Feb 2 2017 - 2:56 pm
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NA LCS Week 2 Picks: The Good, The Banned and The Broken

A look at the blue side advantage with some of the picks from week two of the NA LCS.
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With two weeks of LCS completed, let's take a look at how the picks have gone so far. 

Unique Champion Bans: 39

Unique Champion Picks: 49

Total Contested: 52

Blue Side Wins: 18/26 (69 percent)

Before talking about champion win rates, it's important to address the "side advantage" we've been seeing. Currently, blue side is dominating across the world, and while historically it has been considered an advantageous side of the map, it wasn't until this season that the draft advantage has been so significant. We saw something similar in the 2015 World Championship where Gangplank, Mordekaiser, and to a lesser degree Darius, made up a huge majority of the red side bans. This is important to remember as we look at some of the champion's win rates who were heavily picked by one side or the other.

Must-Bans

Champions with over an 80 percent ban rate.

Camille

Banned: 25/26 (96 percent)

Wins: 1/1 (100 percent)

KDA: 3.20

This week, we got to see Camille's debut in the NA LCS. Funnily enough, she was picked as a support in game one of Echo Fox vs. FlyQuest. This game was a true testament to Camille's current state. As a champion that offers almost nothing in terms of supporting their ADC aside from some crowd control, Camille being successfully pulled off in the support position goes to show why she was banned for the other 25 games. As a note, the only champions with over three blue side games played, and negative win rates on blue side, are Cassiopeia and Karma, each winning two out of five games.

LeBlanc

Banned: 25/26 (96 percent)

Wins: 0/1

KDA: 1.33

LeBlanc only got to see one game of play this week. While the pick was unsuccessful, it's important to note that it was against Rengar (another "must-ban" champion), and played by a struggling CLG against FlyQuest. Aside from teams doing something like this where they can trade one for one, LeBlanc looks to continue seeing a near perma-ban.

Rengar

Banned: 22/26 (85 percent)

Wins: 4/4 (100 percent)

KDA: 4.70

Rengar got to see another four games, just like he did in the previous week. Two of the games were in the TSM vs. TL series where both of their red side matches, TL chose to use their third ban on Syndra and Ryze instead of Rengar each time. With Rengar putting up an undefeated week, teams may think twice about changing up their ban strategy on red side.

Highly Contested

Champions outside of the previous three that have over a 90 percent pick/ban rate.

Kha'Zix

Banned: 3/26 (12 percent)

Wins: 14/23 (61 percent)

KDA: 4.02

With Kha'Zix in a great spot and red side being restriced in what they can use their first three bans on, we saw Kha'Zix as the first pick in 18 out of 26 games. With four of his losses against Rengar (three of which were the only times Kha'Zix was able to be picked by the red side), Kha'Zix holds a 74 percent win rate against the rest of the field. It's likely we'll continue seeing this incredibly high first pick rate of the champion if teams continue to be struggle against it.

Maokai

Banned: 8/26 (31 percent)

Wins: 6/17 (35 percent)

KDA: 3.74

Coming off of a strong first week where he maintained a 77 percent win rate, Maokai had a much more difficult second week. When we look at the side distribution, we see Maokai actually won three out of five (60 percent) blue side games, but only three out of 12 (25 percent) of his red side games. Despite being a part of so many losses, this champion maintained a pretty decent KDA. It just seems that even with the power of Maokai, the blue side advantage has made this power pick a bit less powerful. I think we'll still see some decent priority on this pick going forward.

Ryze

Banned: 18/26 (69 percent)

Wins: 5/8 (63 percent)

KDA: 2.38

This week, we saw Ryze maintain a 100 percent pick/ban rate. He had the most blue side bans at 14, as it seems most teams would rather grab the Kha'Zix first pick. While there were some pretty rough losses for the champion, we got to see some of the utility Ryze can provide in game one of TSM vs. TL. Somehow, three different times, teams were able to get this pick along with Kha'Zix on their team, although only two of those resulted in wins. Despite having picks like Cassiopeia that can do fairly well in lane, Ryze's incredible late game puts a timer on teams that they seem to want nothing to do with. I think we'll continue seeing Ryze as a primary ban for blue side while red side is still restricted on their bans.

Varus

Banned: 6/26 (23 percent)

Wins: 7/19 (37 percent)

KDA: 2.65

When we look at Varus, we see he was picked 12 times by red side where he lost 10 times. With a 96 percent pick/ban rate, Varus is still regarded as a top tier ADC, despite having many unfortunate results. Red side Varus has some of it's own advantages, where he makes it very difficult for the blue team to do much around Baron. Unfortunately, these advantages haven't been enough to overcome the disadvantages of being on red side in the first place. It's likely we'll continue to see Varus/Ashe in high priority, even though we've seen Jhin do quite well this week.

Zyra

Banned: 14/26 (54 percent)

Wins: 4/10 (40 percent)

KDA: 1.93

Zyra has been a heavily contested pick with a 92 percent pick/ban rate. With upcoming Zyra nerfs, it seems like the champion is currently still in a strong spot. With a 1-2 record against Miss Fortune, both of those losses were with Zyra on red side. When you see Zyra's 75 percent win rate on blue side, it's clear that this pick still has quite a bit of power, and is falling victim to the red side disadvantage. We'll have to see the nerfs in effect before we can really tell if Zyra may be knocked down a bit as such a dominant support champion.

Question Marks

Champions providing interesting results but difficulty with judging their strength.

Jhin

Banned: 3/26 (12 percent)

Wins: 6/10 (60 percent)

KDA: 3.95

With Varus and Ashe being the go-to marksmen, Jhin had a pretty solid week for himself. Being the only champion to have a winning record on red side (with more than one red side game played), I think Jhin may be rising a bit in priority. Jhin provides plenty of utility, like Ashe and Varus, and with the recent lethality buffs, a heavy penetration build does some very solid damage. As Jhin rises up, we may see some different picks that can better handle his type of damage.

Rek'Sai

Banned: 4/26 (15 percent)

Wins: 4/11 (36 percent)

KDA: 2.31

Rek'Sai hasn't done too well for the start of this split, but it's been a bit difficult to tell where she stands. While carry junglers are certainly preferred currently, Rek'Sai's sheer amount of utility still holds a bit of value. Looking at this week, all 11 of the Rek'Sai picks were on the red side, so a 36 percent win rate isn't exactly bad when the side as a whole has a 31 percent win rate. I think if teams are putting a carry up in the top lane, Rek'Sai works nicely to balance out the team composition as tank supports are almost non-existent. We saw Rek'Sai winning two out of three games with a top lane carry on her team, and I think if teams look to this over the power picks of Maokai and Nautilus, we could see a bit more use out of this champion.

Shen

Banned: 0

Wins: 2/2 (100 percent)

KDA: 14.00

This week, we got to see two more Shen games, putting him at 4-0 for the split. Shen being able to block auto attacks for allies has a ton of value with all of the melee junglers and Ashes running around. While his current success may not reflect how well he could do against the rest of the field, I think Shen is in a pretty good spot right now, and would like to see more teams looking at this instead of Maokai and Nautilus.

Mid Lane Diversity

This week, we saw Ryze as the only mid lane champion over a 50 percent win rate with over three games played. In total, there were 12 unique mid lane picks, with eight of them only playing one or two games. That means in almost half of the games we saw a new mid laner. The most popular ones outside of Ryze have been Cassiopeia and Corki, with 33 and 17 percent win rates respectively. With a lot of champions just popping in for a game or two, it's been really interesting to see what the mid lane meta is turning out to be.

Champions of note:

Cassiopeia

Banned: 4 (15 percent)

Wins: 3/9 (33 percent)

KDA: 3.65

Cassiopeia is currently mostly used as a lane counter to Ryze. Despite being able to do well while Ryze is still scaling up, she only won the matchup a single time out of four games this week. Two of her wins this week were with Kha'Zix on her side, and the other one was with Lee Sin. Cassiopeia is a champion that can deal a ton of damage early on, and while not providing much gank assistance in terms out crowd control, paired with a strong early ganker, she can really take over the lane. I think if we see teams properly picking to support Cassiopeia's strengths, we can see her do a bit better next week.

Corki

Banned: 5/26 (19 percent)

Wins: 1/6 (17 percent)

KDA: 2.14

Corki is a very bursty ADC, that mostly finds himself in the mid lane these days. With all five of his losses being from the red side, it's hard to tell where Corki stands against the rest of the mid laners. Corki provides a very nice balance with good burst, decent sustained damage, good poke, mixed damage and great roaming with the package. Due to Corki's safe lane and mixed damage source, it's hard to find a team comp that he doesn't make sense with. I think we'll see Corki get picked up some more, and on the blue side, he'll be finding himself some wins due to his overall strength.

Syndra

Banned: 19/26 (73 percent)

Wins: 2/3 (67 percent)

KDA: 3.29

Syndra was the third most banned champion from blue side behind Zyra at 13 and Ryze at 14. With great gank assistance, as well as self peel from her Scatter the Weak, it's no surprise blue side teams don't want this pick falling into their opponent's hands. The main problem with Syndra is picking things such as Katarina and Fizz that may do well into her are also just risky picks in general, making her tough to counter. With the popularity of ghost in the mid lane, some of Syndra's mobility issues are solved, making her one of the most threatening mid lane picks in the early game.

As this season's meta continues to evolve, we may see more options open up as blue side starts to get their own set of perma-bans. As of right now, even if you could remove one of the three must-bans from that elite tier, we still have Kha'Zix and Ryze that would likely slot right into those spots, with Syndra and Zyra not far behind. As of right now, there seems to be about eight champions that are incredibly dominant, so until we see some more diverse picks, red side may be stuck in this sort of ban pattern for quite some time.


That wraps up my overview of NA LCS week two picks. What do you think of the blue side advantage? Let me know @calvinbwitt and follow @GAMURScom for more League of Legends content.

Images via Riot Games. 

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