completely stops full damage combos from killing him. With ‘Chaaaaaaaarge!!!’ he can always start a fight, on his own or with his teammates. The movement speed given is immense and functions very similarly to a sivir ultimate, allowing everyone to quickly engage a team or a straggler.
Once Kled completes Black Cleaver his cooldowns are low enough to string ‘Beartrap on a Rope’ time after time again, as he can continuously stay close by using ‘Jousting’ as well.
Probability to show up: Average
Skarner’s last appearance at worlds wasn’t that great... Regardless, leading up to this year’s event he’s been seeing quite a lot of play. With Rek’sai and Gragas nerfed and if drafts tend towards banning top tier junglers such as Elise and Nidalee, there’s a chance we might go into the tier 2 champions and the Crystal Vanguard is one of them.
Skarner farms fast and has very good lockdown with Impale and Fracture. He’ll never be super high up in priority mainly because he’s incredibly dependant on flash and needs to get into melee range to dish out a lot of damage, so he’s dependant on facing less mobile compositions or with champions that can enable him.
Honorable Mentions: Olaf, Kindred, Evelynn
Probability to show up: Likely
Ryze has gone through too many reworks, but it doesn’t seem like that will ever stop him from being a contested pick. The first rank on his ultimate is admittedly very poor, but come mid game his damage really starts ramping up.
Initially, players were still going for the double stacking build of Rod of Ages and Seraph’s Embrace, but recently the build has shifted towards going for a Morellonomicon right after Tear of the Goddess and grabbing a Rylai’s Crystal Scepter next to make up for the health he doesn’t get for not picking up RoA.
Ryze is deceptively mobile. He usually has Ghost and Flash at his disposal as his summoner Spells and with Stormraider’s Surge as his Keystone he can swiftly get out after going in for a trade or reposition until he unleashes his low cooldown highly potent burst once more.
Probability to show up: Low
Jinx isn’t really priority right now and it’s very likely we will see about at least 6 champions above her in priority in the AD Carry role. That said, she’s still an absolute late game monster and will take over games if they stretch out long enough past the 35 minute mark. Most teams will prioritise Lucian, Jhin, Ashe, Sivir and even Tristana, but Jinx still has this strong niche of a strong late game teamfighter with a deadly reset and some teams might rely on her as a comfort pick.
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Mid Lane is traditionally the place where 1v1 duels happen often and junglers usually visit for ganks. Support roams are also frequent, everyone is constantly trying to swing the matchup for their mid laner, so it’s a very dynamic lane that gets a lot of attention, as the mid laner who is ahead can then translate an advantage to roams and invades to further amplify said gain.
So it’s no wonder that especially in ranked games we see a lot of assassins and burst mages in this lane, constantly trying to cement a lead through solo kills. Naturally, Ignite is ideal pick for these situations.
However, buffs to other spells and some assassins falling out of favor, throughout seasons we have seen more diversity in summoner spells. While competitive league is a completely different game from ranked matches, some strategies and tendencies tend to cross over and be adopted as players watch professionals pick up new things.
Season 5 - The Double Teleport Meta
In season 5 and even for a good part of season 6 (until patch 6.13), Teleport was the go to summoner spell for mid lane in competitive and it crossed over to solo queue too. Even a champion like LeBlanc, known for her extremely high potential for solo kills and all ins with Ignite, was frequently running Teleport, since it allowed her to have incredible map presence with TP ganks to either side lane.
Teleport was nerfed in the end of season 5, but this wasn’t enough to deter the summoner spells popularity, albeit reducing its dominance slightly in the middle lane.Patch 5.22 - Teleport
- Cooldown on Turret Cast - 240 seconds ⇒ 300 seconds
Finally on 6.13, Teleport finally got another nerf that was the nail in coffin for the double TP meta.
Patch 6.13 - Teleport
- Channel Duration - 3.5 seconds ⇒ 4.5 seconds
Late Season 6 - Flash/Ghost Mids
The channel was simply too long for TP ganks and flanks to be effective with most mid lane picks. With Teleport being out of the picture, Ghost started to show up as one of the staple summoner spells in the mid lane, allowing mages to enhance their chase and kite potential in skirmishes and teamfights. The Spell was buffed back on Patch 6.10 and the buff was very significant.
Patch 6.10 - Ghost
- Cooldown - 210 seconds ⇒ 180 seconds
- Movement Speed Bonus - 27% at all levels ⇒ 28-45% (at levels 1-18)
Ghost on mid laners was not unheard of on picks such as Twisted Fate and Viktor for example, but with teleport out of the way, many more champions started picking it up as their second summoner spell, let’s have a look at some of them, from more common to more situational and obscure.
The reason behind the popularity of Ghost on most mages nowadays can be described with one word: Control.
With Ghost as a second summoner spell, these mages get a lot of extra control in fights. Most mages throw out a combination of spells and then have a downtime until they can contribute again. Ghost allows them to kite back or flank around, looking to position themselves ideally for their follow up spells. Most mages nowadays also use Rylai’s Crystal Scepter. When paired with Ghost it just allows them to chase and kite endlessly.
Popularity: 24.6% (3rd most used)
Guide: The Malzagod by Peaceman
Malzahar is one of those Teleport mid laners I was talking about. He just pushes the lane, backs, teleports back to lane. Rinse and repeat.
With Teleport nerfed most of his roaming potential was gone. The channel time is just too long for him to use it to gank, as he then has no mobility spells to reach the back line.
With Ghost and the eventual Rylai’s Crystal Scepter pick up, Malzahar becomes a fearful control mage. With Ghost you can move back and forth during teamfights to land Malefic Visions and Call of the Void on key targets and the slow coming out from Rylai’s allows for Voidlings or even teammates to easily follow up. This iteration of Malzahar is much less about the 100-0 burst with your ultimate and more about controlling the battlefield with crippling AoE damage.
Popularity: 36.8% (2nd most used)
Cassiopeia might not be able to buy boots, but she sure is a swift snake, able to slither back and forth through fights with movement speed gained from hitting her Noxious Blast. While Ignite might be good for a surprise all in at level 2 or 3 with surprising burst, with ghost she can do much more in a teamfight setting, allowing her to move around the outskirts of a teamfight, flanking around reach a target with Noxious Blast followed by consecutive uses of Twin Fangs.
Ghost also gives her extra safety in lane. Cassiopeia is infamous as a champion that is somewhat easy to gank early on, with Ghost she has an extra escape tool to evade ganks, provided her initial position is good enough to allow her to increase the distance between herself and the ganker.
Popularity: 14.4% (3rd most used)
Guide: Syn City by DJ Chrispy
Syndra quickly rose from a pocket pick to a must on every professional mid laner’s champion pool. Ignite is very tempting on Syndra. Laning against her becomes even more problematic as a simple combo pre 6 can easily lead to a kill and post 6, the potential of a 100-0 combo coming out is even higher, with the burn slowly ticking away as the opponent tries to run from the Dark Sovereign.
With that said, Syndra can still easily kill carries without Ignite, especially after completing core items. Replacing Ignite for Ghost results in losing some early lane dominance in exchange for a massive teamfighting upgrade. Ignite will guarantee you that opening first kill on a carry for sure, but Ghost will give you that extra mobility to move around and land consecutive Dark Spheres, and reposition to get good angles for stuns with Scatter the Weak.
Combined with the rising popularity of Rylai’s Crystal Scepter on her, Syndra is transformed from a pick off oriented mage whose main job is to blast one target to a strong teamfighting mage, that still has good burst, but isn’t totally zoned out or too far to go for more targets once she uses her first spell rotation. Similarly to Cassiopeia, she uses Ghost to move around the outskirts of a fight and find opportunities to land strong damage on multiple priority targets.
Usage: Very Situational
Guide: Wrecking Ball by EssiXr3i
Now this is probably the one you will find super weird to be on the list, but Orianna actually does pretty well with Ghost. In later stages of the game, Orianna might be seen as that champion that has an extremely strong combo that can wipe out teams with Shockwave and Dissonance, but before she gets to that point her burst isn’t that great. Ghost allows her to consistently move the ball around and it’s been a pretty annoying combination when ran together with Rylai’s, as her Command: Attack and Command: Protect will now also slow while she moves the ball around from enemy to teammate.
If I can’t convince you, maybe Cloud9’s Mid Laner Jensen can.
You have to admire the courage of Riot to say "Well that just didn't work," which is exactly what we are seeing with Kog'Maw this patch, who is largely returning to his state many patches ago. It will be interested to see if they take another stab at reworking his mechanics or if they are just getting him to a comfortable spot and leaving him there.
Be sure to check out the full changes below:
Riot has revealed a new champion today: Ivern, The Green Father
"Once, long ago, Ivern Bramblefoot was called Ivern the Cruel—that was before he tangled with a God-Willow. In the centuries since, Ivern has roamed the forests of Runeterra, cultivating life wherever he goes. Wildflowers bloom in his footsteps as he laughs with trees, plays tricks on rocks, and dines with moss on the sun’s delectable rays. When the Green Father traipses into your lane, he brings all the secrets of the forest along with him. "
Similarly to other support type characters, Ivern can’t clear the jungle effectively through damaging abilities, but his innovative passive, Friend of the Forest, allows him to free camps (and get the full XP and gold) instead of killing them like any other jungler would do!
Let's take a look at his kit and how he will play out.
Ivern is a Warden, here is the original definition from the subclass post:
If Vanguards are “offensive tanks,” then Wardens are surely “defensive tanks.” Wardens stand steadfast, seeking to hold the line by persistently locking down any oncomers who try to pass them. Wardens keep their allies out of harm’s way and allow them to safely deal with enemies caught in the fray.
His kit reflects this pretty well. Invern’s main role in fights is to be able to peel for his carries, despite also being good at enabling his frontline to reach key enemy targets with Rootcaller, as it will grant a free dash towards the enemy struck.
Triggerseed is an extremely strong defensive ability, as you can use it to shield allies to protect them. After a short delay the shield will slow enemies around, granting your backline extra time to gain distance from enemies. Alternatively, it can be used on your main engager to stack an AoE slow when he dives in.
Aside from Triggerseed, Brushmaker is another excellent ability to use to peel your backline. By creating brushes close to them or even on top of them, you can make them untargetable for a moment, which can just be enough to save them for incoming burst from an assassin.
Finally, Daisy is also instrumental in fights to peel for allies. Given that every few auto attacks she can knock up opponents, you can simply put her on defensive duty, knocking up those pesky opponents trying to kill your carries.
Passive: Friend of the Forest
Ivern shoots out a ropey root that deals magic damage and (as you'd expect) roots the first enemy it hits. Allies who use a basic attack on the rooted target will automatically dash to get within attack range.
Passive: When hiding in brush, Ivern's basic attacks have increased magic damage and range. This effect lasts for a couple seconds after Ivern leaves the brush.
Active: Ivern creates a patch of brush, temporarily revealing the area around it. The amount of brush created is slightly greater if it's placed near a wall or any other brush. The Green Father's grassy patches disappear on their own after a moderate delay.
Ivern places a protective seed onto his ally, granting them a shield. After a short delay the seed explodes, damaging and slowing all nearby enemies.
Ivern summons Daisy, an enormous sentinel who loves hugs. Daisy scampers around joyfully, knocking up Ivern's target after a few hits. Ivern can recast this ability to direct his boisterous friend toward new targets. She'll hang around until her hankering for hugs has been satisfied, or until her health bar is depleted.
Ivern is a magic damage dealing bruiser. Despite not being a super aggressive champion, he can still dish out quite some damage with Rootcaller and the ranged auto attacks from Brushmaker. His shield’s strength also increases with Ability Power, so similarly to champions like Lulu or Orianna, he gains utility and increases his defensive abilities by itemizing for AP items.
Overall, it seems like Rylai’s Crystal Scepter might be a key item for Ivern to have. Runic Echoes' proc and even Daisy will slow opponents, so he can gain a lot of extra utility and potential to chase or peel with the item, not to mention key stats such as Ability Power and Health.
It’s hard to tell without knowing his ability ratios, but it seems like he can either go the tank route with Cinderhulk or the more damage oriented one with Runic Echoes.
Cooldown Reduction is likely one of the most important stats, as lower cooldowns on his Shield will allow for more durability for Ivern and his allies, not to mention a lower cooldown on Rootcaller, his main damage and crowd control ability, and with the current itemization in League of Legends, he can do this by itemizing more offensively with Zhonya’s Hourglass, Hextech Protobelt and Abyssal Scepter or defensively, with items such as Spirit Visage and Frozen Heart.
His playstyle is, as mentioned before, very supportive. Giving an early first red or blue buff to allies can be absolutely huge, but this requires a lot of communication and understanding between Ivern and his teammates, to be able to shove a wave and go inside the jungle to pick up a buff, for example.
His ganking is decent, but largely dependant on hitting Rootcaller. Once it hits, Ivern can close in and activate Triggerseed to followup with a powerful 70% slow that also lasts for 3 long seconds. But if he doesn’t hit his root and his laner doesn’t have crowd control to initiate, his ganks can be pretty meager as they will both lack crowd control and damage.
To conclude, Ivern definitely favours teamfights and skirmishes with more teammates. While Ivern can fend for himself, he is not a good duelist and will likely lose 1v1 fights to the more aggressive junglers such as Nidalee or Lee Sin for example. Ivern wants to be able to set up fights with a Rootcaller on a key target to enable his teammates, alongside a well placed Triggerseed that will slow multiple opponents.
For more information, including video previews of Ivern's abilities, make sure to check out the Champion Reveal!