Never Stop Learning

IMG_4803The day you stop learning is also the day that you stop growing.

Hello to everyone reading this!  I”m Sycho Sid, the top laner for Vulcun Techbargains, and I”m here to write my first blog.  I am not exactly sure as to where the quote from above is from, but “learning” will be the main focus of my blog.  Try to get comfortable because this post in particular will be especially long because it has to cover the two weeks of LCS that have already passed!  The rest of my posts will only be weekly and nowhere near the size of this one.  Moving forward, I will begin first by talking about what happened in the first two weeks of the LCS and end with how we feel going into MLG Anaheim this coming weekend.  However, please keep in mind that what I”m about to write is my point of view alone nor should it be confused with my team”s opinions as a whole.

 

How we prepared:

Riot decided to start off LCS with a bang by making it a Super Week for all of the teams to “enjoy,” meaning that each of the eight teams would have to play a whopping FIVE games over a course of three days.  We knew that it would be an exhausting weekend, but we were confident. Our preparation for this grueling week was simple; we would scrim for six hours a day with a break sometime in the middle, go grab some dinner, then follow up with a few hours of replay analysis. The scrim results were somewhat inconsistent, but we were happy with how things were going.  In fact, we went into Super Week shooting for a 5-0, but hoping for at least a 4-1.

Week 1 (3W-2L):

For my analyses of week one and two, I will focus on the games that we lost.  I simply find it much more interesting and useful for myself as well as for those of you out there who are reading this.  After all, reflection is key to growing both as a person and a player.  Losing is how you learn.

Our first loss was against Team Coast (formerly known as Good Game University).  We accomplished nothing that we had planned on doing before the game and lost because of it.  This was our original plan: avoid the Elise (me) vs Riven (ZionSpartan) matchup by sending our AD/Support top against the Riven and shut her down.  Not only did that not fall through, but I, as the Elise, put my first skill point into E (Coccoon/Repel) against a Riven who had early wolves experience, meaning she would get level 2 faster and straight up zone me from my minions. ZionSpartan is honestly the backbone of that team and in my opinion, he is one of the best top laners when playing with a lead.  He uses his advantage really well by applying a ton of pressure top and often roams mid to add even more pressure. While I was busy trying to last-hit under tower, it didn”t occur to me that Zion was roaming mid.  As a result, I didn”t warn my mid lane, and Zion forced Zuna to blow his flash, resulting in a loss of map pressure for us.  Basically, the Riven carried the game because she was able to freefarm the entire game since nobody on our team could 1v1 her.

The second loss was against fan favorite, Team SoloMid.  The outcome of this game was affected by two major factors: champion select and early game.  I am not trying to say that we lost solely off of how picks and bans went down.  In my opinion, we outpicked them, but what I am saying is that we could have had chosen more optimal champions.  Having that out of the way, let”s get on with the picks.  TSM first-picked Shen.  In response, we picked Jayce and Kennen, two of the more popular picks.  What”s not to like about these picks?  They are interchangeable and dominate whichever lane they go to.  We left up Ryze, the god of a champion that destroys everything in his path if he makes it out of laning phase.  What we should have done instead was pick Ryze over Kennen.  There were two reasons for our Kennen pick: 1) We tunneled too hard on having Mancloud play Jayce, and as a result, 2) I had to choose my top champion, so I picked Kennen over Ryze because I was honestly way more comfortable playing Kennen.  I won my lane hard, but it did not even matter.  My purpose that game was to keep Shen down.  I built to continue beating him, but when Shen swapped to the bot lane, I was too stupid to follow him.  Mancloud”s Jayce fell behind from dying to a 3-man dive in the early laning phase and was even more out of the game than the Shen was.  He could not even scratch him through his shield, and as a result, Shen farmed his way back into the game.  This was pretty much the game.

TL;DR – Week 1: Stick to the plan.  Communication is key. Stop tunneling and think more about what is the best in slot pick for this particular game.

Week 2 (1W-1L):

After the disappointing 3-2 record from Super Week, we re-evaluated ourselves as a team.  Why did this happen?  What did we do wrong?  What could we have done differently?  We were still making the same mistakes that we were making in our scrims.  Why weren”t we improving?  Our coach Kenma concluded that we were burning ourselves out from overpracticing and not thinking enough about the games. In other words, we were beginning to play the game mindlessly instead of playing to learn and improve.

So what did we do?

For the practice time that we had before the games in week 2, the entire team agreed to trade off two hours of scrimming for two more hours of replay analysis whether it was watching our own replays or those from LPL and OGN.  Our logic behind this was to simply think more about the game.  Watching the high level games being played in the Asian scene can help us fix the problems in our own gameplay.  For example, if we had a problem with deciding what to do after we have just pushed down a tower, we would be able to study what some of the Asian teams do and try to copy them.

Onto the loss of the week…

Although there was a lot that we could have done differently to win the game, we lost the game against Cloud 9 when we decided to swap lanes last second.  In our pre-game planning, the picks and bans went almost exactly how we wanted and expected them to go.  I picked Elise and expected Balls to go Rumble with a blue elixir start.  Out of respect for Balls as an exceptional top laner, this was a matchup that we planned to avoid from the start.  The plan was that Elise would be fine in a 2v1 lane and that Rumble would get destroyed in it.  What we did not account for was that by the time they showed up in lane, it would be disadvantageous for us to swap so late.  Rumble was already ahead of me in terms of experience by the time that I got to lane.  We sent Lee Sin to the bottom lane to try to kill the Rumble, did not accomplish that, and then Meteos on Nasus just came up top and were able to take down two turrets.  The game should have been over at this point had C9 not made some mistakes for us to come back into the game.  We actually started outplaying them across the map and surpassed them in total gold count until we threw two more turrets, a dragon, and a few kills to them in mid.  Even after all of this, we still had a chance to come back, but there is really no more need to go on talking about the “what ifs” from this game any longer.

TL;DR – Week 2: Play reactively.  Even if your lanes are in matchups that you did not want, swapping lanes late and giving your opponents the huge experience advantage over you is way worse.

This is becoming more of an essay than a blog post.

 

Going into MLG Anaheim:

We have a tough weekend ahead of us!  We have games against Counter Logic Gaming, Cloud 9, and Dignitas.  The scary thing about the second split of LCS is that I feel like every team has the potential to beat the other ones.  The North American scene”s skill level is improving and teams are catching up to each other fast, but despite this fact, we still hope and believe that we can come out with the 3-0.  CLG”s entire team dynamic has changed since the departure of HotshotGG.  They actually let Austin (Link) play more of a carry role now so he will be an even bigger threat than before.  C9 plays a solid and consistent standard game where they go with the strongest picks and try to snowball laning phase into mid game to win.  Dignitas are C9 are similar in this respect; they play a super strong early game.

We have been following the same practice schedule that I explained earlier, but things don”t always go as planned.  Our coach has been sick for the past week, we have had a few scrims cancelled on us, and we have also had some pretty discouraging losses.  Hopefully we”ve been able to push all of that aside and come up big because that #1 spot sure is looking tasty!

Anyway, I think that it is about time I end this dreadfully long post.  I hope that at least some of you have enjoyed the read and if you have any more questions for me or for the team in general, follow us on twitter @Vulcun_Sid and @vulcuncommand.

-Benny

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by Benny Hung, on June 27, 2013