Feb 11 2014 - 9:09 pm

This giant pink eye creature is the latest 'League of Legends' champion

It’s not often that League of Legends gets a new "champion," or playable avatar
Ferguson Mitchell
Dot Esports

It’s not often that League of Legends gets a new "champion," or playable avatar. The most recent, the wind samurai Yasuo, was revealed last November.

But last month, players began to witness strange happenings in game: For a few seconds, a floating eye and cosmic swirls would manifest and then disappear. Rumors quickly began circulating about what exactly was going on, with the name “Vel’Koz” whispered frequently in League player circles.

Finally, Riot Games has given credence to these rumors. The developer has revealed the game’s 118th champion, Vel’Koz, the Eye of the Void, who'll be making his way through public testing over the next few weeks. Once released to the live client, he will be available for anyone to buy through free in-game currency or direct purchase.

His release aligns with some interesting undertones for the pro community. Vel’Koz has been designated as a spell-focused middle lane champion, meaning players who pick him can provide their team massive ranged damage. As a mid laner, he patrols the center of the map and should focus on getting gold and experience quickly so he can bring strength to his team later on. His weakness will be his lack of defensive measures, and it will be on his teammates to protect him.

The previous champion, Yasuo, was also a mid laner, but was built as an in-your-face brawler who could easily escape from situations. He has been a very popular pick this year in pro games—so much so that he's often banned out by opposing teams(removed from the pool of available champions for players to pick) so teams don’t have to worry about playing against him.

Vel’Koz is almost Yasuo's opposite—a ranged “nuker” (massive damage dealer), he'll try to avoid direct confrontations with enemy players. Pro teams have struggled with this style of mid laner for a while, especially as other “nuker” champions like Lux, Gragas, and Orianna have some severe vulnerabilities against the brawler-type mid laners like Yasuo and Pantheon.

The addition of Vel’koz may very well spell a return of the more conservative ranged mid lane champions. This team composition often finds more success later , provided they can protect their mid laner. The pros will be carefully studying how Vel’koz evolves over the next few weeks—the new champion has the potential to spell some major victories for the first team that can master him. 

Image via Riot Games

Jan 24 2017 - 10:07 pm

Riot plans to test out a 15-minute surrender option—here’s why it’s a good idea

The new feature would have been added already if other things hadn’t gotten in the way, the developer says.
Aaron Mickunas
League of Legends Writer
Image via Riot Games

A 15-minute surrender option is being tested for League of Legends, Riot announced last week. And it's about damn time.

Riot originally planned to have the feature in the game by now, according to Andre ‘Meddler’ van Roon, League’s lead gameplay designer. He mentioned that it would have been tested and implemented already if not for high-priority projects like the new client and matchmaking changes getting in the way.

In a post on Nexus, League’s editorial website, Meddler gave a few details on the upcoming potential feature. At first, it will only be available in one region, although we aren’t sure which region will be selected. It will also function differently from the usual surrender—it will be a unanimous vote, meaning that all teammates would have to agree for it to actually go through. Will this replace the current 20-minute surrender altogether, or will it just be an addition? There aren’t enough details to tell right now, but either way, it would be a change for the better.

Why? Well, the traditional 20-minute surrender has been around since the beginning of the game, and frankly, it’s outdated. Over the years, the average length of games has shortened considerably, and it gets even shorter depending on what rank you are.

More than 42 percent of all solo queue players are in Bronze, and over 36 percent are in Silver, according to League of Graphs, a League statistics website. That means almost 80 percent of all solo queue players in League are in either Bronze or Silver. Want to know the average length of game time amongst those players? About thirty minutes. Higher ranked games are even shorter.

That’s right, most games in League only make it about ten minutes past when players are allowed to surrender, meaning most games are close to ending the normal way right around the same time that they’re even given the chance to give up early. Now, I’m a firm believer in the “Never give up! Never surrender!” policy when it comes to ranked. However, sometimes it’s a better choice to type in the ol’ “/ff.”

If someone was toxic and ended up rage-quitting because they weren’t able to steal the jungler’s Krugs while the jungler was trying to take it, for example, your team is now down a man because that player took it very personally (this surely has never happened to me). Or maybe, just maybe, you are down six towers, an inhib, two dragons, and twenty kills when the clock strikes fifteen minutes. It’s also possible that your top laner went Teemo. All I’m saying is sometimes things are looking just bleak enough to make the strongest-willed player want to throw in the towel.

Adding a 15-minute unanimous surrender option gives a team the possibility of finishing up and starting a new game before the slug-fest goes on long enough to crush their spirit completely. A 20-minute surrender is the only option—even when ranked games now rarely go past 30 minutes. It’s ludicrous, and adding a bit of flexibility here is the right way to go.

Jan 24 2017 - 3:33 pm

How Hauntzer saved TSM

TSM’s top laner stabilized his lane and opened up the map for the team’s first 2017 win.
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

Expectations for TSM are always high. But after dropping a set against a talented Cloud9 squad, the team found itself in trouble against Immortals. That’s when top laner Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell—their most unassuming player—found himself in a position to win the series.

Hauntzer can be easy to overlook. After all, one of his greatest strengths is being a chameleon, in adapting his play style and champion pool to match the needs of his team. But sometimes even chameleons need to stand out. And in the deciding game against Immortals, Hauntzer picked the perfect moment.

After struggling in his first few games, Hauntzer blew open the deciding game.

What happened to Hauntzer?

Hauntzer was a key component as TSM swept through the LCS Summer 2016. Per Oracle’s Elixir, he had the highest creep score (CS) differential at 10 minutes in the entire league. That’s right: The leading laner in NA wasn’t Heo “Huni” Seong-hoon, a primary carry, or Darshan Upadhyaya, a steady split pusher. Hauntzer was able to build leads and absorb pressure while playing a wide variety of champions, from Irelia to Shen to Gnar.

The leads Hauntzer built allowed him to shove and roam for his team while not sacrificing farm. This forced his opponents to choose between CS and teamfights. Building advantages like this takes time and patience. The effects can be overlooked, especially when the other TSM stars are the ones getting kills in teamfights. It’s the perfect role for Hauntzer.

This year, Hauntzer hasn’t had as much success in lane, and it’s hurting his team. The sample size is small, but he’s currently averaging a CS deficit at 10 minutes. That’s given the team fits as it seeks to find the identity it had just a few months ago.

How did Hauntzer turn it around?

Betting big on the top lane

The first sign came in the Game 3 draft. TSM first-picked Maokai for Hauntzer, a no-brainer not because of the priority given to Hauntzer, but because of how broken Maokai is with the Courage of Colossus mastery. The treant’s ability to lock down a target with a point-and-click ability while gaining a huge shield makes him extremely powerful in fights.

TSM then picked Ashe for Jason “WildTurtle” Tran but declined to pair him with a matching support. Instead, they grabbed Cassiopeia for star mid laner Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.

Sensing an opportunity, Immortals (on red side), started banning supports in the second ban phase. Because Immortals also had the next pick, TSM felt forced to counter with a support ban of their own. These bans seemed to target Vincent “Biofrost” Wang’s champion pool, forcing him onto a tank support (Thresh) who could be poked out in lane. With their own support, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung, comfortable on Morgana, Immortals created a winning duo lane matchup.

It’s extremely hard to win in professional League with more than one losing lane. Bjergsen can usually win his. But with the melee into ranged matchup in the duo lane, it was critical for Hauntzer to come through. He had to at least go even with Lee “Flame” Ho-jong’s Poppy.

He did more than go even.

A familiar pattern

Flame isn’t a perfect player but the guy knows how to CS. And Hauntzer straight bullied him. He went up four CS after two waves. Six after three. Small, steady advantages.

Meanwhile in the bottom half of the map, TSM jungler Dennis “Sveskeren” Johnsen read counterpart Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett’s overtly obvious plays, blowing flashes on nearly everyone. When Dardoch switched focus and roamed to the top, Hauntzer just walked out.

Blowing flashes wouldn’t mean much if TSM couldn’t capitalize. Hauntzer wouldn’t make that mistake. After teleporting back to lane and shoving his minions (up 11 in CS), he roamed with Svenskeren to the mid lane. The resulting dive was clinical: a summoner-less Pobelter was easily killed.

After the kill, Hauntzer walked back to lane and hardly suffered for farm. Meanwhile, Flame’s own roam saw him miss a whole wave of CS. This was the familiar TSM strategy of last year: shove, roam, and force the opponent into bad choices. When Dardoch overextended to kill Svenskeren, Hauntzer was there to earn an assist. When Flame overextended to steal a blue buff, Hauntzer was there to help Bjergsen earn it back.

The coup de grâce came at 10 minutes, where Hauntzer forced Flame to teleport back to lane. Less than two minutes later, when Dardoch ganked the bot lane, Hauntzer’s TP was on time. They won that fight and took first turret. By the time Dardoch finally shut him down, the game had already snowballed too far into TSM’s hands.

TSM needs this from Hauntzer in every game

Going into the season, we thought we knew how TSM would work. Bjergsen is the carry, working with Sevenskeren to control the map. The biggest question mark was the duo lane of Jason “WildTurtle” Tran and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang. Hauntzer just needed to be solid. The advantages he carves out are small and take time. Although he plays a role in TSM’s wins, he is rarely assigned credit for victories or blame for losses.

But with WildTurtle struggling in the early game as well, TSM is requiring more of Hauntzer. He needs to have an early impact in every game for them to reach their potential. The urgency is heightened with the current crop of top lane talent, including formidable international stars like Jang "Looper" Hyeong-seok, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, and of course, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.

Hauntzer may not be the most talented top laner in the region. But he is exactly the player that TSM needs.