The first match of the set between CJ Entus (CJE) Frost and LG IM #1, played on July 10 during the OGN Champions Summer Round of 16 (the group stages) brought to light, the well-known split push strategy that Frost plays like no other team in the world. Even though they learned this strategy from their sister team CJ Entus Blaze during their encounter at the last OGN Champions semifinals they have take this playstyle to a whole new level, relying on a better execution, better teamfighting and a arguably better top laner to fill the key role to the success of this strategy.
CJE Frost preformed their strategy at such a high level that they forced a 25:28 minute surrender from LG IM #1. Split push strategies are based off stalling the game and avoiding all unwanted 4v5 conflict while using the split pushing solo laner advantage on 1v1’s. This strategy usually takes time to develop, but as demonstrated in this game with CJE Frost destroying LG IM’s first inhibitor at 25 minutes, they have mastered the high-levels of coordination necessary for the most effective form of the split push.
Picks, Bans, and Roles:
Now, to understand how this strategy works and how CJE Frost manages to use this style of play in such a high level, we need to understand that, when deciding which strategy to use in a professional game (or even when practicing), the three most important things a team looks at are:
- Roles matching player strengths.
CJ Entus Frost vs Incredible Miracle
|Frost Bans||IM Bans|
|Frost Picks||IM Picks|
There is not much to say about bans from either team, as LG IM went for the standard OGN red-side bans in Jayce, Elise, and Twisted Fate. One important ban from Frost is Kennen. They most likely didn’t want to deal with the Yordle 1v1 while trying to split push, since he has good wave clear and strong 1v1 capabilities, but more importantly, to avoid Kennen’s incredibly strong ability to engage and force teamfights with his E+Ultimate.
- CJE Frost start with a first pick Thresh, an understandable choice since Madlife, or Godhand as many say in Korea, has proven himself to be a very good Thresh player, regarded widely as the best in the world, title only contested by MVP Ozone’s Mata.
- LG IM #1 pick Zac and Ezreal next, for jungle and mid lane respectively. Zac is a strong initiating tank and Ezreal is one of the hardest-to-catch AD’s in the game, with poke and an AOE ultimate, and with these picks, LG IM set the tone for a teamfighting composition.
- The second and third pick for Frost are a Nunu in the jungle and a Vayne in the hands of Space. With their picks so far we are seeing a “Protect the Vayne’’ composition from Frost, with Nunu’s slow and movement and attack speed steroid and all of the CC Thresh can offer, disengage that later proves successful in CJE Frost’s final composition.
- LG IM then decides to go with Shen for Smeb in the top lane and Nami as support, further reinforcing their teamfighting strengths and their composition’s engage capabilities, adding Shen’s Shadow Dash and Nami’s Tidal Wave and Aqua Prison.
- For their last two picks, Frost chooses Orianna and Vladimir. The two AP mages both have strong AOE team fighting Ultimates, but provide more in terms of Frost’s split pushing goals that we’ll discuss later.
- With their last pick, LG IM chooses Tristana on AD Carry for Paragorn, rounding out LG IM’s composition: good initiation and two AD carries that can survive by themselves while their team’s CC tools are used to engage upon the enemy team.
Now let’s talk about the most important part of a strategy: the roles. The role a champion/player takes in a strategy transcends the actual champion or player; when choosing a style of play, teams look at that player/champion strengths and what they excel at.
Incredible Miracle’s composition:
- Smeb (Shen, Top): With Shen, Smeb filled the typical role of ”split push baiter:” split pushing until someone from the enemy team gets to his lane to deal with him, then using Stand United to join his team on a 5v4 engages, using his Shadow Dash (taunt) to lock people up for their carries to kill.
- Reign over (Zac, Jungle): As the initiator on a champion like Zac, Reign over sought to force 5v4 engages with all of Zac’s tools, be it using Sling Shot or Flash to close the gap and then activating Lets Bounce.
- MidKing (Ezreal, Mid): Going with the famous “Blue” build, MidKing’s role was to poke first and then follow up the Zac-Nami-Shen initiation with his ultimate, and ideally, cleaning up with his mobility and long range damage.
- Paragorn (Tristana, AD Carry): Paragorn took up the traditional AD carry role: DPSing as much of CJE Frost’s frontline while avoiding their CC, be it Shockwave, Death Sentence or Ice Blasts.
- GGyuAng (Nami, Support): GGyuAng was the follow up to Zac+Shen’s Lets Bounce+Stand United combo with her Tidal Wave and to insure Tristana and Ezreal’s survival from CJE Frost’s frontline.
CJE Frost’s composition:
- -Shy (Vladimir, Top): The crux of Frost’s strategy, Shy was purely a split pusher, farming as much as he could up to a point where he could 1v1 any other champion in the field. He entered fights only after his team had disengaged, or when IM’s main teamfighting tools were on cooldown. To pick this strategy, CJE Frost had in mind Shy’s strengths as a player being his farming and duelist’s skills, the only palyer comparable on those regards in OGN it’s of course the top laner from CJE Blaze, Flame, the ”creator” of this wave-controlling split push strategy to counter 2v1 turret push lanes.
- CloudTemplar (Nunu, Jungle): Fulfilling the role of a frontline tank and giving his team engage or disengage (more likely) with his CC tools and Blood Boil over Vayne, CloudTemplar fulfilled a supportive jungle role that everyone knows he excels at playing.
- Ganked by Mom (Orianna, Mid): Ganked by Mom had the traditional Orianna role with Shockwave being his most valuable asset, using it to help Nunu-Thresh with disengage or to re-engage on to the enemy team.
- Space (Vayne, AD Carry): Space had to survive Zac-Shen-Nami engaging tools, DPS as much as he could on them, and clean up on the rest of LG-IM’s squad.
- MadLife (Thresh, Support): Being the primary peel and engage coming from CJE Frost, Madlife played that role to the highest imaginable standards with perfect lanterns and Boxes to help his team get away, and mind-blowing Death Sentences to re-engage. If there was ever anyone a team could rely on to hit hooks, it was MadLife, probably the reason why they first picked Thresh for him while using this strategy.
To start, it’s a ranged champion against a melee one (Shen), has two ranged skills, has no resource (HP costs) and has high sustain integrated in his kit. For the same reasons mentioned above Vladimir is a better pick than Shen for a 1v2 lane, including also, that one of Vladimir’s two ranged spells can affect more than one target, making farming and wave clearing a much easier task for him. Another specific aspect that only Vladimir can offer, is the ability to run two mobility summoner spells, Flash and Ghost, which Shy would eventually do, surviving 2v1 encounters one time after the other.
Shy’s Vladimir Runes:9x Magic Penetration Marks, 3x Movement Speed Quintessences, 9x HP per Level Seals, and 9x AP per Level Glyphs.
Level 1 and laning phase:
To start off, both teams put down aggressive wards in the enemy jungle, the difference being LG IM getting two on Frost’s red-side jungle while Frost put down two on LG IM’s red side and one on their blue buff. LG IM went for a blue buff invade, and spotting this via a “banana bush” river ward, CloudTemplar (Nunu) countered by taking LG IM’s blue buff.
Incredible Miracle sent Tristana-Nami in a 2v1 top against Vladimir, therefore leaving Shen in a 2v1 bot lane against Vayne-Thresh. This move would give LG IM a slight lead during the early game laning phase than CJE Frost, but an advtanage CJE Frost would take back with smart positioning and decision making. At 6:30 minutes LG IM had a 1-turret / 2-kills lead, but Frost’s strategy was beginning to ramp up perfectly, as despite the 1v2, turret loss, and being down two kills, Shy already had a 25 cs advantage over his solo lane split pushing counterpart (39-14).Shy outfarming Smeb 39-14 before lanes go back to normal.
It actually helped Frost plan that LG IM decided to push hard on that 2v1 top lane turret, since having no turret helped Shy achieve a much higher wave-push control, freezing the lane deep into CJE Frost territory, forcing Smeb (Shen) to farm behind enemy lines while being in a 1v1 where Shy (Vladimir) had the advantage due to the early cs lead.
10:00 minutes in, while Incredible Miracle was holding a 3-1 lead in kills and still had 1-0 lead for turrets taken, Shy, with the help of CloudTemplar denied Smeb of almost every CS-experience possible while giving total free farm and wave control to Shy’s Vladimir, achieveing a 93-28 cs lead before going back to base for the first time.CJE Frost taking dragon while Shy proxy farms top lane after making Smeb take a trip back to base
After coming back from base Shy started to push his huge advantage over Smeb, pushinh the lane all the way up to LG IM’s top outer turret and harassing Smeb (Shen) until he forced him back to base, which he then followed by starting a proxy farm push in between outer and inner top lane turrets; this pressure over the top lane allowed his team to play a bit more safe in the rest of the map, and helped his team get the first dragon of the game.
13:20 minutes in Shy, with a 120-50 cs lead–an incredibly farmed Vladimir–pulled the presence from LG IM’s jungle to the top lane, not even to gank, but to help Shen push the lane against Shy who was winning the 1v1 matchup at will.Shy pulling Paragorn (Tristana) to help top lane while Space (Vayne) gets free farm bottom lane.
He then pulled another enemy 2v1 at 14:00 minutes with Paragorn (Tristana) Rocket Jumping over the wall after Shen’s taunt and ignite in an attempt to kill Shy, but he would get away using both his mobility summoner spells. Shy took Flash and Ghost for the game; his main objective was not getting kills on Smeb or countering Smeb’s own kill attempts, but to push him out of lane, out CS him, draw other enemies to deal with him, and getting away when they did. As a result of Tristana being top lane while not being able to kill Vladimir, Space (Vayne) was free farming one minion wave after the other in the bot lane, which was a huge win-win situation in favor of Frost.
At 15:00 minutes the first perfect example of CJE Frost’s game plan and composition saw the light of day. IM tried to engage when Zac jumped on Ganked by Mom (Orianna) with Elastic Sling Shot and followed up with the Let’s Bounce-Stand United-Tidal Wave combo (where the Tidal Wave would not hit anyone), but CJE Frost disengaged with a Flash away and perfect Lantern by MadLife (Thresh) to save Orianna from all danger.
After the disengage by Frost, Reign over (Zac) tried to get a little poke on the enemy team, but realizing that LG IM had just wasted all of their initiation tools and main crowd control power, MadLife engaged on them with a Death Sentence on Zac, followed by CloudTemplar flashing into three LG-IM members to slow them in Absolute Zero, and Orianna landing a Shockwave on Ezreal and Zac. Incredible Miracle did not back up, trying to take advantage of the 5v4 fight, but having all of their main CC tools on cooldown played a big part in that fight, resulting in a 2 for 1 trade in favor of Frost, all that, before Shy joined the fight to cleanup an ace for CJE Frost, featuring a quadrakill for Space.
After taking a definitive advantage in terms of map control, kills, turrets, and gold, Frost kept applying the same pressure according to their tactic: having Shy draw people to top lane to avoid the 1v1, while letting his team take advantage on the rest of the map.Frost takes a 4-man baron
At 24:00 minutes, CJE Frost secured an uncontested 4-man baron since LG IM was cleared out of vision and had lanes pushing up to their base. In the meantime Shy kept applying pressure in the mid lane while Smeb pushed bot lane.
Right after finishing baron, Frost caught Zac out of position by using all of their CC tools offensively this time, where they then proceeded to dive the mid lane turret to get a kill on Nami and Ezreal.
CJE Frost then pushed down the mid lane inhibitor turret and the inhibitor (25 min), and then destroyed the Nexus turrets in the last 25 seconds of the game.
There are several remarkable aspects of this team composition and more importantly, from this strategy that CJE Frosts loves to use.
Engage-Disengage Duality: As we’ve seen in this game, this play style is effective when faced against teamfight-engage oriented teams like what Incredible Miracle presented. This is due to the high versatility of picks like Thresh and Nunu, who can provide perfect engages and flawless disengages as well, being important to the strategy’s success to only get into fights when the time is right, and by no means, get successfully engaged on.
Split Pushing Duelist: The top lane pick is the crux of this strategy. There’s arguably no better 1v1 farmer-duelist in OGN Summer Championship than CJE Frost’s top laner Shy, and he is most likely the main reason why CJE Frost’s has had a lot of success while playing this strategy. When picking the split pushing champion, it’s key to pick a champion that has the ability to farm, to snowball off of a CS lead, and has a wave clear if its needed, for example on a 1v2 lane start, which was the main reason why Shy had the early CS lead advantage on Smeb while both begin in 1v2 lanes.
Controlling the Wave: Top outer turret falling down was a blessing for Frost, and it could even be said that they wanted it to go down before LG IM’s turret did. The reasoning behind this is that when top turret falls down, the wave pushes all the way down the inner top turret. Shy had a 25 cs lead over Shen which already is a weak match-up against Vladimir. Not only could Shy control the pace of the wave because he has an advantage over Smeb (Shen), but because, from now own, that lane is going to be frozen near Frost’s inner turret. Farming down there in a losing match-up is an obvious free kill if jungler comes to gank, which eventually happens forcing Smeb to farm his own double golems and wait until Shy decides to push the lane back up.
Pushing the advantage: Last but not least, the most important factor for this strategy to work, looking at it from a team stand point of view., remains to take and push for every opportunity and advantage you get from your top laner. Every time your top laner draws somebody from the enemy team to the his lane an objective opens up, be it free farm for your late game AD carry, or a free dragon, or a 4v3 kill opportunity. There’s always going to be an advantage when two people are needed to handle one person split pushing.