The Art of Pick and Ban: Part 2
Chapter 2: Report My Feeder Team
We are in our sixth week of regular season matches right now, and we have seen a lot of instances of good pick and ban phases, as well as our fair share of bad pick and ban phases. In this second installment of pick and ban analysis, I will be going in depth about this process in a team oriented environment.
The first part, as always, is the banning phase. Hopefully, if you’re in SKL, you’ve done a little research on your opponents and know somewhat what they’re good at, or at least what they’re comfortable on. If you’ve done your homework, you have to think about that knowledge and evaluate it. Are they strong in the current meta? Do you know how to play around them? Is it something you play yourself and want to contest? All of these questions must be taken into account. Banning, I think, has gotten much more difficult in recent patches, especially since the Juggernaut patch went live. The sheer number of insanely strong champions is a little ridiculous, to say the least. It’s harder to choose who you should ban in these patches (currently in 5.20), as you have all the juggernauts persevering through some small nerfs, as well as other reworks like Fiora being dominant in the top lane. Personally, my mentality of the ban phase is it’s better to ban the devil you don’t know than the one you do know. For example, I have no idea what matchups do or don’t work into the new Fiora or how to play into them properly. I am going to ban Fiora and probably leave Darius and Garen open, as I know how to play against those two a little better than the alternative. They are strong, but have some more punishable weaknesses that I know of and know how to play around, compared to Fiora.
Other things you’re going to want to take into account are the individual players’ abilities. Has your opposing midlaner played Viktor as many games as he has been allowed to? Does your midlaner play Viktor? Well then you have three options. You can either ban it away, take it with pick priority, or you can play into it and possibly counter it. If you’re blue side and you want Viktor, you can easily grab it away and possibly force them onto a less comfortable champion. That being said, I am not big on first picking your midlaner. I believe mid and ADC are the worst lanes to pick first, with some exceptions like Sivir when she was in her prime. She was a go-to because even if she was punished, she still had a huge impact on the game. I like the idea of leaving those picks a little later into the draft, especially if your team is leaning to more immobile hyper carries such as Jinx or Kog Maw. Picking those too early in the draft can result in the enemy team picking a comp that could directly counter yours, which is why you should not show your cards too early. Another thing to think about with the opposing team is if there are any that have off-meta “cheese” picks. For instance, someone who is a Riven one trick pony might make you think a little more about the matchups, so you don’t go and first pick a Yasuo top knowing you can dig your own grave by leaving Riven open. So, in conclusion on bans, there are a lot of things to take into account during the ban phase, such as what is strong, what your opponent is really good at, and what we want out of this phase that can push the game in our favour before it even starts.
Now, the pick phase. The almighty pick. It’s crazy how much the side you’re playing on affects the pick and ban phase. Red side is often forced to ban away the OP picks in order to not have them first picked on blue side, because let’s admit it, Mordekaiser is some kind of sick joke from Riot about how insane they can make a champion. Like, as if there is a dragon taking our bot tower right now… But I digress.
In the current meta, I would say the first rotation for blue side will usually be a Juggernaut such as Darius, or depending on what junglers are available, an Elise would also be reasonable. This gets you a strong pick right out of the gates, as well as offering you a good amount of flexibility, since those picks won’t pigeonhole you into a split push comp like Fiora or Jax are wont to do. I believe that is why we aren’t seeing Fiora being picked up at Worlds too much, despite her strong laning abilities. It opens you up to being countered further down in the draft. Depending on what blue side takes first in the draft, you’ll want to counter that with taking some other picks that have a strong priority. Let’s say that the enemy team first picks Darius, which is a common trend. Red side will probably want to take away the jungle pick and possibly the support. They know Darius is going top, so they have no reason to take their own top laner right away, so they can take away a strong jungler, as well as one of the few strong supports. Second round you can take your other picks. In this rotation, it is acceptable to take the ADC, as your comp is starting to become pieced together by the enemy. You could potentially take a mid laner as well, if you still wanted to conserve your ADC pick so as to not get locked into a Draven versus Vayne matchup or something like that. If you are going to take the mid laner, it should be a safer laner with control or a strong priority into the team you’re playing against. Lulu and Azir are pretty safe to take earlier in the draft, as they can create pressure by shoving waves well, they’re not super immobile, and they have great kits for escaping ganks or even turning around roams. Riskier picks could be a Twisted Fate, or something along those lines, as he’s immobile and really depends on that gold card and flash to save him. In terms of importance I would say the second round of drafting on the blue side is the most important, as most of the time the first pick should be pretty much set in stone. For the red side though, I would say that the first round is extremely important. We are finding more and more in competitive play that teams are opting to take red side for multiple games in a row solely because it offers you strong picks, as well as letting you set the pace for your comp early on.
I hope this little diddy about the pick and ban phase helps any viewers understand why teams do what they do, as well as possibly helping out some future teams that are looking to make a break into SKL. These are solely my observations and opinions on the process, as lots of people’s views may differ from my own. I’m no professional player, but I probably should be, due to my feeder team not banning OP Yorick.
Your faithful hubby,
Bailey “Ponnox” Dietrich