NA LCS W3D2 Pick/Ban Recap
As always for ease of reference here are my Tier 1's for each role before we get to the recaps.
Corki and Poppy have joined the ranks in Mid and Top respectively.
Top Tier 1: Ryze, Gangplank, Lulu, Fiora, Lissandra, Poppy
Mid Tier 1: Lulu, Ryze, Gangplank, Corki, Viktor, Zed
Jungle Tier 1: Rek'Sai, Lee Sin, Elise, Kindred, Graves, Nidalee
ADC Tier 1: Lucian, Corki, Kalista, Tristana, Miss Fortune
Support Tier 1: Bard, Alistar, Thresh, Janna, Trundle, Braum
As a quick note keep in mind that Kindred is banned in competitive currently due to a bug.
TL vs TIP
TL (Blue): Gangplank, Fiora, Nidalee
TIP (Red): Caitlyn, Bard, Lulu
TL (Blue): Graves; Tahm Kench, Lucian; Lux, Morgana
TIP (Red): Ryze, Alistar; Elise, Kalista; Varus
TL first pick Graves despite Ryze/Corki both being available. This is clearly wrong in my estimation and given the the big 3 of ADC's are all up Ryze would be my pick here.
TIP first rotation Ryze/Alistar. Love the Ryze, and while Alistar continues to be overvalued for me, I can understand the reticence to take Corki as well given the stacking of magic damage and perhaps you want to play Elise, so the Alistar is ultimately fine. My preferred picks would be Ryze/Lucian.
TL take Tahm Kench/Lucian. I like these picks alot as Tahm is at his best for me in double ADC comps. Corki would be a slightly higher priority for me than Lucian given that Kalista is also up, but given that TIP already has Ryze they may consider it unlikely they will take Corki anyway. Corki/Poppy would be the picks for me but these are certainly strong.
TIP second rotation Elise/Kalista. I think Rek'Sai/Corki are both slightly stronger in role in addition to adding the flex aspect of Corki for last pick, but these are very close in power so solid picks.
TL last rotation Lux/Morgana. These were really smart picks here. Lux is a little risky into a blind Mid and Elise but acceptably so, and providing Tahm with yet a third carry to protect in teamfights is excellent use of him. Morgana is great at preventing picks from all three of Ryze/Elise/Alistar, and combined with Lux this gives them the incredibly powerful siege/pick combination of the double bindings. Add Graves burst damage to that and should they get ahead their vision control and siege potential will be extremely threatening. Both champions also make it significantly harder for Ryze to close on the backline without getting hit by CC, effectively reducing him to flash engages that also require Tahm to not be near the target. I would have gone for the full on siege kite composition with Corki/Janna here, but these picks are smart for the situation if not as powerful in a vacuum.
TIP last pick Varus. They really needed AD damage here, and given the presence of Tahm making Zed undesireable Varus/Jayce were the obvious choices. That being said I don't like that TIP allowed themselves to get into this position, and had they just taken Rek'Sai/Corki with their previous rotation as mentioned above they would have had far more options here. Had they done so they could have easily last picked the Kalista here and thrown Corki Mid where he could heavily bully Lux early, and both he and Kalista are just stronger champions than Varus in general, who really has no game specific reason why he's good here. They are also fairly weak in terms of waveclear here against a devastating siege composition, which Corki would easily have remedied.
TL dipped deeper into the power pool then necessary here, but their composition is cohesive and powerful against TIP's which is just a mashup of powerful picks with little direction and an oddball Varus thrown in. Either team will have trouble coming back from a deficit, but slight edge to TL for having more compositional synergy and not having to pick losing lanes to get it.
NRG vs TSM
NRG (Blue): Lulu, Corki, Lissandra
TSM (Red): Gangplank, Alistar, Tahm Kench
NRG (Blue): Poppy; Rek'Sai, Lucian; Zilean, Janna
TSM (Red): Graves, Elise; Caitlyn, Braum; Viktor
NRG first pick Poppy over Ryze (I'm not going to assume neither team plays Ryze as with other games because I know some of these solo laners play him). Not much to say other then I disagree with this priority, but Poppy is more versatile in playstyle so they are close enough it's an ok pick.
TSM first rotation Graves/Elise. I really don't like this, taking the Elise is good as she would be an obvious choice for NRG to pair with the physical damage from Poppy. Taking Graves this early however when he is clearly the Top Laner is silly however, and I don't think his matchup against Poppy is even that enticing despite the early edge as he gets outscaled and it he falls behind will be utterly useless.. I would have liked to see Ryze/Rek'Sai here, or Lucian/Elise if you really want to deny the Elise.
NRG grab Rek'Sai/Lucian next. These are fine picks, but illustrate some of the issue with the Poppy first pick as these are the clear power picks and yet they are all AD. This puts a heavy burden on the Mid to bring significant AP damage and not fall behind in lane, which while not terrible isn't ideal. These are still the correct picks in the situation however, unless Viktor is by far your most comfortable AP carry in which case he needs to be secured for these reasons.
TSM second rotation Caitlyn/Braum. They go clearly into a siege composition here, which is smart as they need to build a grouping composition to allow Graves to translate his likely CS advantage into meaningful objectives. Elise/Caitlyn is very scary to defend against, and Braum is useful for stopping some waveclear spells (including Viktor's E) so I like these picks. Given that NRG had already taken their ADC it was also an option to pick your Mid here (Viktor/Ahri/Lux) in order to not lock yourself into siege prior to seeing NRG's whole composition, but this is a close tradeoff between that information and counterpicking Mid, so either is fine.
NRG last rotation Zilean/Janna. The Zilean Mid pick comes completely out of left field here, and I honestly just think it's completely terrible. Lucian is the only priority target to resurrect and with Janna and Poppy protection he is far from greatly needing it. If you had this Zilean in mind from the start, why would you first pick Poppy with Fiora unabnned? Ryze similarly would have been a far superior pairing. Furthermore as mentioned above the team needed a major AP damage threat which Zilean certainly is not, and they have simultaneously put all their eggs into the Lucian basket while making it easy for TSM to itemize against him. This is mitigated some by TSM not having a tank Top, but Elise/Braum will easily stack armor and Viktor can go an early Zhonyas to greatly reduce Lucian's effectiveness. This also provides very little engage potential against TSM's obvious siege, though it does at least provide waveclear. I would have much preferred Ahri/Thresh to provide huge pick and teamfight assassination potential against TSM's lineup of squishies.
TSM last picks Viktor, always a fine choice and he provides further zone control for their siege.
TSM has a good composition even though I don't love the Graves Top, and they get the edge here by default as I think the Zilean completely ruined NRG's composition with lack of AP damage and no melee carry to resurrect. Really bizarre.
*Post game note*
This game did nothing to change my opinion, and if anything demonstrated the power of cheese picks when teams are really inexperienced playing against it as TSM was continually caught by multi person double bombs over and over. Yes NRG's composition is fairly powerful from ahead due to Poppy's ability to dive completely unhindered with Janna/Zilean support, but they have absolutely no reason to think they should get ahead with these picks as TSM has winning lanes early across the board. This was demonstrated clearly by this very early game as NRG somehow managed to get a 2-0 kill lead despite these losing lanes and were STILL down 2 thousand gold before they got a chain of kills Mid, due to TSM winning so hard in towers and CS.
DIG vs C9
DIG (Blue): Ryze, Tahm Kench, Alistar
C9 (Red): Lulu, Elise, Bard
DIG (Blue): Graves; Poppy, Kalista; Leblanc, Thresh
C9 (Red): Gangplank, Corki; Morgana, Nidalee; Lissandra
DIG first pick Graves over Gangplank/Corki/Poppy/Lissandra. The insane overvaluation of Graves continues, the only way this is justifiable to me is that of the four flex picks I mentioned above they are split into two AD and two AP each, so if you are assuming C9 will take two of mixed types you can still get the other two (also of mixed types on your next rotation). I still don't love this as you are getting two slightly weaker picks most likely, and they should just take GP or Corki here as they are the strongest champions.
C9 first rotation Gangplank/Corki. These are perfect picks and no team should ever allow this first rotation to happen in my opinion, big edge to C9 already in this draft.
DIG grab Poppy/Kalista next. I don't like these picks either, Poppy is strong but given that you already have Graves and Corki is off the table you are going to need AP damage. Lissandra is a far superior pick to Poppy in this situation as she brings the needed AP damage, doesn't compete with Graves for their flex spots, and is valuable as an assassin with initiation against a possible double ADC composition from C9 (tanks like Poppy would normally be strong against Double ADC as well, but this is negated by Corki as the armor stack is not nearly as relevant). I'd also prefer Lucian slightly to Kalista but that is mostly preference, Lissandra/Lucian would be my picks here.
C9 second rotation Morgana/Nidalee. They are clearing going all in on a siege composition here. I don't love this as while Gangplank is fine in these compositions I don't feel it's the best use of him at all, and he is at his best when he significant AOE CC to set him up which neither of these picks bring. Nidalee is also a Jungler who thrives off CC setup from her lanes and she has literally just Morgana binding to provide this so far. Teams repeatedly have been using this rotation to show their hand on a poke/siege composition, and I think it's really unnecessary and if you want to run these on red side you can easily pick more versatile picks that are still strong in poke and commit to it after seeing the entire enemy composition. You do want to take Jungle/Support here to maximize Corki's flex potential with your last pick, but Rek'Sai + Thresh/Janna would be better picks for me.
DIG last rotation Leblanc/Thresh. These are strong picks here as Leblanc is extremely threatening as both the only AP source and against possible double ADC's, and Thresh is a classic partner for Kalista (although his pick potential is somewhat nullified by Morgana). Janna would have been fine as well with three viable shield targets and minor utility at repelling Nid/Morg.
C9 last pick Lissandra. This pick makes a ton of sense to me as a Mid laner with a fine lane matchup against Leblanc that makes life significantly harder for her in the late game due to the point and click CC threat should she try and get in poke. She also has extra value with three squiushy targets to assassinate due to the double ADC's of DIG, and is an asset to the siege as a strong counter-engage threat. They ultimately decided to put Lissandra Top and GP Mid however, which is pretty much a wash in my eyes as Lissandra should be able to outfarm Poppy but you are exposing GP to some risk against Leblanc.
Despite all my criticism's of DIG's methods they did still end up with powerful champions, and C9's composition has enough synergy issues to call this draft a draw for me. I just don't think GP or Nid are properly setup for success here, and that mitigates a composition with some very powerful picks.
FOX vs IMT
FOX (Blue): Corki, Poppy, Lissandra
IMT (Red): Tahm Kench, Lulu, Graves
FOX (Blue): Kalista; Fiora, Alistar; Lee Sin, Gangplank
IMT (Red): Lucian, Elise; Janna, Quinn; Syndra
FOX first pick Kalista with Ryze/Gangplank both up. This is another case of incorrect valuation in my opinion, I'd go with the Ryze given that a lot of the power AP picks are banned here.
IMT first rotation Lucian/Elise. These picks are very smart as they reveal nothing about the composition and steal away the most powerful AP Jungler. Gangplank would be a consideration as well for me but given the dearth of strong AP options here besides Ryze (who FOX may not even play) I don't mind devaluing the AD solos.
FOX grab Fiora/Alistar next. These are certainly powerful picks but it's just bizarre that the first team to early pick Fiora in quite some time is literally against the only team with a noted Quinn player (who is the best counter). I'd of course prefer Ryze here, but GP is still available as well, and you could always take your Jungler here. I'd have gone with GP/Ryze assuming my players could play them, with Alistar/Janna + Lee/Rek'Sai if they can't.
IMT second rotation Janna/Quinn. These are highly predictable yet highly effective picks, securing a strong lane matchup Top while simultaneously boosting the value of Janna with double ADC's who is of course Adrian's signiture champion. Perfect picks.
FOX last rotation Lee Sin/Gangplank. Normally I would bag on this composition for being entirely physical damage, but given that IMT has Quinn Top and Janna Support there is little risk of getting armor stacked out of the game. Gangplank is a very powerful champion and a fine blind Mid, and he has decent setup from this composition via the Kalista/Alistar combos. As much as I have disliked the majority of this draft for FOX, I will applaud them for recognizing IMT's lack of tanks meaning they need not be constrained by normal damage profile issues, and they have ended up with what is actually a very powerful composition should they survive what are likely to be two disadvantaged solo lanes.
IMT last pick Syndra. They obviously needed AP damage but I don't really get the appeal of Syndra here. Sure she can bully GP early in lane but I doubt she will accrue a major CS lead and GP can just farm it out while providing global pressure. FOX does have three fairly squishy carries for her ultimate, but I feel a more traditional control mage like Viktor or even Anivia would have punished FOX's low range composition harder and held together IMT's better as well.
When all is said and done I actually think this draft went quite even, as while IMT's has the stronger lane matchups I think FOX has significantly stronger champions in a vacuum, and their composition's damage profile is unpunished by the tankless IMT. I doubt this is the case but if FOX was actually thinking far enough ahead to intentionally bait the Quinn/Janna in order to allow them to take the more powerful AD champions on the board then that is quite impressive.
CLG vs REN
CLG (Blue): Kalista, Tahm Kench, Graves
REN (Red): Lissandra, Poppy, Fiora
CLG (Blue): Gangplank; Rek'Sai, Caitlyn; Leblanc, Morgana
REN (Red): Corki, Elise; Thresh, Lucian; Kennen
CLG first pick Gangplank over Corki/Ryze. I think this is the correct choice since he is the only AD option of the three and as such the remaining Corki/Ryze pairing is less desireable for REN meaning you will likely get one back (and if you don't they have limited their options to some extent with the double magic damage carries).
REN first rotation Corki/Elise. These are fine picks, denying the Elise from the team that already has GP is smart, and having an AP Jungler along with Corki does not limit you nearly as much as an AP carry. Ryze and GP also aren't a particularly exciting pairing due to both wanting utility setup and neither providing it for the other, so leaving Ryze for now makes more sense.
CLG grab Rek'Sai/Caitlyn next. While I can see wanting to deny Caitlyn from REN as Corki/Caitlyn is a very powerful siege cominbation, it's not worth it here with Lucian on the board who is just as powerful a pairing with Corki, making up for less synergy with far more raw power. I would have much preferred some combination of Rek'Sai/Lucian/Ryze here.
REN second rotation Thresh/Lucian. Great picks, a very strong bot lane pairing that can stand up to the lane dominance of Caitlyn while keeping a solo lane counterpick. They could have gone for Thresh + a Top laner like Gnar in order to preserve the Corki flex pick and Mid counter potential as well.
CLG last rotation Leblanc/Morgana. Morgana makes a ton of sense to prevent Elise/Thresh picks and intiation while being a powerful tool in a siege. Leblanc is a mixed bag for me as while she certainly has value in assassinating double ADC's and kill potential onto Corki, she also will likely lose the lane 1v1 and again a team has provided very little CC setup for Gangplank. I would have preferred Viktor here for this reason, but the Leblanc is acceptable.
REN last pick Kennen. I'm just not a big fan of Kennen Top and CLG's composition has quite a variety of ranges and mobility to make it difficult to get a great ultimate off. There are a lot of Top lane bans and he does bring engage potential against CLG's siege so I won't be too critical of this pick, but I would have preferred Gnar/Hecarim here.
This is another draft that was very close for me. I love REN's 4 man core of Corki/Elise/Lucian/Thresh, but the threat of GP and risk of Kennen balances it out some for me. Slight edge to REN as I do think they have significantly more fighting power if they can force fights away from turrets.
Some notes at the end of the 3rd week of play across the three regions I cover (NA/EU/KR)
The trio of Lulu/GP/Ryze were banned or first picked in almost every game in the first couple weeks, but this week teams began to devalue them significantly, especially Ryze. While I do think their dominance may have been slightly overestimated, teams are in my opinion now going too far the other way and they should still be seen as top tier power picks, especially given their flex potential. This is no doubt partly due to their poor winrates, but they are all very small sample size and teams are likely less practiced at the champions due to how often they were banned in scrims.
Given this significant change in priority for these top champions, I'll do a quick Tier list in terms of what are the best First pick/First rotation champions currently in my opinion:
Tier 1: Lulu, Gangplank, Corki, Ryze
Tier 2: Lissandra, Poppy
Tier 3: Lucian, Elise, Fiora, Graves, Tahm Kench, Kalista
There is a significant dropoff in first pick power from Tier 2 to Tier 3 here, and in my opinion teams should be trying to secure one or two of these for Blue/Red side respectively, while obviously giving your opponent less and considering balancing damage types on Red.
Poke/siege compositions have become an extremely common occurence, and teams should really consider some of the underused tanks with hard engage like Malphite and Hecarim. These are excellent picks against these comps especially if you deny them Corki as their engage potential and armor stacking make them huge issues.
Graves continues to be valued as a first pick or ban champion, which is clearly wrong in my opinion and teams should actively look to exploit this on red side by leaving him up and grabbing two power picks on their turn.