LJL Week 2 Round-Up - Aria is a Monster, So are DFM, and Will Someone Please Tell Top-Laners to...
... Stop Picking Kayle into Sett!
A re-upload of an article I wrote covering Week 2 of the LJL 2020 Spring Split. The original article can be found here.
Hey! Initialise here once again, to round up Week 2 of the LJL.
Week 3 actually commenced today (15/02/2020). You heard right - that’s three weeks’ games in the space of one week. A three day turn around into a four day turn around is a tall ask for teams struggling - and a boon for those who’ve already got a good grasp on the meta. For those of us casting (Shout-out to u/Nymaera_ and u/Maskedswancasts), we’ll be heading into something like our 20th hour of live broadcast this week... wish us luck!
Some context: The LJL has 8 teams in its league, is franchised, and those teams play each other in a double best-of-1 round robin - not a triple round robin as in previous splits*. (Thanks to* u/sejuporo for correcting me in my first post).
Speaking of long game days, the LJL generally has 8 matches on a game day, which means broadcasts can be upwards of 9 hours with pre and post-game content. In practice that works out with teams being split into two brackets on a game day, then playing two other teams within their bracket on that day. i.e. teams play two games v. two different teams on a game day.
(As previously, there is TL;DR at the bottom)
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No - it's apaMEN crushing on Yorick in the top lane! Things were looking good for V3 early on this game, with Bugi and Paz teaming up to knock down the gravedigger twice with Sett and Gragas. But at the same time, Yutorimoryashi on Miss Fortune was picking up kills and creeps alike against his former team, going 2/0/1 with a 30~cs lead before 14 minutes.
It seemed the battle lines had been drawn: advantage for V3 on the top side, and vice versa for SG on the bot side. That was, of course, until apaMEN decided to obliterate Paz and Bugi in a 1v2 double kill just past 20 minutes. After that, the split-push monster was truly unleashed, with Yorick forcing his way all the way down to a bot inhibitor, pulling V3 apart across the map until Sengoku ended the game at around 34 minutes.
Our first perfect game of the split. Despite the curve-ball of RayFarky running Darius top (his favourite champion, allegedly), good early pathing from Bugi meant the Darius was inconsequential at best. Much like the rest of Burning Core sadly, who struggled to find ways to engage or find any agency in this game. All the while, V3 played a controlled, clean. objective focused game.
V3 ended up 10 kills, 11 towers, 2 inhibitors, 3 drakes, 2 heralds and a baron to none, and put Burning Core out of their misery in just shy of 28 minutes.
Crest Gaming Act 1 - 0 Burning Core https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1295489?gameHash=95386dea5cf1ab09&tab=stats
An utterly insane game of outplays, ego and high drama. To set the scene: RayFarky threw down the gauntlet by picking Darius again, but this time backed up by a Xin Zhao, Ornn, and Blitzcrank to actually have a way into the fight in comparison to the previous game's ill fated attempts. But Gango, proving himself to be the consummate AC/DC fan, had the biggest balls of them all and drafted Draven into all of that cc. Aria getting a hold of LeBlanc was just the cherry on top.
Burning Core got off to a blazing start, with Once's Xin Zhao blasting out the gates to an early 2 kill lead, catching Yoshi out in his own jungle. Things only seemed to get better for BC: an early infernal drake led to a couple of kills from good cc layering, and granted them a 2k gold advantage. And from this commanding position disaster struck: Draven cashed in. Then as Xin Zhao fell off and Draven hit his ascendancy, all hell broke lose. What proceeded was 20+ minutes of insanity with nail biting teamfight after nail biting teamfght... which CGA edged out. Just. Darius was inches away from ruining CGA in multiple fights, but the Noxian Guillotine was blunted by clutch flashes, stopwatches and what one has to assume was sheer dumb luck.
Gango ended 11/2/9 - and he wasn't even the best player this game. Aria was simply unreal. A deathless, 1.1~k dmg/min, quadra-killing, fully stacked Mejai's wielding, 8/0/17 masterclass on LeBlanc. Over a kill a minute in this glorious back and forth of a game - sit back, belt up and get watching. Highly recommended.
Crest Gaming Act 1 - 0 Sengoku Gaming https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1295512?gameHash=6f566df8a0a7cc05&tab=overview
Kayle continues her 100% loss rate - and her most galling one yet. Sengoku Gaming drafted themselves a 1-3-1 composition, and held firm control over the game for 22 and a half minutes, growing a 6.3k gold lead and having pressure across the map. Then apaMEN's Kayle dies 1v1 to Aria's Vladimir while pushing up to bot tier 2. Sengoku then force around baron. Kayle dies again, Vladimir forces Blank's Rek'sai (who had been having excellent game up until that point) to flash out of the baron pit, and said Vladimir promptly steals it. CGA then break their way into SG's base, win a teamfight (in which Kayle dies once again) and end the game.
From a 6.3k gold lead, to three Kayle deaths, a baron steal and a lost game in the space of roughly six minutes, Sengoku Gaming surely feel robbed. The game ended with the gold still in their favour at 28~ minutes.
A lesson in top-lane bullying from Evi. The man named shrimp wasn't the one getting battered, but rather dishing it out in the Sett v Mordekaiser match up, taking Facebreaker at level 1 and zoning Uinyan off the wave so hard he had to back away from tower at level 2... to shortly die for first blood under tower at level 3 moments later. It only got worse from there, with Evi and Steal teaming up to take control of AXIZ' red-side jungle from as early as 7 minutes, and the Sett garnering a huge cs and level discrepancy over an anemic Mordekaiser.
While DFM largely played this one fairly cleanly, there were some bright points from AXIZ who drafted a creative mid/jungle duo of Tristana and Karthus, where the Trist would Rocket Jump in, dump as much damage as possible, Rocket jump out and allow Karthus to clean up with Requiem. Unfortunately for them, DFM's map play and the utter collapse of their top-side meant the duo didn't really get to shine, with the game finishing in 36:30~ minutes. - Bonus
Rascal Jester 0 - 1 DetonatioN FocusMe https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1295541?gameHash=1cf0b9fe1083c754&tab=overview
What an odd draft phase this was, and an attempt to answer one of the most pressing questions in the LJL: how do you draft against DFM? The crux of this issue lies around mid-laner Ceros' distinct champion pool, namely his pocket picks of Heimerdinger and Karma, alongside the more universal Syndra (and the yet-to-be seen Ziggs... but that's neither here nor there). Teams are regularly forced to decide between banning out Ceros' pocket picks, or taking away the S-tier picks of the current meta. And that's before considering the rest of DFM's roster. Rascal Jester gambled and decided to leave open most of the S-tier picks, and hopefully handshake on a power draft for both teams. Heimerdinger, Steal's Jarvan IV and Evi's Aatrox were taken off the board.
What resulted was DFM getting their hands on Akali, Syndra and Apehlios, three of the S-tier carries in the current meta, where the Jesters got their hands on the high priority Ornn, Nautilus and the slightly less prioritised Rek'sai. The game started well enough for RJ, with viviD punishing a lone Yutapon for his greedy lane positioning, but DFM swiftly built a gold and objective lead as the game crested 10 minutes (including a nice solo-kill by Evi's Akali onto Cogcog's Ornn). With Baron live and the game in their control, DFM set-up in a 4-1 formation with Evi split-pushing and the remaining DFM members baiting around Baron. The initial steps looked good for DFM, with RJ burning TP to contest. They then ran into a problem: they didn't have the cc to keep the tanky face-checkers locked down long enough to kill any of them.
The frustrated DFM tried time and time again to catch the Jesters out to no avail, and instead got caught out themselves. While DFM took cloud soul, the Jesters snuck Baron. Flush with their success the Jesters engaged mid... and then lost the fight. But, suddenly Ninja's Cassiopeia and Art's Varus were putting out more than relevant damage and the game came to a head around Elder Drake - where Ceros and Evi teleported into Rascal Jester's base to backdoor them, and the Jester's were caught flat footed trying to back. The surprisingly intense end came at nearly 44 minutes - Recommended, but know what you're getting in to.
Rascal Jester 0 - 1 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Gaming https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1295562?gameHash=945a5ce8fc22f255&tab=overview
Another game where Rascal Jester are going to wonder what if? The gold lead oscillated between the two teams for the better part of 30 minutes, with the both teams staying within 2k of one another. What didn't stay within touching distance was late game drakes, as the Hawks claimed four infernal drakes to enhance the end-game damage of an Azir and Apehlios with the associated soul.
Even with the mounting damage advantage of SHG, Art and viviD desperately tried to carry on Ashe and Bard, with some outrageous flashes from Ashe in particular to push Runaan's Hurricane output to its limit. The true MVP though was Pooh on Braum, who threw every button, summoner and his health-bar between his carries of Honey and Ramune and the opposing team, proving that 100 Acre synergy is well and truly alive. Unable to get past the stonewall of Braum, Rascal Jester fell in just under 36 minutes. - Recommended
Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Gaming 1 - 0 AXIZ https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1295588?gameHash=def795c49bc6df7f&tab=overview
This game proved that AXIZ still had life in them, pulling out to a strong lead despite an early TP from Ramune bot earning his Rumble first blood. The cost of that teleport though was a heavy cs lead for Gariaru's Orianna, and between him and Hoglet's Jarvan, they commanded a serious objective lead for the first 20 minutes of the game. However, after that the Hawks' Carpets of Doom combo of Rumble, Senna and Ornn came online, winning a 2-0 fight around a cloud drake and then another 4-0 fight to earn them Baron shortly after. The rapid gold influx SHG generated on the following push saw them snuff AXIZ' hope of a comeback, and the Hawks ended with a second Baron at 38~ minutes. - Bonus
Standings as of Week 2 1 DFM 4:0 2 CGA 3:1 2 SHG 3:1 4 SG 2:2 4 V3 2:2 6 BC 1:3 6 RJ 1:3 8 AXZ 0:4
V3 0 - 1 SG V3 1 - 0 BC CGA 1 - 0 BC - Highly Recommended CGA 1 - 0 SG DFM 1 - 0 AXZ - Bonus RJ 0 - 1 DFM - Recommended RJ 0 - 1 SHG - Recommended SHG 1 - 0 AXZ - Bonus (interesting)
DFM are still dominating, but have struggled without engage; CGA have awesome talent in Aria and Gango, but an exploitable weakness in Yoshi; SHG's bot lane are the real deal, and are paired up with a performing Ramune and Tussle; SG are a coinflip, as are V3; BC need to think long and hard about Darius picks; RJ are hard done by; AXZ have homework to do around objective set-up.