Ranking the IEM Katowice Players - Support
For me it almost feels predicted which teams are the best heading into IEM but I think it's more interesting comparing the players. I wanted to spend some time examining and ranking all the players compared to their competition. From the Top lane to the support I wanted to give an analysis on where I think these players stack up against each other. The qualities I'm looking for when ranking a player are, how vital they are to their teams victories, diversity of play styles and strength of their champion pools, and a very general "how good do they look". Keep in mind this is just my opinion and if you want to look at just my rankings I will provide my list up front, with analysis below.
In many ways support is the position that I find most fun to analyze, the reason being is that to accurately judge the strength of the player you have to look at more than just KDA. I understand that it's hard to talk about support players without ranking their duo partner right beside them and believe me when I sat down to write I talk a lot about how they interact with their respective ADC.
- GorillA - GE Tigers
- MadLife - CJ Entus
- Lustboy - Team Solomid
- Edward - Gambit Gaming
- SwordArt - Yoe Flash Wolves
- nRated - SK Gaming
- YuZhe - Team WE
- LemmonNation - Cloud 9
GorillA - GE Tigers
Don't let the adorable ears fool you, GorillA is probably the second best player at this entire tournament, being trumped by only his lane partner PraY. Many of my lists there sometimes isn't much difference between the players, often times I put someone as 3 and someone else at 4 sometimes just based on how I felt about them when writing down their names, GorillA is another story though. Clear cut I think he is the best support player at this tournament, his ability to roam deep into the enemy jungle and control vision is some of the best in the world. My favorite thing about this player is the depth and diversity of his play. We credit him for the innovative Janna pick, but his proficiency on hard engage supports like Leona and heal/shield supports like Nami and the above mentioned Janna is very high. I credit his outstanding play to being one of the primary reasons the GE Tigers look as amazing as they are, and dare I say GorillA might be the best support in the world right now. This will be GorillA's second international tournament and I think that will help calm the nerves of some of this teammates who have yet to see international play.
MadLife - CJ Entus
For a brief beautiful moment it looked like MadLife was out of Space prison, but the past few weeks it now seems he was just on parole. MadLife continues to be one the best play making supports in Korea and even with an ADC player who has shown much inconsistency MadLife is almost always a bright spot for this CJ team. CJ as a team has been showing some meaningful weaknesses despite what the LCK standings show, but MadLife has always had extreme levels of game impact in his teams wins. His ability to set up entire plays or create oppertunities for CJ to win a fight or start one where they have an advantage is still something CJ can relay on for wins. With Space returning to much of his sub par play the CJ bot lane will really need to fall back onto MadLife's legendary mechanics and skill to win.
Lustboy - Team Solomid
It's no secret that I've been a fan of Lustboy since the days on Blaze and ever since he joined TSM he's been probably the second best player on that team besides Bjergsen. This year especially I've really enjoyed the way Lustboy has evolved from just a protect the ADC style support, to one that can also make cross map plays and control the vision that TSM uses to dominate lanes and win games. I rank Lustboy so high on my list because I think he is fantastic for all the reasons I listed above, but also for how good he is at controlling Wildturtle, a player who on his own has gotten TSM into trouble many times and has shown much need to grow. Lustboy in lane with Turtle creates a dynamic that works for what the team needs and because of that he appears this high on my list.
Edward - Gambit Gaming
Gambit has been going through some obvious growing pains as a team, with a new roster and different play style I give credit most to the two veterans on Gambit for being able to keep the bleeding to a minimum as they reform. Edward being one of those players that has provided stability and veteran ability that the team has needed especially with an untested ADC. I think Gambit's aggressive play style will show up big at IEM, and I think the P1noyxEdward bot lane is one of the strongest at the tournament. Edward continues to show how good he is at initiating team fights and creating picks that I think many teams at IEM will be caught off guard if Edward decides to return to the glory days of going full ham into fights.
SwordArt - Yoe Flash Wolves
I've always thought SwordArt was one of the most underrated players on Yoe. It's been a joy to see how much the LMS supports have been become more than just bot lane play makers, but also understanding how to control vision and roam around the map. I think one of the main strengths of the LMS teams and that Yoe will bring to IEM, is their famed ability to team fight which on a deeper level they are masters of understanding how to engage, disengage, and reengage in the same team fight to create the right picks and make sure the fight goes their way. SwordArt and Yoe by extension are one of the cleanest team fighting teams at this tournament and now that SwordArt has gotten better at controlling vision Yoe can easily take games off teams just by overpowering them over and over.
nRated - SK Gaming
nRated is a player who I consider his main strengths being his mind set for the game, his shot calling and strategical ability rather than his mechanical prowess. I'm making this sound a lot more negative than I intend it to because on some level he doesn't need to be the mechanical MadLife level god for his team. What nRated does, and does very well for his team is create vision and set up play making opportunities for his more mechanically skilled players like Forg1ven to outplay the enemy team. I am curious to see how the SK bot lane interacts against the other bot lanes at IEM, since I consider nRated to be a weaker support, but having one of the strongest ADCs I want to see if this bot lane can compete on the same level as others.
YuZhe - Team WE
Most of Team WE is a train wreck right now but YuZhe from what I've seen is not the worst player on his team. Although we say that all of WE's games is Spirit sometimes 1 v 9, YuZhe is at least competent enough to understand how to control vision and not outright lose lane. Going back and watching WE's games the bot lane has been one of the stronger points. It's rumored that Mystic, famed ADC from the Jin Air organization, might replace Styz for the tournament since he plays on WE Academy, and if this is true we'll have to see how this bot lane plays out and if there is synergy between YuZhe and his new Korean ADC.
LemmonNation - Cloud 9
I understand the implications of putting someone at the bottom of a list but personally I like LemmonNation a lot and I think he is one of the most under appreciated players in the NA scene. In many ways he fills a similar role to nRated for SK brains and tactical planning and in many ways he is one of the best in game minds I think of any player. You can see the tangible strategy happening when you see Cloud 9 win games and even a C9 that is at the lowest it's ever been you can see glimmers of that. All this said when it comes down to it LemmonNation is outclass skill wise at this tournament. Domestically he is still a strong support and does have play making ability, but his first match is against GorillA and it's a match that I don't think comes close. We'll see if that strategic ability can pull C9 some wins but in a straight still match up, sorry Lemmon you are at the bottom.