Of Pawns and Kings – The Goal Planning of Roccat vs. Gambit

When the top two teams collide for the number one spot, the true winners are the fans. In one of the most exciting matches of the EU season, Gambit and Roccat put on an incredible performance that lasted a minute shy of an hour, with the winner being determined in the very last two minutes of the game. I would like to analyze this match and look specifically about the goals for each team at different points throughout the game, and how both teams work towards those goals.


Instead of delving into each draft, lets look at some of the general objectives of each composition on a theoretical level.

 ROCCATlogo_std  ROCCAT   ROCCATlogo_std

Roccat’s composition has an incredibly strong early-to-mid game power spike, with Renekton and Caitlyn being able to bully their lanes early. Elise will help out the lanes to gain an advantage as well as help protect against Vi ganks (likely in the bottom lane). The Caitlyn/Renekton combo will work to push the towers down early in order to gain map control, which leads to stronger objective control. Gragas and Caitlyn have excellent wave clear and range to siege (and counter siege). One of the weaknesses to this composition is the lack of lockdown, with Roccat looking to engage only off of key Thresh hooks or a good Gragas ultimate. As far as compositions go, this is a versatile composition that is strong at many phases of the game.

Winning Conditions: Gain early and mid game map control, forcing fights around towers, while moving backwards (as a group) from a Gambit hard engage.

GambitLogo_std   Gambit   GambitLogo_std

The Gambit composition is a quazi-“protect the carry” composition, with heavy dive and two mobility reset champions. All lanes of Gambit are significantly weaker than Roccat’s lanes, with Vi not being an ideal ganker until level 6. Surviving lanes are going to be the top priority for Gambit, and then move into roaming 3-man gank squads. The composition of Gambit is looking to create the first kill by focusing down a single target, and then using the resets to get another kill, and so on. The mobility resets allows carries to get “free damage” (unanswered damage) unless Roccat becomes out-of-position in the teamfight.

The final piece of the puzzle is Shen, who has a decent mid-game against Renekton, and is a constant global threat which can turn the numbers advantage to Gambit in a pinch. The wave clear of Gambit is low, with Jinx’s rockets (and Kha’Zix’s evolved W, more of this ahead), but the lockdown is immense with snares, taunts, and knock-ups. The “reset” comp for Gambit has a weak early game, but a strong mid-game dependent on grouped fighting and split pushing.

Winning Conditions: Engage a fight from multiple flanks, and push forward; using the mobility from resets and soak from tanks to outlast Roccat. Jinx + 1 more must survive.


The Early Game Goals

ROCCATlogo_stdRoccat: Push waves and gain harass advantage in all lanes.

GambitLogo_stdGambit: Stay in lane as long as possible without suffering considerable losses.

From the basic compositions, Gambit know that they will start the early game behind until Vi can make an impact in the game. Diamond spends the majority of his early game farming the jungle, and the game is mostly passive, with Roccat taking a considerable lead in the bottom lane. The end of the “early game” comes when Roccat 3-man dive Shen as soon as after Gragas had his first buy and hit 6. This is a massive power spike for Gragas, unfortunately Shen could not leave his tower, knowing that the dive was imminent.


The First Dragon Objective:

ROCCATlogo_stdRoccat: Do not let Shen join a teamfight, try to force out Gambit bot lane for an easier dragon.

GambitLogo_stdGambit: Bait a teamfight at dragon and Shen ultimate in.

The first dragon of the game is not a significant income boost (compared to Season 3 dragon), but what is important is the timer on the dragon. In most cases, teams can trade the first dragon for an early tower, which evens the gold out a little bit. The timer is the most important piece of information because teams need to prepare for a fight up to a minute and a half before its spawn. That gives players ample time to purchase items, set up vision in an area, and wait for ultimates to come up. The second dragon is arguably the most important dragon in the game, as its gold value is much higher around the 15-20 minute mark, and the number of map objectives should be fewer and fewer.

A point of note in this match is that Alex Ich on Kha’Zix evolved his Void Spikes (W) first, an uncommon build in the professional scene seen before only from Alex himself. This is a reactionary decision, knowing that Alex will not be able to keep up with Overpow’s Gragas Q farm and wave clear, and a Ravenous Hydra would put him at risk of taking free damage from Gragas. The disadvantage of taking evolved Void Spikes is that Alex Ich does not have extra execute damage from Taste Their Fear (Q), plus it puts off that possibility until level 16 (with level 11 taking the Evolved Leap [E]).

The initial dragon engagement begins in the bottom lane, where Elise comes to make a play bottom. Thresh flashes in and uses his ultimate, burning the flash from Morgana and bringing her to below half, making the play towards dragon. Both bottom and mid-lane are shoved to the turret to stall Gambit while Roccat starts dragon.

The fight unfolds with both teams focusing down the support first, and the jungler second, with both AD carries far in the back away from threats. Shen has his ultimate interrupted by Renekton’s stun, and Gragas stalls Kha’Zix, making the dragon fight a 3v3. Roccat win the fight, getting 3 kills for 2 deaths, but the dragon still remained alive.


The first dragon is secured by Roccat about a minute after the previous teamfight. Roccat established vision control around the entrances to dragon, where Gambit only had wards on the bottom part of dragon, not having vision from Roccat’s wraiths or mid lane. This, along with the Shen ultimate being on cooldown gives Roccat a fairly easy dragon. Gambit collect the dragon time and return to lane.

Posturing for the Second Dragon / The End of Laning Phase

The next four minutes should be relatively calm. With the dragon objective gone, the next focus will to be ending the lane phase shortly before the second dragon. With 30-seconds left until the second dragon spawns (~17 minute mark), VandeR tries to land a Death Sentence, but misses and gets punished with a kill onto Caitlyn, leaving a 3v4 for the upcoming dragon.


Notice that Thresh’s hook and lantern are on cooldown, making it impossible to save Caitlyn

Roccat converge in the bottom lane after the gank and shove the lane towards the tower, to delay the ADC/Support combination to dragon, as well as buy time for Renekton to leave top lane and head towards dragon. Gragas continues to push the mid lane back to pressure the second tower, which doesn’t allow Kha’Zix to join the fight. With Renekton roaming down, Gambit can trade the dragon for the top outer tower.

The Mid Game – Goals for the Group Fights

ROCCATlogo_stdRoccat: Use their push advantage to quickly create pressure in other lanes, while grouping to siege down more towers.

GambitLogo_stdGambit: Have Shen clear other lanes, jump in when Gambit engages. Try to create picks in their own jungle through superior vision control.

The next part of the game revolves around gaining vision control throughout the Gambit jungle, as Gambit are behind and this is the area where they will look to create picks.


A successful Morgana Dark Binding forces Elise to burn flash and return to base

Both duo lanes decide to return to the bottom lane for an extended lane phase, while the remaining 6 members brawl in the top side jungle. Roccat have two major damage threats, while Gambit only have one, creating an unfavorable matchup for Gambit. With about a minute left until the next dragon, both teams return to base to buy and regain vision control around the dragon. Roccat have a string of deep wards in the Gambit jungle and know that the dragon will be uncontested, and go for it. This dragon adds an additional 1.2k gold to Roccat, and because the waves were pushed, no objectives were lost.

Around the 26-minute mark, Gragas notices an opportunity to separate Vi from their team, and forces Gambit to engage. This draws out ultimates from several champions, including Shen, who was unable to join the fight, for the price of a single Gragas ultimate. With the creep wave gone for 15 seconds, Roccat decide to move towards Baron, knowing that Jinx and Kha’Zix are the only two who can contest at Baron. Shen does take the bottom inner tower, but Roccat takes down Baron Nashor, earning them a 5k gold advantage.


Vi getting “picked” and Gambit reacting with a disengage, pawning top tower for bottom tower

Power Scaling – Goals of the “Early”-Late Game

ROCCATlogo_stdRoccat: Create siege and take towers, maintain map pressure to deny objectives from Gambit, fight Gambit when available.

GambitLogo_stdGambit: Fend off siege, use Shen to split, and stall/wave clear as long as possible. Keep Jinx and Kha’Zix alive to get resets and to quickly kill towers. Continue to set up picks.

At this point, it’s important to look at the scaling at this point. Caitlyn has completed her 3rd major item (Bloodthirster, Statik Shiv, and now Last Whisper), which means that she will be able to shred down tanks and bruisers quickly. Gragas opted for a Deathfire Grasp and Zhonya’s Hourglass, which lowers his sustained damage output and siege longevity. The reason behind this is to quickly burst out the single target that Shen will ultimate onto, thus turning the fight into a 3v5. Roccat will be looking to fight.

On Gambit’s side, Shen has two split pushing items, but relatively low survivability; meaning he will be looking to split push alone. Kha’Zix has a Last Whisper, Brutalizer, upgraded Manamune, and Spirit of the Elder Lizard, which helps with wave clear, but without a defensive item, he can be focused down easily. Jinx is opting for an Infinity Edge as a 3rd item (rather than a Last Whisper), which means that she is not looking to teamfight and continue farming. Gambit are looking to keep stalling the game at the 28-minute mark to power up further.

The next interesting fight occurs around the 32-minute mark. Gambit are shoving the mid lane hard (as Roccat are splitting to clear the side lanes, leaving mid vulnerable). Gambit march as 5 and proceed to dive the outer middle turret, trying to take advantage of Renekton/Caitlyn clearing the side lanes. Roccat are able to fend off the dive, save the tower, and kill Kha’Zix. This reverses the momentum that Gambit had after the push.

Baron Dancing and Rotations – Late Game Goals for Reversing the Pressure

ROCCATlogo_std Roccat: Siege objectives and take a single side-lane inhibitor, then continue to pressure other lanes, choking out Gambit from resources. Use the burst from Gragas to preserve the backline of Roccat and fall back from fights to capitalize on the range advantage of Roccat.

GambitLogo_stdGambit: Gain the vision advantage and wait until a fight where Kha’Zix and Jinx can abuse their mobility reset, making picks onto those out of position, and taking out the Roccat’s weaker frontline.

The first real Baron dance begins around 34-minutes, with Roccat having the vision advantage. Gambit leave Baron (after investing 5 wards) and return to take their own jungle and have Shen split. Roccat gain vision over the top jungle, and notice that Gambit has left; which allows a quick rotation to top lane.

Morgana lands a Dark Binding onto Thresh (who is relatively squishy and out of position), and pick up a quick kill. This gives a reset of mobility to both Kha’Zix and Jinx. Gambit members are spread out well enough to avoid the AoE burst from Gragas/Renekton/Caitlyn, and pick off targets quickly and efficiently with Kha’Zix/Jinx. This leads to a 5 for 2 trade in favor of Gambit, who take a Baron and a dragon off of the 50 second death timers. The gold disparity is less than 2,000 at this point, Gambit having clawed their way back into the game.


Gambit reverse the pressure they were under and take the remaining inner towers, and look to create a pick onto Thresh again (who is still relatively squishy at the 41-minute mark). Gambit expend all 5 ultimates for a single kill onto Thresh, but do not take anything else off of the play. Without any further ultimates, Gambit retract from the siege and purchase for the dance around Baron, which respawns in the next 45 seconds. It’s interesting to note that Gambit have three Sightstones, bringing their total possible ward count to 10, while Roccat have a mere 6 (with 3 of those being trinket wards).

The next fight at Baron starts when Jinx’s Banshee’s Veil is popped early, and 5 members of Roccat destroy her immediately. Next, Roccat become clumped together and take massive AoE damage from Gambit, and lose two. Gambit (knowing that they do not have the damage to continue fighting) retreat and try to draw Roccat away from Baron.

Roccat make the mistake of not having vision of Baron and do not contest (mostly due to the fact that vision is so scare for Roccat at this time). Gambit attempt to siege down mid lane with 4, but do not have the ample poke to force Roccat off the tower. Gragas is able to 100-0 Kha’Zix while he is looking for a flank, and that is the signal for Roccat to rush mid and take the inhibitor and tower.


The next fight starts at 55-minutes, where Gambit get impatient and try to rush down Baron. Roccat read the situation correctly and converge onto Baron. Gambit attempt to engage onto Roccat, but quickly realize that it is a bad idea with Baron still hitting them, and disengage. Roccat overstay and their main tank Renekton gets chained crowd controlled and nearly dies.


Again, Gambit attempt to rush down Baron again (with the numbers advantage), but seize an opportunity to engage onto an out-of-position Caitlyn. Gambit try to push the teamfights forward (to be able to kill whoever arises with a Guardian Angel), and Roccat retreats backwards.


In a risky play, Gambit return to Baron immediately following the last fight, with two members under 25% HP and no Guardian Angels or Banshee’s Veils available. And this is where the chaos begins. 4 of 5 Gambit members disengage from Baron and prepare to fight, Vi continues and finishes off Baron. Kha’Zix tries to duel a Gragas with a Guardian Angel, and the Gambit “move forward” composition is suddenly having to retreat from a chaotic fight.


This fight was the last stand for Gambit, with Gambit filing into Roccat one-by-one after Shen died; leaving Jinx and Morgana to fend off a base push against 5 (with 60+ second death timers for the dearly departed). Gambit had to make the decision to retreat or fight after Baron, and chose incorrectly. Being low from Baron and losing the primary peel for Jinx (the core DPS of Gambit) meant that Gambit would not get the necessary resets to move around the battlefield, ensuring a lost teamfight.

Of Pawns and Kings

Gambit realized that Roccat composition was going to dominate the early game, hence why Alex Ich built Kha’Zix to remain relevant in the game by having high farm. Gambit knew that the first six towers were going to be lost, but if they are able to stall out the game long enough at the inhibitor turrets, that they could win teamfights from behind. The vision for Gambit was incredible, until after three prolonged fights, where the vision timed out while Roccat kept returning to base for more wards. After stretching themselves too thin and a questionable decision to fight after securing Baron, Gambit are backed into a checkmate!



This article was edited by ShiraShira.

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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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