NA LCS Week 9: The 3.10 Turret Ripple, and Zac, MVP of Week 9
Patch 3.10 Turret Changes
This is the first major tournament to be played on patch 3.10. One of the most significant changes is the increased armor buff to outer turrets (doubling its pre 8 minute armor to 55% physical damage reduction from 38%) while scaling the armor bonus down over time. This affects the early game in two ways; 1) more resources must be dedicated to taking a turret down before 8 minutes, or 2) a delay on fast tower push rotation strategies.
While this may reduce the occurrence of 2v1 lanes, the punishment on the solo laner is far greater. A level 3 jungler can join the duo lane (which would be level 2) and force the Solo Lane (a Level 1, if the Support is there to zone) back off the turret and XP range, creating a massive setback to the solo laner. A common remedy is for the jungler to assist the solo vs. duo lane to help relieve some pressure before he can be pushed off the first turret. In previous patches, the tower would quickly fall and the solo lane could return to farming without much of a deficit. Now the pressure does not let off and the recovery time for the solo lane increases substantially.
“3-man dive 3 minutes into game”
The Early Game Jungler
The armor turret change has also affected how the jungler plays, forcing junglers to assist the solo lane vs. the duo lane (or adding more pressure). The key is that the presence of the jungler will be known in the 2v1 position. In standard lane assignments, the path of the jungler should be evident due to early warding; tipping off ganks and counter-ganks.
A change within the Jungle forces the jungler to full-clear the buff camp in order to gain the level up; forcing a full clear of both buff camps to reach level 3 (rather than killing the 1st camp, then quickly finishing the opposing jungler’s second buff, the jungler must fully clear the camp to get level 3). A counter-jungling strategy involves the support and/or ADC coming to lane quickly and killing the small minions, thus forcing the jungler to finish another camp to hit level 3. Keep in mind that this strategy is only relevant when the buff is warded and is not being defended.
“C9 Sneaky and Lemonation red counter-jungle strategy”
Another side effect of the turret armor buff is the importance of early game objectives. Since taking early turrets is much more difficult and takes even more resources, the importance of taking a pre-10 minute dragon is important to keep ahead with global gold.
Looking through the statistics, the first tower taken by a team is usually around the early 12-minute mark, where the first average dragon is around 9 minute 35seconds (excluding the 2minute 48second VES dragon, which would make the average first dragon time 9minutes 18econds). This means that a dragon ward at the 7 minute mark is a must; and a pink ward is a tell that the opposing team is preparing for dragon (especially if there are multiple enemies off the map).
Why is dragon control so important? The dragon offers 190 gold to each member of a team with an additional 25 gold to the killer (190 * 5 + 25 = 975 net gold). This is a one-time objective that grants close to 1,000 net gold available every 6 minutes that is denied from the other team when completed. This small bit of gold helps complete items faster, afford more vision for better map control, and give gold that can help snowball the game earlier.
Now for some statistics. Curse (4-1 this week) killed 83% (19 of 23) of all dragons in games played. Vulcun (5-0 this week) killed 61% (11 of 18) of all dragons, yet capitalized on early game turrets (shoving down ALL 3 outer turrets by an average time of 16:09, the league leader) which translates into better objective control (losing only 10 towers total this week). On the other end of the spectrum, Coast (0-5 this week) killed 23% (5 of 22) of all dragons, taking early dragons but forfeiting every dragon past minute 20.
Teams with a positive win/loss ratio for this week also took over 50% of dragons in all games.
Why Zac is a Worthwhile Ban
Zac was once known as a dangerous jungler due to the long range of his ganks and the “soft” crowd-control he brings. His survivability is very high, due to his sustainability from picking up his blobs, and his death passive in-case of emergency. In recent months, more and more teams have been rotating him to the Top solo lane.
Zac still has the incredible early game sustain from picking up blobs, and also the death passive to help him stay alive in 2v1 situations while under the tower. His damage output and crowd control factor is low pre-6, but his sustained damage quickly adds up with items and levels.
Zac traditionally builds either a Sunfire Cape or Spirit Visage as the first item (depending on solo lane match-up). This increases Zac’s sustained healing and damage output, enough to be able to handle most 1v1 side-lane matchups. With the ability to quickly escape battle through the Elastic Slingshot and crowd-control reduction from his Ult, he is almost impossible to assassinate.
You will typically see the Zac moving with the team rather than split pushing, as he is normally the first champion to engage a fight. However, versus a split-pushing champion, such as Zed, Zac matches up quite well from the sustained healing and damage and can fend off the split push. (Shoving out 1 minion wave creates a Minion timing attack that must be dealt with in 1-2 minutes) With a pure tanky build or with 1 or 2 damage items, Zac excels the longer the engagement.
Due to the versatility of Zac, I believe that he is a worthwhile ban due to the flexibility (and strength) of his kit: long-range engage, incredible sustained healing and damage, soft crowd control, crowd-control reduction, and the death passive.
Finally, lets end the split off with some NA LCS Pick/Ban statistics, as well as who the top champions for Week 9.
Top Pick + Ban
Shen: 14 Bans, 6 Picks (3win, 3loss)
Zac: 5 Bans, 13 Picks (9win, 4loss)
Zed: 11 Bans, 6 Picks (4win, 2loss)
Elise: 7 Bans, 10 Picks (3win, 7loss)
Twitch: 8 Bans, 8 Picks (6win, 2loss)
Highest Win % (4+ Games)
Nocturne: 80% (4win, 1loss)
Twitch: 75% (6win, 2loss)
Kennen: 71% (5win, 2loss)
Thresh: 71% (5win, 2loss)
Zac: 69% (9win, 4loss) – within losses, 2 Jungle Zac, 2 VES picks