2015 World Championship Preview: ahq e-Sports Club
ahq e-Sports Club: LMS Seed #1
Summer Split Regular Season Record: 11-0-3
Summer Split Playoff Record: 3-0
ahq e-Sports Club proved that they are, without a doubt, the strongest team Taiwan has to offer. The heavyweight only dropped three games during the entire Summer Season, including playoffs, with those games lost being in the regular season. ahq maintained their form from the Spring Split playoffs and Mid-Season Invitational, sticking to their bot lane centric play.
The first round of the Summer Split went perfectly for ahq, literally. ahq did not drop a single game in the first round, despite some close games with the Flash Wolves and Machi 17. However, in their first series of the second round, they would be defeated by sixth place team, Machi 17. ahq lost bot lane 2v2 and were spun out of control till they eventually lost. The loss doesn’t mean much in the context of their season, but clearly exposed ahq’s singular approach to the game.
This weakness would be used in the future by Hong Kong Esports and the Taipei Assassins, focusing bot lane and building compositions around neutralizing AN. They did make strides in playing around their top laner, Ziv, in the latter half of the season, but were still predominantly a bot lane-snowballing, dragon-focused team. Due to this weakness, ahq was appropriately challenged by Hong Kong Esports’s top lane snowballing style, giving them the most difficult 3-0 ahq could imagine. ahq may have won 3-0 and punched their ticket to Worlds, but their grasp over the region weakened and their weaknesses were more apparent than ever.
6.2 KDA (1st)
66.9% KP (3rd)
21.9 DMG% (3rd)
Most Played Champions: Maokai (12) Hecarim (5) Rumble (3) Ryze (3)
Ziv is without a doubt, the best top laner in the LMS. His performance on the likes of tanks and carry champions was unmatched by anyone within the region. While he isn’t necessarily the strongest force in the laning phase, he is great in teamfights, with a great sense of teleport usage. Even then, he did surpass his peers in the laning phase as well, consistently owning a CS lead over his opponents.
As strong of a player Ziv is, ahq hardly plays around him, with Mountain rarely visiting the top lane. This is one of the reasons he has been unable to leverage large leads in the laning phase, the other being, that they completely focus on AN, when it comes to lane swaps. Ziv plays safe when it is required of him and will not allow a lead in the top lane to tip the scales in favour of the opposing team. While Ziv is not known to many international fans and plays in a region of underwhelming top laners, he will do just fine against the likes of Zzitai and Huni, while being significantly better than Balls.
5.9 KDA (1st)
69.9% KP (10th)
14.4% DMG (7th)
0.72 WPM (8th)
0.25 WCPM (9th)
Most Played Champions: Gragas (11) Rek’Sai (9) Ekko (3)
Mountain was one of the main catalysts to ahq in the Spring Season and has since remained important to the team’s success in Summer. Mountain is a jungler, with average mechanics, but is a large beneficiary of the current pool of tank junglers available to him. He has some of the more creative pathing in the LMS, finding more gank routes for himself than one could expect.
Mountain’s main game plan is to hover the bottom side of the map, in order to both gank and counter gank at the most appropriate times. The majority of his time and resources are focused around the success of AN, whether it be ganks or the vision he provides in the bottom side jungle, to keep him safe. With all his time and resources put into the bot lane, he controls the dragon well for ahq, often keeping the counter in their favour. Mountain is quite comparable to the likes of Reignover in this group, but certainly does not meet the caliber of Kakao. Hai is a relative greenhorn jungler, so it’s safe to say that Hai is not really close to Mountain.
6.5 KDA (1st)
62.6% KP (7th)
27.1% DMG (7th)
Most Played Champions: Ahri (7) Diana (5) Fizz (4)
Westdoor is no doubt the most famous player on ahq, due to his flash play on assassins such as Fizz and Zed. He has a reputation for having a relatively small champion pool, often having Fizz, Zed, and Twisted Fate as his picks. For this reason, he often has a low percentage of his team’s damage, compared to the average mid laner, as his goal in teamfights is to single out the main carry. Over the course of summer, he was able to add a GODV inspired Diana and improve on his Ahri play. Though he still possesses an assassin heavy pool, he is more difficult to ban out than in the past.
Westdoor functions for ahq as a secondary source of pressure for AN. He cares very little for the early part of the laning phase, forgoing experience and CS to beat the enemy mid laner on a roam down bottom. His success in the game is very tied to bottom lane in this way, needing assists or kills to stay even with the opposing mid. Transitioning into the mid game, Westdoor often focuses his attention on side lanes. With the rising popularity of teleport mid, Westdoor has become a primary split pusher for ahq, taking towers and allowing his team to take objectives off his pressure. Westdoor’s style is too erratic to consistently rate him as a good mid laner, being behind the likes of Febiven and Rookie. Incarnati0n is still relatively inexperienced so I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
5.2 KDA (3rd)
69.8% KP (7th)
29.5% DMG (2nd)
11.6 CSD@10 (1st)
Most Played Champions: Sivir (10) Graves (4) Jinx (4) Vayne (4)
AN has settled into the AD role quite well this season, fitting into it much better than his previous occupations of jungle and mid. He is the primary carry for ahq, outputting the highest percentage of damage for his team, in a mid focused region. He is a player with great mechanical prowess and possesses a wide perspective of the game, from his experience in other roles.
AN is given a great deal of attention from his team, often in the form of jungle assistance in the bottom lane, or focusing him in a lane swap. Given these resources, AN is consistently ahead in the laning phase and leverages it well against his opponent. AN has good positioning in teamfights, often maximizing his damage output. However, he still does have the skittish tendency of playing forward and aggressive, which will be taken advantage of, by better teams. AN is more than capable of matching up to the AD carries in this group, likely having the strongest mechanics of them all.
4.7 KDA (2nd)
71.7% KP (8th)
1.19 WPM (6th)
0.42 WCPM (1st)
Most Played Champions: Alistar (6) Leona (6) Thresh (6)
Albis’s switch to support is another large reason for the rise of ahq in the spring, being more effective as primary engage in the support role, than in the jungle. While Albis initially had deficiencies as a laning support, more time and practice on the role has shored some of them up. Albis is not an overpowering laner, but is in a group lacking in the support role, aside from Fnatic’s Yellowstar.
Albis has one of the better vision games in the LMS, only rivaled by SwordArT and Olleh in this aspect. He is a main contributor to their early game success via his vision and ability to set up picks for his team. His synergy with Mountain is key to this all being possible, working well with his jungler to control the bottom side of the map. This synergy translates to their ability to snowball the bot lane and create timely engages in the mid and late game. Considering his skill set, it is pretty obvious why Alistar, Leona, and Thresh are his most played champions.
ahq e-Sports Club, coming into Worlds, has generally been overrated by the community due to their performance at the Mid Season Invitational, being able to take games off of TSM and Fnatic. The fact is, they are a fairly one dimensional team, that plays to snowball their bot lane, in order to leverage dragon control. That being said, their strength relies in their strong early game planning and ability to get their bot lane ahead with early aggressive moves from jungle and mid.
Comparatively, ahq stacks up relatively well against their opponents in Group B from a positional perspective. However, key deficiencies lie in the mid lane, where Westdoor’s self-forsaking style can be punished by the likes of Rookie, Febiven, and even Incarnati0n. While Westdoor is by no means the center of his team, disadvantages in the mid lane will make it harder for their bot lane to succeed and will require ahq to really run over opposing bot lanes. Assuming Mountain continues to focus his attention bottom, any lack of success will quickly spiral ahq’s game out of control
The other key lane to ahq at worlds will be top lane. Ziv should be able to hold his own against Zzitai, Huni, and Balls, but as mentioned before, is not at the center of ahq’s game. In the lane swap scenario, ahq does not play for Ziv’s farm and often puts four on one side of the map, in order to guarantee AN’s success. Against tougher top lane competition, this deficiency for Ziv will be less passable. Additionally, in any scenario where Ziv dies early and AN doesn’t get anything in return, the game is over for ahq, against teams like Invictus Gaming and Fnatic. In standard lanes, Ziv is good at playing safe and even without Mountain’s aid, will be much less of a concern for ahq.
However, ahq is not completely dead in the water. Fnatic has showcased a relatively weak early game that ahq can take advantage of, with their tendency to force skirmishes in the earlier parts of the game. Their more aggressive 4/1 lane swaps will also play a key role here. Against iG, Kakao had moments this season where he focused on farming, leaving iG relatively inactive in the early game. ahq's aggressive early game can also be deadly in this situations, considering the weaker bottom lane of Kid and Kitties (mostly Kitties). Anything less than a large early lead will leave ahq without much hope, against either team.
In the end, ahq often had stronger teamfighting than other teams in the LMS and even when their game plan was botched, they could make it back through superior teamfight engages and mechanics. It’s safe to say, that in Group B, this is not going to be a saving grace. Fnatic and iG will not let ahq back in so easily. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen ahq, with them last playing on 5.14, and it will be seen then if they’ve adapted their play around the new top lane meta. If they can become more flexible and play around the top lane more consistently, they could end second in this group, but that is unlikely. They will likely end third, behind the likes of Fnatic and iG, and ahead of Cloud9.