NA LCS Week 2 Preview – Patch 4.1, Winning the Draft

Welcome to the second week of the NA LCS, where we have 8 games scheduled for the weekend. This is an exciting time right now in the NA LCS, where every team has a win so far, leading to much closer competition than previous LCS seasons. Teams will be playing on patch 4.1, which is the live patch currently. Today I’d like to look at the picks and bans from Week 1 and forecast my ideas as to how champion draft will play out.

Patch 4.1 changes in a nutshell

Annie nerfs:
Pyromania Passive – Pyromania
  • Stun duration now scales 1.25/1.5/1.75 seconds at level 1/6/11 (from 1.75 seconds at all levels)

Annie is still good as a support, just not as strong as before. She is still highly valuable due to the AoE stun and high base damage, and her late game is untouched.

Jinx nerfs:
Flame_Chompers! E: Flame Chompers!
  • Standardized arm time to .7 seconds (from 0.5 to .74)

This nerf makes chaining crowd control a bit more preemptive on Jinx’s part, rather than reacting to a crowd control. This change shouldn’t affect her draft priority too much in competitive play due to her great tower siege.

Riven nerfs:
Broken_Wings Q: Broken Wings:
  • Damage per strike decreased to 10/30/50/70/90 (+40/45/50/55/60% total AD) (from 30/55/80/105/130 (+70% bonus AD))
Valor E: Valor
  • Shield duration reduced to 1.5 seconds (from 2.5 seconds)

Riven took a hit in early game damage department and a huge hit w/ the shield duration. This makes her hop/shield more risky to use, and much easier to punish. This hit should set back Riven quite a bit, making her even more of a niche pick.

Shyvana nerfs:
Shyvana Burnout W: Burnout
  • Damage per second reduced to 20/35/50/65/80 (from 25/40/55/70/85)
Shyvana Flame Breath E: Flame Breath
  • Damage reduced at earlier levels 60/100/140/180/220 (from 80/115/150/185/220)

These changes tone down Shyvana’s damage output, but she is still a strong top laner. Her popularity may fall off due partially to the changes to tower resistances encouraging 1v1 tops, which favor lane bullies, like Renekton.

Spirit_Visage_item Spirit Visage:
  • Cooldown reduction reduced to 10% (from 20%)

Lowers the overall value of Spirit Visage, but still remains one of the top Magic Resist item. The 10% loss of CDR isn’t a deal breaker for most professionals.

Sunfire_Cape_item Sunfire Cape:
  • Magic damage changed to 25 + character level (from 40)

Considering the Sunfire Cape doesn’t get completed until around level 9 when built as a first item, the nerf isn’t too impactful (lvl 9 = 34/s vs 40/s), just adds a little more damage at 18. Without any changes to the base stats or item cost, this item will still be picked up.

Tower Changes:

Basically the tower changes put the initiator of the lane swap at a massive disadvantage because of auto attacks being reduced by 20. This favors champions that can bully opponents during the laning phase (both top lane and bottom lane), which will bring a resurgence of champions like Renekton, Jax, and Caitlyn.

And without further ado, Cloth5 presents…

LCS Week 2 Preview and Champion Draft Analysis

Dignitas (2-2) vs. XDG (1-3)


The largest upset of Week 1 came when Dignitas shut down Cloud 9 and gave them their fourth loss since debuting in the LCS. XDG defeated Evil Geniuses, but teams were able to strategically ban out Zuna and force him onto champions that he was not as strong with. Coming into Week 2, XDG is at a massive disadvantage due to changes to the “fast push” composition, a common strategy that brought XDG great success during the 2013 Summer Split.

Dig has received 8 mid lane bans against them, normally two bans per game. This means that teams recognize and respect the power of Scarra, from banning out favorites (20px-GragasSquare )to picks we have not seen in some time (Kayle_Square_0_25b). XDG’s Mancloud had Kayle banned against him twice and was picked the other two games when available, which should prove to be a highly contested pick or ban for both sides. Mancloud received only 5 bans towards mid, partially due to teams targeting Zuna.

Zuna, since moving to the jungle, has drawn 6 bans against XDG, with several teams capitalizing on his shallow champion pool and short time practicing jungle. Teams have banned out Olaf, which leaves open Elise and Vi; which Zuna had weak showings on. Dig Crumbz received 0 bans for the weekend, and selected four different junglers. Banning or outpicking XDG in the jungle will lead to a huge part of Dig’s success.

Likely Target Bans: Olaf_NewSquare   Gragas_Square_0_25b

Highly Contested Picks: Kayle_Square_0_25b   JinxSquare   Annie_Square_0   Renekton_Square_0_25b

Curse (2-2) vs. Coast (2-2)


This match is going to be a rematch from the first week, where Curse defeated Coast after stealing a Baron and killing off Coast at the Baron Pit. Curse had some ups and down, and brought out an interesting “tankless” composition which hard engaged and killed high-priority targets with overwhelming damage and crowd control. Coast ended the weekend picking up two wins on the final day, greatly improving morale, and showing the power of the top lane Yasou.

Bans against Curse usually fall against Voyboy in the mid lane, with bans targeting his assassin champion pool. Common bans against Voyboy include Kha’Zix, Akali, Riven, and Kassadin, and for good reason; Voyboy has begun to start hard carrying his games by snowballing early on, which moves the general composition of Curse more towards an early-mid game control. Shiphtur also draws several bans towards his lane, forcing out his infamous LeBlanc.

On a final note for this game is that when Coast is allowed to pick Shyvana, it typically goes to the jungler, NintendudeX. This saves a ban for Coast, creates uncertainty of which lane Shyvana will end up in, and denies the opponent the Shyvana pick. If Coast do not get the early Shyvana pick, it’s likely that she will get picked up by Quas.

Likely Target Bans: Pantheon_Square_0_25b   Leblanc_Square_0_25b   Olaf_NewSquare   Riven_Square_0_25b

Highly Contested Picks: Shyvana_Square_0_25b

Evil Geniuses (1-3) vs Dignitas (2-2)


Evil Geniuses came into Week 1 with a lackluster performance, but managed to pull a victory over CLG. The champion picks and bans for EG were not optimal, which makes EG somewhat difficult to predict. Dignitas, more-or-less, select fairly standard comps, but tend to emphasize Scarra getting ahead to carry the game.

The champion pools between the mid laners of EG and Dig are considerable. Pobelter has selected the heavier AD burst champions (Riven, Kha’Zix) while Scarra favors a spectrum of mids (Gragas, Karthus, Kayle, Katarina, need I go on?). Bans against Dig have been mostly focused towards the mid lane, while bans against EG are spread out across the other roles.

The EG top lane tends to favor some of the more carry oriented top lanes (Lee Sin, Yasou) while Dig selects the standard top lane tank (Dr Mundo, Shyvana, Trundle). The hard carry top strategy hasn’t worked too well for EG (0-2), but there are other contributing factors as to why the games were lost. With the changes to tower resistances, the more aggressive picks top may heavily favor the EG line up. The champion draft from EG does not have the most cohesive elements in terms of what the composition wants to achieve (i.e. poke, objective control, fast push, 5v5, etc.), and instead favor champions that they feel comfortable with. Dignitas look more concise in their champion draft, which is more predictable, yet stronger overall.

Likely Target Bans: Gragas_Square_0_25b   JinxSquare   Leona_Square_0_25b
Highly Contested Picks: DrMundo_Square_0_25b    AnnieSquare    Thresh_Square_0_25b

Team Solo Mid (3-1) vs Counter Logic Gaming (2-2)


TSM and CLG have been rivals spanning over 2 years, with TSM having great success while CLG not enjoyed as much success. Traditionally, CLG have done very well against TSM (4-0 in S3 Summer Split), but the solid objective control by TSM is a focal point of TSM compositions.

HotshotGG has been playing the mid lane role during Week 1, while Link was helping out in the jungle. This is likely to be the case coming into Week 2. Hotshot has been the recipient of 9 out of 12 bans against CLG, with attempts to put Hotshot and CLG in an uncomfortable pick/composition. Link has favored play making jungler (Elise, Vi, and Kha’Zix), which teams may have predicted a more passive-farming jungler from someone playing an off-role. Still, the bans against HotshotGG seem to be most effective, with the occasional Jinx ban.

Bans against TSM have been evenly distributed between top, mid, and jungle; with Elise and Shyvana being the most common bans. The TSM composition is simple: keep Dyrus top, have Bjergsen roam, help WildTurtle get fed, and group as 5 to not lose any dragons. The only game that TSM lost was when Cloud 9 did not TSM take a single dragon, which is a fundamental strategy of TSM. Banning against TSM is difficult, as TSM have many different champions to solidify their objective control composition.

Likely Target Bans: Elise_Square_0_25b   Leblanc_Square_0_25b   Nidalee_Square_0_25b   Tryndamere_Square_0_25b

Highly Contested Picks: Leblanc_Square_0_25b   JinxSquare   Thresh_Square_0_25b   Renekton_Square_0_25b

XDG (1-3) vs Evil Geniuses (1-3)


This is another rematch from Week 1, where XDG ran away with the game by Zuna’s fed jungle Olaf. EG made the mistake of trying to run too many burst assassins without a tank, and also losing the early game incredibly hard. EG’s only win came from a composition with a dual tank variant (as opposed to single tank or 0-tank).

Because these teams have played so recently and it’s doubtful that they have scrimmed with a match so close, it’s likely that many of the bans will be similar to the strategy used in the previous game. Since XDG won their game, it’s likely that they will ban according to what was successful for EG (Dr. Mundo, for example). Evil Geniuses will likely try to bait an early Elise pick, while banning Olaf and taking Dr. Mundo. I fully expect Zuna to spamming out jungle games on Elise to warrant the Elise ban/first pick.

The bottom lane match up greatly favors Krepo and Yellowpete, as the bottom lane synergy between Xmithie and Bloodwater is nowhere near the level that EG has. Since lane swaps are out of the picture, XDG will have to bite the bullet and face off against the aggressive nature of EG’s bottom lane.

Likely Target Bans: OlafSquare   Leona_Square_0_25b   Kayle_Square_0_25b

Highly Contested Picks: Elise_Square_0_25b   Khazix_Square_0_25b   Caitlyn_Square_0_25b   Thresh_Square_0_25b

Coast (2-2) vs Team Solo Mid (3-1)


Coast and TSM have not played each other (professionally) since Week 9 of the LCS Summer Split, where TSM 4-0’d the deteriorating Team Coast. Since then, both teams have had roster changes. Coast tend to favor compositions that focus on a mid-game split push that becomes overwhelming, allowing the remaining four Coast members to take inner towers with ease. Coast may have some difficulty against TSM’s phenomenal objective rotations, which could foil any attempts to secure objective leads over TSM.

The mid laners for both TSM and Coast share a similar champion pool, favoring the burst assassins and having incredible mechanics to play champions like LeBlanc, Kha’Zix, and Zed to their fullest. It’s likely that Coast will go after a wave clear mid, like Gragas or Ziggs, and TSM will final pick a burst assassin.

TheOddOne and NintendudeX have different styles of jungling, where TheOddOne is highly tactical and is able to track an enemy jungle, and NintendudeX goes for persistent ganks in fragile lanes. Starting out with 2v1 lane assignments then fast pushing a tower has worked out better for TSM than for Coast, and the reason is that TSM tends to draft junglers with early wave clear when designing a composition.

Likely Target Bans: Nidalee_Square_0_25b   Zed_Square_0_25b   OlafSquare   Elise_Square_0_25b

Highly Contested Picks: Leblanc_Square_0_25b   JinxSquare   Thresh_Square_0_25b   Renekton_Square_0_25b

Cloud 9 (3-1) vs Curse (2-2)


Cloud 9 brought out some incredible compositions, ranging from map/vision control Teemo, to heavy roaming by an AD assassin mid. Cloud 9 prey on map control, securing 100% of all dragons and Barons in the 3 games won. Curse have secured 73% of the timed objectives in their two victories, including a Baron steal that secured the game against Coast. Objective control is going to be the primary focus of this game for both teams.

The bottom lane is going to one of the main lanes to watch, with both Cop and Sneaky favoring Caitlyn. Both teams will be aiming for Caitlyn, due to her ability to bully other AD carries in lane, and her tower pushing abilities. Caitlyn takes time to power up, ideally around 15 minutes is when teams start rotating around the map taking tower objectives. As far as lane paring is going, it’s anticipated that for Cloud 9, Nami will be paired with Caitlyn, while Curse will pair a Lulu.

C9 Hai received 11 bans, from Kha’Zix (banned all 4 games), Yasou (2 games), and even a Teemo ban (from XDG). This is the most bans targeted towards a single player so far in the LCS, and yet Hai seems to persevere with such a huge champion pool. Voyboy’s mid lane champion pool is not as deep as Hai’s (drawing 8 bans), but the aggressive playstyle is similar, with both players roaming and making plays around the map. LeBlanc has been a champion that both players have been practicing during the week, and may very well reach champion draft for this game.

Likely Target Bans: Leblanc_Square_0_25b   Khazix_Square_0_25b   Elise_Square_0_25b   Akali_Square_0_25b
Highly Contested Picks: Caitlyn_Square_0_25b

Dignitas (2-2) vs Counter Logic Gaming (2-2)


The final game of the week is another rematch from Week 1, with CLG grinding out a win versus Dignitas due to a strange Baron contest by Dig at the 34-minute mark. All 6 bans by both teams were targeted at the mid lane, putting HotshotGG onto Nidalee against Scarra’s Katarina.

Bans will likely be targeted on the mid lane once gain, but the focus will be on the bottom lane. With the nerf to lane swaps, Kiwikid and QTPie are forced to lane against Doublelift and Aphromoo which favor favor the experienced CLG bottom lane, yet KiwiPie played well in the previous bout.

CLG tend to focus their strategies around surviving the early game and transitioning well from mid to late game. This often leads to very safe, methodical play. Dignitas tends to try to get Scarra ahead and have him help other lanes, quickly increasing the gold disparity between teams, generally focusing to be strongest during the mid game. This should prove to be another close match between these two teams, if Dig takes a win over EG, the momentum will be a huge factor helping Scarra lead his team to victory.

Likely Target Bans: Gragas_Square_0_25b   Leblanc_Square_0_25b   36px-WukongSquare

Highly Contested Picks: JinxSquare   Renekton_Square_0_25b   Elise_Square_0_25b


And with that, we wrap up the preliminary analysis of the 8 LCS games to be played this weekend. Be sure to check out LoLeSports.com starting on Friday at 3pm EST, 11am PST.

*A special thanks to David Widrick for creating the wonderful art used in this article. You can find more of his work at www.davidwidrick.com.

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Jera is a former Human Factors psychologist, video game researcher, and avid follower of professional League of Legends. Jera enjoys taking a statistical approach to analyzing gameplay and discovering how small events cause ripple effects throughout the game. Follow Jera on twitter @coL_Jera

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