Trash Tier? No Fear!: Snow-Balling (Ft.AquaDragon33)
My name is MinnitMann, and this is a series regarding certain champions that I (and others) feel are misunderstood when it comes to "viability" and tier-listing in the public eye.
I will be talking with high elo players that have dedicated time and energy to play these champions at a high level in solo queue, and try to let their voices be heard regarding how and why they succeed using them.
Aqua plays several champions in off-meta roles and setups, but for this article we'll be focusing on two of his main-stays: AD Malzahar Jungle (his main), and Support Orianna.
AD Malz Jungle
Standard Malzahar is kind of a no-frills champion. He's good as a mage; wave clear, utility, damage, and mid game play-making power with his ultimate. His faults are annoying, but not a killing factor, and people acknowledge his strength for the most part. AD? That's another story entirely...
In case you don't know, Malz's Voidlings (which spawn when he casts spells) have their own scaling relating back to Malz. This scaling lets him build AD and not suffer, as multiple minions give him insane damage output once he has 2-3 of them up at once.
I, at first, thought building AD was nothing more than a cheesy normal-only strategy. Much like AP Gangplank or AD Gragas; sure you might get a win and do decently, but you're staying away from the core strengths of a champion by building stats they don't directly scale with damage-wise. When you see AD Malz you don't really look at his intricacy, which is actually quite astonishing. When built around attack damage he goes from a good mage to a phenomenal objective monster, and this carries over to one of the most objective focused roles in the game: jungle.
It took someone reaching Masters with the role/champ/build combination for people to actually take notice. We'll talk to him below, but it should be known that he achieved such a feat by really pushing an objective based play-style and lots of determination.
What the average solo-queue player thinks about AD Malz Jg
- "Report this troll"
- "Pick a real jungler, asshole"
- "Why do I get the trolls..."
- "GG /ff@20
- "....When did we get 3 dragon stacks?! It's 15 minutes in?!"
Full disclosure: I thought Brand was more viable than Orianna as a support. I thought Ori was much like Anivia: sure she has utility but her mana costs and skillshot reliance would make it impossible to be a legitimate pick in the role. Long story short: myself (and most players) aren't looking at her E. It's quite easily the best shield spell in the game, and the rest of her kit makes Ori support quite possible in the current state of the game.
She functions well without farm, but what many people don't consider with Ori is that she must be played in an completely different fashion than in the mid lane. You must almost completely sacrifice farm and trading power in favor of very passive and defensively focused laning until mid/late game.
This is tied into how versatile Orianna is as a mid laner, even when she is playing as a standard mage her kit holds some of the best teamfighting potential regardless of damage. Taking her to the support role focuses on this utility and changes her dynamic as a champion without much effort.
What the average solo-queue player thinks about Ori Support
- "Ori sup what?"
- "Why do I get the trolls..."
- "GG /ff@20"
- <no one really mentions Ori again as she goes 0-2-30 in a win>
We've established that both Ori and Malz have utility beyond their standard mid-lane damage focus. This utility allows them to play roles they are not believed to be good at. Let's take a look at someone who has actively used these champs at a high level!
Introducing AquaDragon33, a S4 Master tier player who mains AD Malz Jungle, and plays several off-meta picks in other roles (mainly AP Kog'Maw mid and Support Ori). He has over a thousand games played in the jungle with Malzahar, and has written extensive guides on the subject. He also streams and generally doesn't afraid of anything when it comes to solo-queue, so give a listen if you want to learn something!
00:00 - Opening
00:26 - Introduction
01:13 - Hobbies? Location? Other games?
02:07 - Which non-meta champs do you play? In what roles?
04:15 - Feelings about Season 5?
05:55 - What is it about AD Malz Jungle that makes him good?
07:45 - Dealing with others as a non-meta player
09:28 - Why/When/How did you pick up AD Malz in the Jungle?
11:22 - What keeps him going (on Malz)
13:30 - How do you feel regarding the player base's opinion of Malzahar?
16:30 - How do you feel about Support Orianna?
17:45 - What about people's opinion of you doing so?
20:25 - Winning games as AD Malz Jungle and Ori Support
29:40 - Something you learned by maining Malz/Ori you didn't known before?
34:15 - Pitfalls of AD Malz and Support Ori, and how to move past them
40:20 - Best skins for Ori/Malz
43:18 - Champs people are sleeping on
Interview TL;DW Excerpts
(These are paraphrased)
"I love 'minion-mancing'. The ability to move around minions to get things done is fun"
"Knowing when you're right allows you to ignore people that are wrong. I know my stuff works from experience"
"Malz's silence is one of the best CC's in the game, easily"
"Sustained damage is awesome...But it's just not flashy"
"People see Ori support and think she's a 'poke support'. She's not. She's more like Janna than Vel'Koz"
"Damage isn't everything...Damage alone won't get you objectives. Damage alone won't win you teamfights. Living longer will"
"Ori's shield (at 40% cdr) is the lowest CD shield in the game. Lower than Janna's. Also, the Armor and MR are constant, can't be removed"
"Orianna ALWAYS has something to do. There are so many opportunities to make plays!"
"It's very easy to ignore hidden stats in certain spells...Ori's shield is incredible"
"I didn't truly know about the real importance of controlling objectives until I played Malz jungle"
"AD Malz has one of the hardest first clears in the game, be forewarned"
"My helping instinct is too strong...I never got any kills playing Ori mid but got tons of assists"
"If you fall behind, do yourself a favor and stop going for damage. Stay alive, it'll help"
"Some guy messaged me the other day; 'Wow, it's an inspiration to see someone like you can reach Masters while being such a shit player'"
"People messaged me saying 'You'll never get out of Plat', and then I did. 'You'll never get out of Diamond 5', and then I did. 'You'll
never get to Masters', and then I did"
"I've been buying snow from a guy in an alley for a while"