Author: DXI Edge

Smashfest Saskatoon

We here at SKL are so excited that Smashfest, in partnership with the Saskatoon Blades and IKS Media, is only nine days away. With it being so close, here is some information on what all will be taking place at the SaskTel Centre on January 27th, as well as what you can do to prepare for this awesome event.

First of all, and perhaps most excitingly, we are happy to announce that the prize pool has been increased from $1000 to $1500! This prize pool is sponsored by both the Saskatoon Blades and Tourism Saskatoon.

Not interested in playing in the main tournament? That’s okay! For those of you who were at the last Smashfest, we are re-opening the Legacy Gaming Room, this time sponsored by RegenStorm Arcade and Game On Amusements! For just $15, you can play in any and all the games we have offered in the concourse at SaskTel Centre for as long as you like. Included in your $15 purchase, you will also receive the all new SKL Player Card! These Player Cards get you discounted drinks at the Twisted Tartan for the rest of 2018. We are in contact with other sponsors to add to the benefits these Player Cards offer, so make sure to sign up for the Legacy Room to be the first to get your hands on these exclusive discounts!

Just like the last Smashfest, there will be areas for friends/family/other players to watch the tournament as it happens. Our lovely casters will be on hand to broadcast and stream the event. Everyone is welcome to come watch the event, check out all the Legacy Gaming Room games, or just come hang out. There will be mini tournaments happening around the arena for the duration, including Doubles for Wii U (registration online at smash.gg/skl2) and Super Smash Bros. Melee (registration at the venue) so don’t miss it! There will be concession stands open at SaskTel Centre for food and beverages.

Registration for the main tournament is now live at smash.gg/skl2. You can pay online or at the door. Access to the Legacy Gaming Room is also included in your tournament entry fee! Of the initial 128 available main tournament slots, approximately 40 remain, so be sure to pre-register! Legacy Room bracelets will be exclusively sold at the door.

After Smashfest, SKL is hosting the first Smashfest After Party at the Twisted Tartan (2404 8th St East in Saskatoon) starting at 9:00! This will be the first opportunity to use your SKL Player Cards to get discounted drinks at the Twisted Tartan. It will also be a great chance to get to know some of the players and SKL casters!

Also, be sure to come out to the SaskTel Centre on Friday night, as the Saskatoon Blades take on the Edmonton Oil Kings in their video game themed night! We will have SKL staff and some of the top Smash players in attendance to play some exhibition games. If you want to see if you have what it takes against some of the best smash players in Western Canada, come check it out.

If you need a place to stay in Saskatoon Friday or Saturday, the Comfort Suites (203 Bill Hunter Ave) is offering discounted rooms at $84 a night, for either two double beds or a single queen bed, until January 21st! So make sure to book your hotel room before that date!

Hope to see you all there!

-Dylan “Edge” Edgar and Kevin “BigBooty” Bode

January 27th, 2018

Approximate tournament timeline:

10:00 am: SaskTel Centre doors open.

10:59 am: Registration for SKL Smashfest closes

11 am: SKL Smashfest begins

2:30 pm: Approximate start time of top 24

4 pm: Approximate start time of top 8

7 pm: Crowning of SKL Smashfest champion

9 pm: SKL Smashfest After Party at the Twisted Tartan

Prize Pool Breakdown:

1st Place: $600

2nd Place: $300

3rd Place: $180

4th Place: $120

5th / 6th Place: $90

7th / 8th Place: $60

SKL Hearthstone Invitational

Hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dylan “Edge” Edgar and I helped to run the last SKL Hearthstone tournament last season.

This last tournament series saw players play from May until July to compete to see who was the best in Saskatchewan. The tournament before that saw players play from November until February (even longer) and both tournaments saw people unable to commit every week for those months. Some dropped out for work reasons, or personal reasons. But many in the tournaments disliked how much time was required, along with a few other issues that arose from the tournament (complicated, streaming schedule, etc) I personally talked with many of the players to gauge what worked, what didn’t, what they would like to see added and what they would like to see removed. So we tried to find a solution.

We believe we found one.

Starting with our next tournament (September 24th! See Below!) we will be hosting tournaments held each month from now until December, with the winner of each of these being invited to the SKL Invitational held at the beginning of December. The tournaments will be of the following format:

  • Swiss Bracket, cutting to either top 8 or top 4 (based on attendance)
  • Winners receive invites, anyone finishing in top 8 or top 4 will receive points
  • Bring 4 decks, ban 1
  • Conquest OR Last Hero Standing (At least 1 of each)
  • FULLY ONLINE, played in 1 day (or 2 if we have enough people, but likely 1)
  • $5 buy-in

The tournaments will start in the morning, with last minute registrations due by a certain time designated on our website or on the Facebook page. There will be registration beforehand (which I strongly recommend) and the tournament/signup/match submissions will be held on Battlefy. We will be streaming the top matches on our twitch (twitch.tv/saskleague).

But wait, Edge. This invitational…only 4 players are going to play in it?

No. There will be 8!

Our first tournament winner, Jonathon “Alarid” Odne, has received the first invite to the invitational.

4 more winners will receive invites. This leaves 3 more spots. These spots will be filled by the players who collect the most points. (5 points for 2nd place, 3 points for 3rd-4th place, 1 point for 5-8th if the tournament cuts to top 8 instead of top 4).  Each tournament you play in, a certain amount of points will be added to your total (which will be displayed on our website sklesports.ca) and the top 3 players will receive invites to the invitational, with one exception.

Lets say Alarid plays in the next tournament and wins it again! This would mean that now he receives 2 invites to the tournament. But he only requires one. We will then transfer that invite slot to the 4th person on the leaderboards, to ensure all 8 slots are filled! Simple right?

I will personally be open to any discussion or comments about the tournaments moving forward, as will others from the admin team. Positive or negative, if you have something that you feel can make our tournaments better feel free to let us know.

Good luck players, and pull up a chair by the hearth!

Dylan “Edge” Edgar

Register Now!

Click the button to register for first tournament in the new format! The Tournament takes place online on September 24th, 2017!

Player Experience: Hearthstone

Hello, my name is Dylan “Edge” Edgar, and I was the victor of the Saskatchewan Hearthstone Championship this season, going 7-2 in the regular season and winning the finals in four sets! Brief overview of myself before I get into details about the tourney: I’m an avid gamer who has played League of Legends competitively (currently on Rocky Mountain Classics as their sub, maining jungle), as well as having a Magic: The Gathering background (which is what got me into card games initially).

 

SO, what you’re here for: the tournament. I started playing Hearthstone again in October after a pretty long hiatus from the game. I actually started playing the game back in July 2014 and played throughout one of the worst times in Hearthstone history: Undertaker summer. I logged in every once and awhile to get card backs and what not, but I never really played the game heavily, as to me it seemed too easy and I much preferred playing Magic. Fast forward to October, and the timing of my return couldn’t be more perfect. I had recently been getting frustrated with League as a game, and wanted to go back to my card game roots as I hadn’t been able to play MTG in over a year, and I had always told myself that I could hit legend if I really wanted to, so I decided to try starting October 3rd (also happened to have a new patch hit this day, so brand new meta!).

 

Twenty days later, I was hooked and managed to hit legend.

 

It was right around that time that I started looking for tournaments, as I wanted to continue to see just how good I was at this game, or if it was just a fluke. Going into these tournaments also meant I had to learn other decks, as my climb to legend was almost exclusively ZooLock and Midrange Shaman, with a little bit of Tempo Mage here and there (my favourite deck ever as it reminds me of Delver decks from Magic). So I signed up for PrairieLAN and managed to get second in a GRUELING tournament that had me playing my final at 4:30 am against a friend of mine, only to lose out to Frigid Snobold off of Ironforge Portal into Shield Slam to have just enough damage to kill my Ragnaros. To say that loss stung a bit was an understatement, but sometimes RNG gods crush you.

 

Right after PrarieLAN (beginning of November) was when I heard about the SK Championships. I decided to sign up and see competition in this great province of ours, and began testing. I began watching streams, recording opponents’ tech choices to see what was popular/good vs what was bad, and I even started testing lineups in open cups to see what I liked best. Eventually, when the season started I had settled on banning Shaman, and running MidShaman, Tempo Mage, Zoolock and Secret Hunter. But as time went on, I realized that although I loved Rexxar on ladder, I had teched my Hunter list to be good against Shaman (as it was almost 25% of what I was playing on ladder) and I didn’t know how to build/test my Hunter deck in a format where Shaman was permabanned, so I decided to scrap it for MalygosDruid. I used this lineup for the first tbree weeks of the tourney and went 3-0.

 

Then Mean Streets of Gadgetzan emerged, and immediately I saw Pirate Warrior, Jade Druid and Mid-Jade Shaman as decks to watch for. Reasoning for Pirate Warrior was obvious for everyone, as it was a Tier two deck before the expansion and all this expansion did was inject steroids into its cutlass holding arm. Jade Druid seemed almost impossible for control decks to beat (I still remember Day one posting a photo of me having 7 14/14+ Jades vs RenoMage). I decided going in to try and change as little of my strategy as possible, as it seemed to be working for me beforehand and I didn’t like the play style of Reno decks (on top of accidentally disenchanting Reno and Brann to feed my Midrange Shaman legend climb. Whoops), so I focused Midrange Shaman, Pirate Warrior (my aggro replacement for Zoo), Jade Druid (which seemed to me a better MalyDruid), and I ended up deciding Miracle Rogue would be my third deck, as I had been slowly learning how to play it as its engines reminded me of Storm and I heavily enjoyed playing something that wasn’t midrange/aggro. I used this lineup for four more weeks going 3-1, with my loss being an eye opener.

 

After starting the season 6-0 and having hit legend back to back to back, I decided to slack a little bit with the Christmas holidays. I had hit legend in eight days in December (Dragon Warrior crushed the initial meta) and I went to Cuba for eight days, so the amount of Hearthstone I played was pretty minimal going into my match with LordSloth. When I got back and starting testing my decks for my match, Shaman/Warrior/Rogue were doing fantastic for me, as per usual, but Jade Druid was starting to get worse and worse. I was beating it consistently on ladder, and I didn’t feel as confident in the deck as I used to, but I didn’t have the card Reno Jackson to play Reno decks and I was NOT willing to play Dragon Priest mirrors (having almost zero practice on Priest as a class), so I decided to just play Jade Druid again. And after starting 2-0 vs LordSloth, JadeDruid got reverse swept. I was crushed. It was after this round that I decided that if I was going to actually want to compete in open cups and try for the blizzard circuit after holding a top 200 position I couldn’t let card availability affect me. So I bought sixty packs, had enough for RenoMage and RenoLock, and started spamming the decks until I became proficient with them, which proved successful as my only loss after that was to Tbatz in an unlucky round where he had to top deck back to back answers in my Rogue vs RenoPriest loss, and kill me the turn before I had lethal as Renolock vs his combo druid. Once I beat Monsterosity I was locked for live finals and the real testing began.

 

Now, going into the finals I knew I had to change my strategy. For almost twelve weeks, I played some combination of Shaman/Aggro/Combo/Control, thinking that I would be able to beat any decks people would bring just purely out playing some of my opponents. In the top four, with all the players either people that almost beat me (Magi) or players that DID beat me (LordSloth, Tbatz) I knew this strategy wouldn’t work. On top of that, I figured I would be able to roughly predict what each player would play (spoiler alert: I was wrong) and as such tech my decks/lineup in a way that I was not able to before.

 

So to start off my testing, I decided to make sixteen decks that I thought I liked and starting narrowing class by class what I thought each “best deck” for each class was, and what lineup it favoured. So in my naming of the decks, I named the deck what archetype it was and what ban it wanted and started crafting lineups together and teching lists that had similar ban wishes. I wanted to have two lineups completed before the European playoffs to see how accurate I was in the meta prediction and to see if I had the right idea of what was powerful versus what was not. Surprisingly, I was very similar in my deck choices with the second place player (Greensheep) and a couple of the Top 8 players (Sjow and Neirea) as I had the following predictions in my testing:

 

  1. RenoMage would be super popular. As such, if I was playing Rogue, I wanted at least one Beneath the Grounds in my list, cutting down on Fan of Knives and banning Shaman.
  2. Because of this, instead of running Aggro Shaman, I was beginning to favor Mid-Jade shaman more and more, as it was a similar playstyle to Dragon Warrior (one of my favourite decks) and let me play less mirror matchups on ladder instead of Aggro Shaman.
  3. Pirate Warrior needed to have at least one Mortal Strike in an open deck list format, as it made people play around things you may or may not have (mortal strike makes good players try to keep you as close to thirteen life as possible before killing you, similar to pre-nerf Molten Giants made you want to keep your opponent above fifteen health before bursting them and current control warrior with revenge).
  4. RenoMage was better than Renolock due to being able to play greedy to beat the other Renodecks, while also having anti-aggro tech fit in to beat the aggro decks. However, Jade Druid required cheesy burn strats to win, and as such Inkmaster/Pyroblast was best if you were wanting to beat Druid (or just not play it and concede the fact that you were going to lose to Druid).
  5. In a meta where everyone is playing Reno decks to beat other aggro decks, Tempo Mage had an ability to sneak out wins due to having an interesting win condition vs Renolock: burn. TempoMage in my testing was crushing Renolock with ease and as I was expecting players to play Renolock, I began refining lists of Tempo mage based off of APXVoid and Amnesiac’s lists.

 

I realized something soon after this tournament however. I figured that although the players in the top four may not watch the European championship, they WOULD be watching the North American championship. This would mean all these players would be using the same things I learned to change their lists and change the meta the day before lists were due. Which meant I ALMOST had to start from scratch the week before lists were due. This was also right around the time that Aggro Rogue was starting to get more refined, and I was finding I was having pretty good success against Pirate Warrior with it. While testing against Monstrosity a couple games, I was confirming my suspicion that this was a Rogue deck that could actually beat Pirate Warrior consistently (which was a deck I was expecting everyone to play. Spoiler alert: only one other player did). I narrowed this down as my Rogue deck of choice, as the previous day in an open cup using a lineup of Shaman/Miracle Rogue/Pirate Warrior/RenoMage, in the round of thirty-two I swept a players Rogue list, and in the top sixteen I had my miracle rogue list swept. Not wanting a repeat of my match vs LordSloth, I eliminated Miracle Rogue from contention. Having already narrowed my Shaman list to Mid-Jade Shaman earlier (and tweaking it based off what i saw from Greensheep), I just had to narrow down my Warrior deck, and my flex slot in my lineup.

 

What made me decide on my flex slot was actually a wrong prediction on my part that ended up paying off anyway. After my match with Tbatz, I assumed he would be playing Druid in the finals. And as his brother (Magi) was also playing, I assumed he would be as well, and I didn’t want to play a control deck that was weak to Druid. Seeing the success of Greensheep and RDU with TempoMage, and it being a deck I had previous success with in the tournament, I decided I would run a “full” aggro lineup with MidShaman/Aggro Rogue/Pirate Warrior/Tempo Mage. I played four open cups with the lineup and tested it/refined the lists to my liking (the aggro rogue list went through the most changes and was the one the casters asked me about a lot, since they hadn’t seen Deadly Poison in aggro lists at that point) and after seeing quite a few NA Championship players playing the aggro lineup as well, I decided to lock it in and submit the lists. And to my surprise, when the lists were revealed there was not a single Druid…

 

Approaching the tournament I tested with a player that I had met on legend ladder (HemiPowered) and figured in my first round matchup I had a pretty good shot based almost exclusively on my matchup vs his Reno-Lock. Because it was super greedy, I knew the following for my decks going into the matchup:

  1. If he didn’t draw Reno against Pirate Warrior I would win.
  2. If he did draw Reno but I was on the coin, I would win (because he could not coin it out turn 5)
  3. If I had a decent draw with tempo mage I would win (this felt like the easiest matchup for my 3 decks vs his 3 decks)
  4. Aggro Rogue could beat every deck in his lineup if he stumbled at all

 

After testing the matchup with typical Shaman bans I was 5-0 in series, reverse sweeping Renolock 3 times. So we decided to try him banning my Pirate Warrior instead of my Shaman. All of a sudden I was losing every matchup. Surprisingly (or not if you think about it) his lineup was VERY good vs Mid-Shaman. Dragon Warrior had stronger threats come out faster, Renolock was super greedy and AoE based so it gave him time to set up, and Dragon Priest had large efficient threats and a lot of AoE. And since I had teched my list against Aggro, I was a little worried that he may be able to sneak out a win with this strategy. So I hoped he would follow the hivemind and just ban my Shaman, and if he did I knew I could 3-0 his Renolock.

 

The other two players I didn’t test much of their lineups for a couple reasons. LordSloth’s lineup was a carbon copy of NRG Amnesiac’s, and since I had played against it in open cups I knew to never play Tempo Mage until my last deck, as it’s unfavoured in the Aggro Rogue and Pirate Warrior matchups. As long as I won the Tempo Mage mirror, I felt comfortable in that matchup so my next few open cups (even if it was a bad decision) I queued Tempo Mage as much as I could to understand the deck a bit better and to try to play against as many Tempo Mage mirrors as possible. As for Tbatz’s lineup…well aggro > greedy control decks. I knew WHY he went the way he did for his lineup as he was trying to target Reno decks (which his lineup does quite well) as both Sloth and I had played Reno decks in the tournament. The problem with that is because I lost so much to Druid against him, his brother and his friend, I was expecting them to bring Druid. And while at one point I considered bringing a double Reno anti-aggro lineup, I had to remember I wasn’t playing against ladder/HCT opponents. I was playing against SKL opponents, who have a different opinion on the meta. So instead of expecting aggro and teching against it, I decided to go full SMOrc and hope for the best.

 

So finally tournament day arrived. I went up early to visit a couple of my friends and was happy to see so many of them at the Mana Bar (shout out to them for hosting the tournament by the way) ready to cheer me on. I sat down for my first matchup (which thankfully he decided to ban Shaman) and, of course right off the bat, I drew Patches. Off to a great start…and two games later I was down 0-2. A lot of people thought I was done for after being down 0-2 so quickly but thankfully, I had done the testing and knew that the Renolock was where I would get all my wins (as long as he didn’t draw Reno which, thankfully, he didn’t) and came back in the series 3-2.

 

Round two ended up with myself vs LordSloth (which I was expecting) and, again, I went down 0-2 after losing the Pirate Warrior mirror and Aggro Rogue mirror. Not so fun fact, I actually clicked on the wrong matchup initially. I wanted to start Aggro Rogue, because in my opinion (and after testing against Monsterosity) the matchup of Pirate Warrior vs Rogue is favoured for the Rogue list AND its favoured vs Tempo Mage, leaving only a 50/50 matchup in the mirror. I ended up queuing Warrior into Warrior and losing the 50/50, and then queued Rogue as at worst I play the mirror (which I did) but sadly ended up losing it again after a big Edwin VanCleef turn.

 

This left me versus his Tempo Mage with my three decks, having to 3-0 it again in order to move on to the winner’s final. Thankfully, I had some pretty great hands with my warrior and rogue decks so all that was left was the Tempo Mage mirror. Turn three was an interesting one as I was given the choice of either Mirror Image Ping or Flamewaker. I wanted to protect my Mana Wyrm while also preserving Flamewaker to use with a spell, as very rarely is it every correct to play a Flamewaker blind. In the Tempo Mage mirror you need to be able to use every possible resource you can, while also saving as many of your minions for face damage as possible. It ended up costing almost costing me, and after seeing a Summoner’s Stone off of Fireland’s Portal, I felt like I was done for. Thankfully, he had only minions in his hand and the fireball he used ended up only getting him an Eerie Statue (you saw me freak out on camera because I saw 7/7 statline pop up off of a four mana spell and assumed it was Flamewreathed Faceless. Thankfully, it was not.) I then managed to get three one mana spells with an Antonidas, and in my desperation to catch up I almost misplayed. I used Arcane Missiles first because I was expecting to trade my mana wyrm to try and stay alive and control the board. But when the first or second missile hit face, I actually looked at his health total and realized if I went face with the Wyrm this turn, I could set up lethal next turn. I did the math two or three times in my head to see what he could have to kill me, and it was only Fireball/Frostbolt. Having assumed he would have used it with the Stone, I decided to go face and pray. He didn’t have it, and I snuck out a win.

 

For the finals I was actually expecting LordSloth to win but Magi managed to sneak out a win after actually winning withis RenoLock (spoiler alert: he drew Reno). So I had two chances at the title against Magi, the person’s whose lineup I tested the most against. Our first best of five he actually ended up winning 3-1 after drawing super well with his Dragon Priest/Warrior, and unfortunately drawing Reno with his Lock this time. Our second matchup (winner takes all while the production was being taken down around me) I managed to beat his Dragon Priest with my Pirate Warrior by turn six, get out a large Edwin vs his Dragon Warrior with my Aggro Rogue meaning my Tempo Mage just had to beat one of his decks (it ended up losing to Priest and Warrior but beat the Renolock again which is what I was expecting) and just like that I was Saskatchewan’s Champion!

 

Overall the tournament was a great experience and I will definitely do it again. I’m hoping this article shows people that it is a fun format with a lot of thought process behind it, and I would love to see it be a bigger tournament next time around (with hopefully some prizing this time). If Hearthstone articles are something people want to see more of let me know and I’ll be glad to write some up if SKL wants them.

 

Patch 5.16 – Qualifier Patch

Hello ladies and gentlemen! It is August 20th and possibly the biggest patch of all time has landed! Rather than go over each item of the patch one by one, I’m going to give you an overview of what I believe will change in the meta after the patch, how the meta will be affected, and more importantly, what you need to watch out for going into the qualifying tournament. Let’s get started!

TOP LANE

Let’s start at the top of the map. At the moment, the “S” tier top laners appear to be Olaf, Gnar, Shen and Rumble (with Maokai, Fizz, Hecarim and Gangplank not being too far behind). If we take a look at which top laners were buffed, we see Darius, Lissandra, and Zac being buffed directly, while Rumble received a nerf to his ultimate. However, if we look at item buffs/new items such as Sterak’s Gage and Titanic Hydra, we see an interesting new addition to the meta; specifically, Sterak’s Gage and its synergy with Trinity Force. Previously, Trinity Force users (Ex. Darius, Irelia, Jax) would build just Trinity Force as a damage item, or sometimes one other damage item if they got REALLY fed (Blade of the Ruined King on Irelia/Jax, Tiamat/Hydra on Darius). Now, Sterak’s Gage allows these users to build Trinity Force into Sterak’s Gage, giving them survivability and a TONNE more damage (pun intended). Because Sterak’s Gage enhances base damage and not additive attack damage, Sheen and Trinity Force adds this damage. If we take Irelia, for example, at level 13 she has a base attack damage of about 100. That means before, Trinity Force proc’d autos would do 100 + 200 (Sheen Proc). Now, with Sterak’s Gage, before going berserk your autos do 125+250. After entering Primal Rage, this changes to 150+300. That’s a lot of damage on a champion that can easily do this every one and a half seconds.

So what should you watch out for in the top lane? I expect the S tier to still be Olaf, Gnar, Shen and Rumble (that ult just does SO much in mid game teamfights), but expect this to expand to also include for sure Irelia, and possibly Darius. I have not actually played much with Darius so I am unsure as to what this will do for him, however Black Cleaver seems core on him so I don’t expect him to build Trinity Force. In teamfights if he gets one kill with his ultimate he will be able to go nuts, so watch out for Darius in teamfights AD Carries! Fizz and Hecarim, although Trinity Force users, I do not expect to build this item due to their reliance on CDR and both their build paths taking too long to build it (Fizz’s build path is typically TriForce, BORK, Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage, Merc Treads and another item, while Hecarim goes TriForce, Frozen Heart, Spirit Visage, Righteous Glory, Boots and another item). This however could alter their build paths if this item is as OP as it sounds, in which case top lane will become “if you aren’t AP, and you don’t build Sterak’s Gage, you aren’t viable”, which may become the case.

TL;DR: Sterak’s Gage may change top lane to become land of the Trinity Force.

JUNGLE

One of the biggest changes that comes to the Jungle is the Cinderhulk change. After doing some math, this will help Cinderhulk users mid game, but reduce their late game (obviously, due to removing 10% of the scaling). Essentially, when you first buy the item, you receive 460 health instead of 375. Every 100 health you buy is 15 instead of 25, so to regain the 100 health you have to buy 1000 bonus health. Essentially, after two health items the item is even, and after the third or fourth health item, the item is weaker. However, one thing to keep in mind is that a lot of Cinderhulk junglers bought Frozen Heart as a second item due to the incredible amount of armor (100) and CDR (20%) it gave, which synergized with a lot of these champions’ kits (Ekko, Gragas, etc). Now, with the Frozen Heart nerfs, it will weaken these champions.

Before today, I would say Tier S belonged to Elise. Elise was queen of the jungle. If you couldn’t play Elise, you better be banning her.  This patch brings a nerf to Elise, but in my opinion, it’s a small nerf. 4% of current health may seem like a lot, but if you take the average champion health of 2.1k, that’s only an 80 damage nerf. Now you might be saying “Edge, that’s a LOT”. Well, it is. It is going to knock her down a peg, but Elise’s strength was never her human Q. Elise’s strength comes from her Spider Form execute, her rappel, her stun duration at early levels, and the damage her spiderlings do now, due to being magic. Although this will knock Elise down a level, she will still be a Tier 1 Jungler.

So who else moves up a notch? Skarner. Elise just moved down to everyone else’s level at Tier 1, which as of now includes Gragas, Ekko, Rek’Sai, Evelynn, and Elise. Skarner is now in this tier, or higher. If you max E, you can apply stuns to entire teams. His Spire near the Dragon allows you to solo it with ease, and if teams try to fight you near your spire they will get screwed. If you capture the spire near enemy buffs you can outduel opponents easily. Building Cinderhulk and Titanic Hydra along with Black Cleaver does a lot of damage and is very tanky, and his ult is always incredible. Skarner is Tier 1, maybe even Tier S.

Now, you might be asking “what about Devourer Junglers?” These junglers do not work well in competitive play. Do you notice how only one jungler in all four regions has been playing Devourer junglers? I’ll give some reasoning why. With a synergised team, vision control is increased in Ranked 5’s (or at least it should be). This means that at all times the Devourer jungler can be tracked if they are in their jungle. Early game ganking junglers, or junglers that bring more utility and don’t require items to scale are able to take advantage of this by a) counter-jungling, or b) snowballing the lanes, knowing the Devourer jungler will be too busy farming to counter-gank. For this reason, Devourer junglers should be avoided.

As for who I believe has the potential to move up a tier with the item changes, keep a lookout for Olaf as Righteous Glory is receiving a cost reduction (and this is a core item on the Viking) and he’s receiving two items that synergize well with his kit. I have a feeling the Viking will be receiving a lot of picks and bans in the coming weeks, even more than he’s currently getting. Zac may also be very good, so watch out for the blob…thing.

TL;DR: Elise moves from Tier S to Tier 1 (along with Rek’Sai, Gragas, Ekko, Eve), watch out for Olaf and Skarner jungle. Don’t play Devourer Junglers, as you will be exploited.

MID LANE

The major change we see in the mid lane is changes to Viktor (thank goodness, sorry Trendan). The “S” tier of mid laners before the patch were definitely Viktor and Azir, and now Viktor is being beaten down a notch with the change to his Hexcore. There was a helpful graph posted on Reddit the other day that basically showed that pre-16, any Hexcore (except for Perfect) is giving less AP (approximately 20 on average.) and less mana, but post level 16 with Perfect Hex-Core, Viktor receives MORE AP (but still less mana). So what does this mean for Viktor? Well for starters, the popular build of flat AP and CDR boots is not going to work anymore due to the mana nerfs. Now Viktor HAS to build a mana regen item (Morellonomicon, Athene’s) in order to stay on par with previous levels, and at level 7 if you upgrade your Hexcore, you can not one-shot casters anymore. Instead, you need an additional Doran’s Ring or Amplifying Tome in order to one -hot caster minions, which is rather important for his lane control. Although I expect Viktor to receive a few points off his winrate and his overall play rate to go down, he still is a strong champion. Just not Tier S anymore.

As for Azir…he was buffed? Yes you heard me right. Buffed. Not necessarily to numbers, but his soldiers receiving all around buffs to where they go and how they act, along with general bug fixes. As of now, he is still Tier S mid lane and should either be picked, or banned if the enemy plays a good Azir (build Nashor’s Tooth, Rylais, Zhonyas, Void Staff, Rabadon’s Death Cap and Sorc Shoes, Max Q-W-E). However, if the next few champions pick up play we might begin to see less Azir…

A couple picks to watch out in the mid lane are Leblanc, Zed, Lissandra, Kassadin and Yasuo. These champions are important for a couple reasons, and I’ll go over each of them in quick detail:

Zed: Half of his previous nerf was reverted, which is important. He can now return to his Shadow .5 seconds after landing with his ult, which is a big deal. Expect more Zeds to make a return, ESPECIALLY due to armor as a whole being nerfed.

Lissandra: I did not really go over her in the top lane portion even though I mentioned her, and that’s because of her potential in both mid and top. The heal added to her ultimate is important, as she can now wait a bit before ulting in the middle of a team fight. She can E in, use her spells, and THEN ult, rather than having to E or flash in and only use ultimate, as she will now be able heal back most of her health. This, along with the AP changes, might result in Lissandra making a comeback mid or top, but my guess is mid, due to her weakness to top lane Trinity Force users like Irelia.

Leblanc: Leblanc’s damage was never nerfed. Her W speed is going back up a bit, while she was already starting to see a bit of play in the east. This buff might just bring her back into the meta, especially since she counters a lot of mages.

Yasuo: Yasuo is an interesting one, as he is starting to see a lot of play in China, and a lot of pro players are spamming him due to a new build arising: Statikk Shiv-Trinity Force-Infinity Edge. This gives Yasuo his 100% crit again. Now the other reason I want to bring him up is Sterak’s Gage. Why? Well, we talked about Trinity Force in the top lane. And all Yasuo wants to do is dive the back line. This gives him more damage, more health, AND stronger Trinity Force procs. And armor is getting nerfed? Expect this to be a regular 4th/5th item on Yasuos. You should be afraid. The wind is coming.

Kassadin: These buffs to his ultimate help bring back some damage to Kassadin’s kit, and his core items offer the most AP in the game to scale with. Expect Kassadin to make a comeback, but he will still take forever to scale so CAMP HIM. CAMP HIM, CAMP HIM, CAMP HIM.

TL;DR: Viktor not as strong but still good, Azir still very strong, expect assassins to make a comeback due to defensive item nerfs and buffs to the champions.

AD CARRY

Not much happened to AD Carries except for armor reduction. There was one key factor, however: Randuin’s now reduces critical strike damage, and more people will be building health due to the new items. This makes Blade of the Ruined King users, such as Vayne, much stronger, and AD Carries that use Infinity Edge slightly weaker. Expect Tier 1 Ad Carries to be Vayne, Kalista, Corki, with Lucian potentially making a comeback, and Bloodthirster Draven being stronger than IE Draven now. Another champion to keep an eye on as to whether he will be good or not? Mordekaiser and his mighty ghost dragon.

TL;DR: Seriously? Just read it.

SUPPORT

Alistar received a nerf to his Headbutt-Pulverise combo (or a buff to those of you that could not do it easily) in that it can be dodged easier due to him moving slower. Nami also received a substantial buff to her movement speed increase while using spells on champions, and more specifically, her ultimate, which now gives allies 120 movement speed when it hits them! This is a very good buff to Nami, and I expect her to be Tier 1 now, along with Braum.

TL;DR: Alistar nerfed, Nami tier 1.

 

Whew. That’s a lot to take in. So, what did we learn? Well, top lane is going to be dominated by Trinity Force users and AP laners. Why? AP laners, because AD Assassins like Zed and Yasuo are going to be making a comeback, and Elise/Nidalee have been nerfed which restricts the amount of AP damage sources in other lanes. Expect Rumble, Lissandra, Lulu, Olaf, Gnar, Irelia, Shen, and Gangplank to be the most played top laners moving forward, with Darius potentially being very VERY strong. Jungle will stay about the same with Skarner potentially being broken, however these defensive item changes and Titanic Hydra may be more impactful than I thought. Elise will also be tuned down a bit (thank goodness). In mid lane, expect Azir to be picked or banned. However, a resurgence of assassins may stem this a bit. AD Carries will be about the same, but Infinity Edge users did receive a nerf due to the Randuin’s change. Vayne, Kalista and Corki are my top three moving forward. For supports, Nami will be Tier 1 along with Braum. Alistar might be knocked down a tier due to the W speed nerf.

Expect basic team comps to be:

AP Top-Tank Jungle-AD Mid-Corki-Support

Trinity Force Top-Tank Jungle-AP Mid-ADC-Support

That’s all for today. I will probably update next week for the sixteen remaining teams to see if I was right or wrong, along with what I might have missed.

 

Thanks for reading!

Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Jungle!

Hello, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar. A little bit of background, I’m a Platinum Top Laner and Jungler who excels at League of Legends theorycrafting and builds, as well as optimal meta picks (and I’m also a Yasuo/Ekko fan boy).
Today I’m going to talk about the Jungle meta leading into SKLeague, or specifically, which champs are good right now, how to build them, how to gank with them, and how to maximize your champion.

If you have been following competitive play, you will know that since the Cinderhulk patch, 2 junglers have reigned supreme: Gragas and Rek’Sai. These champions are king and queen of the jungle and are the epitome for what a team needs in the jungle. Why is this? The answer: flexibility.

Let’s start with Gragas. Gragas’ utility comes from the fact that he can disengage or engage, he is good both early and late, he has a percent health skill on a four second cooldown at level nine (not including any CDR), has good sustain in the jungle for early ganks, and is a beefy tank. His bread and butter is his W, probably one of the best skills in the game. With 40% CDR (Frozen Heart, Locket of the Iron Solari, and Runes/Masteries) he can have an auto attack every 2.4 seconds that does 140 + .3 AP + 12% max health. On an average enemy with 2.1k health at level 18, and approximately 40 AP (18 from runes and 22 from masteries at level 18), this means every 2.4 seconds Gragas’s auto attack does 400 bonus magic damage (with his auto damage added, we’re looking at a 500 damage AUTO ATTACK). Not only this, with 40% CDR, his W passive (18% damage reduction for 2.5 seconds) is always up. 100% uptime. On top of this, part of what makes him so likeable in team play is the fact that he can build Sightstone. This is an underrated fact when playing ranked 5’s, and something I don’t see enough from Junglers. Buying wards is great, but as a Jungler, unless you snowball early, buying wards every back can delay you from getting tanky. Although you should still regularly buy pink wards, (watch for my next article where I discuss optimal pink placement!), buying a Sightstone not only makes you tankier (190 health when paired with Cinderhulk) it also gives you regular wards for free every time you base, allowing you to ward for your laners and the enemy jungle, saving even more money for your laners to buy the important power spike items to allow to fight easier. The fat man is here to stay for a while!
Optimal masteries on Gragas: 21/9/0 (5% CDR, Arcane and Martial Mastery)
Optimal Runes: Attack Speed Marks, Armor Seals, 6 CDR/3 AP Glyphs, 3 AP Quints
Skill order: Start E-W-Q, max R-W-Q-E.
Ganks: Early on, use your E to go over walls to help position in locations the laner won’t expect. Try to initiate with Q and get in for auto attacks with red buff. Only engage with E if you have your ult up, or if you can 100% land the stun for your laner to follow up with CC. Watch your casks, and practice flash-E!
Core Items: Cinderhulk (Purple Smite), Frozen Heart, Locket of the Iron Solari, Righteous Glory, Spirit Visage, Randuin’s

Next up, the queen of the jungle: Rek’Sai. Why is she so popular? Well, same thing as Gragas. We have jungle sustain, good early ganks, and can build a Sightstone in her build path. What she gains over Gragas comes from the global pressure from her ult, and the fact she can poke with her Q (180 damage every 7 seconds is no joke, folks). Her biggest boon, however, is her passive. Rek’Sai’s sonar vision allows her to scout the enemy jungler without putting herself in harm’s way, as well as seeing approaching laners looking to countergank/deep ward in the jungle. This is huge, as in ranked 5’s information is the best resource possible. Knowing the jungler is top side while attempting to deep ward while not actually seeing the jungler is massive, and lets the laners know they can play aggressive without consequence. Use your ult to get back to the jungle quickly after basing, or to rejoin a fight after getting low. Use your tunnels everywhere, and try not to use too many in base to get back. Saves time sure, but you only have so many you can use on the map!
Optimal Masteries on Rek’Sai: 21/9/0 (AS, Double Edged Sword, Blade and Spell Weaving)
Optimal Runes: AD Marks, Armor Seals, 6 CDR/3 Scaling MR Glyphs, 3 Attack Speed Quints
Skill Order: Start Q-W-E, max R-Q-E-W
Core Items: Warrior/Cinderhulk (Red Smite), Sightstone, Black Cleaver, Randuin’s, Spirit Visage, Locket of the Iron Solari
Ganks: Your E can allow you go over a lot of walls laners won’t expect. Try to go behind the laner, and remember: since the nerf on her W, auto attacking to unburrow yourself won’t knock people up. You have to position yourself just inside your auto range while popping up to get the knock-up. Also remember to put your tunnels in deep locations to surprise the enemy laner with a gank, or surprise the enemy Jungler with a cross map invade/countergank after showing somewhere on the other side of the map!

Now, let’s move on to my two favourite junglers at the moment: Nidalee and Ekko!
First, Nidalee. The terror of solo queue, sporting a whopping 55% win rate in Platinum and above elo at the moment. Her early game is incredible, her ganks are strong, her dueling is insane, and she has great sustain. Her major weakness is her snowball nature, and the fact that she isn’t great in teamfights/late game (but this can be fixed by building a proper comp!) If she lands a spear on a laner for a gank, not only does it damage for a significant portion, but it also allows her leap to become a 750 range targeted gap closer, while also gaining 30% move speed towards her target. As if that wasn’t strong enough, she gets a SECOND leap that’s 375 range within two seconds of the first jump, meaning she can follow flashes. And just when you think you’re free and behind your tower, she throws a spear to finish you off and laughs as she pounces away. If Nidalee snowballs, your team is in trouble, as she can single-handedly carry solo queue games with her damage. If she doesn’t snowball, however, she just becomes a spear throwing heal bot late game, which isn’t as impactful as other late game junglers at the moment and is countered by quick hard engage.
One thing to note about Nidalee is her level 2 cheese. Rather than starting Gromp or Krugs, Nidalees often start their buff and get a leash from laners to finish the buff quicker. As almost all Nidalees start Q, they go W second to pounce over dragon wall to get to the enemy buff faster, and catch the enemy at their buff, tanking damage from the buff. Nidalee can spear-execute the buff to take it, and possibly even kill the jungler at their buff as well, effectively destroying the enemy jungler’s early game while snowballing Nidalee. Ways to stop this are starting your buff rather than Gromp/Krugs (which you should be doing against Elise, Lee Sin, Udyr, Shaco and Nidalee at ALL TIMES) to prevent this snowball from happening, or starting on the opposite side of the jungle.
Optimal Masteries on Nidalee: 21/9/0 (Martial and Arcane Mastery)
Optimal Runes: AD marks, Armor seals, AP Glyphs and AP Quints
Skill Order: Q-E-W (unless invading, in which case go Q-W-E), Max Q-E-W
Core Items: Runeglaive (Purple of Blue Smite), Rod of Ages, Abyssal Scepter, Zhonyas Hourglass, Void Staff, Ludens Echo, Rabadon’s Deathcap.
Ganks: Use brushes for the movement speed. Land Spears, and your combo is Spear-Cougar Form-W-E-Q-W. Remember, switching to cougar form is an auto reset and cougar Q is also an auto reset. This allows for killing wards level 1 if you’re quick by Auto-R-Auto-Q. Also helps when taking towers

Now to my favourite jungler right now: Ekko. Ekko was initially released as an AP mid laner, whose upside was his damage with his utility. It was realized, however, by many people (one of whom tried telling me earlier, but I didn’t listen) that this utility could be used in the jungle. What spawned is now tank Ekko. Tank Ekko is an interesting beast, as he still does a LOT of damage from his two passives (his three hit passive and his W execute passive), has a dash and gap closer in his E, and if used properly, his stun can be used very well in ganks. What really pushes him over the top, however, is his ultimate. Where AP Ekko would like to use his ult as a one shot tool, tank Ekko uses it as a re-engage or heal tool, giving him immense flexibility. One of the strongest plays to do with Ekko (and when used in a kite/poke comp, is insanely effective) is to run away while the enemy tries to engage. Throw your W over your shoulder, and when your “Time Shadow” is within the circle when enemies are, ult back and deal some moderate damage while also instantly stunning the enemies for 2.5 seconds. Also, this last patch he got some quality of life buffs with his E cooldown being reduced and his Q mana cost being reduced allowing him to clear the jungle a little bit easier and not running out of mana as quickly (which was becoming a problem).
Optimal Masteries on Ekko: 21/9/0 (Martial and Arcane Mastery, Double Edged Sword)
Optimal Runes: AS Marks, Armor Seals, 6 CDR/3 AP Glyphs, AP Quints
Skill Order: W-Q-E, Max R-Q-E-W
Core Items: Cinderhulk (purple smite), Frozen Heart, Sightstone, Locket of the Iron Solari, Spirit Visage, Randuin’s.
Ganks: Try to predict movement with your W, and use your dash as your W Shadow swings his bat and makes the “twang” sound, as that is when the enemy can see the circle. Use your Q after you land your E to land a guaranteed slow, as well as easy procs for your auto attacks, which both slow and speed you up. Kiting back and re-engaging with R-W combo is very important to master.

Lastly, we come to the third set of junglers: Devourer junglers. For this section, we will focus on Shyvana and Xin Zhao as these two are, in my opinion, the best Devourer junglers (most of what I say in this section applies to all devourer junglers, but these two will be described in more detail). Most of these junglers have exceptional clear speed as well as multiple on-hit abilities and scale well with attack speed, which allow them to maximize devourer as an item. For all but Kayle, most devourer junglers go Devourer into Blade of the Ruined King to give more attack speed, more on hit effects, and Cutlass gives them more sustain in the jungle as well as a slow for ganks. This is followed by, again for all but Kayle, mostly full tank. However if you are significantly ahead you can also go for more damage effects (but I would recommend full tank). Since I’ve had this question quite a bit, a good time to get Devourer is before 20 minutes, with 17-18 minutes being a very good time and I’ve had it transform as fast as 14 minutes (however this was a VERY niche case). One thing to note: if you can, base early to upgrade your smite to get the extra gold when killing camps, and try to wait for the 1400 gold after that to base and upgrade straight to Devourer. This allows for efficient Devourer timing. Also, try to prioritize early dragons and scuttle crabs, as five and two stacks respectively is necessary to stack faster.

Let’s start with Shyvana, as she is the only devourer jungler to see play in competitive so far. Her strength is by far her clear speed. There have been many times where I clear my jungle and by the time I do a scuttle crab and walk back to the first camp, it is either just respawning or waits a little bit longer even! Her AoE and percent health on hit is amazing, and she is probably the best champion that scales with attack speed just based on what attack speed does to her kit (reduces Q cooldown, on hit while W is up and extends W, E procs and also making your ultimate come up faster), and giving her more reason to build attack speed while also building attack speed…it’s a match made in heaven. The one downside to Shyvana, as has always been the case, is that her ganks aren’t exceptional and she has no real CC. However, if you saw Hai’s games on Shyvana, you will see that a lot of high elo junglers are taking exhaust on her rather than flash, something that is becoming more and more popular lately, however this is typically seen on aggressive top laners (Smite/TP, Ignite/TP). The thing is, with her ult on such a short cooldown she really does not need flash as much as other junglers, and she is able to use exhaust as a form of CC, a tool for counter jungling, and diving the back line easier and singling out the ADC. Something to keep in mind: once she hits Devourer, she can solo dragon with ease, even at level 4 or 5, so if you’re on the enemy team, make sure to ward dragons early and often!
Optimal Masteries: 21/9/0 (Martial Mastery, Blade/Spell Weaving, 5% CDR)
Runes: Attack Speed Marks, Armor Seals, Scaling CDR Glyphs, Attack Speed Quints
I’ll quickly go over this as this is an odd rune page to be sure. With 20% CDR and max level Q, the cooldown on it is essentially 1.5 seconds. This is absurd with Devourer, as if you Q the same time your devourer procs (no, it does not automatically trigger devourer) you trigger on hit effects 4 times in one auto attack.
Skill Order: W-Q-W-E (Max R-W-Q-E)
Ganks: Well, Shyvana doesn’t gank well. It’s that simple. However, look for opportunities to counter-jungle and counter-gank, as skirmishes and duels are what Shyvana excels at, especially with exhaust. So the key to playing Shyvana is to anticipate the enemy jungler and abuse the fact you are better than them at fighting. You typically want to play Shyvana with lane bullies or laners that can play super safe without jungle pressure needed.
Core Items: Devourer (Blue Smite), Blade of the Ruined King, Randuin’s, Banshee’s Veil, Thornmail, Locket of the Iron Solari

Finally, we come to Xin Zhao. In my opinion, Xin Zhao is the best jungler in the game right now, and people will begin to realize this if he starts to see competitive play soon. He has a targeted dash/slow, a knock-up, incredible sustain, and a good engage tool/damage tool with his ultimate. Sure, he doesn’t utilize Devourer as well as someone like Kayle or Shyvana with the on hit effects, but the utility he brings and the early ganks he’s allowed to do while still scaling into a legitimate tank assassin late game that can make an ADC’s life a living hell is incredible. On top of that, Devourer allows him to use his Q such that the knock-up happens after two auto attacks rather than three! He also uses Black Cleaver very well, which he can build if he snowballs early (which he often does). Watch out for Xin Zhao in your upcoming solo queue games, and if you haven’t already, start learning this monster!
Optimal Masteries on Xin Zhao: 21/9/0 (Martial Mastery, Blade/Spell Weaving, 5% CDR)
Optimal Runes: AD Marks, Armor Seals, Scaling MR Glyphs, Attack Speed Quints (Also trying Attack Speed Marks and Movement Speed Quints)\
Skill Order: W-Q-E (Max R-E-Q-W
Core Items: Devourer (Red or Blue Smite), Blade of the Ruined King, Randuin’s, Spirit Visage, Thornmail, Black Cleaver, Ravenous Hydra
Ganks: Walk up to anyone and E them. Use your Q after you auto attack for an auto attack reset, and activate W before you use Q to reduce the cooldown of your W. Try to use your ult early as it does Current %Health, not Max% health. Another ganking tool is to E to creeps behind a target, or to walk behind a target and ult them backwards for a knockback and then use E to follow up after a flash.

Well, that’s all for this week. If you have any questions feel free to send me a message in game or on twitter @DXIEdge.

Thanks for reading!
Dylan “DXI Edge” Edgar

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