I’m John ‘Rnglol’ Crichton, ex-coach for most notably Dignitas EU, H2K and SHC. Today I’ll be taking a look at the week 9 day EU LCS encounter between Gambit and SK Gaming. What I’ll do is analyse the game from the draft phase to the end, giving my opinion on what happened and why. At the end I’ll leave some tips for both teams moving forward. I’ll briefly touch on item choices and when people should be returning to base, but for the most part will focus on the actual game-play.
- Win Conditions
- Level One
- Laning Phase
- Mid Game
- Late game
- Tips moving forward
GMB Ban 1:
The trend for teams facing SK has been to ban out Forg1ven. It’ll be no shock to the Greek seeing one of his more prolific champions taken away. I don’t agree with this strategy as it’s been over done and SK clearly have answers to it now.
SK Ban 1:
Zed has been a staple pick of Betsy, coming into LCS from Solo Queue players will generally have a small champion pool, so it’s no surprise to see him being targeted. Zed is also a tricky champion to deal with since he splits into a 1-3-1 formation with ease.
GMB Ban 2:
Gambit in return take out LeBlanc, the only other real assassin left viable. Fox has had a fair amount of success on the champion and with Zed banned, Gambit don’t fancy leaving this up. It should be noted that even if Gambit first pick LeBlanc Fox has shown he can play Diana, which as a match up is strongly in her favour.
SK Ban 2:
Diamond was playing Sejuani previous to the games Cinderhulk addition. Since then, she’s only gotten stronger and is now considered by many a ban or pick champion.
GMB Ban 3:
Banning out Rek’Sai at this point indicates that either Diamond doesn’t want to play it or that they have plans for a first pick already. Personally with Sejunai out of the picture i’d rather see Diamond taking this than banning it out. Rek’Sai offers great map control due to her ultimate and can really dish out pressure early-mid game.
SK Ban 3:
Nidalee i would say is a reactionary ban to the Rek’Sai one. SK may have been lured into thinking Gambit wanted to first pick this. She has a strong dueling potential and as a result counter-jungles extremely well.
GMB Rotation 1:
Gambit take the Graves first pick. P1noy has had a lot of success on this champion – coining the phrase “Doing a P1noy” – as has his opposing ADC Forg1ven. This can be seen as a denial or a comfort pick. Graves excels in the early-mid game with huge burst and isn’t entirely dependant on items to provide that damage. I can see Gambit’s plan of taking Forg1ven out the equation, I’m just not sold on it.
SK Rotation 1:
Maokai has been a must-pick for top laners across the globe. He provides a great scaling front line with targetable CC and an ultimate that gives a reduction in damage for those in range. Maokai also does well in lane-swap scenarios due to the fact he can solo a camp at level 1,
Seeing Nami this early into a draft is rather strange. Although she doesn’t have many bad match ups in lane due to her sustain and CC, generally teams want to take a flex pick to flesh out a comp. Either SK are really confident about this draft and know what’s coming, or they are not worried about getting countered.
GMB Rotation 2:
Thresh is a champion Edward is known for. It’s not a surprise to see him take this, he loves to make plays and create picks during all phases of the game. It should be noted however that Nami doesn’t struggle against Thresh at all, so this isn’t a counter pick.
Diana has seen a lot of play lately and SK mid-laner Fox is no stranger to the champion. Diana is still new to the meta again though. Initially she was picked to counter assassins such as Zed or LeBlanc. Providing a hard engage with a tonne of burst. She has been seen in European solo queue a lot more top lane recently, making this both a flex and denial.
SK Rotation 2:
Lee Sin is a champion that neither jungler is unfamiliar with. I generally don’t like Lee Sin being picked blind, but with Rek’Sai and Nidalee banned away he is the beta early game jungler, looking to dish out pressure, ganking hard and often.
Forg1ven defaults to Caitlyn. She’s neither super strong, nor weak. Caitlyn is a lane bully that would rather push towers than team fight during the mid-game. She ramps up heading into the late. This due to her high auto attack range and 90 Caliber Net.
GMB Rotation 3:
Vi for Diamond. She’s lethal in a counter gank situation, nothing is more scary than a huge fist coming your way and a tonne of burst to follow. Her first couple of levels aren’t great, but given the right situation she can do the damage. I’ve seen a lot of people take her into Lee/J4 in the past as a soft counter, but in this scenario she provides a tonne of lock down to punish the Caitlyn.
Gambit opt to take the Ahri and send Diana top. She will synergise really well with the Thresh and Vi in creating picks and offer some what of a safe lane for Betsy, with a lot of mobility and roam potential. She’s also one of the few champions he has performed on thus far.
SK Rotation 3:
SK pull out the Katarina, we seen her the previous day in the hands of Nukeduck. Katarina doesn’t have a lot of bad lane match ups right now and can find the farm she needs to hit power spikes to be abused in team fights or skirmishes in the mid-game. It’s also worth noting she has seen a lot of play in Solo Queue across the world since the addition of Luden’s Echo. I don’t love this pick due to the amount of CC Gambit have from their draft to lock her down.
Pre-Game Lane Match Up Analysis
Neither of these champions offer much without jungle influence, for the most part this will be a farm fest. Maokai has the advantage in the war of attrition due to his passive sustain, while Diana has a shield to negate trades. The main impact will come in the form of 2v1 or 2v2 engages and since neither champion has an escape ability (other than Diana using her Ultimate to dash toward a minion) they will be messy.
Ganking and Dive Opportunities:
Since neither champion has a true escape outside of flash, traditional ganking methods work well here. Including lane ganking (coming from a brush while a minion line is shoved toward the enemies tower). The main focus will be in controlling vision in each of the bushes that the arrows are coming from. It should be noted that Maokai can avoid spells using his Twisted Advance, while Diana can leap to a minion using her Ultimate(it has a very low cooldown).
Should Diana wish to dive the Maokai with Vi or Ahri, she will need to consider the risk involved. This is due to Maokai’s large amounts of CC, damage reducing ultimate and healing from his passive. It will probably take a 3 man attempt to secure a kill cleanly. These are the possible directions to come from. Lane Bush, Over the Wall parallel to the Tower and Bush in front of Krugs.
On the flip side, should Maokai wish to dive Diana with Lee Sin or Katarina it could work out a lot easier. She may have more damage to dish out, but Maokai can soak up tower hits and CC Diana while the Lee Sin or Katarina applies the burst and displacement if needed.
Should a 2v2 break out on neutral ground i feel the matchup swings dependant on items and levels. Earlier on i would give the advantage to Maokai/Lee while as the lane phase extends, shifting over to the burst that Diana/Vi can deal onto the Lee Sin. But it’s all dependant on how the fights break out and how quickly the counter gank comes in.
This battle is rather interesting. Mana vs Resourceless. Ranged vs Melee. It would be easy to assume that Ahri wins this straight up because of her range advantage and the fact that her Orb can shove a wave really well. But you need to take into consideration Katarina will generally start off with boots and pots. With that she can avoid the orbs and has no mana to depend on when using spells to push back. Her Shunpo also reduces any damage taken while also letting her avoid Ahri’s skill shots. I would say more than anything this is a skill match up, with Ahri having a slight advantage early on due to range and sustain from her passive. But eventually the resources will run out and Katarina’s constant harass will take over, due to her harassment being targeted or aoe zone based, it’s far easier to land and punish Ahri.
It’s going to be hard for Ahri and Vi to secure a kill in this lane without Katarina using Shunpo offensively, since she can avoid the CC. Vi needs to be hanging around mid if Katarina is playing far up and using her spells aggressively to take advantage of the small chances to get a kill.
Respectively, both Katarina and Lee Sin has no CC other than a slow and displacement at 6. Her only chances of getting a kill will be from Ahri over extending or sticking around in the lane too long, with Lee Sin helping to punish her.
Both Vi and Lee provide excellent early-mid pressure. Lee has more mobility due to ward hopping and is easier to set kills up for in the early parts of the game. However Vi provides an excellent counter gank potential that Lee must be aware of. If he goes all in for a gank and Vi comes rushing in, he will die. Both champions can avoid vision with the ability to move over walls. Lee Sin does however require a target for his Q or a ward for his W, while Vi can simply just use her Q. After 6, Vi ganks are a lot easier to set up since all she has to do is point and click her Ultimate while Lee has to land a skill shot or maneuver himself into a position to Insec.
Some examples of how Vi and Lee can avoid vision to gank lanes:
Top,Mid and Bot respectively
As a lane matchup this favours the Caitlyn/Nami heavily due to range, sustain and harassment advantage. Graves relies on getting up close to land his spells, while Caitlyn has one of the highest auto attack ranges in the game. Likewise Thresh depends on landing auto attacks to trade while Nami can use her Ebb and Flow to deal damage and then recover health. Should Nami or Caitlyn ever get caught out by Thresh landing his death sentence or flay, then it’s a different matter. Providing Graves is able to follow up with his burst. It’s worth noting that Nami can provide Caitlyn with a slow plus extra magic damage for 3 hits or until the duration expires. Combine this with Caitlyn’s range and you should never have Graves getting near her. If he uses his dash to close the distance, then Nami now has an opportunity to land her bubble.
The only thing that can swing this match up into the favour of Graves/Thresh is getting an early snowball. So that anytime they choose to all in the Nami she will just fall over.
Scenarios for ganks/teleports are as follows;
Either Vi/Ahri comes into the lane from a Thresh Lantern, or manages to exploit no vision in the river to come from behind while Caitlyn is pushing.
It’s possible for Diana to Teleport and dive the tower from here safely since Thresh can lantern her out. Getting the minion wave to Caitlyn’s tower however will be the issue.
The most likely scenario is that a fight breaks out closer towards Gambit’s tower and Diana gets to flank Teleport from the closest bush to SK’s tower.
On the flip side:
It’s likely that SK will be pushing and the only opportunity to gank will be from dives. The 2 purple arrows indicated teleport flanks, the one in tri-bush can also come from Katarina roaming or Lee sin. While the red arrow indicates a Lee Sin lane gank.
Win Conditions for Gambit;
- Make sure Diana does not fall behind
- Camp bottom lane to snowball on Nami
- Head into the mid-game and abuse the power spikes in skirmishes or teamfights
- Create picks to turn into objectives through vision
- Play around Katarina in team fights, saving crucial CC
Win Conditions for SK;
- Protect bottom lane through deep vision and river control
- Avoid fighting when Graves/Diana power spike
- Keep own jungle clear of vision to avoid being picked
- Try to soak CC for Katarina to get resets in fights
- Abuse Caitlyn’s siege potential and disengage of Nami
Both teams opt for a ‘safe start’ and neither team looks to lane swap. It would hurt Diana since Maokai can solo a camp almost instantly and gain an experience advantage quickly, while on the flipside it would stop Caitlyn/Nami from having a winning match-up in the early game.
Nami spots Graves coming outside of his tri bush. She then decides to facecheck to gain vision, getting chunked out and having to burn flash in the skirmish as Ahri is also waiting with Thresh coming round from the side.
Now i don’t know in what world facechecking a Graves/Thresh is a good idea. But it’s certainly not this one, it’s unfortunate that Ahri is also here, but a fitting punishment for such a move. If Nami really wants information as to if they will start Krugs then she can check later as the minions actually spawn.
Either way, Gambit should be recording this information and taking advantage of it. They choose to invade the Blue buff area to gain vision. From this they find out that Lee Sin will be starting on his Red Side.
Diamond is an experienced jungler, really he should know that since Nami has no flash now he can punish that lane and let the Thresh/Graves snowball. He is starting on the red side and unless he is considering a level 2 gank then this is suboptimal. Ideally you want to be ganking when Thresh is level 3 so he can flash on top of the Nami, Flay her, Lantern you in then you combine Vi Q with Thresh hook and you have an easy first blood. A blue side start would have been optimal, after they blew the Nami’s flash.
Adapting is key to success.
Graves and Thresh get greedy for the Krugs and take huge amounts of harass off Nami. Instantly conceding the lane.
Meanwhile in mid lane. Even though Ahri knows that Lee Sin started red side (due to the deep ward Thresh placed from the facecheck episode) she decides to ward her top side bush.
This is terrible. Vi is already on the top side. You know Lee will be moving to his bottom side, ward the bottom side bush. This is a clear lack of awareness and communication.
Either way, Ahri over extends mid and Lee Sin comes from for an easy First Blood.
We’re only 3:30 into the game and Gambit haven’t used a single piece of information they had to
their advantage. In fact, they done the opposite and handed SK and advantage.
Vi again returns to the top side of the map where Diana is shoving the lane. This is to set up for a counter gank because nothing else can be achieved from being this side.
Keep in mind that Nami still has no flash and SK are shoving in bottom hard. You have a Thresh with both summoners and a Lantern to bring you in. Diamond needs to be heading bot side. Really what should have happened is, Diana told to concede pressure and base with Diamond heading bottom side. Unless Diana is at risk of a freeze, in which case they need to shove the wave in and then do so.
After Vi focusing on Top so much, Lee Sin enters the enemy red side to deep ward the jungle. Caitlyn has just based as well as Thresh. This in turn acts as preparation for the first Dragon.
Without any assistance on the bottom side and the lane constantly shoved in, it’s impossible for Gambit to have any vision in the area, therefore they cannot react to this.
Gambit needs to stop babysitting Diana. They are losing the game because of it.
Thresh manages to slip a ward over the pit, at least they now have the timer.
For the first time in the game. Bot lane manages to shove in SK. Thresh rashly flashes in on the Caitlyn who trades the summoner. Graves had just hit 6, so I can see why they wanted to engage. They had so many other options though.
Simply shove in the wave. Put down a ward and take advantage of your Teleport while Maokai’s is still on cooldown. This could have been an easily co-ordinated dive to kill the Nami and start a snowball for Bottom. Which they are in dire need of. But instead they trade a summoner, burning the Graves ult. Trading supports flash for ADC is a small win however, should they take advantage of the cooldown.
2nd Buff Spawn
Again, Gambit knew Lee Sin started red side. Therefore, 2nd buff spawns would be parallel, as such we find Vi (surprise,surprise) on the top side of the map. While Lee Sin is on the bottom side.
Kat roams down with Lee seeing that Gambit are over extended bot (with merely a Pink ward in their Tri to defend them) and pick up a kill on Thresh.
In reality, Gambit should be conceding pressure on the bottom side right now, they have no reason to be pushing. Vi is top, Ahri will be wanting blue buff and they have no vision of the river. Even better would have been if they used the small windows they had shoving the lane to go gain vision of those areas. The jungle and mid also haven’t invest in pink wards, which they really should be doing at this point in the game.
This is an example of where Gambit should be aiming to ward. They can’t contest a ward further out on the bottom side, so securing vision in both the Tri and behind their red buff would ensure Ahri can roam down safely while also providing the information should Katarina try the same.
Finding the pick
Gambit manage to create a pick on the top side river. Neither team have much vision at this point and it’s a good charm from Ahri setting up the kill here.
Really they should be getting wards deep into the enemy jungle after picking up this kill. They have no information to make decisions off of.
SK opt to rotate Caitlyn/Nami top lane and begin the siege of another tower. However Diana/Thresh prove to be too much for them and the idea is thwarted.
This suits SK though, as Dragon is just spawning. Information that both teams had. As you can see Vi had prime opportunity to go and prepare the area a minute in advance. But the Gambit mentality of not buying wards takes over and another chance is missed. Resulting in SK picking up another dragon in exchange for the top tower.
Finally after 16 minutes Gambit decide to place some deep vision. They then rotate to mid and try to lay down some damage on the tower.
Graves manages to catch Caitlyn in rotation to mid, the two exchange blows but Caitlyn over commits. During this time both Vi and Diana have moved to the bottom side walking through the pink ward SK have placed in the river.
Caitlyn dies when really, she had all the information she needed to back off. Greed took over and the potential for a 1v1 kill got the better of Forg1ven here.
Anything you can do, I can do better
SK notice that Gambit have invested 3 players to the bottom side. They decide to rotate upward to trade over a tower. But they leave the mid lane open as well. Trading 1 tower for 2 and a kill.
While SK really lack wave clear, they should have kept someone in the mid lane. Giving up free towers is not a winning strategy by any means. Gambit have a far closer gold disparity than they deserve at this point.
Thresh gets caught out in the bot side. Leading to SK once again taking full control of the river and Dragon. This is their 3rd of the game so far, all of which have been uncontested. 2 more and the game will be out of reach for gambit. They need to get their act together.
Whenever an objective is coming up, especially as a pick comp, you should be the one placing the deep vision as a group and trying to take advantage of that information. Gambit just keep letting SK have all the information.
My minds telling me no…
Lee Sin manages to find Thresh who has been sitting in a bush with Ahri (with his Q) and decides to follow up, Graves has been split pushing bot and Diana who is in the top lane has Teleport available.
Now, this engage should never have been allowed to happen. They had vision on the mid lane, had just been into the top side jungle and they are only 3. Now Gambit need to blow Teleport (when they have Teleport advantage) to try and recover the situation.
Overall they end up trading 2 for 2 since Graves manages to catch out Nami after.
Gambit’s sheer lack of respect has cost them here. Get in, get vision and get out. No need to stick around as 3 and risk getting caught out. Just put Diana in the bottom side of the map to push that Tier 2, if Maokai comes then you can force a fight and make use of your teleport advantage.
4th times the… oh
Once again zero Dragon preparation for Gambit. SK have been ahead every single time. Bottom lane is slow pushing for SK, top side is nearly at an Inhibitor turret and the middle lane is even.
Apart from the fact they have no vision of the area, Gambit could have at least made sure the side lanes were shoved out. It’s simple stuff, when an objective like Dragon is spawning you prepare for it;
- Create Dead Waves
- Gain Vision Control
- Try to create picks
None of these things have been achieved by Gambit and the next time around SK will have that all important 5th dragon buff to play with.
I’ll specify the term dead waves also – basically this is a term for pushing your minions so far up that your enemy cannot achieve anything in that lane. So if you lose a team fight, all you lose is the gold from the kills. They cannot punish you by taking towers and while they are messing around an objective like Dragon they are losing out on a tonne of minions.
4-1 Pays off… Or should have
Lee Sin engages into Gambit and dies, meanwhile Diana has the bottom lane tier 2 under siege. Now Gambit decide to push their advantage… by fighting… and losing that fight 5v4. They fail to stop Katarina getting her resets off and get punished for it.
In this situation. Looking at the map right now, it’s obvious that Gambit could easily rotate to the bottom lane and just lay siege, if anyone tries to come through? They get picked off. Katarina would have no chance of getting into that choke hold between the tier 2 tower and the jungle. They would have to come from behind the tower.
Preparation.. Gone wrong
Gambit now decide it would be an idea to prepare for the 5th Dragon. That’s good, you would think and they even manage to kill Caitlyn before SK can stop them. However that 1 kill took so much investment of Gambits CC that SK clean up shop with Katarina, taking 3 kills for themselves which quickly turns into 5 and a tower as Diana and Vi fail to defend it.
When you’re 2v4, don’t try to be men and defend the tower. Just let it go, what’s worse than giving up a tower? giving up a tower AND kills.
Gambit finally manage to create a pick on to none other than Katarina. They trade over Vi. But at this point Caitlyn has so much damage, contesting will be hard without a jungler… or so you would think. Gambit manage to pick up their first dragon of the game. Now people might think that it was due to Lee not having smite. But in actuality he had 2 charges. He used the first to save himself (he was dying to ignite and using smite on the drake to heal himself) and then waited out the cooldown to restart the dragon. It was simply a fail in the end.
Nothing much to say here, either you fight or you take advantage of the fact you have a smite and the enemy team don’t. If SK could have gotten the buff, it would have been game over. But the fact Gambit prevented that, let the game run out a little longer.
Finding the right fight
Somehow SK get lured into a choke hold fight. Like we discussed earlier, this is where Katarina is really going to struggle. Coming through the front line and eating up all that CC. It’s no surprise that Gambit come out ahead in this fight. But really SK shouldn’t have been taking it.
Trying to siege?
Gambit decide to charge up the mid lane. With neither side lane pushing in favour of them, if they lose this fight they can lose a lot more.
I don’t agree with just pushing mid, first and foremost. I always think that if you can siege, go to a side lane. Like we discussed last week
Side note: Bottom side inhibitor is the most valuable and here’s why
- Furthest from Baron
- Only 1 Nexus Turret can reach minions from side lanes
Now in the case that you’re in this situation. Really you should be pushing out top to quell a rotation onto Baron in exchange for your push. If you have Teleport obviously you send the top laner down to the bottom side and if you have the Teleport advantage then you turn that split push into a 5v4 opportunity.
Instead they take a fight in the mid and lose a baron.
Fighting it out… again
Gambit again get caught into a fight, where really they shouldn’t be taking it. I thought they might have realised at this point, using the choke holds and forcing Katarina into a narrow corridor will really mess with SKs ability to fight you.
SK turn the team fight win into a middle inhibitor and another Dragon. At this point Gambit need a miracle pick on to someone like Kat or Caitlyn and really it’s all they can do.
Closing It Out
SK are no fools however and quite rightly move towards the bottom side to siege up. They see a chance for a dive and take it with open arms. Katarina cleaning up house once again.
It’s All Over
SK finish the game a lot later than they should have, considering the early game domination.
SK played for the laning phase, sticking to what is true to them. This carried their composition through the mid game where Gambit had a better chance of taking advantages. Gambit however never gained a lead that would have been substantial to swing the game. Failing to create any form of vision control worthwhile to either flank engage or create picks. They failed to create enough pick opportunities, prepare for objectives and identify how to punish SK in the early-mid, due to this SK outclassed and put Gambit to the sword once they reached the later stages.
Tips Moving Forward:
- Realise that objectives are important
- Play to the power of your champions vs the enemies
- Identify where you need to snowball and why
- Stop focusing top so much
- Take advantage of early summoners burned and adapt your strategy
- Learn to create dead waves
- Don’t face check level 1, a more punishing team would have capitalised
- Don’t force fights when you don’t need to
- Communicate enemy movements from mid
- Don’t be so dependant on a strong laning phase to develop more strategies