Welcome to The Wash Up – a new series on chhopsky.tv reviewing selected games of the LCK each week, with both storyline (The Wash) and critical analysis (The Wash Up).
Match 1 – 16/1/17
KSV v KingZone DragonX (KZ)
Picks and Bans saw KSV draft a very standard SSG composition – tanks that can absorb both lane and damage pressure to be able to scale out of the early game and create impenetrable walls for their carries to shine. Gnar (T), Jarvan (J) and Braum (S) are rather good at this, and Cuvee, Ambition, and CoreJJ have extensive experience from last season on these champions. Ruler continues to pick Varus and Crown is always solid on Ryze – a must for any Korean mid-laner.
KZ picked a comp that had all the necessary parts to pick KSV’s composition apart, highlighted by Peanut picking Nidalee in the Jungle. Ornn was a good pick for Rascal, who used it quite strongly. BDD picked Cassiopeia, Pray on Xayah and GorillA on Tahm Kench.
The game started out with some very agressive level 2 pressure from Peanut and BDD in Ambition’s Red side Red Jungle. With Crown on level 1, Peanut invaded Ambition and started red buff. BDD was already on his way past the raptors before Peanut backed off and the ensuing collapse from both teams resulted in a kill for KZ. KSV, as always, waited for the overcommit from their opposition, and when they tried to turn KZ had the power to beat them down. Health bars were blinking though, so it was by no means a stomp. The aggression shown by KZ continued, with Cuvee being caught out by BDD and Peanut joining Rascal in the top lane for a pretty easy kill. In lane, Rascal matched Cuvee and constantly had him under pressure. BDD wasnt letting Crown have anything for free, and Cass’ kit allows for a lot of harass to be thrown down onto a farming Ryze. Pray and GorillA had a fairly even lane with Ruler and CoreJJ, with both duo’s showing how good they are.
There was a trade in the mid lane around 15-20 minutes where the duo’s were farming around a frozen lane. CoreJJ licked Xayah with a slow, and while Pray was retreating behind GorillA for protection, Ruler was lining up a Q for harass. As he was moving forward to close the distance, GorillA laid a big slow onto the advancing Varus, stopping the Q from being landed. Neither ADC strayed too far from their Support, and Supports were ready to try to turn the trade the second someone stepped out of place. The trade was one made of understanding, knowledge and trust between two players, and showed just how good both team’s duos actually are.
Peanut was back to his old ways (praise up!) and continued to harass Ambition around the map, keep the KSV lanes in lane and even stole a dragon without as much as breaking a sweat. Yet, for everything that Peanut was doing KZ failed to turn that individual pressure into map pressure. KSV were behind, but by maintaining vision, consolidating lanes (by not losing too many towers) and counter ganking opposite sides of the map, by 25 minutes KZ were no longer able to outpower their opposition. KSV were right in the match. Ornn was a great match up into Gnar, and Rascal did a very good job at stopping the Cuvee Gnar split push, but this did little to stem the pressure KSV were building. By the 26th minute KSV were accustomed to Peanut’s aggression and baited him into the dragon pit to smite a Mountain Dragon ripe for the smiting. The second Peanut got too close Ambition and Cuvee turned and annihilated him in an instant. With the rest of KZ next to their red buff and over a wall, KSV came out with a Mountain Drake and a kill. Just before 30 minutes, Crown was caught up near Baron, which opened up the entire map for KZ. They started Baron with KSV close by, wanting to turn at any given opportunity. KZ tried a number of engages, including an Ornn ult into most of KSV. It whiffed thanks to a great Braum shield and a Varus ult, keeping the KZ aggression at bay. KSV did a great job of creating a wall of protection around their carries, and no one on KZ was able to break it. KSV pushed mid lane in at a fairly slow but steady and consistent pace, and had the base turret open before 25 minutes.
Looking to break the game open, KZ moved to Baron with the clear intent of taking it (as opposed to turning an engage). While they were successful in taking it, they allowed KSV to move around the pit to perfectly surround and lock down KZ inside the pit. Facing a Braum ult into a Jarvan ult into a 4 man GNAR into a wall, KZ could not escape and were relentlessly hunted down. From that point, every opportunity KZ tried to take, including a few catch kills onto Ambition and Cuvee failed to convert into anything more than shortening up KDA’s, and KSV soon took down the rest of the base and the game.
KZ‘s insistence on creating picks and trying to slow KSV down in lane did little to create any meaningful map pressure. Grouping as 5, they would invest a number of ults and high cooldown abilities to create a pick, but would lose value on that investment by going back into lane to continue to trade or farm. It seemed they were looking for a way to bust the game open, whereas KSV were opting for the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ strategy. By losing lane advantage and priority to aggressive Jungle movements from Peanut, KSV were happy to sit back and farm until a lane was empty, to then put it in hard and be able to have more macro (map based) options available to them. This was also supported by the champion selection of 3 tankier, CC focused champions to help support Ruler’s damage and Crown‘s Ryze Combos. Relying on superior team fighting and more team cohesiveness, KSV achieved a dominant but typical victory. It also seemed that KZ were rudderless with Rascal in the toplane, in both team fights and macro play. Analysts may argue that Khan would not have made all that much difference, however this is not the case. Off the back of taking an advantage, Khan was able to rally support to continue to push that advantage, usually around the top lane and surrounding jungle. In this series, Rascal seemed to keep top lane even, but lost out on some much needed cohesiveness and understanding with the rest of his team. It was fairly even until the Baron fight, at which point KSV snowballed a win within 5 minutes.
The story of Game 2 could be about the Spellbook shenanigans that ‘won’ KZ the early game, but a Teleport summoner on an ADC is something that we are going to see again out of KZ and it will be when they are at full strength. Its a really interesting adaption that may see a reintroduction of a laneswap of some sort in which champion selection and match up is going to be more and more important. With the Top lane picks being fairly varied, look to see at least KZ abuse it in the future.
Picks were very early counter heavy for KZ. Sivir Taric for KZ against Ezreal Braum. This is a really strong lane for Pray and GorillA, who were consistently and without much trouble able to push in Ruler and CoreJJ, who simply didn’t have an answer. Ruler was forced by to Ult the wave to save the tower at least 3 times because Sivir is so oppressive. Combined with the Taric stun and heals on top of a different build path from GorillA, KSV bot were stuck in lane. Mid Lane was much the same with BDD on Ryze against Crown’s infamous Malzahar. While Ryze needs to be close to the wave to farm, the potential for extended damage from Malzahar is low until he all ins. Ryze can push the wave in, and Malzahar can’t stop it, but he can slow it significantly. Rascal’s Vlad had a really great time against Cuvee’s Gangplank, and combined with Peanut on Lee Sin, he found some really good picks. Ambition was unable to respond, particularly becuase he picked Rengar, a notoriusly poor pick unless it gets ahead. The early TP top from Sivir was probably unecessary in the scheme of things, but what it gave KZ was vision and map control early. This kind of advantage was what they wanted in game 1, but were unable to create. Game 2 saw a really pushed in top lane against KSV, and lots of top side pressure from KZ. Rascal was well ahead on Vlad, and Ambition failed to impact the game with Rengar, being forced into hard farming and spending time on taking the Rift Herald and away from lanes and Jungle areas.
Thats where the good news for KZ ended however, with Rascal wandering around the map aimlessly and failing to turn his advantage over Cuvee into anything tangible for the rest of the team to build on. KZ had the tools available to team fight, particularly with Ryze Sivir and Taric. But with no meaningful engage, KSV were ripe to take the priority in team fights and play to their own agenda. Again, true to this teams play style, they allowed KZ to have their ‘cheese’ and to be fancy and innovative. But when that failed to materialise in any real pressure or advantage, they were able to push their waves into their opposition tower, create vision, create team fighting opportunities and push KZ around the map. KSV saw plenty of room to engage on KZ carries around a fairly impotent Rascal, and the 26 minute ace under the KZ Mid T2 tower saw the game snowball away from KZ again. KSV were running straight at the faces of any KZ players they could find, and there was nothing KZ could do.
The rest of the game was elementary: 2-0 to KSV.
The Wash Up
Peanut started off with his trademark aggression, and his rotations with BDD seemed purposeful and direct. Very 2016 ROX Tigers reminiscent. With the return of Khan next week, I don’t expect that to stop. However, after 15 minutes, despite his best efforts, none of his advantages had any real effect on the lanes. If KZ want to build of Peanut’s forward play, they need to respond on a macro level rather than the short term outplay. In game 2, Peanut’s Lee Sin was being pushed around by Ambition’s Rengar because the KZ lanes simply hadn’t created enough pressure for Ambition to be called back to lane to help. Watch this space.
KZ’s macro decision making (making plays on the map for objectives) was rather poor, but could be attributed to a systemic issue of lanes being even or behind for much of the game.
Rascal is a very decent laner, but seems to have a large disconnect with the natural movements of the rest of the team. He was the primary reason KZ lost their Mid T2 Tower in game 2, and failed to make an impact on a high value champion of Ornn in game 1. Leading into the future, unless there is a significant improvement or specific strategy, KingZone DragonX are not going to win games with him in top lane.
Dont write off KZ just yet. Its only Match 1. The season is long.
Braum is a great champion to stop hard engage, and to break the tempo of a team who want to continue moving forward. Alternatively, he is an extra layer of CC and has a great ult to disrupt any group of players in one area. Definately not a perma pick or ban but rather a situational pick to stop engagements. CoreJJ played exceptionally well at every stage of the game, and he is my MVP for this match. Without some of his plays tonight, KZ may well have gotten over the top of KSV in many fights.
KSV haven’t changed much since Worlds, and have a tried and true system of playing League of Legends. Its consistent, flexible and seems to suit their players very well. The substitution of Ambition for Haru is still an unknown. Last year it wasnt particularly effective, so pay close attention to how KSV respond when Haru is on the rift. Patch changes don’t seem to really affect the team either, which is a really big endorsement of their coaching staff. They should continue to be a top contender this year.
Thanks for reading
Watch out for the next installment of The Wash Up on chhopsky.tv soon