Creativity and conventional wisdom featured prominently in the fourth week of the LEC. On the creative side, a pick rarely seen outside of solo queue has entered the fray, courtesy of FC Schalke 04. On the more conventional side, Team Vitality and Splyce brought burst spells to gun (or kunai) fights.
As a result, this week's battles on the Rift began with elusiveness and included rarely seen footage of something definitely not robotic – perhaps a result of reality warping upon itself. But don't let the smoke and mirrors fool you: one of them might be gone for a long time.
As we sing a requiem for one of these picks, another unlisted pick is one we’ve seen before – allow us to acknowledge Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski’s R key for the third time this split, with another incredible showing on Karthus.
With that done, here are our five top picks of Week 4.
IgNar’s Blitzcrank: 0/2/11 vs. Misfits Gaming
It’s no secret that Lee “IgNar” Dong-geun is at his happiest in Europe: after all, he cemented his reputation as a playmaker as Misfits Gaming’s support in 2017. Many remember his fantastic run at the 2017 World Championship, but some might have forgotten about one of his signature picks: Blitzcrank. That lapse wouldn’t last long, as he unleashed the pick upon his former team in response to their defensive bot lane draft, consisting of Varus and Tahm Kench.
FC Schalke 04 couldn’t be happier with his decision, as he was instrumental in reversing the outcome of the game. In fact, his Rocket Grabs were heat-seeking and akin to a point-and-click ability, rather than the targeted skillshot that often hits minions or the enemy team fight initiator. Hans Sama was often the benefactor of such hooks in the past, but he found himself (and his current support, Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon) as the unfortunate victim.
The Blitzcrank pick is a folly that IgNar knew he could get away with, considering the lane pressure and pick opportunities he provides in favourable conditions. Considering the nature of his champion kit, the Aftershock keystone and Hextech Flashtraption are mainstays, as they respectively provide additional damage and catch potential when Flash is down.
From there, IgNar opts to provide additional power through Demolish whenever Schalke 04 siege turrets. In addition, Blitzcrank’s nature as a melee fighter invites the selection of Bone Plating and Unflinching for extra durability, especially when IgNar’s summoner spells are on cooldown. But what makes his Blitzcrank a menace? As shown in the clip above, a combination of solid game sense and patience can land two-for-one hooks, with both GorillA and Hans Sama aligned and within range of the hook. Beyond all, Blitzcrank players need a great sense of initiative, and IgNar is the quintessential playmaker.
Humanoid’s LeBlanc: 6/3/6 KDA vs. SK Gaming
Marek “Humanoid” Brazda might be new to Splyce, but he found out that an obscure rule occasionally applied to their games. What rule? Simply put, Splyce reach late game status and, more often than not, win the ensuing slugfest. The rule also applies if Splyce have an early game draft and somehow, some way, recover from a disastrous mid game. This time around, his LeBlanc was the deciding factor over Oskar “Selfmade” Boderek’s Xin Zhao on SK Gaming’s side.
Splyce’s LeBlanc pick required courage in a meta dominated by flex picks, and that makes their pick all the more daring. Following subsequent permutations on SK’s side, Humanoid faced a tanky Sion. As such, his chances at securing a lead through the laning phase depended on his ability to play towards the side lanes. To his credit, he successfully ramped up to the late game and proved that LeBlanc was still a disruptive threat against SK’s squishy composition.
The Electrocute keystone, the Sudden Impact rune and the Sorcery tree’s Transcendence provide LeBlanc the means to deal significant burst damage. In that setting, and considering the pick’s reliance on mobility and elusiveness, Luden’s Echo is a solid first item. Rabadon’s Deathcap and Void Staff complete the core item build. Due to the amount of burst damage and crowd control he faced, Humanoid completed his build with Banshee’s Veil and Zhonya’s Hourglass.
Most importantly, he used the fog of war to his advantage. SK Gaming often discovered his location when he had already wreaked havoc upon them. Suddenly, team fights that had started in their favour turned upside down, as an empowered Distortion wreaked havoc upon their damage dealers. His return to previous Distortion locations also allowed him to elude catch attempts. All in all, Humanoid performed LeBlanc’s best magic trick over and over: make life bars disappear.
Jiizuke’s Ryze: 4/0/3 vs. Excel Esports
SK Gaming’s flex pick foray may have ended in defeat, but Team Vitality’s led to a dominant victory over Excel Esports. Granted, they had the power of Urgot in their hands, but it was not their most devastating pick. In fact, Team Vitality’s fans might have reacted with excitement when Daniele “Jiizuke” Di Mauro selected Ryze, his most devastating pick in 2018.
Jiizuke’s understanding of Ryze is unparalleled in Europe, and he showed it in a seemingly unfavourable matchup against Syndra. By minute 15, he consolidated a considerable lane lead, absorbed Excel’s pressure, and became a threat over time as he scaled into the mid game. Later on, he showcased Ryze’s outrageous AoE damage. Along the way, he showed his latent talents for dodgeball – which many had discovered during his rookie season.
Ryze’s kit synergises with the Phase Rush keystone, as his constant spell-slinging grants him mobility and the ability to dodge skillshots when used to his full potential. In addition, Time Warp Tonic (Inspiration tree) provides additional movement speed upon using consumables such as biscuits obtained from the Biscuit Delivery rune. Beyond the added sustain, he gains tremendous amounts of movement speed.
Overall, Ryze’s power becomes manifest as soon as he scales through Mana and Ability Power enhancers, like Seraph’s Embrace and Rod of Ages. As Jiizuke secured both items fairly early, he applied pressure on the side lanes. He was confident in his ability to win duels in favourable conditions and escape through R – Realm Warp when the odds are against him. Truth be told, the odds were against Excel all along.
Caps’s Akali: 7/2/7 vs. Team Vitality
We are still unsure what to fear most: an assassin with no master, or Rasmus “Caps” Winther left to his devices. League of Legends players in Patch 9.2 would probably fear both, as Akali was no slouch either. But if you are to ask LEC competitors, they would point at G2 Esports and likely echo whispers of doom upon facing them. Unlike Cthulhu (or the Watchers that Lissandra dreads), G2 are alive and wide awake.
G2 are untouchable in the standings for good reason: they understand the team compositions handed to them and take them up a notch. As if Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski’s Karthus wasn’t enough, they allowed Caps to dance on Akali, maybe for the last time as she faces significant nerfs in Patch 9.3. Of course, he obliged, occasionally denying Jankos a few kills.
In her Patch 9.2 iteration, Akali’s kit and the Fleet Footwork keystone worked in harmony. Indeed, her mobility and hit-and-run pattern works well with the keystone, as the latter provides sustain and boosts her mobility further. The Resolve tree’s secondary choices also add to her survivability; Second Wind directly boosts her survivability, and Revitalise amplifies the self healing attribute that formerly featured in her Q – Five Point Strike.
As Patch 9.3 removes the latter, Akali will find herself in a precarious situation. Indeed, the matchups in which she relied upon these survival-heavy keystones will become much harder, as Revitalise no longer affects her. In a way, Caps’s display of skill on Akali through reckless dives showed what could have been, but no longer is. If you’ll miss Akali in competitive play, let us know – for now, let us draw the curtains upon her.
Kobbe’s Jhin: 5/1/9 KDA vs. Misfits Gaming
When curtains called upon Misfits Gaming, death followed shortly after. How fitting it was that Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup’s Jhin outshined his Lucian against SK Gaming. The two picks are polar opposites in a lot of ways. Relatively speaking, Jhin lacks mobility, whereas Lucian’s abilities lack range. In addition, Jhin is most comfortable from far away, compared to Lucian’s reliance on autoattacks and close-range spells. Even then, Kobbe played both to their fullest extent in Week 4.
However, his Jhin brought doom upon Misfits in insidious ways. His W – Deadly Flourishes – felt almost like point-and-click abilities, snaring or sniping targets from afar. His E, Captive Audience, with traps laid hidden, set a comeback in motion. Then, his job becomes as easy as counting from one to four over and over again, zooming in and out of fights.
He didn’t need his R, Curtain Call, bullets to hit their mark most of the time, as their zoning power was enough. But he needed teammates to capitalise on the openings he created, and he needed Toer Hoel “Norskeren” Eilertsen’s Tahm Kench to save him from certain death. To Norskeren’s credit, he did so when it mattered.
Fleet Footwork is an especially potent keystone, especially when combined with Stormrazor and Rapidfire Cannon. Should he hit his marks from long range, he could rival Lucian’s mobility in very short bursts – long enough to tag targets, zoom closer, tag them again, and back away in case of trouble. But trouble was hard to find, considering the amount of front line presence his teammates had. And when it did, he had enough firepower through his items, Coup de Grace and Gathering Storm, to negate it in a hurry.