LCS Essentials: Compositions - Pick
Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another week of LCS ESSENTIALS! Today we talk about Pick Comps, their win conditions, and their prominent champion picks; you know, the usual necessary nonsense! So buckle up and make out with your neighbors, because I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day and my anime pillow is in the wash! LET’S. TALK. LEAGUE OF LEGENDS!
When people think about pick comps, the first champions that usually come to minds are LeBlenk, Ahri, Zed, champions that can hop over walls, kill a squishy target, and get out before anyone even knew what happened. What people don’t typically take into consideration is the rest of the composition that’s built around them. Let’s take a look at CLG’s draft against NRG in their game from this past week:
CLG grouped the LeBlenk with an Elise and Morgana, bringing ample amounts of long range CC, so Huhi would be able to assassinate anyone that took a Cocoon or Binding to the face. To balance out the AP heavy nature of those champions they also picked Fiora and Lucian. These two picks aren’t only good because they balance out the damage, but they also compliment the nature of the comp, specifically the aspect of NOT team fighting. Fiora is designed to split push and duel anyone that tries to stop her, while Lucian’s strengths are to clear waves and siege towers. The win condition of this team is to let Fiora split push, while waiting for LeBlenk to snipe kills on the backline, then either engaging a fight with a TP from Fiora or continuing to split and focus objectives. Although CLG’s comp can be a hard shutdown to NRG’s, you can watch back over this game and see NRG pushing CLG into their base and taking control of the game through team fights. Then, when CLG realized they were playing wrong, they start to actually pursue their win condition and eventually close out the game with a fair amount of ease by getting picks with LeBlanc and having Fiora split push into NRG’s base. Using the assassin tool correctly and eliminating the damage dealers from the equation should always be the top priority and aggressively sought after; especially against teams with only 1-2 damage threats, like poke and protect-the-ADC comps.
Although this playstyle seems strong, it comes with some huge weaknesses, the most prominent being execution. Maintaining the coordination to constantly establish/deny vision and setup picks, while protecting objectives and holding your ground, as 1-2 of your players flank the opponent, can be an incredibly difficult task, especially if you fall behind. Playing aggressive from the very beginning and getting as many early advantages as possible, so you can snowball that lead, is almost mandatory for these comps. The moment you begin playing passively with an assassin is the moment you set yourself up for failure, so always look to deny vision and kill someone from the fog of war.
In the previous composition, we saw how CC can be used to give an assassin an easy target. What if we don’t have an assassin though? What if we just have a metric frick ton of CC that we stagger, one after the other, to make sure that person never moves again? These comps are what tilt is made of. Let’s look at a team that could pull this off:
Poppy’s charge into a wall, her ult, Rek’sai’s knock-up, Viktor’s Gravity Field, Alistar’s knock-up, Kalista’s ult, internal crying, retirement, leaving esports and never looking back, this person is done. Hell, this might even be two people, because let’s be honest; you’re not gonna need all that CC just to kill one player, so you might as well ruin as many lives as possible. The interesting aspect of this style is that the win conditions aren’t necessarily fixated around getting picks in the jungle via ganks or picking off the backline. For instance, the comp above also has the secondary condition of being able to team fight well, so if you force a Baron fight and can’t seem to land your 5 million CC’s, you can at least stand a chance in a straight up 5v5. Let’s look at other versions of this style that H2K and Vitality actually played against each other in Week 3:
Both of these comps have CC that can be layered until someone is dead, VIT’s team more so, but it’s what else these teams bring to the table that makes the difference. VIT’s composition is a bit disjointed in how it works; Olaf being a split push and back line threat, Rek’sai a global pressure jungler with plenty of map awareness, Lulu is the peel Goddess of League, MF being one of the better wombo combo team fighting ADCs, and Morgana providing engage with a tiny bit of peel. This team could work, but none of them drastically benefit from each other. H2K on the other hand, have a team with a clear identity; siege towers and pick off anyone out of position. Gangplank has plenty of wave clear, poke, and slow with his barrels. Graves has wave clear and management. Lissandra has a gap closer, wave clear, and TONS of engage/lockdown potential. Caitlyn has insane poke, waveclear, and can zone with her traps. Alistar is just an unkillable CC machine that has a heal to keep minions alive longer at towers. H2K had a much clearer understanding of what they wanted to do walking into this game and were able to draft a hard engage comp, that could get picks literally anywhere on the map, then take whatever turret was the closest. Knowing what you want to do after CC’ing someone to death is the most important aspect of building this team.
Like every other play style, this rendition of pick comps has it’s weaknesses, but it may not be what you think. The most prominent counter to these compositions are particular champions that negate the amount of effort put into getting picks by keeping the target alive; Lulu’s Wild Growth, Morgana’s Black Shield, Zilean’s Chronoshift, Kindred’s Lamb’s Respite, there are even champions with entire kits to counter these comps like Soraka, Thresh, Janna, and Alistar. These are just the champions with the capability of keeping other players alive and don’t include champions with their own revive/you-can’t-kill-me mechanic; such as Anivia, Zac, Sion, Mundo, Irelia, Olaf, Karthus, Ekko, Lissandra, Tahm Kench, the list goes on. On top of that, Quicksilver Sash and Guardian’s Angel can be huge pickups in these matchups, so merely out-drafting the enemy isn’t enough sometimes. As we see in the comps above, Vitality even have 3 champions that could hard counter this style of pick comp, but without knowing how you want to play the game you automatically put yourself behind. That’s why pairing these compositions with a Plan B is almost always necessary to guarantee a chance at winning.
I Can Show You The World
The last flavor of pick comps we’ll talk about today is probably the most difficult to pull off and it’s the Global Pick Comp. These teams get all their advantages from ultimates that span across the map or from Teleport plays into side lanes/jungle skirmishes. Let’s look at a team that attempted this over the weekend:
Team Liquid went into this game with Quinn’s incredible map movement, Twisted Fate’s ultimate, Rek’sai’s ultimate, and TP on both Quinn and TF; the amount of global pressure this team could force should have been enough to put C9 on a hard defensive, especially with a weak counter-gank jungler and weak early lane phase for Malphite. However, Team Liquid ended up not using their global advantage at all in the early/mid game; TF’s ult being used for the first time at 13:30, when he is level 10, and only to get back in mid lane faster for an assist from a skirmish. The first Teleport wasn’t even used until 18 minutes and it was from Twisted Fate TPing to the 1st tier mid turret, from mid inhibitor, while his ultimate was up, to protect a tower that probably wouldn’t have gone down. The lack of coordination and early aggression is where TL failed with this comp and is what gave C9 the win.
If this composition is so difficult to pull off, then it’s not worth trying to play, right? So why do all of these teams consistently pick compositions with so much global pressure? I think the explanation for this is the style’s potential. It’s incredible how many plays a team can make when they’re not limited to walking around the map. A quick roam to river, by a Lux, can mean the enemy ADC dies after a fight. A TF, with Teleport, can be in your lane, killing you, then back in his lane, farming away, within seconds, and then do it again a couple minutes later. Shen uses Stand United on his ADC that’s losing a fight, then all of a sudden you’re taunted, and now you’re dead. There are so many opportunities for these compositions to take every possible advantage, but it requires an incredible amount of coordination, not only via communication, but also through vision and tracking cooldowns. On paper, this style is incredibly impressive, but when implementation rolls around and your brain only remembers 2 things at a time, while you’re trying to outperform your opponent in lane, and the 3rd thing you needed to remember is the most important, it gets difficult.
You Can Do More Than Pick Your Nose
So that’s the lowdown on the basics of Pick Comps. They are probably the most difficult compositions to pull off, but have unreal benefits for your team. Remember to constantly pursue your win conditions, because fighting from behind with these comps are significantly more difficult than others. If you can maintain/control vision, know your objectives, and have clear communication, then poo-pooing all over your opponent will be a cake-fart-walk. If there is a falter in any of those aspects of your play, then the whole composition falls apart. Unless you’re in NA, then you just stall for a 45 minute Baron call and win the game off of a sloppy fight. Now, stop trying to pick your friend’s nose and go pick off some enemies ON DA RIFT! I mean, should be easy enough in Bronze 3.