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Week 4 NACL – Brand is on FIRE


Welcome to the fourth week of the North American Challenger League! Brand is sitting at a 100% win ratio, Jinx is available for tournament play, and underdog Curse Academy is on a 5-game hot streak. My name is Jera, and today I would like share with you some of the trends for week 4 NACL, the examination of Curse Academy’s double bruiser composition, and analysis of Curse Academy’s victory over To Be Determined utilizing the double bruiser composition.

Top 6 Most Banned Week 4

Elise_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b Kassadin_Square_0_25b Nidalee_Square_0_25b Zed_Square_0_25b LeeSin_Square_0_25b Elise, Renekton, Kassadin, Nidalee, Zed, Lee Sin

Top 6 Most Banned from last week

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

Trends for Week 4

Ups and Downs

Week 4 of the NACL has brought a dramatic shift in win percentage for some of the more popular champions. Lee Sin went from a 57% win rate last week down to a 14% win rate this week. Additionally, powerhouse Zyra saw the largest fall, going from a 57% win rate to a 0% win rate (0-6 in week 4). Orianna came back from a 14% win rate in week 3 to a 66% win rate for week 4. Jinx, regarded as one of the most powerful early game marksmen, only one 2 games out of 6 this week, where Lucian went 3 wins, 0 losses. Brand and Shyvana both hold a 100% win rate for the entire NACL season, making this fiery pair the greatest of all time (until next week when they may lose).

A New Dawn for Marksmen!

Prior to this week, the most common marksmen selected in the NACL were Caitlyn (9 games picked) and Corki (13 games picked), by a wide margin. Week 4 presented a refreshing variety of marksmen, including the presence of Jinx (6 games played), Lucian (3 games played), and Varus (3 games played). Another interesting point is that Curse Academy ran a double bruiser composition, which does not have a standard ranged AD carry. This week’s game analysis will delve into the iterations of Curse Academy’s composition, as well has its execution against TBD.

Understanding the Curse Academy Composition

Curse Academy has used three iterations of the double bruiser composition, each with a slight modification from the last.

Bans Against Bruiser1 Jungle Middle Bruiser2 Support
Week3 Day3 Sion_Square_0_25b Zyra_Square_0_25b Gragas_Square_0_25b    Shyvana_Square_0_25b  Aatrox_Square_0_25b   Nidalee_Square_0_25b    Tryndamere_Square_0_25b   Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b
Week4 Day2 Nidalee_Square_0_25b Aatrox_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b    Jax_Square_0_25b  JarvanIV_Square_0_25b   Brand_Square_0_25b    Tryndamere_Square_0_25b   Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b
Week4 Day3 Annie_Square_0_25b Sion_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b    Shyvana_Square_0_25b  JarvanIV_Square_0_25b   Brand_Square_0_25b    Jax_Square_0_25b   Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b

First, let’s address the common threads within these picks: Fiddlesticks.

Fiddlesticks is paired with a mid-lane champion that have high burst damage skill shots, which allows crowd control to easily land Nidalee Spears (Q) and Brand’s damage rotation. The silence from Fiddlesticks also harasses the opponent and can severely limit the damage output of caster champions. CRS Academy’s Tsatsulow runs 0/9/21 masteries, taking 6% cooldown reduction and 3% increased movement speed. His runepage also adds an additional 7.5% CDR and 1.5% movespeed, leading to 13.5% CDR and 4.5% MS at level 1. This allows for constant harass and 1 fewer CDR item to reach max or optimal cooldown reduction.

Area of Effect, mobile “jumper” junglers, as demonstrated by Aatrox and Jarvan IV, bring that powerful engage with a short duration crowd control, around 1 second of knock up. Aatrox and Jarvan IV also have attack speed steroids to deal increased damage to turrets, forcing objectives down quickly. Finally, the long-range dive allow these two access through the front line onto the high threat carry targets. CRS Academy jungler, OneBadBrad, runs a 21/9/0 offensive mastery page along with attack damage, armor penetration, and move speed runepage.

The double bruisers are the carries for the team. Champions, such as Jax, Shyvana, and Tryndamere, have incredibly high sustained damage, the ability to “dive” in or out of combat, and are generally tanky enough to win a 1 on 1 duel with any champion. These champions can be utilized for heavy split pushing, or can converge as five to dive into the enemy team to take down the high damage carries. Fabbbyyy, the traditional marksman for CRS Academy, prefers to run an unorthodox runepage when playing Tryndamere.

The final piece is the AP Mid, which fulfills an auxiliary damage role, rather than a carry role. Nidalee is used to poke down enemies from the distance, while Brand is used to lay down massive AoE damage and deal percentage damage from his passive. It’s worthwhile to note that Only Jaximus’s Brand builds into Rylai’s Crystal Scepter for slow, Athene’s Unholy Grail for CDR and mana regen, and Liandri’s Torement for additional health-based damage, rather than a glass cannon Deathcap/Void Staff build.

With these components of the double bruiser composition available to Curse Academy, lets examine how the pick/ban phase plays out to see how well CRS Acad can hide the decision for the double bruiser to limit counter play.

WEEK 4 NACL ANALYSIS – Curse Academy (8-5) versus To Be Determined (5-8)

Picks and Ban Phase

CRSAcadVTBDPickBan

“Oh Dear?” EGADorFEED – 2013

38px-Crslogo_stdCurse Academy Bans Elise_Square_0_25b Zed_Square_0_25b Kassadin_Square_0_25b Picks Jax_Square_0_25b Fiddlesticks_Square_0_25b JarvanIV_Square_0_25b Tryndamere_Square_0_25b Brand_Square_0_25b
38px-TBDlogo_stdTo Be Determined Bans Nidalee_Square_0_25b Aatrox_Square_0_25b Renekton_Square_0_25b Picks Gragas_Square_0_25b LeeSin_Square_0_25b Thresh_Square_0_25b Corki_Square_0_25b Udyr_Square_0_25b

Bans

38px-Crslogo_std: Elise, Zed, Kassadin

38px-TBDlogo_std: Nidalee, Aatrox, Renekton

Curse Academy’s bans are standard denial bans. TBD had banned Aatrox/Nidalee/Kasadin against Curse Academy in Week 2, in a game where TBD defeated Curse Academy. TBD has not picked Renekton since the first week of NACL, and TBD’s Top laner, Westrice, prefers to play Shen or Lee Sin top, lane matchups that Renekton typically does well against.

Picks in order of selection

38px-Crslogo_stdJax

The first pick Jax is quite common, especially with a Renekton ban. Jax has constant exposure in competitive play since the Trinity Force buffs of patch 3.12. This is also a staple pick for CRS Acad’s double bruiser composition without fully committing to the strategy.

38px-TBDlogo_std Gragas – Lee Sin

Selecting their Mid and Top first is a bold strategy. Lee Sin can deal with a Jax up to a point, but Lee Sin also has great escape and chase, so expect some baiting by both top laners. Gragas is great for setting up picks, but has a tough time before his first blue buff/chalice. Gragas can also use his Explosive Cask (R) to knock back enemy divers and his Barrel Roll (Q) adds an attack speed slow up to 40%.

38px-Crslogo_std Fiddlesticks – Jarvan IV

The Fiddlesticks eludes to a future Corki pick (due to the synergy) or Caitlyn. Fiddlesticks is a monster with an 81% win rate in the NACL. Revisiting previous matches, Fiddlesticks has been in all double bruiser compositions that Curse Academy have run. Jarvan IV fulfills the role of Aatrox, but has a group attack speed steroid to help with sieges and group fights. At this point, TBD should start recognizing that this has potential to be the double bruiser composition and pick accordingly.

38px-TBDlogo_stdThresh – Corki

Thresh will help set up picks, rescue those caught in picks, and help disengage against the Jax + Jarvan that will inevitably jump onto Corki. The Corki pick denies the strong laning combo of Fiddlesticks’ magic resist reduction and crowd control paired with Corki’s Phosphorus Bomb (Q). Right now, TBD is lacking enough crowd control to stop a Jax/Jarvan dive. Lee Sin can kick one member out, Gragas can knock away the divers (but gives up the displacement/damage onto Curse Academy’s back line), and Thresh has Death Sentence (Q) snare, Flay (E) knock back, and a The Box (R) for disengage. A heavy crowd control or displacement jungler would be extremely helpful for the final pick.

38px-Crslogo_std Tryndamere – Brand

The Trydmaere pick confirms the double bruiser composition. The Brand pick is interesting, as he does massive AoE damage and is highly reliant on landing skill shots to deal maximum damage. Brand is the only member of the back line, and does a burst rotation (rather than continuous sustained damage) and is not a dive target while his skills are on cool down. Right now, it stands that Curse Academy have heavy split push in multiple lanes, quick tower destruction capability, and four gap closing champions with 2 heavy sustained damage champions. There is no way that TBD will be able to win a 5v5 prolonged fight, and will have to heavily focus down one bruiser at a time in order to turn the fights around.

38px-TBDlogo_std Udyr

There needs to be a short justification for this pick. TBD’s jungler, Brokenshard, is a European player who is still based in Europe, but playing in the online tournament remotely. So there is probably a 200+ ping, which would make landing skill shots practically impossible (unless trained over a period of time). With that caveat, Udyr can be a bully in the enemy jungle, as well as a formidable ganker early on. Assuming this game goes late (which it does), Udyr’s brings limited protection to carries with a single-second stun on a target every 6 seconds. Udyr will likely pick up Aura items (Locket of the Iron Solari, Frozen Heart, Randuin’s Omen) to remain enough of a threat to demand any sort of focus in a team fight.

Compositions:

Curse Academy ran the double bruiser composition. Analysis over this composition has been discussed earlier in the article.

To Be Determined opted for a pick/disruption composition, with Lee Sin acting as a counter-split pusher. Gragas and Thresh will be used to create picks, and keep the Corki alive. TBD’s composition has a mid game power apex, but will not have the raw damage potential nor crowd control to stop CRS Academy late game.

The Early Game:

The game started out with early scouting from Curse Academy, and resulted in an awkward situation for To Be Determined.

CRSAcadVTBD135

The first 5v5, starting at 1:30. This isn’t going to end well for TBD.

CRS Acad dove into the bush onto 5 members of TBD, forced out 4 flashes from TBD and collected 1st Blood from Udyr onto Tryndamere. Udyr entered the jungle late and received limited help on his first buff. CRS Acad sent Jax to the bottom in a 2v1 lane, and kept Fiddlesticks mid with Brand. The stacking of the middle lane allowed CRS Acad to steal Udyr’s Red Buff early and shut down Gragas in the middle lane.

CRSAcadVTBD809

OneBadBrad smite steals the buff away. #WORTH

Around the 8 minute mark, CRS Acad moved to contest the Blue Buff of TBD. Thresh landed a hook onto Fiddlesticks and Gragas followed up with an Explosive Cask which forced away any possibility of saving Fiddlesticks. These are the type of picks that TBD are looking for to pull ahead in the game.

The Middle Game:

After the 10 minute mark, CRS Acad’s middle lane and bottom lane started roam in the bottom river to find easy kills on unaware targets. Tryndamere and Lee Sin were left alone top to duel, with Lee Sin winning most of the trades. The CRS Acad 3-man dive at  13:30 under bottom tower show that CRS Acad were focused on collecting kills rather than pushing over objectives. The global gold and map pressure from knocking a tower over is much greater than the death of a support Thresh.

TBD moved to take a dragon at 18:30 with 3 (and the remaining 2 members converging) while CRS Acad had 4 members near dragon. Jarvan IV dove in to attempt a smite steal, but got hooked by Thresh. CRS Acad moved in to jump onto the grouped 4 members of TBD, but an exceptional Explosive Cask from Gragas splintered any engagement from Jax/Fiddlesticks.

CRSAcadVTBD1843

BOOM!

Jax moved top assist the split pushing Tryndamere to take the inner top tower, while TBD moved as four to finish the outer middle tower. Udyr and Gragas rotated towards top to stop the split push, and caught Tryndamere and Jax trying to back in the bush. Both Jax and Trynd stopped their backs prematurely and end up giving two kills to TBD.

At 20 minutes

CRSAcadVTBD2000

At 20 minutes, the gold disparity between CRS Acad and TBD is minimal. The big story is that Corki is at 106 CS and has not completed his Trinity Force yet (but will once he returns to base). Both teams are tied on towers, but CRS Acad has one inner tower down while TBD has taken all outer turrets. So far, CRS Acad has stalled out TBD’s marksman while forcing tower objectives. This makes TBD’s transition into the mid-late game much more difficult.

Team fight positioning

CRSAcadVTBD2511

Curse Academy have trouble deciding whether to dive in or run away

The game remained passive until the next dragon at 25 minutes. Jax, Jarvan, and Tryndamere started to poke around the dragon and got caught by Thresh and Lee Sin. Tryndamere used his ultimate to escape, while Jarvan engaged with Cataclysm (R). TBD finished off two kills onto Trynd and Jarvan, while Brand started to engage. Jax and Fiddlesticks positioned themselves to finish Corki, but TBD converged, adding another death to Jax. TBD won the dragon and the fight 3 kills for 0, which granted a mere 1.5k gold lead.

CRS Acad decided to start a Baron fight at the 29 minute mark, but then make the decision to hop over the Baron Pit and engage onto 4 members of TBD. The bottleneck positioning where TBD was positioned forced 4 members of CRS Acad into a tight group, which allowed Gragas to throw down another incredible Explosive Cask and Thresh Box to prevent anyone reaching Corki.

CRSAcadVTBD2934

“This is not where I parked my car”, Curse Academy – 2013

CRS Acad scattered after the Explosive Cask, and Corki hunted down two kills, while Jax and Fiddlesticks killed Lee Sin, who chased the wrong target. The trade ended up being a 3 for 3, but TBD took down the middle inner tower while CRS Acad regrouped.

CRSAcadVTBD3220

What is Jax doing?

TBD took an uncontested dragon at 32 minutes as CRS Acad converged to start a fight. Jax jumped onto Lee Sin, while Jarvan tried to escape. Brand and Fiddlesticks didn’t have vision of the Tri-Bush and were not about to move into it. Tryndamere dove into 5 members of TBD alone, and perished once his Undying Rage (R) wore off. CRS Acad gave away another dragon and two easy kills due to indecision and poor objective convergence. Shortly after, Jax got caught pushing the mid tower and is killed, which created a staggered death timer for CRS Academy and handed over a free Baron for TBD.

CRSAcadVTBD3515

1-person Gragas Ult, Corki in the front line, and Lee Sin nowhere to be found.

TBD just pushed the middle lane up to the inhibitor turret, then took a turn to steal CRS Acad’s Blue Buff. CRS Acad dove as 5 onto the 4 split members of TBD, and chased down Corki. Lee Sin managed to take the bottom inner tower uncontested. Both teams have demonstrated poor team fight positioning and have paid the price with death. The mistakes that CRS Acad had made earlier were now being made by TBD.

The Late Game

CRSAcadVTBD4000

At 40 minutes, To Be Determined had built a 6.5k gold advantage on Curse Academy, as 4th and 5th items have completed for the carries this game. Its worthwhile to note that Udyr purchased  a Witt’s End for a “defensive” magic resist item (as opposed to a Spirit Visage) rather than a Frozen Heart or Randuin’s Omen to deal with Jax/Tryndamere. Brand has not purchased any of the 120 Ability Power items, and has opted for a more utility oriented build with slows and % health damage.

Around the 41 minute mark, Baron re spawned with TBD prepared for a quick kill. CRS Acad engaged onto TBD, and Corki and Gragas fled away from Baron and Tryndamere (resulting in a Trynd picking up a double kill). The magic resist shred from Baron’s debuff, along with Fiddlesticks and Brand’s items, allowed a Brand Pyroclasm (R) to destroy Lee Sin and Thresh in a matter of seconds. CRS Acad aced TBD, then proceeded to take the middle inhibitor and return to slay Baron Nashor.

CRSAcadVTBD4140

Brand, casually burning people alive.

CRS Academy took the remaining inner turrets, along with the top inhibitor with Baron Buff recently fading. CRS Acad pressured hard onto the middle inhibitor, where Jax/Trynd are caught and die. Brand and Fiddlesticks were indecisive on whether to engage or flee, and Brand ended up dying. Jarvan IV managed to take out the right nexus turrets while TBD forced down the middle lane. TBD took the top and middle inhibitors, and resetting the gold disparity to under 1,000 at 49 minutes into the game.

The Late-Late Game

It is fair to state that both teams have thrown the game back and forth to each other for some time now. With indecisive engagements and half committed team fights, the variance in play could result in a win for either team at this point. Looking directly into compositions, two hyper carries of Jax and Tryndamere can easily decimate any target without a Guardian Angel or force down the final tower. TBD has no way to stop the two hyper carries, and split pushing is a risky gambit in case CRS Acad engages onto 4. At this point, CRS Acad has to not throw, where as TBD has to take full advantage of every mistake.

CRSAcadVTBD5000

At the 50 minute mark, CRS Academy had Tryndamere and Brand are at the 6 item threshold, with Jax having 5 items completed. TBD had 6 items on Lee Sin and Gragas, and Corki having completed his 5th full item, Infinity Edge. CRS Academy secured an uncontested Baron at the 50 minute mark and moved towards the bottom inhibitor. CRS Acad took the inhibitor, but still acted confused on whether or not to engage after Gragas had just used his Explosive Cask. CRS Acad returned to base after taking the inhibitor.

CRSAcadVTBD5521

A golden statue to the hero of Curse Academy.

The final fight happened around 55 minutes, where Brand is caught with a Thresh hook and Gragas sets up to split him away from CRS Acad. OneBadBrad used Zhonya’s Hourglass at the perfect time to ignore the Explosive Cask, Jarvan’s Banshee’s Veil negated it as well, and only Jax was knocked back from the ultimate. CRS Acad then focused down individual champions one by one, secured the ace and the win at 56:09.

CRSAcadvTBDPostGame

The high sustained damage from the double bruiser line up was able to work around the displacement from TBD and shut down the short range marksman of Corki. Earlier team fights were not clean by either team, with indecision and mis-positioning being key factors in team fight success/failure. The crisp Gragas ultimates that favored TBD in the early and mid game became panicked later on, resulting in easy re-engages from CRS Acad. It was surprising to see that CRS Acad did not abuse the split push from Tryndamere or Jax more.

My Advice for Curse Academy:

I have two points of critique to address. First, many of the team fights in this game were not fully committed. There were times when 2 or 3 would engage, while the others hesitated or waited for a call. This led to some strange positioning and inability to adapt to the opposing teams movements. Had team fights been committed as 5, this game may have ended quicker for you. Second, the target selection early game was questionable. Jax would jump onto Lee Sin rather than going after Corki. Tryndamere would try to finish off the damaged tanky Lee Sin, rather than attack the weaker carries. Focus on decisive shot calling and having teammates commit to the calls.

My Advice for To Be Determined:

The last pick for TBD should (in theory) have the largest impact on a team that will look to dive the carries. Protecting them should be priority number one. Some alternative picks that would have supported the carries better than a 1 second stun could include Amumu (save ultimate for the dive, and reserve Bandage toss on close range targets), Malphite (AoE attack speed reduction, counter knock-up), or Xin Zhao (AE knock back, single target knock up). Again, getting out of position was a problem with this match, but was not nearly as noticeable as it was for Curse Academy. TBD had to win during the mid game, otherwise the hyper carries would get out of control and be too difficult to manage. I do have to commend TBD for having great early-mid game objective timing and control.

Wrapping up this week, Curse Academy has taken second place in their bracket, one slot below compLexity Gaming. coL’s veteran jungler, Lautemortis retired this week, questioning their strength going onward into the NACL and the NA LCS Winter Promotional Series. Infinite Odds have dropped from the NACL and have given their spot to vVv Gaming, formerly Team VEX. Coast still remain undefeated in the NACL. This week we have seen a rise in popularity to the new marksmen, Lucian and Jinx. Next week will feature the classic match between Coast and Curse, the battle of the LCS befallen.


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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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