Team Solo Mid
Potential Bans: Rumble, Nidalee, Rek’Sai, Vi, Lee Sin, Karthus, Graves
Most Picked Champions: Maokai, Lulu
Most Successful Champions: Maokai, Lulu, Sion, Lissandra
Flex Picks: Lulu (with Lustboy), Rek’sai (with Santorin)*, Lissandra (with Bjergsen)
Expected Picks: Lulu, Shyvana, Hecarim, Sion, Ryze
Dyrus has been one of the last Top Laners to hop on the Hecarim bandwagon, but he’s been spamming it in solo que recently to great success. TSM might be looking to avoid the situation they ran into at Summer Regionals last year where they had to ban Nidalee every game because it was a strong pick and everybody knew Dyrus didn’t play it. Lulu and Sion have been two of Dyrus’s strongest Champions and fit well into his wheelhouse. The two dark horse picks here are Shyvana and Ryze. Shyvana was Dyrus’s most played Champion in the 2014 Spring Split and was his best Champion at the time. This is a pick that opponents will have to watch out for considering her rise in popularity coinciding with the rise of Smite Top Laners. Ryze is another one of Dyrus’s historically strong picks that has seen some solo que play recently and might fit well into the current tanky meta. The Rek’sai mention is a flyer that could have just been Dyrus playing around in solo que, but is a pick that would seem to fit quite well into the Smite Top Lane meta and will at least give opponents pause when TSM picks what has been Santorin’s most played Champion this split.
Most Picked Champions: Rek’Sai, Jarvan
Most Successful Champions: Jarvan, Vi
Flex Picks: Rek’sai
Expected Picks: Sejuani, Vi, Gragas, Jarvan, Nidalee
Santorin has grown into one of the best Junglers in NA over the course of his first split with TSM, and has fit well into TSM’s preferred style of play. Santorin typically plays whatever pick is best for the composition, so expect a lot more Sejuani, Vi and Gragas, with Rek’Sai seeing much less priority on 5.6. While Santorin has yet to play Gragas in the LCS, he’s been practicing him in solo que and the Champion is a go to jungle pick for the popular Juggermaw composition while Vi is the go to pick against that composition. TSM’s first crack at the Juggermaw composition went fairly well, resulting in a fairly impressive stomp, albeit against the League’s weakest team. Santorin had 93% kill participation on Nidalee that game, and remains one of the few players left in the LCS that’s willing to pick carry junglers in this tank meta. Santorin and Rush had the exact same Champion pool for most of the split, so while Santorin has shown more willingness to embrace the tank meta, how picks and bans play out at the jungle position should be fairly interesting.
Most Picked Champions: Ahri, Zed
Most Successful Champions: Ahri, Zed, Lissandra, Xerath
Flex Picks: Lissandra (with Dyrus)
Expected Picks: Zed, Corki, Vlad, Urgot, Cho
Bjergsen has been the best player in the NA LCS this split, and has once again showcased his ability to play any Champion the meta dictates. He tried out two of the new meta picks in the last week of the LCS to mixed success. He showcased excellent mechanics on Cho’gath, but as a team they seemed unaccustomed to playing with one. His Urgot was fine, but it’s hard to get a firm grasp on his level with the Champion since Santorin played so well that Bjergsen didn’t really have anything to do by time the mid game rolled around (His first ult was after 20 minutes). For what it’s worth,. he had almost 10 CS a minute, which isn’t easy on urgot. He’s recently been seen playing Corki and Urgot in solo que, which seems to indicate that TSM plans to find a permanent face for the double ADC comp in their play book. He’s also played some Vladimir in Solo Que, which would pair very well with Dyrus on Shyvana for a strong late game combination. I’m not going to call it a flex pick though since top lane Vladimir has proven to be pretty subpar due to having to take Teleport instead of Ghost for reasons I will explain later on. It’s possible that TSM could play Sivir to make up for this weakness though.
Most Picked Champions: Sivir, Jinx
Most Successful Champions: Sivir
Flex Picks: Corki, Urgot (with Bjergsen)
Expected Picks: Sivir, Kog’maw, Corki, Lucian, Urgot, Jinx
While Sivir isn’t your traditional play-making ADC and doesn’t scale very well, TSM plays exceptionally well with the pick. So while the Champion has fallen a bit down the pecking order with the rise of Juggermaw, ignore it at your own peril. Kog’maw is an obvious pick because of the aforementioned juggermaw, but TSM could also run a similar composition centered around Jinx, a Champion Wildturtle has had a lot of success with this split. Corki fits well in Urgot compositions and allows TSM to take advantage of their strong team fighting to take control of the mid game. Lucian is ever present in the meta and Wildturtle has been playing quite a bit of it in solo que. His performance has been a mixed bag however, and it hasn’t been a priority pick for him this season, so it’s doubtful that he plays it.
Most Picked Champions: Janna, Annie
Most Successful Champion: Janna
Flex Picks: Lulu (with Dyrus)
Expected Picks: Janna, Annie, Morgana, Thresh, Alistar
Janna is Lustboy’s most played and most successful Champion (6-0) this season, and a priority Champion for Juggermaw and protect the ADC comps. TSM rode a protect the Tristana comp all the way to the World Championship Quarterfinals last year and their skill and experience with the composition is well known at this point. Lustboy plays Annie, Morgana and Thresh for engage if TSM’s composition requires it depending on the match up. Annie plays a part in TSM’s hard engage compositions while Morgana and Thresh factor into pick compositions. Lustboy has yet to play Alistar this split, but the pick has gained popularity in the current meta, and the potential is there for him to pull it out if he’s denied his preferred hard engage supports.
Potential Bans: Sivir, Lulu, Rumble, Urgot, Maokai, Janna, Sejuani
Most Picked Champions: Rumble, Maokai
Most Successful Champion: Maokai
Flex Picks: Kennen (Potentially with XWX), Vladimir (with XWX)
Expected Picks: Hecarim, Maokai, Rumble, Shyvana, Vladimir, Morgana
After an inauspicious start to the split, Impact (along with Rush) really came on in the second half of the split. His Rumble has been predictably excellent, and his Champion Pool has been as vast as we’ve come to expect from the former World Champion. Dyrus and Impact’s shared proclivity for Rumble likely means that the Champion won’t make it through Bans, so Impact will have to default to other Champions. During the regular season, that default Champion was usually Maokai, but Impact has moved away from the pick recently in favor of Champions with more carry potential like Hecarim and Vladimir. Indeed, TiP had no problem giving the Maokai to Hauntzer in the quarterfinals and letting Impact bully him all game. Top Vladimir has had mixed success since it entered the top lane meta as the lack of Ghost makes it harder to deal sustained damage over the course of a team fight but Impact has made it work with good positioning and timely teleports. Shyvana was Impact’s most played and most successful Champion in 2014, and her reemergence in the top lane meta could not come at a better time for TiP. Impact excels at using Shyvana to cause mayhem on the back line and the Champion pairs well with XWX’s preferred Yasuo.
Most Picked Champion: Lee Sin
Most Successful Champion: Lee Sin, Vi
Flex Picks: None
Expected Picks: Lee Sin, Vi, Rek’Sai, Nidalee
We probably should have seen Rush’s emergence coming. While the Jungle position is the hardest to translate from Solo Que to competitive play, you don’t hit #1 on the Korean Solo Que ladder if your mechanics aren’t among the best in the world. That difficulty is likely why it took half a season for Rush to really come into his own, and come into his own he has. Rush was all over the map in TiP’s wins over Gravity to the point where he might draw focus bans on Champions that aren’t exactly meta (hard to believe we live in a world where Lee Sin isn’t a priority jungle pick). While Adrian did say that Rush is practicing the likes of Sejuani, TiP seems perfectly content to let their jungler play what he wants and carry them to victory. Rush is one of the few junglers still playing and having an impact (lol) on carry junglers, as most have comfortably adapted to the tank meta since the addition of cinderhulk. It really doesn’t matter which of the above Champions Rush gets, he’s capable of putting his team on his back with all four of them.
Most Picked Champion: Leblanc, Yasuo
Most Successful Champion: Karthus
Flex Picks: Vladimir, Kennen
Expected Picks: Yasuo, Kennen, Vladimir, Karthus, Cho’gath, Zed
We know three things about XiaoWeiXiao. 1. He always gets his farm. 2. He can play pretty much every Champion in the Mid Lane. 3. He looks like an evil mastermind from Austin Powers when petting a kitten in his lap. Two of these things relate to TiP’s success. His most successful Champion has been Karthus, and it’s not even close. But Gravity didn’t ban it once and XiaoWeiXiao didn’t pick it. Leblanc and Yasuo have been his two most played Champions and he is a combined 3-4 on those two Champions. He’s pretty much the last mid laner that still plays Yasuo in competitive and his ability to win matchups he has no business winning with the Champions is both impressive and mind boggling. That gives XWX at least two wild card picks that a team can’t reasonably ban away but also can’t ignore. XWX had wins on 8 different Champions in the regular season and added three more Champions to that list against Gravity. He might be looking to add another to that list, as he’s been practicing a fair amount of Cho’gath in solo que and might be ready to debut the champion on the LCS stage. Sometimes it feels like XWX picks a Champion just to place a seed of doubt in his opponent’s head like when he picked Zed for the first time this split against Gravity in the quarterfinals and went 12/0/2. How do you even game plan for that? You don’t. Banning out XWX is an exercise in futility.
Most Picked Champion: Graves
Most Successful Champion: Graves
Flex Picks: None
Expected Picks: Graves, Sivir, Corki, Kog’Maw (Kalista, Urgot)
Apollo’s primary roll on TiP is cleanup. As such, he mostly sticks to strong early game ADCs that allow him to get through the laning phase with ease and utilize Rush’s strong early game map presence. Graves was his most popular pick during the regular season, but appears to have fallen behind Sivir in priority during the playoffs. As such, Sivir is likely to be one of the most contested Champions between TSM and TiP along with Rumble and the junglers. While Apollo does play a few other ADC, notably Corki, he will play either Graves or Sivir pretty much every time one of them is open. Limited Champion Pools are a huge liability in the playoffs, so it’s not surprising that Apollo has spammed both Kalista and Urgot in Solo Que to ensure that he at least offers the threat to play those Champions. Otherwise TiP would probably have to ban away Urgot every game to prevent TSM from using it in a double ADC composition with Wildturtle on Corki or Kog’maw. While it may seem like I’m dwelling over long on the dangers of giving TSM (or any team for that matter) Juggermaw, it is without a doubt the strongest composition at the moment and allowing a team that excels with such compositions to get it is the pinnacle of foolishness.
Most Picked Champions: Leona, Janna, Thresh
Most Successful Champion: Leona
Flex Picks: None
Expected Picks: Leona, Nautilus, Janna, Thresh, Alistar
Adrian prefers to play hard engage Champions to facilitate ganks and set up team fights. He has been one of the few supports that still plays Leona, and it’s been his strongest Champion this split. Nautilus is a recent addition to his Champion pool that fits well into his wheelhouse and fills the same role as Thresh and Morgana. Adrian plays Janna when his team needs strong disengage as a safety net for their all in compositions. TiP actually picked the exact same comp in both weeks 8 and 9 with Rumble, Rek’Sai, Leblanc, Graves and Janna. Ideally, TiP prefers to use Adrian as the primary engage with Rush or Impact acting as secondary engage. Their Janna compositions have been among their weakest since it limits the impact Rush can have on the duo lane during the laning phase and forces him to be the primary engage in team fights. When forced into that situation, Rush has had a tendency to either have zero impact on the game in the best case scenarios, or have a negative impact (feed) in the worst case scenarios. Because of this and a number of other factors, it’s quite possible that TiP is the team least suited to playing the Juggermaw composition of any of the teams currently playing in the playoffs. .