A demonstration in of teamwork above all else within a team, the AD Carry and their selfless support are usually the two closest and most inseparable members on a team. The biggest reason for this is that in bot-lane, or wherever the duo lane winds up, you have two champions who need to basically act as one in order to be competitive in lane. Instead of one champion with 4 skills, 2 summoners, and a passive, a bottom lane duo must think of themselves as a lane with 2 passives, 4 summoners, and 8 (sometimes more) skills.
Going with this train of thought, you have to understand what makes a good pairing for duo lane ADs and their support. Most pairs can at least find some middle ground, but in the LCS there are a few combos that are dreaded above all else. Whether it is for their early game lane dominance or the ability to nearly 2v5 an enemy team in the late game, synergy is important in the duo lane. In Week 7, here is a breakdown of what I believe to be the top 3 AD/Support combination performances in their respective games. I will break down why they succeeded and where their strengths lie.
Early Game/Laning Phase:
This lane composition is a very opportunistic one. It is very possible to get kills with this combo when you properly chain a Death Sentence into a Condemn for a solid 3+ seconds of hard CC on a target. Of course, this combo is very situational in that it takes both the connection of a difficult skill shot and the presence of a nearby wall to slam someone into. Without the threat of Death Sentence however, this lane is quite weak early when compared to a lane such as Ezreal/Sona or Varus/Lulu. Both of these combinations of lanes have higher damage on shorter cooldowns, so if the threat of Thresh’s hook isn’t there, Vayne/Thresh can quickly find themselves outgunned in the early game. Vayne/Thresh is definitely a lane that will be looking to swap into a 2v1 situation, where there will be less of a threat to the pair if Thresh’s abilities are on cooldown.
As many people can tell you, there is a real spike in power for Vayne around the time mid game rolls around, mostly due to one item: The Blade of the Ruined King. Assuming equal farm or even a slight advantage to the enemy carry, once Vayne has her Ruined King, it is nearly impossible to 1v1 her just because of the amount of damage she can bring with this one item and her ultimate. Thresh in the mid game, assuming he is maxing E, is bringing Sheen-esque burst damage on his Flay-boosted auto attack. Thresh also has the ability to use his lantern offensively in two ways, either scouting into brush that the team does not have warded, or giving the jungler a free ride into a lane or over a wall for a fairly unpredictable and dynamic gank. Combined with his strong combat ultimate, Vayne/Thresh mid game brings a lot of offensive potential to any 5 man composition.
The true strength of this lane combination is obviously the late game scenario. A support with infinite (while declining, still infinite) scaling on his Armor and AP along with the menace that is late game Vayne makes this one of the scariest combinations you can see from a duo lane at the end of the game. Thresh’s hook can be a real game decider if he catches a crucial target, while the rest of his abilities make sticking to Vayne nearly impossible. Well-timed Flays along with Tumble is enough to make most bruisers useless, but combined with The Box and Condemn it is unfair to expect a bruiser to stay on Vayne. If all else fails however, there is still Thresh’s lantern to provide a final emergency, get out of jail free card if needed.
During the match:
By starting off as a 2v1 lane, this duo already removed its largest weakness by not engaging another duo lane in the early game. By pushing down their bot tower and grabbing first blood off a great hook into wall slam combination (Jarvan helped a little too, but this hook/wall-slam combo shows perfectly well what the lane composition is capable of) onto a tanky Nunu and grabbing double buffs for Doublelift, the duo helped to get the game on the right foot early. As the mid game rolled around, Doublelift and Chauster consistently showed the power of mid game Vayne/Thresh by roaming around and approaching Dignitas from weird angles, causing missed farm on Qtpie’s Ezreal or full-on deaths when chasing down Patoy’s Lulu, a champion known for her ability to run away from bad situations. At Dig’s inner middle tower at 19 minutes, the duo demonstrated the team fight cleanup ability that Vayne/Thresh bring. After killing off Nunu as the team curiously attempted to defend a tower 1v5, Thresh managed to land a hook onto Ezreal who is taken to half health and shifts over a wall. Not satisfied with that, Doublelift closes the gap with Flash/Tumble and his Movement Speed passive to wall slam him, nearly killing him and forcing a Flash over the wall, which ends to no profit as Jarvan chases him down for the kill. A potentially bad fight in mid lane at 22:40 is turned to a 4-2 trade after Dignitas’ assassin combo of AP Yi and Kha’zix attempt to dive onto Doublelift and take him out. Chauster’s ultimate, in combination with Vayne’s kite ability and a little help from their friend Orianna, allowed Vayne to not only escape the assassins and kill them, but buy enough time for their front-line tank Zac to dive into the enemy back-line, take down their jungler and chase down their support, eventually feeding the kill to Vayne. The lane swap early game simply allowed Vayne/Thresh to become a brute force factor in the game much earlier than they should have been, allowing CLG to pick up an easy win with this scary duo lane combo.
Twitch is a fairly under-appreciated AD carry in terms of killing potential in lane. A 5 stack Expunge is one of the strongest in-lane nukes of any AD carry, but unfortunately it’s difficult to land. However, combining Twitch’s W, which is an AoE slow that applies two stacks of poison to his target, with Nami’s Q bubble stun, a 1.5 second skill shot stun that becomes much easier to land when Twitch slows them first, allows 5 stack Expunges to become more feasible without the risk that auto attacking an enemy 5 times in lane would normally pose. Mix in Nami’s W sustaining/damage mechanic on Ebb and Flow and her Tidecaller’s Blessing slows and this becomes a very difficult lane to engage head on. Even more frightening, it becomes a difficult lane to escape from, due to Twitch’s ability to chase targets down with Ambush’s speed boost.
Twitch/Nami is in a weird place mid game. Twitch, depending on how the laning phase went, can either sneak up on the opposing AD Carry and take them down over and over again using the steroid from Ambush and the surprise factor, or can simply farm it up into late game hyper carry mode. Nami begins to become more of a nuisance by leveling either bubble for a lower cooldown or Tidecaller’s Blessing for a stronger slow with more magic damage added to it. Tidal Wave gives Nami’s team great control in Dragon and nearby jungle team fights and should not be underestimated as an initiation tool in areas that have minimal escape areas. Nami’s passive also allows her team to have a better than average cleanup ability in team fights simply because of Movement Speed she is granting everyone consistently, especially if they follow the wave into a team fight.
This duo are a very strong pair in the late game, bringing two solid team fight ultimates and having a unique synergy between two of their spells. Spray and Pray’s ability to make Twitch’s auto attacks into line nukes combined with Nami’s Tidecaller’s Blessing makes Twitch’s autos into a slowing line nukes, which makes them infinitely easier to hit. Tidal Wave matched with Spray and Pray can cause heavy damage to a 5 man team even without the assistance of the other three members of their team. Tidal Wave and Aqua Prison are also excellent abilities for peeling off Twitch late game if bruisers attempt to dive him. Diving onto Twitch lowers the liability of Aqua Prison’s speed greatly by making the landing zone predictable; and Tidal Wave’s slow is one of the strongest in the game, making chasing down Twitch hard even before he has to use his movement speed steroid/stealth ability. Either playing offensively or defensively, Twitch and Nami have great synergy, especially in jungle fights late game.
During the match:
Although Twitch/Nami is a much stronger lane than Vayne/Lulu in terms of raw fighting ability during levels 1-6, the early game was pretty favorable for Vayne/Lulu actually, who were able to out farm Twitch/Nami for the first 10 minutes of the game. The first turning point for Curse and the Twitch/Nami lane was the first Dragon fight of the game. Edward starts off the fight by throwing down a Tidal Wave that crashes through the Dragon pit and gets followed up on by Saint’s E-Q Jarvan combo. After getting dove at by Bigfat’s Nocturne ultimate, Edward manages to land a bubble onto Doublelift’s Vayne, locking him down and leading to a first blood on Vayne courtesy of Cop’s and Saint’s damage follow up. After the Vayne kill, a max range Expunge and poison tick from Twitch kills Nocturne, and Nami lands a bubble to serve up Lulu to the team. The superior chase ability of Twitch/Nami really showed in this team fight, making it a 0-3 exchange. At 19 minutes, the first actual demonstration of Twitch/Nami synergy is shown as Nami initiates a fight with a long range Tidal Wave, which is followed up on by Jarvan and Orianna’s crowd control abilities. While the enemy team is locked down, Twitch is able to throw out his Spray and Pray in a long-line team fight, allowing maximum dispersion of his damage onto the enemy team and leading to a clean double kill from a safe distance. A bottom lane fight at 35 minutes once again shows the power of Nami’s ultimate as it completely splits CLG away from Bigfat’s Nocturne as he ults through the wave, leaving his team in the dust as he basically stuck in 1v5 situation, leading to an easy kill for Curse. In the final fight of the game, the impressive power of Nami’s follow up initiate as opposed to hard initiate also shines as the Tidal Wave comes after the Saintvicious’ Jarvan ultimate, landing a bulls-eye on prime target Doublelift and removing him from the game before he could even react. Ending 0-0-16 with 100% kill participation on Nami, EDward shows the power of Nami’s spells in both initiation, mid-fight, and even counter-initiation situations. With no real power spikes, but instead a smooth ride the entire game, Twitch/Nami is a duo lane which brings a lot of slows, stuns, knock-ups, and – most importantly – long-range capability on two fairly squishy champions, allowing them to mesh well with a strong front-line to be a scary combination.
Early game, Ashe/Zyra is a fairly strong poke composition in lane that is hard to gap close. Between Volley with Frost Shot’s slow and the literal wall of plants Zyra can produce and then snare someone inside of, only a few select lanes can effectively initiate a fight onto them, even with the help of the jungler. If you are a melee in a 2v1 lane however, you may as well forget about farm for the first 5 minutes and probably your tower as well as going near the creep wave will result in an onslaught of freezer burn and angry vegetables.
Mid game, with their ultimates, the Ashe/Zyra combo puts large amounts of pressure on objectives such as towers and Dragons. With either Ashe arrow or Zyra’s long range root, they have the ability to catch someone out and lock them down for an absurd time from a fairly staggering range. Zyra’s ult also covers a lot of ground and potential choke points for most of the possible fights that would occur near Dragon or the jungle near a tower. When it comes to mid game team fight pressure, the only lane that really matches Ashe/Zyra is something like a Varus/Nami lane, which lacks the supreme range of initiate that Ashe/Zyra brings (although it is not far behind). Additionally, both members of this lane bring vision tools to the team with Zyra’s seeds and Ashe’s Hawkshot, giving the lane even more utility that will scale into the late game.
As long as Ashe isn’t designed to be the main damage dealing threat on the team, she can really shine late game by bringing her Swiss army knife AD Carry kite kit to town. Comboing Ashe with a constant damage dealer like Karthus or Ryze and a strong team fighter like Zac or Kennen can make situations nearly impossible to win for opponents. Once again, the above all threat of comboing Ashe arrow on someone out of position into a full on blitzkrieg team fight is an idea that the enemy team is forced to respect. Even if the enemy team does decide to dive onto Ashe, Zyra comes to town with one of if not the strongest disengage ultimate in the entire game (sorry Janna players). Throwing a big circle on the ground that screams “GET OFF OF ME” and laying down plants that provide consistent slows, wading into a Zyra ult with an Ashe volleying onto it might as well be diving head first into a Singed glue puddle. Additionally, if the Zyra manages to farm up a Liandry’s or even a Rylai’s, the monumental task of breaking through onto Ashe while hoping the rest of her team doesn’t destroy you in the process makes this combo a terror in the late game to most hard initiation compositions.
During the match:
This game was all about the mid to late game arrow catches and what that meant for C9’s comp. Front-loading Ashe arrow to start the team fight with a follow up of Zac’s ultimate to cause chaos in the ranks and the consistent damage of Ryze sets the enemy team up for a lost team fight where they do not know who to target. Oh, and by the way there is a Zed finding someone squishy and blowing them up on the side. The first demonstration of the Ashe/Zac combo was 11 minutes into the game where Xpecial was picked off from around ~2000 range by an arrow into Elastic Slingshot follow up for first blood. Near the Dragon pit around 19:30 was another teamfight that demonstrates the power of this duo bot. Sneaky’s Ashe arrow chained perfectly into a Zac slingshot/ultimate initiation combo while Lemon’s Zyra ult formed a zone that allowed Ryze and Ashe to attack with impunity onto the TSM team as they attempted to flee. The third and final example of the synergy of this comp was at the end of the game in front of TSM’s top inhibitor around 32 minutes, where Sneaky landed an arrow onto a tanky Renekton of all things, which mattered little as there was once again the follow up from Zac’s slingshot/ultimate combo and Zyra’s ultimate to easily lock down three people and chunk them down with little effort. Did I mention there was also a Ryze and a Zed on this team? Without the pressure of needing to be the top damage dealer coupled with the combination of Zyra’s ultimate, this duo lane composition really allows Ashe and Zyra to shine as champions while enabling the rest of the team to do their jobs much more efficiently.