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NACL Week 7 Analysis – The Winner is… To Be Determined


NACL 7

Welcome to Week 7 of the North American Challenger League, where we say farewell to patch 3.13 and the familiar play styles that we’ve grown accustomed to. While I do not intend on going too in-depth with the 3.14 games, there are some interesting tendencies, such as quadruple Targon’s Brace, and quadruple Rabadon’s Deathcap. Alas, my name is Jera and today I would like to go over the final NACL games on patch 3.13.

Top Picks/Bans for Week 6 and 7 (patch 3.14 inlcuded)

Week 6 Picked Banned W/L Ratio W/L Ratio Picked Banned Week 7
Renekton_Square_0_25b 8 7 50% 27% 11 5 Elise_Square_0_25b
JarvanIV_Square_0_25b 14 1 42.8% 33% 3 12 Nidalee_Square_0_25b
Elise_Square_0_25b 5 10 40% 66% 6 9 Shyvana_Square_0_25b

Trends for Week 7

Annie rebounds

Annie_Splash_6Support Annie had been a perplexity to the NACL for a number of weeks. Having a record of 10-17 in the first 5 weeks, Annie was not the NACL terror that teams were expecting her to be. Last week, her record improved to a 4-4 split, and dominated this week 5-2, with the highest win percentage of any support. Annie was banned out three of the four 3.14 matches, and with the income for supports will only bolster her power even further.

 

“Why didn’t we ban Kassadin again?”

Kassadin_Splash_3Kassadin has been a long-term member on the most banned list for his overwhelming presence after the lane phase. Kassadin was played 5 times in Week 7 with a 100% win rate for the week, and an overall 85.7% win rate for the entire NACL season. Kassadin was banned only 6 games, when he is typically banned 8.8 games per week. The first tower was taken at 8:56, and a tower was taken an average 58 seconds after the former. Coast showed extreme dominance and just how out of control a team can snowball advantages.

 

Fastest Game in NACL history

Coast took the fastest game over Velocity with a 16:59 final game time (Nexus fell at 16:54). Coast had a 2,054 gold per minute as a team, with Shiphtur’s Kassadin having over 450 gold per minute. This is a drastic contrast to Coast’s game against Curse Academy, where they lost after an hour and 5 minutes of gameplay.

Playoff Standings:

In the Elder Lizard Conference, Coast and Curse have secured their playoff spots, with vVv gaming having the best chance of reaching the playoffs at 6-16 with a 1 game lead over Velocity. In the Ancient Golem Conference, compLexity have secured 1st place seed, To Be Determined and  Curse Acadmy have secured the other two playoff seeds, but are competing against each other for the higher seed.

With the final four games of the NACL being played on patch 3.14, I have doubt that the most optimal item builds, routes, and masteries have been fully fleshed out by professionals at this point. Being critical of players who have had close to 12 hours to practice on such a content heavy patch is unfair, so I will instead analyze the final professional game of patch 3.13 in North America. Additionally, I am going to be going deeper into the item builds in this analysis rather than the play-by-play style I have done in the past.

Background:

It’s no secret, but Napkins in Disguise has been performing poorly, despite achieving a seed into the NA LCS Promotional Series. Several NiD players and manager decided to call it quits, which caused the team to fall apart. The NACL is still allowing NiD to compete by using whichever players willing to participate. The future in the NA LCS promotional series is not as optimistic, with Riot enforcing the “3-members rule”, which states that at least 3 members that NiD used to gain the NA LCS Promotional Qualifier spot must be on the roster at the time of the tournament. One last thing to note, NiD is a collection of Solo Queue players just playing the game, rather than a committed team like TBD, so NiD’s team cohesion will not be as potent as their opponent.

To Be Determined have been on a hot streak, winning 7 games in a row, and securing a place into the NACL playoffs and taking the second place seed form Curse Academy with a higher win percentage. TBD have placed high value on Sivir and Lucian, favoring fast push strategies, but occasionally taking their games to the post 40 minute late game where push strategies decline in power.

Napkins in Disguise (8-15) v TBD (13-9)

(Twitch VoD)

NiDvTBDPreGame

Bans and Picks

Napkins in
LeeSin_Square_0_25b Olaf_Square_0_25b Kassadin_Square_0_25b Elise_Square_0_25b Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b Gragas_Square_0_25b Vayne_Square_0_25b Rengar_Square_0_25b To Be
 Disguise Shyvana_Square_0_25b Nidalee_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b 20px-LucianSquare Annie_Square_0_25b JarvanIV_Square_0_25b Sivir_Square_0_25b Jax_Square_0_25b Determined

Bans : Lee Sin, Olaf, Kassadin,  Shyvana, Nidalee, Renekton

The Lee Sin ban by NiD is a direct ban on Brokenshard, who falls back on Lee Sin when Jarvan IV is not available, which is a what NiD can expect. The remaining champions are all extremely strong at the end of 3.13 and are worthy of first pick on Blue Side.

NiDicon  : Elise

Elise is a versatile jungler who is the most banned champion leading up to week 7 NACL. Although her win ratio was only 45.7%, the pressure she exerts by merely being in the game forces more wards and careful play. XDG Nickwu is running 21/9/0 offensive mastery page, along with 4.5% movement speed and 7.8 magic penetration runes.

Lucian/Annie : 38px-TBDlogo_std

Lucian and Annie have been high priority picks in the past two weeks of the NACL, and were also picked against NiD by Curse Academy earlier in the week. Arthelon played Lucian mid, but NiD may have expected Lucian bottom. Lucian ran an interesting 15% increased attack speed rune page, with 2% lifesteal and 4.5 damage. Bubbadub, the support Annie, ran 21/9/0 offensive AP masteries, with 25 additional AP with hybrid penetration runes.

NiDicon : Fiddlesticks/Gragas

The Gragas pick is surprising, as most NACL teams prefer to leave the mid pick until the final pick to avoid counter play. Gragas has outstanding wave clear with one item and level 4 Barrel Roll (Q), but has trouble pushing the lane safely beforehand. It’s common to see Gragas players have a CS deficit in the early game, but recover quickly and start farming the jungle mid jungle camps. Nubbypoohbear ran 23/0/7 masteries, taking both penetration masteries as well as summoner cooldown reduction. Fiddlesticks works well against Annie in an anti-engage scenario, where if Fiddlesticks can correctly read Annie trying to engage, he can silence or fear. Fiddlesticks also pressures enemy engage champions to build a tenacity item to reduce the duration of crowd control when diving in. Hyolin on Fiddlesticks is running 1/22/7 defensive masteries along with 52 health, 1.5% movespeed and 7.8 magic penetration runes.

Jarvan IV / Sivir : 38px-TBDlogo_std

At this point, TBD show that they are going to run dual marksmen with Jarvan to fast push objectives and quick wave clear. Jarvan IV has been a favorite pick for Brokenshard, and runs 21/9/0 offensive masteries with 14 AD and 1% crit runes. Sivir, who is played by ROBERTxLEE, has been selected for Robert in in over half of TBD’s games in the past two weeks.

NiDicon : Vayne / Rengar

Rengar was an admirable pick in this situation, because if one of the two marksmen break off to split push alone, Rengar would be able to solo them without a problem. Rengar functions similar to Twisted Fate in that nearby enemies are revealed, granting vision to allies, while enemies may not know where Rengar is coming from without Vision Wards. Cris, playing Rengar, used 9/21/0 defensive masteries, with a flat 15 damage rune page. Vayne has seen a rise in popularity in the past week, doubling in selection from week 6. Vayne was also picked several times in the first week of OGN Winter (and as we will see, NiD did adapt some tactics from OGN teams). Vayne, played by DontMashMe, opted for 6% lifesteal and 8.5 extra AD, wanting a bit more sustain in lane.

Jax : 38px-TBDlogo_std

Jax was a good pick to round out the line up. Jax can mitigate a majority of Rengar’s burst through Counterstrike, has excellent escape, and can be the one who deals with Vayne. Jax fits well with a fast push composition with attack speed increase, he can split push if necessary, and is a huge teamfight threat to take focus away from the double marksmen. Jax, played by Westrice, is running 21/9/0 offensive masteries with 6.8 AD, 11 armor penetration runes.

Compositions:

NiD: The solo queue style line up from Napkins is going to use Rengar to force TBD to group together and Gragas to displace the team, giving Vayne enough time to defeat the tanks before the opposing double marksmen can do the same. The double marksmen backline of TBD is very fragile, which is why Rengar and Gragas will try to focus their resources to killing them ASAP, where Fiddle and Elise will try to protect Vayne, since she is the highest sustained DPS for NiD.

TBD: The early game strategy will be to shove lanes and take objectives as quick as possible. Pink wards will be crucial to alert TBD of incoming Rengar assassinations as well as possible engages. Rengar could be used to split push, but if TBD know where Rengar is, that makes carries feel safe from assassinations and flanks. Split pushing will have to be done by Jax only, as it is too dangerous to send out the fragile marksmen. If TBD do not have a substantial tower/objective lead by the 20 minute mark, the itemization of NiD can tailored for durability and allow NiD to hard engage a fragile TBD backline.

Early Game :

NiDvTBD304

TBD take 9 tower shots to secure first blood from Rengar.

NiD made the decision to initiate a 2 v 1 lane set up, sending Fiddlesticks/Vayne to face Jax top, and Rengar to face Sivir/Annie bottom. To Be Determined punished this lane swap by taking first blood onto Rengar at a 3:00 tower dive, but Rengar played well, taking a kill onto Jarvan (eliminating TBD double buffs), and leaving Annie/Sivir low and in a risky situation to stay, ultimately having a Annie die because they did not return to base earlier. TBD took a total of 9 tower shots while diving Rengar, which left them incredibly low and unable to capitalize on the advantage of forcing Rengar out of lane. This was a huge play for NiD, saving the bottom tower early and preventing what could have been a very quick early tower snowball.

TBD did not fully utilize their composition until the 15 minute mark, where they proceeded to take all three outer towers in a 3 minute period. Napkins were slow to react to the rotations, and could not adequately deal with the pushing pressure. NiD scored three tower kills and a dragon, keeping the gold even going into the mid game.

Mid Game:

NiDvTBD2506

Jarvan checks dragon when the rest of TBD know the tower is the objective.

At this point, the strategy for TBD changed to start roaming as 5, rather than using Jax to split push. At the 25 minute mark, NiD trades a dragon for their mid inner tower, which leads to a Baron rotation and TBD sacrificing two deaths to push NiD off.

NiDvTBD2737

NiD use all of their ultimates to pick off Annie, but have nothing left for the duo marksmen.

At 27:30, Rengar used his ultimate to engage onto either Sivir or Lucian, but decided to attack the flanking Annie. Gragas used his ultimate to secure the kill, and TBD re-engaged with Jarvan and Jax locking down Gragas, Rengar and Fiddlesticks, and forcing Vayne out of the fight. NiD started to retreat, and TBD picked up kills on Gragas, Rengar, Elise and Fiddlesticks at the cost of Annie (not in the fight), Jarvan, and Sivir. Jax and Lucian survived and took out the middle inhibitor.

NiDvTBD3017

Explosive Cask will land and split TBD, significantly lowering TBD’s dps in the teamfight.

30 minutes into the game, TBD engaged onto NiD, using Sivir’s ultimate, On the Hunt, to chase NiD. NiD kited out the duration of the ultimate, and then using Explosive Cask to split Sivir and Lucian from the rest of their team. NiD focused down Jarvan and Jax in order to protect the Vayne, and managed to ace TBD with Rengar and Fiddlesticks remaining. The problem with this situation is that with super minions in the middle lane and the side lanes pushed, NiD were forced to defend the lanes rather than take an objective. The significance of this fight show that NiD have the ability to win teamfights with optimal positioning and targeting, but the map pressure is going to heavily favor TBD as long as the inhibitor is down.

The Turning Point:

NiDvTBD3429

Vayne’s positioning, immaculate. She dies in under 2 seconds.

The middle inhibitor respawned at 33:30 as NiD marched as 5 towards the mid inner turret of NiD. TBD was out of position, setting up a pick in the bottom lane while Jax split pushed. NiD feigned a retreat, and picked off Lucian, but using 3 ultimates. Meanwhile, Jax and Rengar were fighting in the bottom jungle, and both teams joined the brawl. Vayne looked to finish off Jax, and flashed over the wall into 4 members of TBD, who dropped Vayne in a matter of seconds. Gragas still did not have his ultimate, and Rengar could not solo the Sivir, despite having a Randuins Omen and Blade of the Ruined King. TBD were able to win the 4v5 because 1) Ultimates were used to pick off Lucian and not saved for a teamfight, 2) Vayne forced herself into a terrible position and was punished, and 3) the itemization on Rengar was not ideal (more analysis to come after the game). TBD broke the middle inhibitor again, and took out the bottom inhibitor with this 3-man advantage.

How The Game Plays Out:

NiD secured a desperation Baron at 36 minutes, and the game stalled out for the next 10 minutes. Both teams danced back and forth trying to punish someone out of position.  TBD’s invisible detection was outstanding enough to thwart any potential Rengar dives. NiD were able to bring Jax low and pick a kill onto Sivir at 44:30, which allowed a safe Baron.

NiDvTBD4511

Split second Flash/Smite combo by Jarvan, along with the decimation of Rengar help TBD close out the game.

Napkins engaged the Baron, and Rengar went into the enemy jungle to assassinate Lucian and pressure TBD back. Annie stunned Rengar and Lucian was able to kill him with relative ease. Jarvan flashed into the pit and stole Baron with a smite over Elise.

NiDvTBD4735

The Explosive Cask would have done terrible damage to Sivir, had she not Spellshielded it! All-in on Jarvan!

The final play of the game happened when NiD made their last stand at the bottom inhibitor. NiD got a fear onto Jarvan, and Gragas threw an Explosive Cask to force Sivir out of the fight (with nearly 620 AP with a Void Staff). Sivir spell shielded the Explosive Cask and tore apart the Rengar who was focusing the Jarvan. The positioning for TBD was outstanding, forming a horizontal line to reduce impact area of an efficient Gragas ultimate. TBD won the game about 20 seconds following the teamfight.

Item Progression:

Rengar:

Rengar’s item progression was strange. His first item was a Giant’s Belt, into Ninja Tabi, then a Bilgewater Cutlass, into a Warden’s Mail. The first item (Randuin’s Omen) was not finished until 21 minutes into the game. Rengar then proceeded to build glass cannon, finishing his Blade of the Ruined King, into an Infinity Edge, and ending with a Bonetooth Necklace (42 minutes into the game). This is a very strange item build, as the only critical strike chance on Rengar comes from the IE, and the Blade of the Ruined King does inferior damage than a Bloodthirster or Ravenous Hydra onto the squishy targets.

We can compare this to CJ Frost Shy’s Rengar Build from OGN Winter 2013, Game 1 CJ Frost v JIN AIR Stealths.

Rengar Builds Shy (OGN) Cris (NACL)
First Item
Second Item
Third Item
Fourth Item
Fifth Item
Boots
Build Value 14903 11800
K/D/A 4 / 1 / 5 8 / 5 / 11
Creep Score 374 238
Effective GPM 367 319

Shy’s Rengar was built tanky first, and then into damage, whereas Cris completed one tank item, and then into a strange damage build. The difference was that Shy had intense survivability and burst damage, while Cris had more sustained damage and less survivability, which made Cris an easy target to focus down. No tenacity on Cris’ Rengar was exceptionally painful because Annie would wait to stun him and the carries would delete Cris.

Gragas:

Gragas had a rather unconventional build order as well. Gragas bought a Fiendish Codex first, then Needlessly Large Rod, then Seeker’s Armgaurd. This order is very different than the Athene’s Unholy Grail rush that a majority of AP mids elect. The Hourglass was the first major item completed around 21 minutes, and the Unholy Grail was finished 27 minutes into the game. Gragas had mana issues whenever he was without a Blue Buff until that point, making his single wave clear stronger, but he would not be able to sustain over a 2 minute period, especially if he is using other spells or conserving for a pick onto someone out of position. It reduced his teamfight longevity to a couple of rotations before running out of mana. The Void Staff 3rd item is common, and the 4th item Deathcap is optimal for Gragas, granting close to 600AP with this build.

Vayne:

Vayne rushed a Blade of the Ruined King, which is standard for all professional Vaynes, and then took a second item Zephyr around 27 minutes. Most Vaynes elect for the Phantom Dancer second, but the Zephyr is used to give the tenacity to escape from a Jax dive. Its questionable, because the team should be peeling for Vayne and it lowers Vayne’s overall damage output (compared to a Phantom Dancer). Vayne also takes the Alacrity boot enchantment for an extra 15 movespeed at 28 minutes as well.  Vayne picked up a Phantom Dancer 3rd, a Guardian Angel 4th, and Last Whisper as a 5th item (at 45 minutes). The problem is that Vayne stalled her Last Whisper for far too long and wasn’t able to melt tanks as quick.

Sivir:

Sivir completed a Bloodthirster first, into a Statikk Shiv into a Last Whisper. This provided ample sustain, even more wave clear, and armor penetration against tanky targets. Sivir’s Ricochet gives the next 3 attacks 80% increased attack speed (at rank 3 On the Hunt) and the bouncing effect, granting incredible damage output with limited attack speed items. With a cooldown of 5 seconds on max rank Rocochet, the spell’s uptime and sustained damage is dangerously high. Mercurial Scimitar was the 4th item completed at 36 minutes, and is often times the final item for marksmen at the very late stage of the game. The Scimitar adds 60 AD on top of the cleanse ability and adds a 50% movespeed boost for 1 second after the cleanse. This is great to escape from a Rengar root. The final item is an Infinity Edge, which could have been built prior to the Scimitar, but Sivir did not have the bag space or gold to complete the IE beforehand. Sivir had 401 AD at the end of the game (comparing to Vayne’s 222 AD, and Lucian’s 409 AD).

MVP: ROBERTxLEE playing Sivir

Robert had a 418 gold per minute game on Sivir in a game that lasted almost 50 minutes. Robert had outstanding positioning in teamfights and played properly to disengage when the Rengar ultimate was used. This victory over NiD secured them a place in the NACL playoffs, which gives them more time to experiment with patch 3.14 coming into the LCS Promotional Tournament coming up soon.

This week of NACL ushered us into the end of the Season 3 (3.13) era and gave viewers a taste of the new items and strategies coming into Season 4. Be sure to tune in next week when the final 16 games will be played out on the Season 4 patch. Teams should have enough time to practice compositions and test out strategies, so the quality of games should improve next week!

A special thank you is extended to the administrators of the League of Legends Wiki page to help provide images for the items linked in this article.


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Jera

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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