Week 3 NACL Analysis – Karma and Illusion

Welcome to our coverage for the third week of the North American Challenger League. This week has provided a wide diversity of champions (48 unique champions played this week), upsets, and not one, but two victories for the beloved Velocity eSports. My name is Jera and I would like to guide you through some of the trends of week 3, analysis of the undefeated Coast and undefeated compLexity, and a brief wrap up of the notable events of week 3!

Week 3’s Most Banned Champions

Zed_Square_0_25b Elise_Square_0_25b Kassadin_Square_0_25b Zyra_Square_0_25b Gragas_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b Zed, Elise, Kassadin, Zyra, Gragas, Renekton

Last Week’s Most Banned Champions

Kassadin_Square_0_25b Zed_Square_0_25b Jax_Square_0_25b Vi_Square_0_25b Elise_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b  Kassadin, Zed, Jax, Vi, Elise, Renekton

Trends for Week 3

One of the most notable trends in the North American Challenger League is the departure from a standard “The Mid 6” champion pool. The Mid 6 are a rotating group of champions that are commonly seen in tournament play on a consistent basis, much like the standard 3-4 champions per role. An example of the current “Mid 6” are Ahri, Zed, Gragas, Orianna, Kassadin, and Nidalee (with Fizz fading out). These are some of the strongest champions mid lane champions in the game right now, and it would seem most logical to pick the most powerful champions to have a higher probability of victory.

But that is not the case!  Instead of seeing the standard mid lane champion pool, there were a total of 14 unique mid lane champions played during the NACL Week 3. Notable champions include Karma, Lulu, Swain, and even a Sion (who ended up swapping with bottom lane). These champions may not have same impact of a burst assassin, but often add a layer of team utility that favors extended team fights. The NACL teams have been innovating alternative champions that may not be “top tier” material, but give the viewers an entertainment as teams try to change the metagame.

This week’s game for analysis we’ll cover the two undefeated teams in NACL, Team Coast and compLexity Gaming and will look into an unorthodox mid lane match up of Karma versus LeBlanc. Karma has been a go-to champion for compLexity last week, and LeBlanc has been banned against Coast 4 times over the span of the tournament. Both of these teams are at the top of their leagues, but there can only be one with a flawless record as they played in the cross-conference matchup.


compLexity Gaming versus Team Coast

Picks and Ban Phase


38px-coL compLexity Bans Caitlyn_Square_0_25b Ahri_Square_0_25b Zed_Square_0_25b Picks Riven_Square_0_25b Vi_Square_0_25b Annie_Square_0_25b Ezreal_Square_0_25b Karma_Square_0_25b
38px-Coast Coast Bans Zyra_Square_0_25b Kassadin_Square_0_25b Jax_Square_0_25b Picks Corki_Square_0_25b Elise_Square_0_25b LeeSin_Square_0_25b Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b Leblanc_Square_0_25b


38px-coL  : Caitlyn, Ahri, Zed

38px-Coast  : Zyra, Kassadin, Jax

These bans seem to be quite standard, however Coast’s Marksman, DontMashMe, is an exceptional Caitlyn, and has been first picked on a regular basis. The Zyra ban by Coast is somewhat common; although she has been played regularly against Coast. My assumption is that Coast believe that Zyra is worth the first pick, and worthy of a ban. Ahri is a comfort pick for Shiphtur, Coast’s mid player, and a targeted ban. Jax was played twice last week by coL, which was paired with Karma to devastating effect. It’s worthwhile to note that Riven was not banned against Coast, which has been picked every time she is available by Coast (with the exception of week 1, where Renekton was taken).

Picks in order of selection

38px-coL Riven

The first pick Riven is a bold selection for coL. Coast has either had Riven banned, or has picked her every match in the NACL (except for a Renekton pick).  This is compLexity wanting to prove that Zionspartan, Coast’s top lane, isn’t the only who can demonstrate the power of Riven in the NACL. It is also worthwhile to note that the winner of the Best Riven NA tournament back in April happens to be coL’s top lane, MegaZero.

38px-Coast Corki + Elise

With Caitlyn off the table, the next big marksman is Corki. Elise is a highly contested jungle (which has been banned 61% of all NACL games). Elise has good dragon/baron control with her Venomous Bite execute with smite.  At this point, no real strategy is revealed by Coast’s picks.

38px-coL Vi + Annie

Vi is picked to create gank opportunities due to her high mobility, multiple chain crowd control abilities, and large quick burst damage. The common trend is to gank mid early to snowball the lane. Annie support is a bully in lane due to her long auto attack range but mostly because of the THREAT of an area of effect stun. In reality, the Annie just needs to sit with her passive available until a gank or mis-position, or can be used to deny the enemy laner a CS on a large minion through stun denial.  Annie will strive for vision control to also set up picks later in the game.

38px-CoastLee Sin + Fiddlesticks

Lee Sin is most likely to go top against Riven. Both are incredible duelists where Lee Sin as the advantage of mobility and sustain while Riven has better damage and more crowd control (with both champions having a close amount of gold). Zionspartan, Coast’s top lane, recently took second place in the Best Lee Sin NA tournament. Corki synergizes magnificently with Fiddlesticks due to passive, Dread, reducing enemy magic resist by 10, which allows bottom lane to poke and force the enemy to play more passively. Later on, a 3 second fear is the longest crowd control in League of Legends, which forces a tenacity item (or Quicksilver Sash) on every high priority target. The power to reserve an item or force a defensive item quicker than normal sets the enemy back even further.

38px-coL Ezreal + Karma

Ezreal is another Trinity Force champion that has been a staple of the professional scene for over a year. Karma is an interesting mid lane, which has been used by coL’s PR0LLY twice last week (with Jax). Her damage is not as comparable to other mid lane champions, but her utility makes up for the deficit. Karma has excellent wave clear, incredible dueling potential with her Mantra’d abilities, and great disengage through increased team mobility and an AoE slow. Karma is not going to be a major damage threat, compared to Riven and Ezreal, but will has enough utility through shielding and mobility to demand some focus.


The infamous PR0LLY Karma Runepage (aptly named Kennen es gay)

Looking into PR0LLY’s Karma runepage, it shows that PR0LLY wants to be fully aggressive in lane.  The increased attack speed allow more auto attacks, which lowers the cooldown for Karma’s Mantra ability. The increased AP gives Karma an extra Doran’s Ring worth of AP at level 1, and a little more than a free Blasting Wand at level 18. The armor is to reduce damage from champion auto attacks and minion hits. The idea behind not running magic penetration is that only two of her abilities would be affected by magic pen, while AP affects 3 of Karma’s abilities.  Karma is not looking to be the prime damage dealer in the fight, but rather quickly clear minion waves, having a large shield to protect team damage, and a single target channeled spell that ends with a root.


LeBlanc does not seem to be a good pick into Karma, as Karma has great damage mitigation through shielding and an empowered Focused Resolve which would heal her more the lower her health is.  LeBlanc must get farm to get ahead, otherwise she will be a non-factor come mid game.  LeBlanc has been banned against Coast a few times, so this must be a comfortable champion for Shiphtur.


compLeity is choosing to run a highly mobile engage/disengage set up with a Riven to split push and duel. Karma will add extra protection for the carries, mobility for engagement, an AoE slow for disengagement, and great minion wave clear. coL has several abilities to engage onto targets through Annie’s flash/Tibbers or Vi’s Assault and Battery.

Coast is running a composition that heavily favors winning the early game and laning phase, then transitioning those advantages into a forceful 4-1 split push revolving around Lee Sin. LeBlanc will be used to assassinate high threat carries and will most likely be used in a flank.

The Early Game:

The action starts early on at the 2:35 mark Riven attempted a level 2 all-in versus Lee Sin, which forced Lee retreat and lose on experience, falling a level behind his lane opponent.  Vi joined Riven to pressure Lee Sin further and catch Elise at her golem camp, which forced Elise to return to base early.


Corki moves out of auto attack range from Ezreal and gives away an EZ kill.

Bottom lane was heavily pushed by Corki and Fiddlesticks onto compLexity’s tower. Annie flash stunned Fiddlesticks, who had just received turret agro and took two turret shots, giving first blood to Annie. The fight escalated with Corki diving Annie and finishing up the kill. Corki took two tower shots and misjudged his auto attack range, giving Ezreal his first kill of the game.

The middle lane erupts at the 4:30 mark where Elise landed a stun on Karma and LeBlanc followed up with all of her spells. Karma dropped below 40 hp, but managed to stay alive through shields and a Mantra’d Renewal recovering 20% and an additional 10% over the next few seconds, which just enough to survive the ignite and burst behind her turret.


Ezreal uses Cleanse a split second before the cocoon lands, resulting in a stun and ultimately a death.

At the 6:30 point, Coast sent Elise bottom to gank Ezreal and Annie.  Ezreal prematurely used his summoner Cleanse and is stunned by Elise’s cocoon, which gave another kill to Coast. Coast’s bottom lane returned to base to spend the profits, and coL responded by taking an uncontested dragon at 7:45 dragon. The bottom lane kill onto Ezreal resulted in compLexity securing a dragon, giving coL a small gold advantage.

The action continued on around the map with junglers pressuring top lane and bottom lanes going all-in. Coast and coL traded supports in the bottom lane, with Ezreal coming out ahead with more hp and a larger creep wave to farm. Elise ganked top to secure a much needed kill onto Lee Sin and pushed down the top tower. Karma and Vi responded by taking down the middle turret, but Karma dies to an Elise stun and a Coast bottom lane converge shortly after taking the tower.  At the 12 minute mark, both teams are even on gold at 16k each.

The Mid Game


Lee Sin evades Karma’s empowered Q, and is able to secure the kill with a Dragon’s Rage.

The game plan for Coast changed to leave Lee Sin duel Riven and try to stack kills onto LeBlanc. Lee Sin was able to solo Riven, and coL had to send Karma from middle to top, and allowed Coast to secure an uncontested dragon. Lee Sin had an incredible duel with Karma, with Lee dropping below 100hp versus a 600hp Karma with shields. Lee Sin has an incredible juke on a Mantra’d Soulflare which would have finished Lee Sin off. Karma is caught on skill cooldowns, and Lee Sin finishes her off with the Dragon’s Rage.

During the Karma/Lee Sin duel , Annie landed a flash Tibbers onto Elise and Corki on coL’s bottom tower, but Annie did not have her passive stacked and did not stun anyone. This was a massive misplay from coL’s MeyeA which could have led to and extra kill or two onto Ezreal.

19:15 marks the time when coL’s outer turrets have all fallen, and Coast started to gain control of coL’s jungle. A massive fight broke out at Coast’s blue, with Corki and Fiddlesticks dying for a kill onto Karma. CompLexity turned the fight into an uncontested dragon and brought the fight game to a 2k gold deficit for coL.

Where the game is lost

Up until the 22 minute mark, gold totals have been close. Coast had built up several small advantages, an extra kill onto LeBlanc, a tower lead for Lee Sin, a 40 CS lead for Corki which gave a slight edge in itemization and map control to Coast.

Coast continued to keep Lee Sin top to duel Riven and while sending Elise, Corki, and Annie to pressure bottom. LeBlanc joined Lee Sin and both able to take the top inner and inhibitor towers at the 23 minute mark. Coast had incredible map control, and their champions are scaling ahead of coL’s at this point, and Lee Sin and LeBlanc started split pushing as a pair.  This duo is highly mobile and can 100 to 0 any single champion at this point, which requires multiple champions to effectively deal with the duo.  Elise, Corki, and Fiddlesticks moved to pressure objectives and push out lanes.  This strategy forced coL to split their champions, but coL’s composition did not have the proper combination to deal with the Lee Sin and LeBlanc.


LeBlanc 100 to 0’s Ezreal behind the middle turret.

LeBlanc’s mobility is fully demonstrated when she rotates from bottom inhibitor tower to middle inner tower to secure a kill onto Ezreal, resulting in the middle inner tower.

At 30:20, Annie landed a Tibbers over the wall to hit 3 members and secured a kill onto Fiddlesticks, but Lee Sin was able to take the bottom inhibitor tower while coL considered taking Baron as a grouped 5. This pressured coL off of Baron and forced them to return to the base. compLexity has not taken a tower in over 15 minutes at this point.


Lee Sin kicks Riven through 3 bunched members of coL, and Corki cleans up

The fight at Baron around the 33 minute mark is what sealed the game for Coast. LeBlanc started the fight by insta-killing Karma. Annie landed a beautiful Tibbers onto 4 Coast champions, paired with a 4-man Riven Wind Slash, which decimated Lee Sin and Fiddlesticks. Despite the terrifying positioning of Coast, coL is grouped tightly, and Lee Sin landed a beautiful Dragon’s Rage onto Riven, knocking up Annie and Ezreal and caused massive damage. Corki followed up with a Phosphorus Bomb onto 3, and his Gatling Gun hitting 4 members. LeBlanc flanked from the bottom river brush and started laying damage down onto coL, with Corki ending up with a triple kill, leaving the battle a 4 kill to 2 death advantage for Coast.

How the game plays out

After the fight, Coast secured a Baron at the 34 minute mark. Coast was up 8 thousand gold, 8 turrets to 2, and  had full map control. CoL respawned and immediately headed for dragon as 5 and picked off Fiddlesticks and secure a dragon for themselves.


Vi dives too far into Coast’s mid line and coL cannot follow up on the engage

Coast returned to a 4-1 split push with Lee Sin with the Baron buff active. CoL decided to send all 5 against Coast’s 4, and dove onto Corki. Coast fell back and traded kills 1 for 1, meanwhile Lee Sin took the top inhibitor and the left Nexus turret.  CoL retreated to defend their base and Coast destroyed the bottom inhibitor.  Coast let off the pressure, and returned to base to set up another attack formation.

Coast sent 4 middle and Lee Sin bottom. Vi engaged onto Fiddlesticks, but paid the price of her life within seconds. CoL could not capitalize on the 5v4 engagement by being a little bit too far back to follow up, and are forced to retreat to base. Coast pushed the middle inhibitor turret and take the victory, 14 kills to 23, at 40:18.


Coast won their lanes with small advantages, but kept those advantages over a long period of time, denying any post 15minute tower pressure that coL would have had. CoL was forced into a defensive position the moment all 3 outer towers fell, but had some surges around the dragon/baron objective. Coast may have given up extra kills, but they held onto the towers, which is a primary reason why coL never made it past the enemy’s blue buff post 15 minutes.

My advice for compLexity:

When utilizing a Riven, it is paramount that she gets ahead in her lane, especially against another split pushing champion. The Karma pick would have worked wonderfully had Riven got ahead, but Coast had too much trouble with Lee Sin and Karma became a secondary support rather than a direct threat. The success of the Karma + hard carry top lane is contingent on the top lane getting far enough ahead that Karma can stand in the back and disrupt from a distance, which has worked out well in previous games. This is the scenario where it does not work out well, and Karma cannot make an impact in the mid to late game.

My advice for Coast:

This game was won by careful play and the build up of small advantages compounded over time. There are times when you had enough force to pressure harder, but chose to base or farm the jungle. This is a safe play, and understanding that your champions scale better encourages a longer match. Understanding the importance of giving the advantage to top lane is what made the largest impact on the game, and the pressure from dual split push by LeBlanc with Lee Sin was phenomenal.

In other news, Velocity earns their first victory in the NACL over COGnitive gaming! Consequently, Velocity would take their second victory from Infinite Odds, when IO forfeited their 2 remaining matches for the week.  Curse Academy brought out non-marksman composition that brought another loss to compLexity this week, showing that Curse Academy have been experimenting with a wide variety of team make ups. The divergence from a core mid lane champion pool has expanded, indicating that the NACL teams are looking for alternatives to the mid lane assassin meta. Coast remains the only undefeated NACL team with the execution of a split pushing AD bruiser duelist with high mobility. Next week will be a rematch between Coast and compLexity, so tune in to see if coL can innovate around the unstoppable Coast.


A special thank you goes to Leaguepedia for compiling tournament data that was used in this article.

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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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