Immortals have already cleared up that they are currently the undisputed kings of NA LCS. Undefeated so far, they have taken nearly every game in a convincing manner. But there has to be a way to take down the undisputed.
I am going to start with looking at what is the most different about Immortals, which has to be their support Adrian. With 7 games on Janna, 2 games on Soraka, and only 1 game on Braum, Adrian is currently the only support routinely playing non tank and non-engage supports. If we look at the rest of this team, these are extremely safe picks to use to save one of his teammates, namely Huni or Wildturtle. Huni and Wildturtle had been constantly criticized as being over aggressive in Season 5, so putting Adrian on a support like Soraka, who can essentially keep a carry alive forever in a team fight, and Soraka, who can be a peel/shield bot for Wildturtle, plays incredibly well into this play style. Since there has been a consistent amount of shields/healing coming from Adrian, the need for a hard tank becomes irrelevant for Huni or Reignover, but I will cover this later when I talk about Pobelter. There was one game when Adrian was forced off of Soraka/Janna, and that was Week 5 Day 2 game against Cloud 9, which will come later.
Perhaps the biggest change has been the performance of former TSM ADC Wildturtle. Wildturtle, with no shortage to world class supports such as Lustboy and Xpecial, now has Adrian, who was known primarily from one season on Team Impulse. With a flailing performance in the summer split with such a high tier support as Lustboy, to see success with Adrain makes little sense until you understand the relationships these supports have with their teams. The majority of supports are playing as a support for their team, but that is not the relationship that Adrian has with Immortals. Instead, Adrian is Wildturtle’s support. Adrian follows Wildturtle around the map like a lost puppy, keeping Wildturtle’s aggressive/reckless play behavior in line. Wildturtle is an ADC who will flash into the enemy base with no backup just because he wants the shot at a kill. He needs a babysitter, and Adrian is just the support to accommodate this play style. This ADC Support synergy has been instrumental in Immortals success.
Going to the midlane, we have former CLG midlaner Pobelter, one of the most “meh” midlaners in the LCS. With Pobelter, you literally never have to worry about him dying in midlane, but also just never expect him to solo kill his lane opponent. Because of this play style, Immortals have picked him to play Lulu every time Lulu has been left unbanned or banning it away when they couldn’t guarantee Pobelter would get it. This is right in line with Adrian’s play style on Immortals, protect the carries, which Pobelter is fine letting Huni and Wildturtle carry these games so far. This is not to say Pobelter cannot play carry mids, just look at NRG vs Immortals Week 2 Day 2, but also look at games against weaker teams like against Renegades in Week 3 Day 1 where he has little to no impact. Because he is playing utility midlaners like Lulu and Lux, where yes Lux is being considered a supportive mid, he enables his teammates to forgo a tank.
Enter Huni and Reignover, the highly touted top and jungler from Fnatic who entered the NA LCS with the highest of expectations. The closest thing Huni has played to a tank this year was when he counter picked a Ryze with Cho’Gath and built a Rod of Ages. Reignover has picked Rek’Sai on occasions, but there has been a much higher preference given to Nidalee and Elise, where he builds hybrid AP/Tank. That is the closest thing that Immortals has to a consistent tank. Reignover is playing exclusively junglers who can invade his enemy’s jungle to either catch out a misplaced enemy jungler or steal unprotected camps. Ultimately, you are never going to get a five thousand health Mundo or Malphite coming out the top half of Immortal’s map.
So how to beat Immortals? Starting with picks and bans, let’s look to what I think was their closest game so far this split, Week 5 Day 2 against Cloud 9. The bans from Cloud 9 was perfect. Targeting out Adrian, by banning Soraka and Janna, forced him onto Braum, where he gave one of his weakest score lines this split. Banning Lulu from Pobelter took away Immortals last true supportive pick means there was no way for Immortals to easily control their carries unchecked aggression. This will force Adrian onto a tank support and will most likely put Pobelter onto an immobile mage like Lux or Viktor. Depending on sides, save your counter picks for mid or top. Whatever you do, do not attempt to blind pick into Huni unless you absolutely have to. There is no limit to the depth of Huni’s champion pool, and he will counter pick whatever you attempt to cheese him with. The Cho’Gath into Ryze and Ekko into Mao’Kai, he has a response to whatever you are going to throw at him. Attempt to counter pick this lane, but for sure counter pick whatever Pobelter brings out in the mid lane. With no healing/sheliding supports or mids, pick a very high damage comp (Malphite/Oriana, Graves/Syndra) which can pick off a champion instantly. Pobelter has no experience on Zilean and Reignover has shown no interest on Kindred, so these explosive compositions can work against this team.
Once onto the rift, the true battle begins. First off, do not lane swap into Immortals. Do an early invade to get lanes scouted out, but be sure to match the lanes. Doing a lane swap will allow for Huni to get gold early, which just catapults his ability to snowball with an early few hundred gold. Have faith in your strong top laner to go even with Huni. Since Adrain will not have a simple heal/shield support, you are going to force Adrian to play off his normal terms, forcing him out of his comfort zone and removes Wildturtle from being allowed to play his over aggressive style. The Wildturtle/Adrian synergy breaks down when Adrian is no longer just a babysitter. Next, position your jungle between your midlaner and top laner. Completely ignore your duo lane, they should be able to handle themselves against Wildturtle/Adrian. The main focus of this jungler will be to not allow Reignover into that side jungle, and to gank Huni. Constantly. By setting up camp top side, the enemy jungler will shut down the usual Reignover snow balls Huni with ganks and jungle pressure. By matching this pressure, Reignover will have to either try and force ganks top constant enemy counter ganks or attempt to get one of the other lanes going. As long as bot uses their wards appropriately, the only vulnerable lane to gank for will be Pobelters lane, which does little to snowball your non carry lane. With this laning phase, Immortals should not have their usual gold lead around 15 minutes in that they usually have. Rift Herald should be a high value priority to put on either your mid or jungle, as stacking dragons will do little against a team with such a fast average win time. Not to say you shouldn’t get at least your first dragon for the damage buff, but that objective is not as high as a priority of winning lane. This strategy should prevent any given lane from snowballing for Immortals. Lanes should also focus on hard pushing their lanes in order to get early towers and then outrotate Immortals.
As far as I can see, this strategy is the best way I can see taking a win off of Immortals. Now to address why C9 lost this game which essentially used this strategy, let me attempt to explain. Sneaky picked Jhin into a Braum, a match up which makes no sense if you think about it. Jhin, in general, just does not do enough damage fast enough to punish a team with no tank and no shields/heals. Balls was able to punish Huni early in the top lane and kept him a non-factor in the top lane. Had Sneaky picked an ADC who could have output more damage than a Kalista with little crit chance, this game had gone a completely different way.
Please note, this strategy requires a strong ADC and a strong top laner. Team with these requirements would be CLG, TSM, C9, and Team Liquid. I note that CLG excels very well in lane swaps, but this almost plays into Immortal’s strengths. Should Darshan pick a champion without such a hard counter, ahem Ryze when Cho’ is Huni’s go to counter, then they might have better success. Sorry Dignitas, Renegades, TIP, NRG, and Echo Fox, I don’t think your ADC/Top can compete with the carries of Immortals.
This is my first article I have ever written, so bear with me. Follow me on twitter at @kemmetcarter for more amateur analysis.