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Five picks that marked the LEC’s first week

The season’s opening week reaffirmed a sentiment that has existed ever since League of Legends developed a European scene: the only thing that outshines European players’ skill is their creativity. However, pressing the R key has proven very effective for one player in particular.

As we hold a requiem for the first week of action, let us remember that one player unleashed a trademark pick to assert dominance. In addition, a few others ducked away from (and into) danger, trampling over their foes. But in one case, synergy prevailed.
There have been many picks in the LEC’s first week of action, but the following shined the brightest.

Hans Sama’s Draven: 8/0/2 KDA vs. Rogue

A photo of Hans Sama during Week 1 of the LEC

Hans Sama picked his favourite champion in his first LEC game.

Misfits Gaming took over the spotlight during the offseason for good reason: they assembled the European equivalent of a dream team. With such a lineup, the odds of fireworks were high from top to bot — especially in the bot lane, as it turns out. In the team’s first game of the season, Steven “Hans Sama” Liv wasted no time to remind us of his specialty pick, Draven.
At the core of Hans sama’s Draven lies the Conqueror keystone within the Precision tree. Although it does not refresh upon champion attacks as it does for melee champions, the buff synergizes well with Draven’s Spinning Axe, granting an extra oomph. In addition, the player also chose the Sorcery tree as a secondary, which granted him access to yet another Attack Damage increase through Absolute Focus. In short, every first spinning axe Hans sama flung at a target chunked them out of significant amounts of health.

Combined with Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon’s Rakan, the AD carry took over the game with ease starting with the First Blood. Queue a snowball of epic proportions, as he was free to hit targets behind his teammates’ cover. It was truly the League of Draaaaaaven, as he consumed one Adoration stack after another, and as his unclaimed bounty was a solid 1,000 gold in the end of the game. The Bloodthirster, Stormrazer and Rapid Firecannon purchases also helped make him impossible to duel.
The game served as quick reminder to the player’s strength on the pick, and on his willingness to take over at a moment’s notice. His ability to capitalize on GorillA’s engages and other lockdown abilities during skirmishes spelled doom upon his opponents.

Caps and Perkz’s long-range artillery duo: Jayce and Zoe

A photo of Caps and Perkz during Week 1 of the LEC

This was over before it began.

We understand that League of Legends games can sometimes feel very unfair. Take ARAMs for example, when you receive Rammus or Udyr and have to face infinity poke wars. Suddenly, “winnable” does not apply anymore. Thankfully, Summoners’ Rift leaves very few avenues for such frustration to occur. That is, unless you’re facing G2 Esports, and they draft Jayce and Zoe.

We could talk about how, once upon a time, the team fighting kingdoms lived in harmony until the poke nation attacked — or something like that. In truth, G2’s composition was a callback to a time thought long gone. Indeed, siege compositions were prevalent in Season 4, with Nidalee and Jayce chunking massive amounts of health from afar. However, the way they did it had no precedent: few, if any, would expect a Zoe in the bot lane. That is, unless you’re Luka “Perkz” Perkovic and are as flexible playing marksmen as you are playing mid laners.

With such team compositions, the key is to reach specific power spikes. For instance, Luden’s Echo is a significant boost to Zoe’s damage, as Youmuu’s Ghostblade is for Jayce. By the time the game reached the 18-minute mark, the two players successfully purchased those items, before Origen could secure a significant lead. As such, G2 controlled the minion waves well enough to set up systematic siege situations.

As a result, G2 rained Paddle Stars and Rasmus “Caps” Winther’s empowered Shock Blasts upon the sitting ducks that were Origen. Suddenly, the game turned into an impossible dodgeball session. By the way, Caps and Perkz combined for nearly as much damage as Origen by their lonesome (only 1,000 damage off). Now, if that wasn’t enough…

Jankos’s Karthus: 11 Requiem casts in Week 1

A photo of Jankos during Week 1 of the LEC

Will G2 be the team to beat this split?

Caps and Perkz happened to have Marcin “Jankos” Jankowski’s Karthus on duty when they unleashed hell upon Origen. However, Jankos also used the pick in G2 Esports’ game against FC Schalke 04 Esports. In fact, the pick has surged in popularity ever since Season 8 ended, and balance changes are to blame (rather, thank).

Dark Harvest’s changes turned the game upside down during the preseason, as its stacking mechanic upon attacking low health targets was too efficient. The balance team has since taken care of that issue, but the keystone remained strong enough on Karthus to propel him into viability in many lanes. In the jungle, his fast clearing speed and excellent sustain through the Ravenous Hunter rune accelerates his access to the gold efficient Runic Echoes.

To understand Karthus as a jungler, one has to understand him beyond the R – Requiem ability. His W – Wall of Pain facilitates ganks at all stages of the game when paired with CC from a lane champion (such as Aatrox), and it also lowers resistances. Furthermore, the champion spends a large amount of time Laying Waste with his Q, an ability that deals double damage when it catches a single target.

Once Karthus reaches Level 6, he can contribute to skirmishes from afar with Requiem and collect juicy Dark Harvest stacks. That allows him to gather gold faster and scale into an unstoppable force in the mid game. Once that happens, Karthus may use his ultimate to secure objectives, as the threat of follow-up damage behind his ultimate can break sieges in a hurry (see: Origen vs. G2). In addition, the magical R key is extremely useful at securing kills — especially when Coup de Grace is selected in the Precision secondary tree.

GorillA’s Alistar: 0/2/17 KDA vs. SK Gaming

A photo of GorillA during Week 1 of the LEC

Misfits’ new signing impressed in Week 1.

Hans Sama was not the only one to shine within Misfits Gaming. In fact, GorillA made a strong case for the match MVP award in his first game of the season on Rakan. However, his Alistar gameplay in the team’s game against SK Gaming was a showstopper.

At a baseline level, Alistar is a great pick into Rakan, which SK Gaming claimed for themselves. However, he is also one of the most lethal roamers, as his crowd control abilities greatly facilitate kills. That much was obvious very early on, when he joined Nubar “Maxlore” Sarafian in a very early jungle invasion and isolated SK’s mid laner, Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik — demonstrating his quick wit with a game-defining Blast Cone usage to set up a fast double kill.

An Alistar with Aftershock is already beefy enough and difficult to take down, let alone an Alistar that has secured a significant lane lead. Queue the pain (and CC) train when he roams the map, or when he suddenly emerges upon fully charging his Hextech Flashtraption. At time, one has to wonder if that display isn’t scarier than a Fiddlesticks Crowstorm – especially in GorillA’s hands.

Upon securing leads across the map, the support stacked Cooldown Reduction as quickly as possible with Ionian Boots of Lucidity, a Glacial Shroud (later Zeke’s Convergence for additional pain) and a Nomad’s Medallion. One thing was certain after he secured 17 of the Misfits’ 21 kills: SK really couldn’t milk those.

Week 1 has ended, but the LEC is only getting started: tune in at watch.lolesports.com on the 25th and 26th of January to bear witness to more champion arrivals.