Welcome to a co-op series where Tim and I will cover all four World groups and what new picks we can expect in each one. We aim to get the series wrapped up before Worlds so we can focus on coverage of the matches. Enjoy the read!
Ban Yasuo. Those words held true in every game of the LPL Regional Qualifiers and Summer playoffs that featured EDG as teams took the swordsman completely out of the picture. With 5 different picks in the mid lane across 12 games, U has shown he can definitely play around his team’s apparent dislike of the wanderer.
Of these picks, Kayle came out for three of EDG’s matches. While Kayle remains strong despite her most-recent nerfs, she has definitely fallen out of flavor. Her most recent revival usually comes paired with a Zilean, creating an incredibly frustrating team comp centered around an undying carry. U has shown that he will play her with or without the Chronokeeper.
Kayle’s strengths come in droves. Amazing waveclear, great up-front damage, massive utility in the form of a heal and movespeed boost, and an ultimate that can make or break teamfights. There’s less countering Kayle and more just dealing with her, something that becomes incredibly tricky once a match gets to late-game.
When Kayle and Zilean get together, it’s like divine Intervention. Allowing unlimited dive opportunities, Kayle and the rest of her team can wreak havoc in the front line safely under the protection of Chrono Shift and Intervention. The pair also prevents a champion from just being dived on and exploded, and can force their opponents to think hard about who they want to focus and when they want to fight.
There are a Zilean possibilities, will the opposition be prepared?
AHQ’s Westdoor is known for his constant aggression. Expect all eyes to be on the mid lane as he looks to get his team out ahead early. Kassadin and Twisted Fate were almost permanently banned against Westdoor in the GPL and it shouldn’t be much different on the world stage. AHQ depends heavily on their mid laner, and acquiring a comfort pick for Westdoor is a must for them. Keeping Fizz in the back pocket is surely on the agenda, especially looking at his dominating performance on the trickster in the past.
Fizz brings deadly assassin strength to a team, being able to dash in with Urchin Strike and deal massive burst damage, only to disappear unscathed with a cleverly placed Playful/Trickster. Chum the Waters offers great disruption and zoning potential in a teamfight, forcing players to retreat or fight around its AOE knockup. It’s also a death sentence for anyone caught out of position, which can help AHQ create picks and secure objectives.
Not to say the Trickster is without flaws. Limited siege ability can set Fizz’s team behind if they’re unable to start a fight. Also an issue is getting to the backline to hunt for carries. If the enemy team sees Fizz, they can center their comp around peeling for their carry and easily counter his strengths. Lastly, Fizz is a risky laner; if he’s facing a poor lane match-up, he can easily fall behind – worst-case scenario for a champion who must be ahead to have a real impact on the game.
AHQ enters the World Championship as underdogs, and other teams will definitely have heard of Westdoor. With a reputation for clutch plays and snowballing games, letting Westdoor get any of these champions is definitely a mistake. Therein lies the largest issue: lack of diversity. While he has shown he can fall back onto popular champions like Yasuo, Westdoor’s greatest strengths come from familiarity. Teams will either look to ban him out, or prepare strategies specifically tailored to his champion pool.
Will AHQ adapt, or will they FIZZle out?
Though he dominates solo queue, Rammus is a rare sight on the competitive scene; OGN Masters saw him once in a favorable match-up against Xin Zhao and Wickd rolled his way to victory at the end of summer LCS in a zer0-stake match against Millenium, but that’s all the pro action League’s armordillo saw this year. Despite odds, it seems DanDy has been racking some Rammus games in Solo Queue and with great success. Can we expect to see a tanky jungler sneak his way past Lee Sin? Certainly, he is blind.
The meta across regions right now favors stall comps that rely on picks to get objectives and push for map control. Rammus fits the bill with his Sonic Ball and a 2-second taunt. He’s great at locking down and soloing the currently popular hypercarries or peeling bruisers from his carries. Being the best tower-diver in the game, Rammus can capitalize on a pushed lane better than almost any other jungler. His slow clear speed means he loses significant gank pressure in the early game, but that can be off-set by just going for safer laners and stalling until Rammus can become that beast of a frontliner and initiator.
In the hands of DanDy, Rammus is a snowball machine. DanDy is the one who sets the pace for White’s matches by constantly being in the mind of the enemy jungler and predicting his moves. A Rammus counter-gank is deadly, as it can come from very far away and with guaranteed hard CC. We already know how strong DanDy is at smite-stealing objectives – put that mechanical skill on a rolling ball and you’ve got dragon control covered against all but the top-seed teams. Best part? No one plays or bans Rammus, meaning DanDy always has a surprise pick for when his team faces serious challenge (at the finals).
Ultimately, a pocket pick doesn’t matter much for White at this point, as they can likely blindfold themselves, go all mid and still stomp their group.
No data on DP’s Solo Queue training and their Wildcard matches suggest they’d like to go standard at Worlds. If they are bringing new picks against the top teams, they’ve yet to grant viewers passage to their strategy.
See? Phreak liked it. Reluctantly.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me at @NoL_Chefo or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.