Month: April 2016

The Draft

Hello! My name is DXI Edge and I’m the current Coach/Analyst for Team Malicious Intent. My role on the team is focusing on optimizing item builds, drafts, macro play adjustments, watching VODs from pro play and seeing how we can translate that into our games, as well as finding possible champion picks that are underrated.

 

One of the major aspects of League of Legends, especially in team play, is the draft. Just to give a brief rundown of what I mean, the draft is the pick and ban phase at the beginning of the game, and how each team approaches this strategy. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how good a team is. If you do not draft properly, (according to the meta and according to an unwritten set of “rules” which I will get into) your team will lose. It is just that simple. If you can outdraft your opponent, you can set yourself up for success in the game at minute zero, and put yourself at a significant advantage.

 

The set of rules I mentioned earlier assumes a few things:

  1. There is a clear “meta”
  2. Members of the team CAN play almost all of the “power picks” in the meta

 

Very rarely does the first rule ever not happen, since due to pro play and analysts (aka, people like me), clear “best” champions or strategies are identified. Due to League of Legends being as old and popular as it is, it is very easy to watch what works and what doesn’t, and base strategies for teams based on this information.

 

NOW. What are these rules? I’m going to be going over these one by one in articles over the next few months, but we’re going to start with the most important rule in my opinion.

 

Your comp must have wave-clear.

 

Before I go in depth on how to draft wave-clear, what is wave-clear? Wave-clear is the ability for a wave of minions to be killed (or cleared) quickly and effectively. This can be done either by one skill, or a couple of skills with low cooldown/mana costs. I DO NOT CLASSIFY ULTIMATES AS WAVE-CLEAR and this is an important aspect to mention for one of the champions in the “meta” right now.

 

Why is wave-clear so important? Simple: turrets are the single easiest way to collect large sums of gold for your team, and having a turret up effectively says “This area of the map belongs to us”. Keeping your turrets alive while destroying the enemies’ turrets is the basic component of this game, and is the base of which this game was built on. So what does wave-clear have to do with turrets?

 

When you are looking to take turrets, you want your minion wave to get to the tower as fast as possible to remove the Armor/MR buff from towers, as well as have the minions tank the damage while you destroy the tower.

 

When you are looking to defend turrets, you want your opponents’ minion wave to be eliminated as fast as possible to add the Armor/MR buff for your towers, as well as have the enemy champions take damage from your tower.

 

There are two levels of wave-clear for a draft: S tier and A tier. Your composition for a draft should have NO LOWER than two points, but the most optimal number is three points. If you have two points, there needs to be a champion included in your composition that can use an ultimate for wave-clear (ex: Ryze) or has pseudo-wave clear in their kit (ex: Kalista). However, for optimal drafts the number should be three.

 

Now that we know why wave clear is important, let’s take a look at what I believe are the best champions for wave-clear in the meta as of now (Patch 6.6 and 6.7).

 

S Tier (2 points):

Mid: Azir, Lissandra, Lulu, Lux, Varus

ADC: Sivir, Jhin

 

A Tier (1 point):

Top: Gangplank, Ekko, Graves

Jungle: Graves

Mid: Twisted Fate, Zilean, Orianna, Corki

ADC: Lucian, Corki, Caitlyn

 

Lets start with S Tier. Why are these champions in S Tier? These champions can clear waves with two skills typically, on relatively low cooldown. Another major aspect, however, is their role. All champions in S Tier are mid/ADC. Why is this? Very rarely do you have mid laners or ADCs split push. Most of the time you will have your ADC and mid laner together, or be collecting waves with your team to approach a split pusher. Seven champions are the bread and butter of destroying waves quickly, and when it comes to the tier list of power picks in the current meta, these champions are at the top of the “power picks”, due in part to their ability to clear waves.

 

For Azir, it isn’t so much his skills as much as his ability to place soldiers down and attack them from such a distance that he is safe.

 

Lissandra can Q waves on very quick cooldown, or even use her E (although not recommended) to clear waves. Lulu can use 2 quick Qs, Lux can bind the first two melee minions and then throw her E down, and Varus can use Qs or even his E.

 

For ADCs, Sivir is the queen of wave-clear. Turn on bouncing blade, throw a Q, and the wave disappears. For Jhin, using his traps, his W, or his Q can clear waves effectively as well. Although he is not as effective as Sivir, he gets the job done.

 

In my opinion, one S tier champion is the same as having two A tier champions. If you have one S tier champion and one A tier champion in your comp, your draft has the appropriate amount of wave-clear.

 

Now let;s look at A tier. A tier differs immediately from S tier due to the inclusion of tops and junglers. Although tops and junglers may have as strong wave clear as those in S tier (Graves, for example), due to junglers having to roam/flank and top laners needing to use teleport appropriately, these champions cannot be S tier and cannot be the fundamental wave clear of a team comp.

 

Gangplank, Ekko, and Graves all want to teamfight and split push, so they can use TP on cooldown. They can push waves very quickly (Gangplank barrels, Graves/Ekko Qs) and are good duelists and teamfighters. Gangplank is also very proficient in that he can use his ultimate anywhere on the map to help clear a wave.

 

Graves as a jungler is, in my opinion, the best jungler in the game right now. Although Kindred/Nidalee/Graves are the top three, Graves gets the edge as number one for me due to his flexibility and his spot in A tier for waveclear. His Q and autos are both AoE and can clear waves quickly.

 

Zilean, Orianna, and Corki are all good wave clearers, however they aren’t AS strong as S tier champions. Zilean wants to use his bombs for stuns and as such it’s not optimal to use them as waveclear. Orianna needs to be a little bit closer and wants to place her ball in specific positions due to her ultimate, so she loses a point. Corki cannot insta-clear waves and has to use a lot of his rockets for clearing waves, so he cannot be in S-tier.

 

Twisted Fate, although has the wave clear of an S tier champion, wants to use his ultimate for flanking and wants to split push. So although the wave-clear is S tier status, the champion wants to be played as a split pusher, so he loses a point.

 

Lastly, Lucian has very short range. Although his Q and double-tap can clear waves effectively, his ultimate is what his “defining” wave-clear skill is, and as such cannot be placed in S tier.

 

 

Now that we know the defining champions in the current meta, let’s take a look at some example drafts from both pro play and SKL, and see if we can predict the result of the game based purely on wave-clear. We are going to examine drafts done where one team drafts less than three points of wave-clear based on my scoring system compared to one team that does, and see if the wave-clear team won.

 

 

 

 

 

H2K vs Fnatic  – 3rd place match

Games 1 / 2 (same drafts)

H2K:                            Fnatic:

Maokai                        Ekko

Kindred                      Graves

Ryze                            Azir

Kalista                         Ezreal

Thresh                        Trundle

0 points                      4 points

Predicted winner: Fnatic

Actual winner: Fnatic

 

Although this draft from H2K was called “very strong”, in my opinion this draft was horrible. They rely completely on snowballing and picks, with no way to out-siege/defend against Fnatic’s team comp.

 

H2K vs Fnatic  – 3rd place match

Game 3

H2K:                            Fnatic:

Maokai                        Gragas

Kindred                      Graves

Lissandra                   Kassadin

Corki                           Ezreal

Alistar                         Braum

3 points                      1 point

Predicted winner: H2K

Actual winner: H2K

 

This was just an overall bad draft by Fnatic for a few reasons, but this article is solely looking at waveclear.

 

Jin Air vs SKT – Korean Playoffs

Game 3

JAG:                             SKT:

Gangplank                  Maokai

Graves                                    Kindred

Ryze                            Cassiopeia

Kalista                         Sivir

Alistar                         Tahm Kench

2 point                        2 points

Predicted winner: JAG

Actual winner: SKT

 

Here is where my system becomes not so foolproof, and I wanted to include this decision for a very specific reason.

 

Although the point system is tied, I have JAG as predicted winner. Why? The inclusions of Kalista and Ryze. These two champions, although not on either of my tier lists, are “tie-tippers”. These champions are just below A tier and as such, if I were to analyze this comp based purely on wave clear, I would predict JAG to win. However, Faker is a god and SKT pulled out the old school Ryze counter and won a perfect game.

 

KT vs SKT – Korean Playoffs

Game 2:

KT:                              SKT:

Maokai                        Trundle

Nidalee                       Elise

Corki                           Zilean

Kalista                         Sivir

Alistar                         Tahm Kench

1 point                        3 points

Predicted winner: SKT

Actual winner: SKT

 

 

Very strong picks from KT’s side, however they did not include enough wave-clear in their comp compared to SKT’s. I will say this though: Kalista does have some amounts of wave clear, however not enough to compensate for a one point draft. As I said earlier, a two point draft can be mitigated with a Kalista, not a one point draft.

 

FOTN vs TMI – SKLeague Week 6

Game 2:

FOTN:                         TMI:

Nautilus                      Trundle

Zac                              Gragas

Ahri                             Azir

Sivir                            Jhin

Alistar                         Morgana

2 points                      4 points

Predicted winner: TMI

Actual winner: TMI

 

Hey, this is one of my drafts! Our early pick included an S tier wave clear right off the bat in Jhin, setting us up for flexibility in the draft and only needing one more point. We follow it up with another S tier pick, while our opponents picked only two points of wave-clear.

 

 

 

 

 

RDS vs A53 – SKLeague Week 6

Game 2:

RDS:                            A53:

Irelia                           Malphite

Hecarim                      Gragas

Lulu                            Varus

Ezreal                         Corki

Alistar                         Braum

2 points                      3 points

Predicted winner: A53

Actual winner: A53

 

This game was looking to break my rule for a little while! However, the wave-clear allowed A53 to sit back, farm up, and catch up slowly while RDS could not push through.

 

Well, that’s it for today. I hope this helps the drafts of SKL and your dynamic queue games in the future! I’ll be back soon for the next rule: Engage.

URF 2016: Please NURF

Since the introduction of the rotating queue, many of us have been waiting for Ultra Rapid Fire’s return. Without its traditional April Fool’s Day start this year, we sat and waited until it finally came and quickly left the live servers over the weekend. Since its introduction in 2014, U.R.F. has changed quite a bit. With no idea it would become so popular, Riot unleashed its creation into the world without any restrictions. Lawnmower Hecarim quickly took over the Rift but was quickly disabled once his power was proven to be too great, along with other champions like Sona, Soraka, and Skarner (my favourite three to play in this game mode in 2014). Players simply revived and teleported around the map as they pleased until Revive was also disabled from this game mode (and soon after removed from the game in general). But with all of the nerfs and adjustments Riot has made since its original introduction, who were the best champions to play in Ultra Rapid Fire this year?

Fizz
Similar to Vladmir, Fizz is able to be un-targetable to enemies for a short time while also being mobile. The difference that brings Fizz onto this list and not Vladmir is that Fizz has much more mobility and damage with his Playful/Trickster combined with his Urchin Strike. There is no getting away from a Fizz in URF; once he spots you, you – and all of your teammates – are as good as dead.

Blitzcrank
If you thought Blitzcrank was annoying in a normal game, just wait until you see him in an Ultra Rapid Fire game. With his brief cooldowns he will constantly be spamming his Q, so avoiding his pulls will be your top priority. If you do happen to get hit by his Rocket Grab, there’s not much you can do unless you have very good mobility. As soon as you reach him, Blitzcrank will be knocking you up with his E, and then pulling you in again with his Q, repeating this until he gets his kill. If you happen to get away from him, you better run because Blitzcrank is able to constantly spam his W, giving him a permanent speed boost. Once Blitzcrank hits level 6, his combo, which now will include Static Field, will kill you faster than you even have time to think about reacting.

Teemo
By far one of the most hated champions of League of Legends, Teemo just gets worse in Ultra Rapid Fire. If you thought his mushrooms were annoying in a normal game, then do not lane with Teemo in URF. You may think you’re winning to begin with, but as soon as Teemo hits level 6, you can guarantee that his lane is going to be covered in mushrooms. Thought you were going to gank him? Just kidding, you’re dead before he even notices you’re there.
Teemo’s shrooms aren’t the only annoying thing about him in URF either. If you’re playing a champion dependent on auto attacks, then you better stay clear away from Teemo, who can spam his Blind so that you can never hit him. You better be sure of yourself before going all in on a Teemo, because once you’re in, there is no turning back. There is a reason why Teemo was disabled in URF right from the start in 2014, and he hasn’t gotten much better.

Evelynn
Where’s Evelynn? Probably behind your team ready to assassinate your squishies just like in a normal game. The difference with Evelynn in URF however, is that her Q, Dark Frenzy can be spammed much faster, and without the worry of running out of mana. With one Dark Frenzy after the other and with her ultimate slowing her enemies while she spams her W to keep up and run away if need be, Evelynn is a must try in Ultra Rapid Fire. With her passive invisibility, Shadow Walk, there is no fight in which Evelynn does not choose to participate.

Karthus
Of course Karthus is going to be overpowered as soon as you take away the only two things holding him back: mana and the cooldown on his ultimate, Requiem. Spamming Karthus’ Q is already done normally, and that spam just gets worse in U.R.F. With no need to worry about mana, Karthus may activate his E without ever having to turn it off, so team fights with Karthus are a mess.
The most crucial part of why Karthus is so huge in Ultra Rapid Fire is his ultimate ability, Requiem. With 80% cooldown reduction, you will not want to be hanging around the map for too long with low health without either a lot of magic resist or a Zhonya’s Hourglass. Making this a must buy for all of Karthus’ opponents, this sets them back while they take time to build it. And if they decide not to build a Zhonya’s, all the more free kills for you.

Sona_5
Sona
Sona is one of my favourite champions in the game, so I immediately started playing her from my first game of U.R.F in 2014. I would choose Sona, while my friend would choose Soraka (back before her rework) who was arguably even more annoying than Sona. Though she can get boring very quickly in U.R.F, Sona is a definite win in U.R.F as long as the other team does not have one too. Personally, I do not like to play her because of the unfair advantage she has, but I WILL play her if she is not banned just so we do not get dominated by the other team’s Sona.
Not even having to aim your heal or damage ability (much like Evelynn’s Q), Sona is one of the easiest champions to play in Ultra Rapid Fire. As long as you know how to continuously spam your Q and W you are good to go. If you find yourself in a tight spot, quicky ult your opponents and start spamming your E. You are sure to escape if you don’t kill them with your unlimited Q spam first.

Shaco
Defintely one of URF’s most dominant champions, Shaco was no different this year. Going full ability power, Shaco is able to quickly kill you before you have any time to react. Shaco’s Q, Deceive quickly gets him around the map without being seen, and once he pops out, a dagger will accompany him, most of the time dealing more than half of your health (depending who you are playing) with a single shot, and if there are no teammates around to assist you, you can guarantee that he will be back with another dagger a split second later.
Shaco’s Deceive and Two-Shiv Poison (E) aren’t the only things you have to worry about either. Shaco is able to place down his Jack In the Boxes one right after the other, so watch where you step, or you will quickly be dead without the need of Shaco being there at all.

Zed
Taking the title of Lawnmower from Hecarim, who was rarely seen in U.R.F this year, Zed is one of the most terrifying champions to play against in this game mode. With his low cooldowns, all of his abilities may be spammed easily and will kill you at alarming speeds. Zed’s W gives him crazy mobility, allowing him to pop under a turret, take you (and perhaps a couple of your teammates) out, and be out of there before you even notice. Zed’s poke alone is enough to make you change lanes in frustration, as he is able to constantly poke you down easily with only his clone’s attacks. Zed is definitely a must ban or play in Ultra Rapid Fire. Choose which of the two you do wisely.

These are the champions that I found to be best in Ultra Rapid Fire this year. Though you will probably agree with me that these champions are among the best, are there others that you would add, or even put above these characters on an annoyance and overpower scale? We know that there are way too many of these to list in just one article and would love to hear some of your U.R.F. horror tales.

The Overwatch Overview

Blizzard seems to be popping out games into every genre lately. With their MOBA, Heroes of the Storm; TCG, Hearthstone; MMORPG, World of Warcraft; RTS, Starcraft; and their ARPG, Diablo, the company reaches out to audiences of almost every type of game. And as you probably already know, Blizzard Entertainment is not too far off from releasing their very first FPS, Overwatch. But what is Overwatch? Is it worth buying, or is it just like any other shooter? Is Blizzard just trying too hard to reach into all of these different genres? I decided to try the beta this past weekend to find out.

Game Modes
Overwatch is an online First Person Shooter game with four team based objective games: Escort, Assault, Hybrid, and Control. In all of these games except Control, your team is placed on either the defender or attacker side of the map, but all of these game modes have quite a different feel to them.
-Escort: In this game mode, you are either preventing a payload from reaching its delivery point, or you are trying your best to move the payload to said point. You and your four teammates must continuously alter your strategies throughout the game as the payload passes through different strategic points throughout the map. The game ends when either the attackers reach their target location, or the defenders prevent the payload from reaching its target for the game’s set time.
-Assault: In Assault, depending on the side of the map your team has been placed, your goal is to either defend specified areas on the map until the time runs out, or to capture those point on the map within that time. To capture objectives, you must clear the defenders of the objective areas as the objective timer fills.
Hybrid: Hybrid does not need much of an explanation. So far, the only hybrid game released has been a combination of Escort and Assault, in which the game starts with an Assault and ends with an Escort.
Control: In control, your team is not placed on an attacking or defending side of the map. Instead, both teams fight over control over an objective in the centre of the map. While in control of the map’s objective, your team makes progress towards capturing it. Whichever team reaches 100% on the objective first wins the round. This game mode consists of a maximum of three rounds, with a different map and objective each time, the best team out of three games wins.
BONUS: Blizzard has also recently taken an idea from their Trading Card Game, Hearthstone, in which each week there is different featured game mode in their Weekly Brawl. Like Hearthstone’s Tavern Brawl, the Weekly Brawl will consist of completely different rules each week. In one week’s Brawl, you may only be able to play as McCree (one of the game’s offense characters) and the next, you may be able to play any character, but that character may be randomly selected for you every time you respawn. This past week’s Weekly Brawl that I was able to play in the beta was very similar to League of Legends’ Ultra Rapid Fire (URF) game mode, in which the games were very fast paced due to cooldowns being reduced drastically. As a first time Overwatch player, I played this game for the first time not even knowing what I was getting into, and halfway through the match when I finally realized what was happening, I was both embarrassed and overjoyed!

overwatch___tracer_wallpaper_by_mikoyanx-d8t8ofg
Characters and Roles
Overwatch currently has a total of 21 different heroes to choose from – that’s right “heroes”, not “classes” – and these heroes are divided into four categories: Tank, Defense, Offense, and Support. Each of these roles helps your team differently in winning your game and every hero feels completely different. No sniper feels like the other and no damage dealer deals their damage in the same way. Each and every different playstyle is being accounted for! When first starting up the game, I recommend you try each and every character out before you stick to maining just one of them. I, for instance, immediately started playing McCree after having a couple of good games with him. I had lots of fun, and felt very powerful so he was my go-to-guy. But upon exploring other characters like Soldier: 76, Roadhog, and Bastion and loving them, I found that exploring each and every character was the best way to go. You should at least find one hero per role so that you can fill in different roles as needed – and the game does a great job at telling your team which roles still need to be filled. Keep in mind that you can change characters throughout the game when you respawn, so you don’t have to stick to one character the whole time if you don’t like them!

Cosmetic Items

Ah, cosmetic items: the completionist’s worst enemy. Overwatch is full of cosmetic items for you to collect – for a price. There are tons of victory poses, player icons, highlight intros, emotes, sprays, voice lines, and yes, skins All of these cosmetics are available for a set price, but are luckily also available through loot boxes: a box of four random cosmetic items that you obtain for leveling up. These are very exciting and I usually leave the lobby as soon as I level up just to see what I got. If you not sure exactly what each of the cosmetic items listed is, here is an explanation:
Victory Poses: When you win a game in Overwatch, your team is gathered in one picture and when you unlock a victory pose for a hero, this is the pose they will be in, in this picture.
Player Icons: In the main menu, you are recognizable by not only your Battletag ID, but a small portrait beside your name. Player icons range from Warcraft, Starcraft, and other Blizzard game themed to Tracer, Reaper, and other Overwatch character themes.
Highlight Intros: At the end of every game, there is a play of the game. If your play makes the play of the game, whichever Highlight Intro you have chosen, it will play before the play of the game plays.
Emotes: Emotes are short animations your character can play in game to taunt your opponent, or show off to your friends.
Sprays: I found sprays to be especially interesting. Sprays allow you to tag a picture onto walls, and not much else. Other players see these tags and can also cover them up with their own sprays. It’s just a cool and unique cosmetic that I wasn’t expecting.
Voice Lines: In the game, you may press the ‘C’ key to bring up a list of in game commands you can use to quickly tell your opponents what’s up. You may use this to say hello, or ask for assistance, but you can also choose the ‘voice line’ option, and you will say a line unique to that hero.
Skins: Skins are exactly what you would expect. They can change the colour of your hero’s clothes, or they can change what your hero looks like completely. The more expensive or rare the skin is, the more it will change your character.

When I first started playing Overwatch, I noticed I was losing quite a few matches. But then I realized that I was probably playing with people that had been playing the beta for much longer than me, and I eventually caught on and started winning more. The game is very fast paced and learning each individual hero and role takes a little bit of time, but once you do you fit right in and start having tons of fun. The controls are great and consistent throughout each hero, making each new character you try easy to learn. Blizzard has done a great job with their games of other genres, and they are doing just as well with their first FPS, Overwatch. It feels WAY different than any other FPS I have played and is not trying too hard at all. Blizzard is definitely just as serious about this game as any of their other type of game, and I’m sure this one will be just as big. This will definitely be one of the main games I start to play and I hope that the competitive scene catches on as well.

Do you plan to play Overwatch? Have you already? What are your thoughts?
Be sure to enter our contest to win your own copy of Overwatch when it releases!

ARAM: A Guide to Mastering the Abyss

Introduced as an official supported game mode by Riot in 2012, ARAM has always been a player favourite. Even before its official introduction, ARAM was played in Summoner’s Rift as a custom game mode with player made rules. For players that don’t like the laning phase of normals, or just simply don’t have time for the longer games, the Howling Abyss has been the perfect getaway to just simply go All Random All Mid.
If you didn’t already know, SK League is holding an ARAM tournament this weekend (click here for more details). So in light of this, we should probably give you a few pointers before throwing you out onto the Abyss. Keep in mind that some of the tips will not apply to the tournament however, since there is no rerolling or trading in custom games.

Team Comp

We should probably start from the very beginning, and the most integral part of the game: Champion Select. This two minutes before your game starts can greatly alter the game and its outcome. Which champions should you keep? Which champions should you reroll on sight?
Well first of all, if your random team ends up being either all AD or AP, you should probably do some rerolling. Who should you reroll? Well that depends on a couple of things:

  • Are you good at the champion? The champion may be great in ARAM, but you not the greatest at playing that specific character. If this is the case, see if anyone else wants the champion. If not, go ahead and reroll.
  • Is the champion viable in ARAM? While the champion may be just fine in normal games, this does not mean they will do well in ARAM. A great example of this is Evelynn. Evelynn is great on the Rift because of the fear she could be anywhere. On Howling Abyss, you know exactly where Evelynn is: somewhere in front of you. I would recommend rerolling Evelynn, unless of course you feel confident that ARAM will not change how good you are with her.

    Team Comps
    In champion select, you should aim for a versatile team comp for the best results. I recommend trying for two casters (preferably long range), an AD carry, a healer of some kind, and tank or brusier. Of course, your healer will also either be a caster or tank/brusier.

  • Casters: Your casters will be your main source of damage at the beginning of the game. With them poking down your enemies, this allows your tanks to eventually initiate for your team.
  • AD Carry: Just like in normal games, this guy will be your main source of damage in team fights, as long as he can stay alive. Be sure to build lifesteal for sustain since you can’t go back to base!
    Healer: Healers are great in ARAM since you are not able to heal at base. The sustain a healer provides for your team can ultimately win the game. Sona, Soraka and Janna are three great sources of healing in ARAM if you are lucky enough to get them.
  • Tank/Brusier: You NEED tanks if you want to win in ARAM. If you don’t have a tank, either reroll or hope that the other team does not have a tank either. If you do not have a tank, then you better win quickly before the other team’s tank has their core items. Tanks may not play a huge role early game, but in late game they are a necessity. An ideal tank for ARAM would be one with good CC, such as Malphite, Blitzcrank, Alistar, or Amumu.
  • Assassins: Though not in my number one ideal team, the point of ARAM is that you cannot pick your team. And in the event you get an assassin, that’s great. Assassins can do just as good as other champions, and better if you get the right one. Waiting for the ideal time to strike, assassins excel at assassinating (who knew?) enemies once they can quickly take them down and escape easily.

Fat_Poro

ARAM Only Items
In order to keep order and balance to ARAM, there are a few items you will find in the shop that are not available in any other game mode. It is important to know what these items are, what they do, and when the right time to buy them is.

  • Guardian’s Horn: This item is good on any tank or bruiser champion (I especially like it on Rammus and Hecarim) but can be useful on others as well. Giving you a short burst of speed on a low cooldown, the Guardian’s Horn is great for charging in to initiate fights.
  • Orb of Winter: Another tank/brusier item, this item was added to ARAM for a counter against ranged poke champions. Buy this item if the other team has heavy poke. Even if you’re not a tank, this item can be very helpful for sustain.
  • Poro-Snax: This item is given to every player as a trinket at the start of every game to feed the little poros scattered throughout the map. While it may at first seem funny and useless to your team’s strategy, it actually has a real use that may come in handy. If you notice, the poros are scared of you and every other champion in the game and when you come close to them they run away. If you are in a bush and a poro comes along, he will immediately turn and run in the other direction, giving away your position to the other team. In order to avoid this, just give the approaching poro your Poro-Snax, and he will love you forever and not give away your position. If you do want to have a little fun with Poro-Snax, try and get all ten players to feed the same poro. The poro will explode, and out will come several more poro in a shower of cuteness!

Relics
Since healing at your base is not permitted in ARAM, there are four health relics along the Howling Abyss – two on each side. At 3:00 (Recently updated from 3:10) these health relics will spawn and heal you as well as give you mana upon walking over them and respawn every 40 seconds. Since these relics are one of the only sources of healing in this game mode it is very important to zone your team in way that the other team cannot steal the ones by your turrets, while at the same not foolishly suiciding just to save your relics. It is also important for your casters to get the relics since they will most likely be doing the most damage early on, and will need to replenish their mana often. Coordinate with your team and decide who needs the relics the most at the time.
Once you are in late game, your team may be pushed up to their inhibitor but need to fall back for whatever reason. If this is the case, even if your team is full health be sure to grab the relics just so the other team cannot benefit from them.

Suicide
Suicide is very common in ARAM due to the (recurring) fact that you cannot go to base to heal or buy items. Though you should try to stay alive as long as possible, there are instances where suiciding is acceptable. The obvious acceptable way of suicide is by execution. If you have aced their team, then you have two options: push as hard as you can or kill yourself under the enemy turret in order to buy your items while not giving the other team a kill. Just don’t throw away a perfect moment to destroy an enemy turret.
Another form of suicide should not be used very often, but is still acceptable at times. If you REALLY need to die because you are brimming with gold and have no items, then you may die to the enemy team. Just be sure to tell your team what you are doing, and that it is not at a bad time. A bad suicide can sometimes give the enemy team the chance they need to push for a turret, or even victory. Use strong judgement when choosing to suicide.
Suiciding in late game is usually used to prepare for team fights. If you or one of your team members is low health before a battle, and their team is freshly spawned and ready to fight, your team might be better off choosing to wait to until you suicide and come back in order to stand a chance in the upcoming team fight.

Summoner Spells
Who would have known that a completely different game mode had different standards for choosing your summoner spells? While the standard flash is still used by most players, there are a couple of decisions to make while choosing your second spell.

  • Mark/Dash: Riot’s featured game mode, Legend of the Poro King introduced an ability to launch a poro at your enemy, and then dash to them if you hit them with it. Seeing that many champions did much better than before with a better engagement tool, it was decided to add Mark/Dash to ARAM as a permanent summoner spell, now throwing snowballs instead of poros. This spell is great for engaging and diving. It is excellent for assassins, bruisers, and champions who are already great at engaging. Mark/Dash is an overall safe pick for many champions.
  • Ignite: This spell is occasionally used for assassins and melee fighters, but for the most part it has been replaced by Mark/Dash.
  • Heal: Good for ranged, poke champions for mobility and sustain to survive diving.
  • Exhaust: Great for countering assassins looking to kill your back line. This summoner spell is a pretty safe pick, especially if your team lacks CC.
  • Clarity: Poke champions are usually very reliant on their mana. If you know you are playing a champion that often runs out of mana, clarity is a good pick. This way, you are not taking the health relics just because your mana is low, and your team will greatly appreciate this.
  • Cleanse: Probably the least used summoner spell, cleanse is good for low mobility champions with no escape. This way, if they are CC’d, they still have a fighting chance of surviving. Even if your champion has great mobility, this spell is still a good pick against teams with heavy CC.ARAM is great for casual players looking for short games, but don’t let that fool you: This game mode has tons of strategy. From using champion select to the best of your advantage, to knowing all of the unique items and spells there are to choose from, to feeding the cute little poros, knowing these strategies could be the difference you need to come out on top.Did I miss anything? Do you disagree with anything? Be sure to tell us in the comments, or on our Facebook.

 

 

A Look Back: Twisted Treeline

Most of us know and love Twisted Treeline as the small, two lane, two altar, seven monster jungle, 3v3 game-mode now on the live servers, but what some of you may not know is that Twisted Treeline – while always being a 3v3 map (and also supporting 6v6 in custom games) – started out much different. With a life span of three years (2009 to 2012) let’s take a moment to reminisce in what once was.

 

The original Twisted Treeline was released on October 17, 2009 as League of Legends’ second game mode. With a larger jungle than our current one, jungling was much more common than it is now, leaving the two lanes to be both 1v1. And though there were no altars in this large jungle, there was still much for teams to fight over:

  • Four camps of non-elite monsters for experience
  • Wolf/Green buff (Nature’s Fury: +20 attack speed and 10% cooldown reduction)
  • Banshee/Grey buff (Crest of Flowing Water: +45% movement speed)
  • Lizard/Red buff (Blessing of the Lizard Elder: Slows enemies and gives you damage based on level)
  • Dragon/Purple buff (Crest of Crushing Wrath: Every member of your team receives +1% damage per champion level to their basic attacks and abilities)

Yes, you’re reading right. There were once FOUR buffs to obtain in Twisted Treeline, giving you the possibility to be quadra-buffed; however, the monster buffs were not on a set timer, so you had to be lucky to come across them as they spawned.

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Wards were also very much a thing in old Twisted Treeline, and with its thin, flashable walls and its bushes placed all throughout, they were a must if you wanted to avoid ganks. These walls were also perfect for junglers like Lee Sin, Shaco, and Malphite to jump over at their leisure, and since Lee Sin could also hop to his wards, he was a very unbalanced pick on this map.

In 2012, Riot announced a brand new version of Twisted Treeline in hopes to fix some of the balance issues. The goal of this new map was to have faster games by fixing the choke points around the inhibitor, which allowed for turtling. The jungle was also changed drastically. The top jungle was almost completely removed, leaving only the pit we know today as Vilemaw’s home. The jungle that was left was replaced with regular spawning camps and the Lizard Elder was replaced with two altars for each team to capture. The shop was also updated with various new items to support every role on this 3v3 map.

 

Twisted Treeline has changed a lot over the years. From a larger, unbalanced map with overall longer games, to a small, well balanced map with a focus on shorter games, I believe that Riot has done well in their decision to change the map. While the old map was also tons of fun, they have done well in designing their new one. As the game grows, things must be sacrificed and changed to ultimately make the game better as a whole.

Though I wholeheartedly believe the game has evolved for the better, I also hope to see the old Twisted Treeline in the game’s new Rotating Game Mode Queue as a featured game mode. Seeing this old map in the game again at least a couple times a year would be very refreshing. They could even possibly update the textures to match all the new ones. Are my hopes set a little too high here? Probably.

 

Did you like the old Twisted Treeline better than the new one? Do you hope to see it back as a featured game-mode? Do you have any old League of Legends memories you would like to share? Let us know in the comments and on our Facebook!

These Updates are Truly, Truly Outrageous

With patch 6.7 going live just a couple of days ago, we are already seeing a fair amount of content pop up onto the PBE: most notable of these changes being the Taric update, Global Splash updates, and the Rotating Game Mode testing. If you don’t yet know about some or all of these updates, fear not! I will be summarizing all of these updates while also offering an opinion to all that will hear.

 

Let’s start with the Taric update:

First of all: FINALLY. This long needed update has finally been announced and has at last hit the PBE for testing. The new Taric, yet still fabulous, is much different. He has received a full new model and move set update that requires actual thinking and has a few more useful support abilities than before. Now focused around linking yourself to a target ally, Taric’s heal, stun, and ultimate’s area of effect depend on where you and your linked ally are standing. Your stun (which is now a delayed skill shot) now fires out of both Taric and his ally for increased chance to hit.

My only gripe with Taric is that he can be a bit overwhelming until you get used to all of your spells, and mechanics. Taric’s ultimate causes him and everyone around him and his linked ally to be invulnerable for 2.5 seconds, but has a delay of 2.5 seconds. This can be troublesome in fast paced fights in which your 2.5 seconds just won’t be fast enough. The timing of this will take some time to become accustomed to.

Overall, Taric’s update is great. Going from a boring and ugly, minimum mechanic support, to an engaging and much more useful one with a brand new quality character model is quite refreshing.

 

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Global Splash Art Updates:

Before I get too far into this one, I should probably mention that Riot is consistently changing and revising global splash arts depending on community backlash. There are several reasons for Riot’s decision to change (but not necessarily create new) splash art for a big chunk of the game’s skins. First of all: the game’s original art is becoming dated. Tweaking the art in hopes to make it appear more modern is one thing Riot has begun doing for skins like Goth Annie and Cottontail Teemo (pictured above). They are also beginning to “unify the global experience”, which means that some of the splashes will be switching to the Chinese version, as well as some of the Chinese versions switching to the NA versions. It is also worth mentioning that “this is not a replacement for full-scale splash updates down the road, just a short term solution to solve a specific problem.”

In this feat to unify the world with the same art, Riot has hit some restrictions and have thus removed tobacco and alcohol from Gentleman Cho’Gath’s splash art, and are in the process of removing the blood effects from Crimson and Stinger Akali. So to all of you still waiting for the return of Graves’ cigar, looks like you’re out of luck!

It is great that Riot is updating their art while we wait for the full-scale updates, but was the Goth Annie update really needed? If you actually look, all Riot actually did was paste a new face on the existing art. What was wrong with her old face? It just feels a little forced.

 

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Rotating Game Mode Queue Testing:

Hold on to your hats; yet another highly anticipated update is coming today! The Rotating Game Mode Queue is kicking off today starting a 4pm server time. The first game mode? Ascension.

Briefly introduced and taken away from us when Azir and Guardian of the Sands Kha’zix were released, Ascension takes you to a sand covered Crystal Scar (The Dominion map) where you must capture objectives and defeat Xerath to claim the Ascension buff. The game is won through capturing enough objectives before the enemy team.

You may play Ascension this weekend, and will have access to it until Monday. You may also earn mastery points for your champions in every rotating game mode, so be sure to have a few games before it rotates out!

It’s just too bad Riot has not yet added champion mastery in ARAM and Twisted Treeline. We can only hope this will come soon!

 

Are there any other updates you are looking forward to? What do you feel about the new Taric? The new Global Splash Art updates? Be sure to tell us either in the comments or on our Facebook, where we currently have a giveaway running! Make sure to enter for a chance to win a copy of Overwatch!

Finish the Skin Series: Dragon Trainer

Everyone knows and loves the Dragon Trainer skins. Lulu received her skin back in 2012, and now Tristana almost exactly three years later in 2015. Skins have come a long way between the two, thus they are quite different in quality. Will we have to wait another three years for the next Dragon Trainer skins? I hope not. In fact, I have put together suggestions for the occasion! Realizing that the Dragon Trainer series is probably intended to be a Yordle only skin line, I have compiled the best of our little heroes for the job in each of the roles that are still missing the skin:

 

Mid: Heimerdinger

Though difficult to imagine how Heimerdinger could possibly have a Dragon Trainer skin, the same is for the other two champions I have chosen. Dragon Trainer Heimerdinger houses a great mother dragon in his big messy hair – don’t ask me how she fits in there – and Heimerdinger’s abilities all come from his dragon’s assistance.

Q – Dragon Trainer Heimerdinger receives an egg from the mother dragon and places it on the ground to hatch it. This baby dragon, with its head poking out from its shell, fires beaming projectiles from its mouth at any enemies nearby. Using your ultimate with your Q allows the mother dragon to hatch an even bigger and more powerful baby dragon from her egg.

W – The mother dragon from Heimerdinger’s hair pokes her head out of his messy hair and fires a stream of fire in a target direction. Empowering this ability with your ultimate sends a much more powerful blast of fire in that direction.

E – Once again, the mother dragon pops out of Heimerdinger’s hair; this time she hurls a ball of fire in a target location, stunning and slowing enemies. This fire ball bounces and covers a larger area with Heimerdinger’s ultimate enabled.

 

“Ahh, the sweet smell of motherhood!” – Dragon Trainer Heimerdinger

 

Jungle: Poppy

Dragon Trainer Poppy’s dragon is not one to mess with. Orphaned since he was a child, all Hammy has ever wanted to do is find his mother. Upon finding Hammy, Dragon Trainer Poppy has made it her life mission to take this young dragon back to his mother. The two have since become good friends, aiding each other in battle. With Hammy’s unbreakable body, Poppy relentlessly swings him at her enemies.

Passive: Periodically, Dragon Trainer Poppy throws a piece of Hammy’s unbreakable shell – which she normally uses as her shield — as her next basic attack.

Q – Dragon Trainer Poppy smashes Hammy on the ground, leaving a heated imprint where he lands. After 1 second, the ground in which Hammy imprinted erupts, damaging enemies within it.

W – While Dragon Trainer Poppy gains her movement speed Hammy takes a deep breath in. This stops any dashing nearby enemies to be knocked down.

R – While Dragon Trainer Poppy charges up Hammy, the dragon takes a deep breath in. Upon striking down his breath is let out, knocking all enemies hit a considerable distance towards their fountain.

 

“Me the mother? Don’t be ridiculous!” – Dragon Trainer Poppy

 

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Top: Teemo (Ultimate)

“Stay here and be quiet!” Teemo whispers to his dragon scouts after blowing the whistle tied around his neck. The young dragons attempt to fly to their place, but bounce off of each other before plopping down in their place, restlessly waiting for the first Dragon Slayer Pantheon to cross their path. Once their enemy is close enough, they belch their poisonous breath on the ground beneath them, and in their adrenaline, fly upwards and disappear. Slowed from the sudden explosion of toxins, Teemo whistles for his dragon from above to gain a short burst of speed: Just enough to catch up to his foe. On arrival, Teemo blows his whistle once more. This time, a tiny dragon pops its snout from the cap of the Yordle dragon tamer and shoots a quick burst of blinding sludge. Teemo finishes off his enemy with a poisonous dart of his own.

While Dragon Tamer Teemo is in the game, all ally minions are turned into dragon scouts. Under Teemo’s leadership, the scouts are determined to break through all enemy defenses and push to their last breath towards the enemy Nexus. From the melee, razer toothed dragons up front to the winged, fire breathers in the back, Teemo has trained these scouts well. When an enemy inhibitor is destroyed Teemo lets out his signature giggle before blowing his whistle louder than ever before. With this, his advanced scouts are released. Displaying their badges with pride, these armored whelps won’t be showing any mercy today.

Each game played as Dragon Trainer Teemo earns your account “Teemo Badges”. Earning enough of these badges allows you to unlock a Dragon Trainer skin for Lulu, Tristana, Heimerdinger, and Poppy, depending on who is in your game. Additionally, if you are playing one of these other champions and have an ally Dragon Trainer Teemo, you may unlock yourself that champion’s Dragon Tamer skin for a single game with your Teemo points you have accumulated. Skins unlocked through Teemo points display a big, shiny Teemo Scout Badge on the loading screen for everyone to see.

 

These are my suggestions for future Dragon Trainer Skins. Would you buy them? Do you have any ideas of your own? What skin line would you like to see finished next?

Don’t forget to like us on Facebook for more articles, as well as updates on SKL tournaments and our upcoming Overwatch giveaway.

 

Introducing the SKL ARAM Tournament

SKL eSports is happy to announce we are hosting a League of Legends ARAM tournament! We know many of you have been looking for some more “fun” competitions, and we think this helps fill that void. Compete either as a team, or by yourself. We have both team and solo registration available, with solo registration working similarly to solo queue within the client itself (that is, random placement into teams). The winning team will receive 50% of the registration fees distributed amongst the team!

The tournament will take place Saturday, April 16th, 2016, and registration is $5 a person. Check out all the information on our ARAM Tournament Page.

New Game Mode: Fog of Wards

Riot has recently announced the Rotating Game Mode Queue, a queue which changes every weekend. The queue will include games like Ultra Rapid Fire, Legend of the Poro King, and Ascension (You can click here to read my other article about it). But Riot plans to do more than just add previous game modes into this queue. Brand new games will be introduced to this queue, and just today they have announced their first one: Fog of Wards

In Fog of Wards there is initially no fog of war; everything on the map is visible to you right from the start, including the enemy team. You must find new strategies to win the game while knowing that the enemy team is watching your every move. Since this eliminates the use for the wards you know and love, they have been redesigned in this game mode along with every other stealth mechanic in the game:

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Vision Wards: Vision wards now blind all enemies in the area until they can manage to find and destroy them.

Stealth Wards: You can now place up to ten stealth wards at one time, creating fog of war in an area which the enemy team cannot see.

Sight Abilities: Sight abilities such as Ashe’s ‘E’ and Quinn’s ‘W’ now grant fog of war for the enemy team.

Teemo: Teemo’s passive allows him to walk around the map stealthed. When he stands still however, he is revealed to the enemy team. His mushrooms (along with Shaco’s boxes) are visible to enemies, so use them wisely!

Evelynn: Is no longer passively stealthed. Instead, she is only stealthed while in combat.

 

Baron and dragon buffs have also been repurposed. Upon killing Baron or your 5th dragon, the enemy team’s fog of war is turned back on and their wards now again give them vision. This will greatly give your team the upper hand, as you can now sneak around the map assassinating enemies who don’t see you coming.

New items are available in the store during this queue! Be sure to pick up these essential Fog of Wards items:

Fog Stone: Holds up to 10 wards at a time (The maximum amount you are able to have on the map at once)

Cloak of the Mirage: For just 2000 gold, the cloak of mirage allows you to activate every 2 minutes to create 5 decoys of yourself all standing alongside you. During this time, your opponent has no idea which is really you! – Just don’t move.

 

With the announcement of this brand new game mode, the Rotating Queue cannot be far from release. Fog of Wards looks like it will be a very strategic game and will be a favourite among many players. Who knows, maybe it will eventually get its very own queue and take over the pro scene.

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