Showing posts with label Kennan French.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kennan French.. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Three Reasons CLG's Two-Man Midlane isn't like SKT's

by Kennan French

Counter Logic Gaming recently announcing that they will have both Pobelter and HuHi playing mid lane on their main roster, and it's hard not to draw comparisons to SK Telecom's system of rotating Easyhoon and Faker in between games. Personally, I’m glad to see an NA team having a roster with more than five starters. However, there are plenty of differences in these situations that are important to keep in mind.

First, SKT has a distinct strategic decision when choosing Faker or Easyhoon, since they have very different styles: Faker plays aggressively, always looking to make plays and draw pressure, whereas Easyhoon is typically a more passive laner who looks to enable his whole team to get fed. CLG won’t have such a clear decision; both HuHi and Pobelter are most at home playing aggressively on assassins. Now, this may work if CLG wants to really prioritize a certain pick (Zed, for example, is considered to be one of Pobelter's signature champions, while HuHi has seen better results on LeBlanc) but they generally share most of their champion pools so one champion isn't likely to change this much, especially since the other team can just ban it away. 

Second, the caliber of player isn't the same on CLG as it is on SKT. It's not that Pobelter and HuHi aren't good mid laners - they are - but this is Faker and Easyhoon we're talking about. Faker has won a world championship, and Easyhoon is widely considered to be comparable to Faker in skill; Pobelter has had to play to keep his team in the NA LCS twice (and only been successful once). HuHi was winless during his time on Bigfile Miracle when he played mid lane for them in Korea. Of course, one good player does not a good team make, and both Pobelter and HuHi are good players, but it would be hard to argue that they are better than Faker or Easyhoon. Also, while they would have this same problem with only one mid laner, this problem adds another element of uncertainty to their decision about who to play.

The last, and most important, difference between CLG's situation and SKT's is that the NA LCS games are all Best-of-1 series (during the regular season, at least) whereas the OGN LCK it's OGN, let's be real LCK games are Best-of-3. This means that SKT can play Easyhoon in Game 1 and then Faker in Game 2 if they want to try a different strategy or counter something unexpected that the other team did, or one of them is tired, or for any number of other reasons. CLG will not have this option. They have to choose one player for each game and hope they made the right choice, with no recourse if they didn't. 

This leaves us with how CLG will use their rotating mid lane roster this coming season. It's likely that, if they want to run a split-pushing composition, they'll put in Pobelter. Pobelter has also shown more prowess on more supportive mid laners; he has 10 Orianna games to HuHi's 0, and a considerably higher win rate on Lulu with more games. If they want to run a mid lane AD carry, HuHi would be the one to put in. And, as a final prediction and without knowing much about the team dynamic the past split, having two mid laners will likely be a boost to team morale if one of them tilts (assuming they are both mature about being subbed in and out).

So yes, there are some similarities between the mid lane rosters of SKT and CLG, but it's important not to take their situations as identical; to do so would be ignoring the teams' strategies, the skill of the players, and the formats of the respective leagues that the teams are competing in.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Look at the League of Legends Preseason PBE Changes

Tons and tons of preseason changes were shipped to the PBE recently. Some are here to stay, some aren’t, and some have yet to be seen. But as with any change, there are trade-offs:


The first item change I want to mention is the addition of Righteous Glory; specifically, I’d like to thank our Rito overlords for adding another item that builds out of Catalyst the Protector. Ever since Season 3, we've only had one option when buying this - Banshee’s Veil. With the new Righteous Glory, we have an option similar to Rod of Ages that helps your team a bit more when sieging. Also, just a hunch, this item on a team with the new Sion will hurt quite a bit.

There’s another new item, though, that I don’t like so much: the Zz’rot portal. This item, intended for tanks who aren’t very good at split-pushing, spawns monsters that act as extra minions for your team and sends them to the nearest lane. A cool concept but, in my opinion, it will greatly devalue the skill of controlling side waves. This is a hard skill to learn and an even harder one to implement, as you can see when the top professional teams lose track of how a lane is pushing and end up losing a tower. If you spend the time and resources building up your side lanes and then your opponent just buys an item to spawn more minions, what’s the point in learning that skill?

There are also a slew of changes to elixirs. Some are good and exciting, but I have some deep reservations about others. The current elixirs are being removed and there are four new elixirs taking their place, so it’s not like that idea is gone. In fact, I think there will be some great uses for these new elixirs. Take the Elixir of Iron for example; paired with the Captain enchantment on a set of boots, your allies can quickly follow up when you engage on the enemy team. Or your Tristana could buy an Elixir of Wrath and stack on extra time to its duration as she gets resets in a teamfight. These new elixirs open up plenty of possibilities.

However, they also added a restriction to elixirs that seems to be pretty much out of the blue. You can no longer buy elixirs before level 9, even though this had never caused problems before. There were very few situations where anyone would do this anyways - one example being the red elixir start on Zed - and doing this was always a choice which had clear strengths and weaknesses.

Note: This item is still bad. Don’t buy it. It got some changes, but it’s still in a very awkward place.

Jungle Changes

There are a lot of changes to how the jungle works, and this is the area where we’re most likely to see more changes in the coming weeks. Little is known about these changes, but I think I can say that the four different versions of Smite will probably turn out to be a good thing. It allows for junglers to play more to their strength and what their team needs. Also, I have a feeling that these jungle changes will benefit Korean teams more than teams from any other region, since the need for “jungle smarts” is going to increase and Korean junglers currently outshine the rest in that department.

However, now you can only buy Hunter’s Machete if you took Smite as a summoner spell. Many of you may not know this (since LPL has a very low English-speaking viewership), but Chinese mid laners had begun building jungle items (usually Spirit of the Spectral Lizard) and farming wraiths every time they respawned. This new restriction on the jungle items eliminates this innovative strategy, which could have even been improved with these jungle changes (i.e. getting faster camp clear).

Read: Always kill wraiths before you go to dragon or Baron. ‘Nuff said.

Objectives/Macro Strategy/Misc.

One of the biggest changes announced was the addition of the crab patrolling the two sections of river. Now, Xypherous referred to it as a “scuttle crab,” but the client calls it a “giant enemy crab.” Whichever name goes through (but it should totally be the second one), this moving camp will be important to keep track of. This is likely going to be a good change, as long as they add special interactions between this camp and Urgot.

Still Waters is a buff introduced in these preseason changes. It gives bonus movement speed out of combat and, after standing still for half a second, 25% increased vision range and the ability to see over walls. This will be useful in many situations, from sieging the enemy’s base to contesting Baron. The only player I wouldn't give this power-up to would be a split pusher. If they’re relying on it to avoid getting caught out, then your team does not have the proper map pressure to attempt a split push in the first place.

The new dragon bonuses are certainly a little odd; stacking bonuses for each dragon you kill is an interesting direction to take things. Early dragons will likely become much more important. These changes should be good for competitive play but could go either way for solo queue, since objective control is typically better and more emphasized in competitive matches.

Dragon gets a buff, though, against your team for each time you kill it. As you challenge for your fifth dragon, it will be dealing 180% damage to your team. This means that you either have to be very far ahead of the other team to contest, or you have to rotate in such a way that you can take it without any opposition. This will probably need to be tuned down, but we’ll see.

The new Baron buff is interesting too, but the most striking thing about it to me is the massively improved recall you get when you have it. You recall in half the time and, from what it sounds like, basically get a free Homeguard enchantment on top of it. This may (and I hope, will) encourage more diverse choices when upgrading your boots - assuming boot enchantments aren’t also being updated.


By Kennan French