Today I would like to look into Evil Genius’s composition against XDG, which included a line-up of Urgot, Soraka, and a jungle Mundo. Many write off Urgot as an ADC due to his unconventional kit and unusual item build. He has a much lower range than other ADCs, and is highly mana-dependent for damage output. Urgot also tends to build tanky and utility rather than straight damage, which is counter-intuitive for the standard ADC role. Soraka is seen as a one-dimensional support that brings a ton of sustain to a composition, but she does not have the ability to create plays like many of the popular support champions. Dr. Mundo in the jungle is rarely seen due to his popularity in the top lane, along with fragile first-levels in the jungle. Additionally, the income of a jungle Mundo is less than a top Mundo, which makes him much less formidable in the mid-to-late game.
So by selecting a composition that combines all of these unexpected elements, Evil Geniuses has many viewers (self-included) tilting their heads to the side asking, “How is this possibly going to work out?”. Now that we’ve briefly covered the surface impressions of these champions, let’s examine the Champion Draft between XDG and EG to see the logic behind when and why the picks are made from both team’s perspectives.
EG Krepo’s Leona has been one of the largest factors to EG’s success to gain entry into the LCS, and is also one of the best two supports in the game right now. By banning Leona, XDG notion that they intend to first-pick Thresh, and the remaining bans will take away high-priority picks. Next, XDG ban out 2 junglers, Vi and Elise, both of which EG Snoopeh and XDG Zuna share a champion pool for. It’s a bit surprising to see XDG ban out junglers when most teams have been banning junglers AGAINST XDG to punish Zuna’s shallow champion pool.
Kassadin is a standard red-side ban, and LeBlanc has been very popular in NA LCS games because she can quickly run away with the game with a small lead. The final Olaf ban shows that EG do not plan on taking a jungle in their first round of draft, and they also want to deny Olaf for XDG. With champions like Mundo, Gragas, Ziggs, Jinx, Renekton available; there are several picks that EG could prioritize instead of an Olaf pick, which would also make Zuna have to play a jungler he has yet to play on the LCS stage.
Picks In Draft Order:
The first pick support has become common in the NA LCS draft; with Thresh/Leona being the top two supports at the moment. With XDG banning Leona, the default choice for first pick moves to Thresh. Since all of the “high priority junglers” were banned out as well, the desire to pick a jungle could wait until the second round of draft (XDG have always picked their jungler in the first round of draft for the past 5 games).
The Soraka pick was strange, because she is known as a passive lane partner and is against an aggressive Thresh pick. Needless to say, the Soraka pick is not popular (5% pick rate, around a 48% w/r in soloqueue) and has difficulty filling the traditional support role as an initiator or peel. What she does bring is tons of sustain to the lane, as well as a global heal that can swing a fight in favor of the Soraka team. It has been some time since Soraka has been used in competitive play, so remembering Soraka’s ultimate cooldown may be difficult for opponents.
Gragas is a high-priority mid pick, through fantastic wave clear, mobility, and burst. The wave clear is an important element of most compositions in this meta, to both initiating tower siege as well as preventing it defensively. Snoopeh has also used Gragas as a jungler, so this pick still has potential to be ambiguous at this point in the draft. Realistically, the only champion that can compete with Gragas’ wave clear is Ziggs, which forces XDG’s hand to take Ziggs in the next round of draft or EG may pick up Ziggs in the next round of draft.
The Lee Sin pick is a champion that Zuna has been practicing as of late, but Lee Sin is such a mechanically intensive champion, it is almost impossible to learn all of the subtle nuances to distinguish one’s self as a feared Lee Sin player. In game, Lee Sin has a very early power spike, but plateaus quickly if his team falls behind. The use of Lee Sin is to dominate the early game through constant ganks, and being able to duel junglers in their jungle pre-6. Snoopeh had also played 1 game on Lee Sin (and lost), which could have been a denial pick against Snoopeh directly.
The Ziggs pick is a direct answer to the Gragas pick. The wave clear from Ziggs can match the clear of Gragas (as long as both are relatively close in gold/items). Ziggs is resilient towards ganks, and can pressure side lanes. Within this composition, the AoE damage from a team fight is greatly in favor of XDG. However, Soraka can heal a fair portion of the initial burst if timed properly.
Let’s address the Urgot pick first. Urgot and Soraka is a heavy harass lane, with Soraka to help compensate for Urgot’s mana issues. Additionally, Soraka can boost Urgot’s armor temporarily to allow him to fire off more Acid Hunter Missiles while tanking a tower shot or two. Urgot has a low auto-attack range (425 range), which makes sieging towers down as the ADC incredibly difficult. This means that EG have to create a large enough zone to get Urgot in range to hit the tower. Additionally, if an opponent gets too close to Urgot, he can swap the enemy into their own team (and likely a Hextech Minefield) and burst down the target, while Urgot would have enough defense to run back into the team.
Also, another note to take into account, is the inexperience of XDG Xmithie in the bottom lane. Most teams do not practice against the Urgot/Soraka bottom lane specifically, due to it’s rare nature and difficulty of success in recent metagame phases. Forcing Xmithie into a match-up that he may have never played against before would force more cautious play or bring uncertainty to calls made during the lane phase. This is a deeply psychological pick that EG imposed, and I do not think XDG were prepared for it.
Dr. Mundo is commonly used as a top-lane pick, and is most likely read as such. Innox has played Mundo twice in the top thus far, and is expected to be in the top lane. The Mundo pick adds a massive damage sponge to the front-line of EG. I will go into more detail about this after the final pick.
The Sivir pick has been extremely popular in the GPL region, due to the good harass in lane, strong wave clear, disengage/engage potential, and the ability to absorb a single skill shot. In this match-up against Soraka/Urgot, Sivir deals gradual poke damage, which Soraka can shrug off with an Astral Blessing (W). This reduces the overall amount of harass that Sivir/Thresh will be able to put out, and forces the XDG bottom lane to all-in successfully or else they will have wasted too many resources, as the sustainability in the EG bottom lane is practically infinite over a long period of time. In the later game, Sivir can quickly take down towers with Ziggs zoning out members with Hextech Minefield (E) and Bouncing Bomb (Q).
The Shyvana top is presumed to go against the Dr. Mundo, where Shyvana will be able to out-harass Mundo in lane and have a distinct advantage going into the mid game. Even though the early game power of Shyvana was reduced substantially, she is still one of the better picks going against Dr. Mundo.
The final lock in for EG was Nidalee. This section may take some time to unpack, so lets start at the implications of the decision behind Nidalee before delving as to how the game changed.
First of all, EG had the ability to take a jungler at this point. However, with three jungler bans and XDG taking Lee Sin, the anticipated champion pool that Snoopeh brings to the table is either Gragas (who will be send mid to deal with Ziggs) or Hecarim (banned against EG by TSM in Week 1). The remaining junglers that would fit well for Snoopeh are somewhat limited. A jungle Mundo has not been seen in the NA LCS, so it’s results are somewhat uncertain; the gold income for junglers is typically far lower than a free-farm top lane Mundo, so the jungle Mundo’s survivability is a bit lower. Ganks in the laning-phase require good damage from the lane in order to secure kills, which at this point most lanes have. Having the Mundo jungle and Nidalee top also means that the single-tank composition is not looking to hard engage against the two-tank composition of XDG, but rather create zones of pressure to force XDG back.
The Nidalee pick top should have a good time against Shyvana during the laning phase. The constant auto-attack harass by Nidalee will slowly wear down Shyvana, who will not come to lane with any real sustain outside of life-steal runes or the health regen from Doran’s Shield. This should allow Nidalee to get a lead in lane, and hopefully be able to reach 6 before Shyvana or delay any gank attempts by Lee Sin. As Nidalee enters the mid-game, she has the option to split push or function as a tower siege engine with Soraka’s Infuse (E) to allow Spear spamming. This means that if EG are allowed to reach a tower in melee range, XDG will not be able to clear the waves or shove Mundo off; let alone deal enough damage repel the siege.
How the Game Changed:
With the Evil Genius composition, it is very evident that all lanes need to survive the lane phase and get a small lead over their opponents. The bottom lane should favor EG as long as they can repel any all-in attempts and keep their tower alive. The mid lane should be even, with the jungler tipping the lane in favor of either mid lane. The top lane favors Nidalee, due to sustain and auto-attack harass that Shyvana won’t be able to deal with for the first several levels.
XDG selected Lee Sin as their jungler, who’s entire early game is focused on 1) shutting the enemy jungler down, and 2) creating leads for lanes from Lee Sin’s early power spike. Dr. Mundo scales in power with levels and items, meaning that if he can spend the majority of his time alive and farming, with the occasional gank, Mundo will scale well into the mid-game. Lee Sin has to make an impact in the early game otherwise his utility is extremely limited.
The XDG line up is a standard push/siege composition, with the versatility to have Shyvana split push or stay grouped for team fights. Sivir/Ziggs will be looking to shove down towers as quick as possible, with Thresh being able to create picks and zone. The early game for Sivir/Thresh is to quickly take down a tower, then rotate to another lane to take another tower, increasing map control and easing timed objective control. The shorter the lane phase, the better for XDG.
A huge factor of this composition is to how Lee Sin will be utilized throughout the game. Lee Sin will be looking to use his mobility to flank in a team fight and kick out a champion back to his team, although the wrinkle in logic is that if Soraka sees Lee Sin attempt a flank, she can silence him with Infuse (E) and stop Lee Sin’s kick. If Ziggs and Sivir/Thresh are able to win their lanes, XDG should have no problem being able to successfully siege down a tower with their advantages.
The Evil Genius composition is a delicate team-zone composition, with three lines of formation. The composition also favors out-sustaining an enemy and slowly suffocating the enemy with poke damage and disposition. The front line consists of Dr. Mundo, whose sole purpose is to absorb damage and intimidate by throwing Infected Cleavers (Q), which can be chained into easier Spears and Hunter Seeker Missiles to land.
The mid line consists of Soraka, Urgot and Gragas, who will be about 200-300 range behind Mundo, with Urgot auto-attacking towers or zoning out enemies even further. If an enemy goes beyond Dr. Mundo’s range, Urgot will be able to Hyper-Kinetic Position Reverser an enemy into EG, where Gragas can throw down a Barrel and Nidalee can prepare a max-ranged Spear. Soraka will be able to heal and provide even more armor to Urgot as he retreats back into the mid-line of EG, making him hard to burst down. Gragas should have barrels rolled beyond the tower to clear minion waves before they reach the tower. Being able to prepare barrels and intimidate by the possibility of an Explosive Cask makes opponents want to keep as much distance away from Gragas as possible.
The back line is Nidalee, who will be lobbing Javelins towards the enemy to force a target back to base, triggering a group push towards a tower. Nidalee also dances between the deep back, and mid-line to help siege down towers quickly, and also brings another heal to the team (with an attack speed steroid), which helps Urgot survive even longer and helps bring the towers down quicker with auto-attacks. By being versatile in her positioning, the zone control from Nidalee is massive and a successful Spear hit drastically increase the success of the EG siege.
Looking at this composition on paper, there are several contingents that both teams need to achieve in order to pull out a victory. If EG is able to achieve most of these goals, then the path to victory is much easier.
Evil Geniuses’ Compositional Goals:
- Do not allow Lee Sin to have an early impact on the game.
If Lee Sin does not take off, he will have a minimal impact beyond the early game.
- Preserve towers to have a longer lane phase.
XDG want to push towers down and gain map pressure, however that requires a short lane phase. The longer EG can stall lanes to remain static, the more power EG champions cultivate.
- Try to break even or win during the lane phase.
Breaking even means that XDG did not reach their anticipated advantage/goal. Getting ahead makes the mid-game much easier to lock down turrets and objectives with EG’s zoning/poke comp.
- Stay grouped as five around objectives.
The strength of EG is that as a 5-man unit, they are incredibly difficult to take down quickly. If XDG are able to pick off a stray target, that means that XDG can surge to an objective and secure it quickly.
- Force XDG to defend a siege.
The real power from EG comes when XDG are unable to move freely around the map and have to stay bogged behind a tower. If Sivir gets too close to Ricochet (W) a wave, she can easily get moved into the middle of EG and instantly killed.
- Bait XDG into fighting prolonged team fights.
The sustain from EG’s composition favors fights where XDG have to waste many spells to burn down a single target, and then retreat. The issue is that XDG have much more sustained damage than burst, with little to no sustained healing for themselves. If the single target does not die, EG will be able to survive the burst and continue to fight.
If you would like to watch a VoD for this match, so see how EG are able to meet their objectives, you can view the VoD here!
Thanks for reading, and hopefully this article will help understand the Evil Genius Soraka/Urgot composition that was played against XDG during Week 2 of the NA LCS. It is a highly situational pick, with the champion draft creating a perfect storm in favor of EG. By playing along their strengths and knowing their weaknesses, this “oddball” poke/siege composition was able to pull off a victory in competitive play.