And my axe. And again. And another!
Taking a hatchet to the otherwise praiseworthy “champion diversity” at worlds, this pain in the axe has carved his way into 60% of games, and that’s not even the problem.
While most teams hide their mid/top laners until later in the draft for fear of being countered, Darius has been an early pick in every draft, allowing enemies to specifically counter him (or themselves in the case of Fnatic) and yet he still sports a positive win rate.
Many may crow that Darius is “balanced” because he has lost games to comps built around shutting him down, yet when you have to build your entire team around one champion from the other, is that a champion at all, or a raid boss?
It is simply a bore to watch so many close games decided by whether or not this purposefully overtuned and overpowered champion can reach someone with his axe. I would call it unhealthy for any single champion to hold so much influence in the game, but if Riot did want to create a “raid boss”, they at least could have chosen someone who is a bit more exciting to watch.
Do you hate flashy plays? Do you enjoy slow, plodding brawls in which skill level can be judged with all the accuracy of a blind man at a beauty pageant? Then have I got something for you… in like, every fucking game at worlds. You spin me right round, baby, right round. And that’s about it, for the entire laning phase… Yawn.
One does not simply walk into top lane.
8. Not Darius
Outside of Darius and a small purple whore who might pop up later, the balance team seems to have done a pretty splendid job – especially in the mid lane, in which no less than 19 unique picks have come through. Watching Anivia and Veigar pop up at the biggest tournament of the year will get anyone’s donger rising – yet hold on there, sailor.
While we can all applaud these strange pocket picks, it must be remembered that other roles are not quite so blessed. Darius, as mentioned earlier, has had his run in top lane, while ADC has largely boiled down to Trist/Kalista/Sivir. So while we sing Riot’s praises (and, frankly, they sing their own), let us remember that the great majority of this “diversity” seems contained in one lane… and let us remember that Shurima is shuffling ever forward.
Will this diversity remain when the group stages are over and things get “serious”? Or will the already 70% win rate emperor retain his thrown, surrounded by the few champions who can attempt to keep him in check? Only time will tell, but we should let Riot have this moment… for now.
Never get involved in a land war in Asia
There comes a time in every good coach’s career in which he realizes the game has passed him by. Things just ain’t what they used to be. It’s time to move on.
In the world of esports this time may be when a bunch pun slinging analysts and silver elo basket cases on reddit seem to know more about the game than you do.
The first week of this tournament has produced some of the most mind boggling, head spinning, half-wit compositions ever witnessed in human history, a few of which are discussed below:
The LGD Special: “I hope they’re as dumb as we are.”
Take two pinches of horribly scaling AD top and bot laners, toss in a pinch of an AD mid, and pray to god the enemy doesn’t know that armor is available at the shop or, you know, pick Malphite…
The Fnatic Kamikaze: “For Science!”
One up the suicidal tendencies of the enemy team by answering their invitation for you to counter their diamond 2 top laner by countering yourself instead! Sometimes it takes a bald coaching genius to ask “why win easily when we could lose?” Why indeed.
The Darius Delusion: “He doesn’t have any real counters… other than the six we’ve seen.”
The penultimate in “is your coach eating shit?” moments thus far has been the Darius first pick. But who are the real heroes here? The team which does the first picking, having just seen other Darius first picks countered by kite compositions? Or the team which sees the Darius first pick, and proceeds to not counter it in exactly the way other teams have? Whichever choice you make, it seems both sides are asking for a slapdown, and neither has done much analysis on any of the games played so far. AKA, their jobs.
Sometimes you’re just a Sicilian
Nearly as entertaining as watching a team commit Sudoku in the draft phase is that moment when we see a truly inspired composition. Yes, alongside the worst attempts at strategy since Waterloo, there have been some shining moments which prove not all coaches dine only on feces. How could they? There’s only so much LGD to go around.
The SKT Avenger: “How will you Ryze while in prison?”
Starting our list is proof of the power in having a mid laner who can play just about anything. Some watched in horror, others in elation, as a single late pick from SKT shut down no less than three EDG champions, turning Darius, Ekko, and the Eveready Bunny into stationary targets. While Marin’s Crocodile Dundee may have taken MVP of the game, it was Faker’s Ryze which made kiting the wizard lizard nigh impossible. Have no doubt, things are easy to kill when they’re standing still.
The Origen Original: “How will you run when you have no legs?”
Origen topped all previous “Duck Farius” compositions by creating such a masterful combination of slows through Lulu, Anivia, and Braum that the enemy Dyrius ended the game having done less damage than his struggling and easily seen support. This is what it looks like when your coach puts down his shit sandwich long enough to calculate that slows + stuns = baguette in the buns. And yes, bird is still the word.
The Cloud 9 Classic: “Holy shit we’re still sieging!”
Proving that the old school still has flavor, Cloud 9 have kept their opponents off balance with a rotating Tristana routine which swallows up towers like a two penny prostitute. How long until enemy coaches brush their teeth and take the Whoredle Yordle away from these awkward memers, forcing them to prove they have something else up their sleeves? If Cloud 9 fans have their way, maybe never.
Quote me on this: “No new rotations.”
6. The analyst desk
While it may be a bit unfair to mock these self styled prophets for their dumpster fire picks thus far — as though anyone foresaw things like TSM conquering LDG — it is kind of their job to know better… and they clearly don’t.
The curtain has fallen only one week into the worlds, revealing that your average analyst, while overly and often absurdly dressed, has no more real insight into who will win than your average redditor – sometimes less.
Some other things we’ve learned:
- Tomato Bunion went to the German Philosophers School of Broadcasting. While this smooth-jazz-sounding, sharply dressed saxophone has clearly done no homework on any teams outside Europe, you have to at least give him a nod for his attempts to cover this through vague phrases and shadowy language. “If this team plays great then we may learn something, though perhaps if they don’t we may not.” I’m only disappointed he has failed to use the word “ethereally” to describe how the Flash Wolves might counter a C9 fast push.
- The Count of Monte Cristo is far too thin to be wearing suspenders, giving him the awkward appearance of a toothpick being strangled by a pair of rubber bands.
- Crumbz looks like a retired clown who now owns a laundromat. And yet this poorly dressed Columbian has been the most accurate analyst so far. Is the price of a good outfit one’s ability to get anything right? Are Potato Plugin’s twelve layers of cardigans and schoolboy sport coats cutting off the blood flow to his brain? Only time will tell, but this is a worrying trend for style.
6. The analyst desk
But you just… I know. Let’s be honest, this may be the best desk ever, if only because it has been so bad. Each arrogant prediction of “This team sucks,” to “Origen can’t possibly win,” to “Cloud 9 will go 0-6,” has been more beautiful than the last. Like watching a train crash into an ice cream truck, the desk has been horrifying, yet delicious.
Yes, we may all mock Dorito Companion for his ignorance, or act terribly offended when the analysts predict our favorite team will go down in flames. But secretly, we love it. Holding to the so-bad-it’s-good theory, this desk has spawned endless memes, eternal I-told-you-so’s, and just general euphoria in seeing so much self-assurance be so totally humiliated. Keep up the good work, boys.
Beam me up, Scotty.
Whether it’s Peyton Manning in Football or Lebron James in the NBA, sports are driven furthest by their stars. Faker became a household name when he shadow danced on Ryu’s plain faced grave. The biggest and brightest moments which people hold on to are the “outplays”, which makes Riot’s tolerance of this spell in its current state so downright confusing.
If you’re wondering why you can’t really tell the difference between good and great players anymore, or why even pros are commenting on the lack of individual skill required in the current meta, you haven’t been paying attention. What is the point in taking a high skill cap champion and running ignite when your opponent can answer with a farm heavy scaling champ, whose weaknesses are too easily covered by teleport? What is the point of fighting at all if the lane can be reset with the press of a button?
Flame, perhaps the greatest 1v1 top laner in league history, was our canary in the coal mine. He didn’t suddenly get worse, he became less desirable to teams because when the top lane TP meta was first introduced, he refused to take part. Call it pride, or stubbornness, but in his mind the better player should win the lane, and the worse player should not have a get out of jail free card to keep that from happening.
While I enjoy a good team fight as much as the next person, there is a time and place to slap your opponent across the face and like an angry solo que star, shout, “1v1 me, bro!” But so long as teleport can shout back, “No!” we may lose individual stars which drive so much of the game, or just struggle to tell them apart from their less skilled counterparts. As this summoner spell now bleeds into the mid lane, the only question is, where does it stop?
Beam me down, I changed my mind.
While we may have lost a great deal too many individual plays because of teleport, let us take a moment to celebrate the flanks, ganks, and wild rotations which this spell has produced at worlds thus far.
Every ADC’s nightmare – the four man bot lane, has turned into every fans dream. There is nothing more exciting than watching an all out brawl break out in a lane only ten minutes into a game, and so we tip our hat to TP.
In a perfect world, Riot will play with the CD on this controversial spell so that it is a risk and a choice. A good TP will make the long cd worthwhile, netting your team a large advantage, while a bad TP (such as back to your lane) will simply not be worth the sizeable cd, putting you behind your more aggressively outfitted opponent. The answer may even be in reducing the coodlown based upon whether or not kills/assists are picked up within 30secs of usage, to separate courageous tp’s from their cowardly counterparts. Perhaps then we can get both individual outplays, and still continue to ruin the ADC’s day.
One eyed, one horned, blind…
The purple people eater has returned, putting the rest of the balance team’s work to shame. This is one grape drank which simply wont die. Steak after steak (afro and all) has been driven into the heart of this awful creature and yet here she is, another tournament, another ridiculous pick/ban rate, and an almost fixture of first pick should she be left up. Dear me.
While Riot has completed their task of chasing other supports out of midlane, they seem, for whatever reason, unwilling or incapable of dealing with the one which remains. Lulu has been a balance problem for far too long and now seems just plain embarrassing. On top of all that, she is an incredibly boring champion to watch, turning every lane into a farm fest with her nigh unkillability(that’s a word).
It’s time for the team to get their shit together (once LGD’s coach is done eating it) and finally put an end to this nonsense. To an outside observer, the fix is simple: Increase her supportive power, with stronger slows and larger early shields, and murder her ratios, the same way you did with Janna/Sona/Soraka. Supports can’t scale well or they stop being supports. Nuff said.
Which mic do I speak into?
4. The casters
Let’s all take a moment to celebrate the sheer brilliance of the casting so far at worlds. From the French duo que, who always seem to have the crowd in a tizzy, to the clever combinations of analyst and entertainer which appear in nearly every game, Riot seems to have nailed not just the cadence and calls of good casting, but its all important chemistry.
Highlighted best by the punslingers of Doa and Phreak playing off the serious and stoic Deficio in what people knew would be a rather laughable BKT vs SKT matchup, sometimes who you choose to speak can be a science, and we’re loving the results.
He has a huggable face. But so did John Wayne Gacy.
Sometimes the truth hurts, and especially so in admitting that so far this fan favorite has been less HOLO and more HORROR. He hasn’t just been bad, he’s been awful. Pitiful. Plain painful to watch.
When Fnatic was slowly crushing AHQ the same way they had IG, the Holomiester got killed. It wasn’t a big deal, his team took more of the map in response. But in a sudden burst of solo que pride, he was back in lane, flashing between towers and trying to smash his way through a 2v1. Worse still, like all solo que tilt machines, he took his team with him.
Next thing you knew Reignover, already 2/0 on the game, was stuck between the same towers, trying to save his frazzled teammate and instead handing over a huge chunk of gold to the enemy team. From here all of Fnatic seemed to spiral out of control in their attempts to save Huni from himself, culminating in each member overstaying after taking an inhib because Holo flashed forward in a final effort to wow the audience and once more salvage his pride. He failed. His team got smashed. The game was over.
No one thinks Huni is better than Huni does, and all of the spring split praise seems to have gone to his head. He struggled during summer, and yet as he seemed to get worse, his team was better than ever, sporting an undefeated record at the end of the year. While such a record would make most people very proud, Huni only seemed somewhat put off, frustrated by the fact that Febiven and Rekkles had come into their own and he was no longer required to be the hero. We saw flashes of this frustration in endless over aggression and unprepared picks such as gangplank, where he simply seemed to be driven by pride to prove that “he could play it too.”
And we saw how dangerous such stubborn pride could be in Fnatic’s second loss at world’s, when Huni locked in Yasuo, the best champion on which to make desperate, flashy, heroic plays in order to make up for his last game. Rather than take a simple, largely supportive counterpick such as Gnar, Huni’s ego once more demanded that he show the world his skills by winning a losing matchup. Instead he screwed his team a second time, and while Rekkles/Febiven played brilliantly, making the game far closer than it ought to have been, Fnatics horrible top pick proved to be too much to overcome, handing the talented team their second loss, and putting them in real danger of failing to escape the group stage.
Fnatic is great team, and that has not changed. They were in prime position to stomp AHQ until Huni happened, and they completely outplayed C9 in a game in which they had no business being close thanks to their top lane pick. But what-ifs don’t win games, and all the talent in the world can’t save them from their own tilting top laner. Huni needs to be reigned in and taught that it’s ok for his teammates carry, and quickly. If not, one of the most promising teams the west has ever produced will be remembered only as a warning against the pitfalls of ego and expectation.
I am the answer to all living things that cry out for peace. I am protector to the innocent. The light in the darkness. I am truth. Ally to good! Nightmare to you!
All of Origen deserves this spot for their performance so far, but I thought I’d focus on the man leading the charge. If Huni has fallen from grace, then the balance of the universe has lifted another, spirit bomb and all, to take his place.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see Peke achieving super saiyan at worlds, god knows he has done it before, and yet this time, something is different. While Peke and Soaz, wily veterans that they are, have been known to take games off until they really truly matter, Peke’s struggles in the finals against Fnatic seemed to signal that matter or not, he just didn’t have it anymore. In reality, maybe the finals simply didn’t matter enough, as going to worlds was always the end goal, not getting a better seed for when you get there.
He’s back. He’s Brilliant. If you knew nothing of league or legacy, and simply tuned in to the first week of worlds, you would most likely come away saying that “this Xpeke guy is the best mid laner.” You wouldn’t be wrong. While other mids may have shined equally bright against the same opponents, you can only play who you play. Xpeke has been the most dominant mid laner in a tournament with names like Faker, Berjesen and GoldV. Is there a ceiling to the Spaniard’s transformation, or has he yet to unlock his final form?
Your coach eats shit, so why hasn’t he eaten you?
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? By far the biggest letdown in world’s history “the best team from best region” looks like they would be taken the distance by four players from Team 8 and a guy named Meadowlark.
TBQ ought to change his name to BBQ since he seems to enjoy feeding, and yet the precipitous fall can hardly be heaved on his shoulders. Everyone knew he would struggle coming in, he always has. The real disappointment from LGD has been the underwhelming form of their self-proclaimed legendary midlaner. GodV? The V must stand for vagina, because he sure gets fucked a lot. Acorn? It might soon be GayPorn if he keeps using his TP’s to backdoor his own team. PyL of shit? And of course there’s Imp.
I can’t criticize much about the ADC’s play. Has he been great? No. Has he been good? Yes. And to be at least decent, when your teammates are playing so poorly, must count for something.
Whatever the case, from leaks about team infighting, these folks don’t strike me as the type to bounce back from their horrible week one. How bad are these guys? Well, they lost to a Danish twig and four wards. How much worse can it get?
While it was a sad sight to see BBQ shaking like a seismograph on stage, it seems an apt symbol of LGD’s entire world’s run. You shiver, you stumble, and at some point, you crumble.
We’re doin’ fiiiiine, on…
2. Cloud 9
I despise C9, let me be clear about that. They are a collection of the most distasteful, awkward, immature personalities ever gathered under one roof.
The adc looks like someone’s lesbian aunt, and has seen more buttholes than a toilet. The terribly clever garden gnome in top lane named himself balls because… penis hehe… and balls… hoho! The hair on the top of their support’s head is falling out the bottom. Hai seems ok. And lest we forget, their demon elf of a mid laner was taken to racist rants and DDos’ing in his early days. Yes, what a collection of humanity!
Were you to be stuck at a table with these prepubescent 4th grade rebels, you might have an itch to suffocate them in the potato salad. Conversation? Not on your life. Most members of Cloud 9 are hardcore memers, which, translated into English, means they’re a bit slow, and have as much chance of saying something creative or original as Stephen Hawking has of winning the Boston marathon.
Yet here we are. Think of them what you will (for those older than 12, not much, for those under… far too much), but they are undeniably the Cinderella story of this tournament. Other teams have surprised, but nowhere near this level. This is a team which was a game away from relegations in a self declared shit region, now 3-0 against some of the best in the world. It’s too good to be true, but there it is. Will the prophecy play out? Will they reverse sweep Faker in the finals, when their ex-jungler Opossum Head Hartman jumps on stage and begins the turnaround? At this point, anything seems possible. It will be one hell of a ride, and I’ll be cheering against them for every inch of it.
Spartans, what is your profession?
1. The crowd
I thought I would tie the last point into one as it is both the best thing to watch, and the worst thing to realize.
The French are kicking our asses. Let me repeat that. The French are kicking our asses. And that certainly has to be the worst feeling in the world. And yet they are the best audience world’s has ever seen. Jokes about cheese eating surrender monkeys aside, the French are a hot blooded race, always embroiled in a new revolution, and historically, some of the toughest fighters around. So it should come as no surprise that they make for a brilliant audience, pouring out all their passion in a way that makes our silly little “FreeSM” chants look corny and mundane by comparison.
It’s time for the rest of the world to turn a meme on its head and finally wave the white flag to France. They won this battle, just like they won the battle of Tours to save Europe herself. And so it seems only fitting that those who defended Europe in her time of need, now lift her up once more when the eastern hordes and all their horrible, rotation heavy armies come calling.
Vive la France! Vive! Vive! Vive!