Recent times have seen an influx of journalists, writers, analyst and even rookies (used with the nicest possible sentiment) finding passion and worth in dissecting the picks and bans of competitive games and to try their hand at written, published analysis. As someone who’s spent the greater part of this year engaged in both writing, content creation and providing written and verbal feedback and analysis, this trend surely suits me.
I’m sure a great portion of anyone reading this was as enthralled as I was over the excitement of IEM San Jose, some of the earliest games on 4.20, with the age-old battle of NA vs. EU. The epic triumph of Cloud 9 over Alliance was arguably predictable, with Alliance’s recent roster shifts. However, what I firmly believe no one foresaw was the victory of Unicorn’s of Love which reshaped our finals.
The second game was the one that struck most interest in me, for a number of reasons which we can now explore.
Unicorns of Love: Rumble, Zed, Lissandra
Cloud 9: Irelia, Thresh, Gnar
The bans are always of great importance because of how integral they are in directing and shaping the draft. The most obvious thing to note is the direct attack at the top lane champion pool, taking away four of the strongest tops within the current meta. A quick exploration of their strength is because they share some or all of these factors:
– Strong lane presence: They’re able to 1v1 their lane opponent, bully or trade very well and therefore generally will win their lane or demand the attention of the opposing jungler.
– Teleport assistance: With the importance of global presence being brought unanimously across top laners, there is now the battle of who can bring more. Some, if not all, of these four have potent gank potential from teleport or can change the result of an early skirmish; either from CC or high base damage.
– Ultimate pressure: Lastly, what has very much been defining the strength of the top laners is the impact of their early game ultimates, most pertinently the ones that will shape dragon fights.
So with careful execution, we see that there is a total lack of formidable tops, save a few. The Zed and Thresh bans don’t require too much attention, they’re the typical “target” or “respect” bans that accompany researching your opponents and knowing what they can pick.
The first takeaway from UoL is a no-brainer. With the rest of the strong ADCs being nerfed over the past few patches, Corki has become even more relevant because he’s flown through relatively unscathed. It’s an ambiguous pick, working in most lanes and team compositions.
Cloud 9 respond cleverly, however. With the prioritisation of top lane bans, and working under the assumption UoL will have greater priorities for their first pick, Maokai is a very worthwhile pick in this rotation. He’s the last remaining “meta” top lane pick, having proven his utility and power throughout the last few months of competitive play. The Lee Sin pick interests me, because I don’t believe that it’s as strong in the new jungle as it has previously been. By no means do I think it’s bad or underpowered, please don’t read it that way, but due to the clear difficulties most junglers are experiencing (with Lee Sin not being an exception to) and the delayed jungle pathing removing some of his early dominance and gank pressure, I’m not convinced he’s the most necessary pick here. What I will deduce, however, is that there is most certainly a purpose. By the end of this analysis, I’ve actually understood to a greater degree why it was picked, but I don’t think it needed to be taken in this rotation.
Next, Unicorns of Love take the notoriously powerful Warwick, but I think they’re baited into the pick and this will go against them. With that, they make a stronger definition of their composition, taking Morgana too. Morgana has a very unique interaction with Warwick, meaning the main strategy to play against him (through CCing his ultimate) is negated from Black Shield. Their picks are lending themselves to a pick comp, with single-target CC and strong follow up damage and burst. The problem? Cloud 9 have structured their composition to defend against this. Taking away Janna, who could honestly be titled as the strongest disengage champion in the game, with Lucian who has good survivability from his mobility. It’s an interesting case of draft and counter-draft, with Cloud 9 having answers to all of UoL’s attacks. Whilst I don’t believe UoL’s draft is in any manner bad, I believe it’s been outclassed, which is further evident with the final rotation of picks.
True to form, Unicorns of Love round out their composition with more dive capabilities, single target assassination and pick-off and solidify the nature of their game to be one revolving around creating picks with hard-engage and follow up CC and to couple this with their insane burst from their carries. In itself, I really like this composition. It has all of the necessary elements to win a game, it has wave-clear, split push potential, strong enough lanes and the ability to transition from the lane phase into team-fights in the mid game. The problem? There hasn’t been significant adaptation, following C9’s early picks. Cloud 9 follow through with their disengage composition by taking Orianna. Now, with 3 targeted shields, two (three, including Maokai) knock backs, damage reduction, slows, knock ups and every other manner of CC you can possibly imagine, Cloud 9 are poised to win this particular game.
There were points of interest as to why Hai elected to take Orianna in this match-up, instead of Syndra, a champion that has a skill-oriented match-up against LeBlanc, but is very capable of winning. Seeing the nature of UoL’s targeted pick comp, there’s no reason to bring an immobile assassin into the mix, who would likely be free gold and lacking viable options without having damage reciprocated on Syndra, herself.
I don’t believe in writing TL;DRs in articles (or really anything, for that matter) because I think if someone is interested in content they ought to read the entire piece on its merits, however, in summary of this analysis I’d like to bring together the extrapolated thoughts and provide a lexically dense, summative version.
Strengths of UoL’s Composition:
– Strong targeted INDIVIDUAL CC and picks.
– Good follow up burst from carries.
– Able to make picks from mid to late game as an inherent part of their win conditions.
Strengths of C9’s Composition:
– Damage reduction and artificial health modifiers (shields)
– Disengage to deny picks and to reset a fight on their terms.
– Solid frontline and zone of control in fights (created from Maokai and Lee Sin disruption, coupled with Janna and Orianna ultimates)
So, whilst I can’t necessarily fault the selections of Unicorns of Love on their own merit, within this context, it feels like there is very few avenues to actually win the game – and we see Cloud 9 go on to take this game in relatively convincing fashion. The last important note and amendment to an earlier comment, which I wrote with intentions of correcting, is that Lee Sin makes perfect sense. If they predicted Warwick, they’re able to out-pressure him early and delay his prominency in the mid-game and even if they didn’t, the selection worked to utter perfection in their composition, as a whole.
Images courtesy of IEM and ESL
Article by Jish