Minions Have Spawned

a League of Legends analysis blog

Watch Your Step! How Terrain Determines the Game

We’re in that team-fighting meta again. When you start seeing drafts with Galio, Gangplank and Alistar, you know you’re in for an AoE, CC and manly ride. Patch 8.4 also introduced changes to dragon and baron so that their impact increases late game. This means that fighting around objectives becomes almost necessary.

Not all team-fighting comps are created equal though. Some have more tailored win-conditions than others. King-zone DragonX is one of the few teams who runs Peanut on Nidalee for counter-jungling and the near-guaranteed spear via ganks while his team mates provide CC. She is there to snowball early before laning phase ends.

Kingzone KZ Peanut Nidalee-LCK

Carry performance by Peanut’s Nidalee vs. bbq (Credits: LoL Esports, 11 Mar 2018)

Other comps add an element of pick-potential (think Skarner, Ashe), split-push (Fiora), or early lane dominance into turret pressure with Caitlyn.

But it’s not just how a team plays out a draft. It’s not just about when they use their power spikes or map pressure. The less talked about factor, is terrain. Where a team fight is, is equally important as to when and how they fight.

With team fighting at the centre of this season’s meta, clashing in the narrowness of the jungle as opposed to the wider lane or river makes a difference. Sometimes, a lot of difference; win or lose difference.

  1. Get Zoned Out

When Kalista was present pre-nerf, SK Telecom T1 started bouncing back from a losing streak – until they met the Afreeca Freecs. They gave Galio over in game 1 and picked Skarner in return. When Skarner ults someone, Galio also ults that someone. As a result, SKT’s pick potential drastically decreased and they had zero kills that game.

Already finding themselves on the back foot, SKT were on the defense 33 minutes in. Keep your eye on Bang’s Kalista:

To find a way back into the game, SKT needed a pick. They were hoping that by catching Zac out, Baron could open up as an option. Unfortunately, Tahm Kench picked on Zac within a narrow arm of the jungle. SKT members were not only forced to stand in a linear row, but also stick to this undesirable formation as AFs’ AoE -CC reigned down on their frontline.

Afreeca Freecs SKT fight LCK

Afreeca Freecs vs. SK Telecom T1 team fight, game 1 LCK Spring 2018

Without space to navigate, Bang’s Kalista left the party early. A Kalista who doesn’t have leeway to stack spears is a dead (and useless) ADC.  Afreeca took Baron after to seal the game.

  1. …Or Zone Your Own Teammates Out

The engager holds more responsibility when it comes to starting fights. Having beaten King-zone DragonX for the first time in Spring, bbq Olivers showed no signs of backing down in round 2.

The gold was neck-to-neck for the first 23 minutes of game 1… until Trick jumped in at this awkward corner:

Look at the curves of this terrain! We got ourselves
-A thick, curved boulder
-Jarvan IV around the bend
-Azir’s flanking with wall that pushed J4 even more round the bend
-Bbq team mates still trying to catch up
-Tristana feeling completely lost
-Syndra and Gnar trying to make up for the play but not really
-KZ in a safer spot because bbq ADC and support got totally zoned out by J4’s geographical decision

Kingzone bbq gold graph LCK

KZ vs. bbq Team Gold Advantage Graph (Credit: LoL Esports)

Bbq had 4 kills. They had both a mountain and fire drake. They were on track this game, and were fairing much better than other teams who go up against KZ — if only Jarvan IV chose a better place and time to leap.

  1. Terrain + Vision = Picks

Hovering between the duality of ‘team fight champion’ versus ‘split push champion’ is Camille. She’s interesting because her skill set provides flexibility not only in how she is played as a top laner, but also as a jungler.

Camille Statistics LCK Spring

Camille Best Players LCK Spring 2018

Camille Stats as of 19 Mar 2018 (Credits: Games of Legends)

She’s seen to have a high presence and brings mixed results. Walking up in a straight up 5v5 as Camille isn’t going to work. Hookshot is telegraphed and Hextech Ultimatum is no Hero’s Entrance.

Catching a stray enemy on favourable terrain to blast open a team fight however, is another story:

CuVee’s Camille had just cleared bot lane’s wave and walked up river. Due to KSV’s positioning, they were pushing KT back and towards the side. Smeb’s Gangplank couldn’t walk down the lane because Sejuani and friends were closing in. That’s when he got stuck between an elongated boulder and a hard place.

KT-Smeb KSV LCK Spring

KT Smeb Blocked KSV LCK

KT Smeb on Gangplank getting ulted by KSV CuVee Camille, game 3 LCK Spring 2018

KT had no vision in the river. KSV took advantage of the moment’s positioning to strike. Sejuani’s ult behind the wall to lock up Deft bought time and kept KT further away from Smeb.

BONUS: Bait enemies into terrain that’s favourable for you
[Warning! Only do this if you’re Faker]

With memories of Faker’s Ekko dying at bot side river near dragon still fresh in our minds, this recall could have gone so wrong.

“When you can’t recall in peace, kill them with a wall.”

So the next time you watch a game, pay attention to where teams choose to fight. It isn’t just about the champions, or using skills or even messing up. Sometimes, space – or the lack of it – goes a long way.


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This entry was posted on March 19, 2018 by in teamfight, vision and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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