Sometimes the newest champions in League of Legends become instant meta staples the day they’re released. Sometimes they never make it into competitive matches.
Sometimes they’re unleashed on the biggest stage in the world and wreak havoc.
Today KOO Tigers showed why analysts have been singing the praises of the river beast Tahm Kench, using him to decimate Counter Logic Gaming in their second group stage meeting at the 2015 League of Legends World Championship in Paris.
Tahm Kench proved to be a perfect fit to the kind of fast push composition Western teams have favored through the tournament, adding a bit of a Korean twist to a strategy popularized last week with the success of Cloud9.
Kench fills a role similar to Cloud9’s favored support pick Morgana. Her Black Shield protects her high scaling AD carry from burst damage, and Tahm Kench’s Devour does the same. He provides pick potential with his Tongue Lash, a powerful slow and potential stun similar to Morgana’s Dark Binding. And his passive gives him Braum-like ability to soak damage during key moments of team fights.
Both teams picked similar team compositions with strong tower pushing and scaling AD carries in Tristana for Counter Logic Gaming and Jinx for KOO Tigers. They both picked control mages in the mid lane as Eugene “Pobelter” Park selected Veigar for the Americans and Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng took Azir. In the top lane, the Americans’ Fiora was answered by Darius.
KOO Tigers knew both Morgana and Tahm Kench fit their composition, so they waited until the final pick to make their support selection. With both champions on the board, they eschewed Cloud9’s favored pick to take the River King himself.
The KOO Tigers utilized most of Tahm Kench’s kit with deadly efficiency today as Kang “Gorilla” Beom-hyeon proved why he’s the best playmaking support in the tournament. GorillA’s river monster proved the key disruption in multiple fights that carried KOO Tigers to a big lead and eventually a victory.
The match started with Tahm Kench licking and swallowing Counter Logic Gaming’s bottom lane until they were both dead, with GorillA snowballing that advantage with plays up and down the map.
At the 8 minute mark, he secured a third kill showing the kind of playmaking Tahm Kench brings to the table, chewing up Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and spitting him onto the Flame Chompers of Kim “PraY” Jong-in to secure a kill.
Then, at the 10 minute mark, Counter Logic Gaming looked to come back with a four-man bottom lane dive backed by a teleport from Pobelter. But Tahm Kench’s tankiness allowed him to repel their bid, surviving long enough for support to arrive before completely mitigating Pobelter’s impact on the fight, devouring PraY just as Veigar appeared, preventing his Jinx from getting stuck in Event Horizon or eating Veigar’s powerful ultimate. Even while inside the belly of the beast, Jinx was still able to Get Excited, making it easy for PraY to clean up the fight after being expelled.
That sacrifice was the lone death for GorillA during the 23-minute victory. He posted a 1/1/20 KDA while carrying KOO Tigers to the win while showcasing everything Tahm Kench can bring to the table.
Tahm Kench proved a perfect answer to Counter Logic Gaming’s mid lane pick Veigar, and a perfect addition to push composition featuring a hyper carry and supper mage mid laner. When Veigar’s Event Horizon threatened to trap multiple KOO players, GorillA simply Devoured his AD carry and carried him through the stun, buying Mercury Treads for the tenacity to reduce the stun’s efficacy. That prevented Counter Logic Gaming from picking off the AD carry in big fights despite setting up situations where it looked favorable for them.
The win pulls the Koreans to a 3-1 record in the group, one win away from clinching a spot in the quarterfinals and likely the top seed in the group.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time a team unbenched the Kench at the World Championship. Taiwan’s ahq eSports Club pulled him out in their win over Fnatic on Saturday, meaning the champion has a 2-0 record at the event so far. But GorillA’s performance was exemplary, showing both the pick’s ability to impact the game and a team composition where he perfectly fits.
Expect to see a lot more of the River King in the support role through the remainder of the event.
Image via Riot Games