Out of His Shell: The Return of WildTurtle
Not long after his insertion into the starting lineup for Team Solomid in 2013, WildTurtle was seen as one of the stronger ad carries in North America. He is known for his very aggressive positioning in team fights repeatedly putting himself in dangerous predicaments, dashing and flashing forward to secure kills. Along with his support, Xpecial, WildTurtle was one of the standout performers for Team Solomid during the season 3 World Championship. Even with his risky play style, he was still a top three ad carry in his region despite multiple changes in the support role during season 4. Season 5 saw a large fall from grace for WildTurtle as his individual play suffered greatly. He went from being a consistent threat on Team Solomid to a huge liability in lane and in team fights. He was even benched at a point, replaced by KEITHMCBRIEF for a game. Now, after being picked up by Immortals for season 6, WildTurtle has had a resurgence, once again playing like one of the best players at his position. While he has improved on an individual level, there are many reasons aside from his play that have brought him back to form.
Korean Bash Bros.
Immortals was formed around two Korean players, Huni and Reignover, who decided to leave Fnatic despite all of their success in Europe. It seems as though Huni and Reignover have brought along their success, as well as their noted synergy. Huni was the best top laner in the West all throughout 2015 and has continued his dominance this season in NA. Reignover never stood out as the best jungler in Europe with a lot of competition at his position. Thus far, he has easily been the best jungler in NA.
The impact of the top lane and jungler on Immortals is much greater than it ever was while WildTurtle was on TSM. Throughout 2015, Santorin and Dyrus had major issues. Dyrus was never a real carry threat and Santorin’s early game jungling never seemed to apply pressure to the map. With Santorin seemingly AFK farming in the jungle, the lanes on TSM often had to fend for themselves. This resulted in the top and bottom lanes suffering during the laning phase. While on Fnatic Reignover was known for constantly ganking top to get Huni ahead so that he could carry the game. Now on Immortals, Huni has maintained his carry potential, although he has done so with far less attention from his jungler. Reignover has varied his style to gank his other lanes more often and has been able to give WildTurtle the attention he never got on TSM. This has helped to alleviate some of the lane trouble that WildTurtle was having in 2015. Having Huni, the best top laner in NA, has also taken some of the pressure off of WildTurtle. In team fights, Huni and Reignover draw a lot of the attention as they often dive into the enemy team and cause havoc. This allows WildTurtle to output more damage with his unsafe style because he isn’t punished as much for mispositioning.
Not So Solomid
From the days of Reginald to the more recent dominance of Bjergsen, TSM has always been about the mid lane. Junglers on TSM always give the most attention and help to the mid laner as they are expected to carry the game. This was somewhat justified at certain points with Bjergsen being the best mid laner in NA and the rest of the team struggling. It often seemed as though TSM could not win without Bjergsen carrying the game. With the mid lane getting all the attention, WildTurtle’s shaky laning in 2015 was often exploited by enemy teams.
On Immortals, the team is much more balanced and jungle attention is dispersed much more evenly. Pobelter in the mid lane has been a constant threat on the team and has performed better on Immortals than ever before in his career. He may not be the lane monster that Bjergsen was, but he doesn’t demand the same sort of jungle attention either. There were times during WildTurtle’s stay on TSM where Bjergsen was doing over 40% of the team’s damage. If Pobelter does not win his lane than the game is not immediately over like it was on TSM. The team’s damage is much more balanced now with WildTurtle, Huni, and Pobelter all taking over 20% of the share. With multiple threats on the team, the game is not immediately lost if one carry doesn’t dominate the early game. Pobelter may not be as good as Bjergsen was on TSM, but he has been among the best mid laners this season and has done so with far less attention and resources. Reignover is free to gank bot and top in a way TSM junglers never were, allowing WildTurtle to gain gold leads and thrive.
Peel Support Extraordinaire
While Adrian was on Team Impulse he was lauded for his vision control as he placed more wards than any other support in NA. Now on Immortals, he has become an expert at keeping WildTurtle alive. He has played two champions almost exclusively thus far; Janna and Soraka. While on Janna he has acted as dedicated peel for WildTurtle providing constant shields, using his crowd control to keep enemies away, and healing with his ultimate. As Soraka, Adrian has essentially been a second health bar for WildTurtle as he spams heals and zones in fights. WildTurtle loves to dash into enemy teams in order to pick off low health enemies. Previously on TSM, he would do this and end up getting caught out and killed. He would often die very early in fights because of his mispositioning, greatly decreasing his team’s damage output. His tendency to flash forward and die became a bit of a running joke while on TSM. Now on Immortals with Adrian always there to protect him and keep him alive, WildTurtle is more free to jump into the enemy team and pick up kills. The enemy team often has to focus on Huni and Reignover instead of WildTurtle, and even if he does get caught out Adrian is there to bail him out. The team is able to play around WildTurtle’s aggressive play much better because the team as a whole is much more aggressive. He now has partners to jump into teams with him and do damage.
Another problem that existed on TSM was the jungle-support synergy between Santorin and Lustboy. Not only did Santorin fail to apply early game pressure but he also did not work well with Lustboy to gain early vision dominance. On Immortals Reignover constantly dominates his jungle opponent and is then able to capitalize on it with Adrian to take over map vision. The Immortals duo both place and clear more wards than TSM’s jungle and support did. This all benefits the team, including WildTurtle who is now able to carry the game with an early lead.
Early Game Aggression
WildTurtle has a much more well-rounded team with him now than he had on TSM. Along with his team working better, he has also made some changes that have improved his individual play. Towards the end of his time on TSM, WildTurtle really only found success on late game carries. At times TSM would even put Bjergsen on Orianna or Lulu in order to bolster the capabilities of WildTurtle on these late game carries. Despite being propped up as the focus of the team there were times where he would still fail.
This was in part due to his laning with Lustboy which was very bad. TSM’s laning as a whole was actually quite terrible at the end of 2015, with everyone but Bjergsen being behind in CS differential at 10 minutes. Currently on Immortals, Huni, Reignover, and Pobelter all average leads over their counterparts. While WildTurtle still averages a slight CS deficit at 10 minutes, it has gone down from -2.4 in the Summer on TSM to just -0.6 on Immortals now. And despite that slight deficit he still finds himself ahead in gold at 10 minutes along with the rest of his team. Part of this comes from the early dominance of Huni and Reignover, but it is also due in part to his champion selection on Immortals. On TSM he played champions like Jinx, Corki, and Tristana that have their power spikes in the mid to late game. Now on Immortals he has frequently played Lucian and Kalista. These two champions are noted lane bullies that are very powerful earlier on in the game. This along with Adrian’s supportive style has helped improve his laning. Earlier on in his career WildTurtle was known for his lane dominant champions like Draven and Caitlyn. His return to these sorts of champions has proven to be successful.
This team is built much better than the former TSM was and allows for all of its players to operate in a more comfortable way. The team shows much more balance and had been undefeated until week 7 of the Spring split. Although WildTurtle has shown a great resurgence this season, his play style is still very dangerous. Immortals have been able to dominate NA up to this point, but that is in part due to the constant visa issues that some of the teams have faced. Many teams in NA have had their rosters in flux with 7 of the 10 teams having made some sort of roster change at some point during the season. Immortals in one of only 3 teams to have fielded the dame 5 players all season. The other two teams, TSM and CLG, have arguably been their biggest competition thus far. TSM certainly has the talent to compete with Immortals but they have not found the same sort of cohesion and synergy that Immortals displayed right from the start. CLG was the first team to beat Immortals this season and have a great sense of map movement and macro play which allows them to overcome their lack of talent. Once NA gets more settled there should be more parity at the top of the league. Also, WildTurtle’s aggressive and risky style will be even more perilous against international competition. The competition Immortals should face at the Mid-Season Invitational or Worlds will be much stronger than the teams in NA and they will be tested. WildTurtle’s play has improved significantly from last year due to his team and their style, but along with his team, he will need to show more diversity and skill in his approach to achieve long term success.
Stats, figures, and match histories from esportspedia.com and oracleselixir.com
Images from www.flickr.com/photos/lolesports