Week 1 Day 1 of the EU LCS was a bit of a disappointment, with a lot of extremely dominant showings. But one game in particular stood out to me, not because it was close, but because of how it was won. That game was Gambit Gaming vs Copenhagen Wolves.
Our story starts off, as they all do, in champion select. The bans were quite intriguing.
I’ve been watching mostly OGN, so I’m used to Kassadin, but I’m also used to a near permaban on the three strong supports: Thresh, Leona, and Kayle. Europe has a more mid-centric scene, so I wasn’t surprised to see two more mids. But I was surprised at who they were:
First, we had Yasuo, who has been much hyped in the European scene
Second, Kayle, who is a decent, high-damage mid who can bully many laners.
Mundo is one of the dominant tops, and Elise is possibly the best jungler (and not a specialty of DiamondPr0x), so neither of those were particularly surprising.
As the pick phase unfolded, however, the composition made more sense.
Gambit’s composition shaped up around isolating and bursting a target, then using various on-kill abilities (Jinx’s passive and, most importantly, Kha’Zix’s Leap) to snowball.
CW figured this out, drafting Lulu to counter, while running two incredibly tanky champions — Shyvana and Olaf– top and in the jungle.
Both team compositions were relatively strong. Warwick gave strong initiation, while Jinx/Kha’Zix/Lee Sin can follow up with single target burst, and once the fight is 4v5, they can abuse their team composition’s mobility, with Lee Sin dashing around and Jinx and Kha’Zix relying on their passives. Kennen support was an odd choice. Kennen was an ADC popularized, amusingly enough, by Gambit Gaming. But it gave the team some much-needed magic damage and teamfight presence.
CW, on the other hand, had a heavily mobile ADC with peel from Lulu, and two beefy tanks who can dive the enemy ADC. As well, they had the dreaded Shyvana Lulu combo, allowing them to use their ultimates together like a poor man’s Malphite. Finally, Zyra brought huge AoE damage and zone control.
Starting items were pretty standard for both teams, with Doran’s Shields top, Machetes in the jungle, Doran’s Blades on the ADCs, and Doran’s Shields on support. Mid saw Kha’Zix picking up a Flask, while Zyra picked up a Doran’s Ring.
Gambit Gaming’s bot lane facechecked a lane bush at level 1, leaving them chunked and easily zoned.
Zyra overextended early on, allowing Gambit to gank her easily. Kha’Zix jumped in, but actually landed behind her. She was able to run around for long enough that Olaf could show up, and they went 1 for 1, with Zyra getting first blood and Diamond having to clean up, narrowly escaping dying himself!
Kha’Zix buys two Long Swords, while Zyra picks up another Doran’s Ring and a Flask of her own. Meanwhile, bot lane, Jinx has had to go back after getting heavily zoned early on, and is down 14 cs to 29. Overall, between the first blood and the cs advantage, CW is up 600 gold, 6.5k to 5.9k.
Over the next few minutes, the game remains largely even, with Copenhagen Wolves using the strength of their bot lane to force Gambit’s bot lane back, and take an easy dragon, but Kha’Zix leaping in on Zyra twice — once unassisted by Lee Sin — for two more kills. At this point, the gold is still basically even, with CW up 300 gold, 16.1k to 15.8k. But the items tell a different story.
Top lane is basically even. But while Warwick has rushed straight for Sunfire Cape, Shyvana has split her items. This gives a slight power spike advantage to Warwick, but the lane is otherwise even.
Lee Sin has gone, of course, for mobility boots and a Doran’s Blade, while Olaf is instead rushing Ninja Tabi and the Spirit of the Ancient Golem. Lee has secured 2 kills, while Olaf has secured dragon.
Mid, however, Kha’Zix is completely outclassing Zyra. CW cowTard has seemingly built without paying attention, picking up no armor vs Kha’Zix. Worse, there are almost no sources of magic damage on Gambit, other than Warwick (who is building tanky), and yet cowTard is going for Athene’s Unholy Grail first. This has allowed for Zyra to be so squishy that Kha’Zix can simply pick the right time to all-in for a kill.
Finally, in bot lane, Kennen is sitting on almost 20 cs (the difference between Jinx and Lucian). Jinx has about equal items at the moment, however, with a Vamp Scepter and boots compared to Phage. This is the main difference: Gambit’s “losing” lanes are doing much better, comparatively.
In a shocking turn of events, Kha’Zix all-ins Zyra shortly thereafter, even going under tower to finish her off, and going up to 2-1-2, and leaving her 1-4. Lee Sin puts small pressure on Olaf and bot lane, allowing Jinx to pull even in farm and put good damage on bot lane’s turret, putting Gambit Gaming up 1.4k gold, 24.1k to 22.7k
Now, some of this is due to DiamondPr0x’s pressure, but a large part of it is due to the high zoning poke from Kennen and the crazy speed with which Jinx damages towers and pushes lanes.
Either way, in response, Olaf comes running in to bot lane, blowing Ghost to close the distance and his ultimate to break the Kennen stun. However, Warwick teleports in behind him, Lucian, and Lulu, immediately ulting onto Lucian once Lulu’s ult has been blown.
The chase turns around, and Gambit chases after CW
Kennen’s stun locks Lulu down for Jinx’s Super Mega Death Rocket, and the assist allows Jinx to speed in position to cut Olaf’s path off with her Flame Chompers. The assist speed and Warwick’s tankiness allows them to dive the bot inner tower to kill Lucian. But in the the meantime, Shyvana has taken both the inner and outer top towers.
Finally, while all of this was going on, Kha’Zix and Zyra traded 1 for 1. With nobody alive to contest, Genja and EDward also push down an inner tower, keeping Gambit Gaming a 1.2k gold advantage, 27.5 to 26.3
At this point, we can see the trends we had already seen borne out. Top lane is still about even. Shyvana has a slight farm edge, presumably obtained when Warwick teleported bot. They both have about 1.5 items.
On a sidenote, Darien has a Recurve Bow, which may be the least purchased item in the game. It seemed a bit of an odd choice for him to go for Wit’s End, given that most of Copenhagen’s Wolves damage was physical. My only guess is that the Magic damage and MR shred was intended to force CW to build any MR.
DiamondPr0x and Amazing are also about even in items, and even Jinx and Lucian are pretty much even (although Lucian has no boots at all, and Jinx has yet to upgrade hers).
But Kha’Zix has 40 cs on Zyra, with maybe a third of a completed item. However, the items he has completed each are extremely gold efficient for damage, while Zyra is highly invested in Mana Regen, not to mention the nigh-useless MR.
As well, Kennen has a kill and 10 cs on Lulu, giving him the advantage of Sorcerer’s Shoes.
So with this advantage, what does Gambit Gaming do? What they always do when they’re ahead: send Genja top and then initiate a 4v5 without him. Moreover, Kha’Zix is still running down river from top, with Shyvana close behind him. This leaves Gambit Gaming with no damage as Warwick ults onto Zyra, being knocked off by a Lulu ult. Unfortunately, Lulu ulted the already tanky Olaf, not cowTard’s Zyra. Diamond and Edward come flying into the fight. They burst down Zyra immediately and chase onto Lulu. The Super Mega Death Rocket arrives just as Kha’Zix does, and the combined burst takes Lulu down.
However, Shyvana has finally caught up, and comes flying in to clean up, first picking up the kill on Kennen, then leading the chase with Lucian to pick Warwick off.
After that, Kha’Zix manages to jump back in to finish off Shyvana, but CW is able to push down mid tower.
At first glance, this seems normal: a 2 for 3 teamfight in an even game. But Genja had been bot — for no reason, given that no tower was there to be pushed — the whole time. Despite that, Gambit had gone 3 for 2 in a 4v5, and Gambit Gaming was really starting to get out of control. A moment later they dive Zyra — again — under tower for a free kill. With Zyra dead, they turn immediately onto baron, killing Olaf/Shyvana when they comes in for the steal/contest, and even picking up Lucian and mid tower in the chaos that ensues.
The gold advantage is suddenly 5.9k in Gambit Gaming’s favor, 38.7k to 32.8k. From there, Gambit Gaming basically groups up and shoves mid. CW gives up the inner turret and contests at the inhibitor turret, with Lucian dead. Gambit Gaming doesn’t even wait, and Alex Ich dives the mid inhibitor tower with Darien still teleporting in from top. Kha’Zix dies, but Gambit cleans up Shyvana and Zyra, followed by the inhibitor turret. The inhibitor falls shortly thereafter in a push mid, widening the gold gap to 13k: 53.1 to 40.1. Nobody for Gambit dies in a clean ace as they push in for the Nexus, with Kha’Zix picking up a quadra kill.
There basically wasn’t a late-game, as Gambit gaming went from the 3v3 and 4v4 skirmishes of the mid-game to a baron and a commanding lead, from which they could (basically) push mid.
This game showed two things:
- Itemization cannot be static. Zyra paid again and again for her poor itemization, as she simply could not survive against Kha’Zix without armor. She had Flask and 2 Doran’s Rings, there was no need to go all the way to Athene’s before picking up any armor. Even the CDR from Athene’s seemed unimportant: with how bursty the enemy comp was, she never got a chance to use abilities more than once. Any number of things, from a Tear -> Zhonya’s to an early RoA would have served her better.
- Gambit’s teamfighting is insanely crisp, even when they are even, Once they are ahead, they are almost impossible to handle.