Conical Holes – Methods for Countering Funnel Strategies
Mon 9th Jul 2018 - 7:45pm
Funnel strategies have been the latest ‘Big Thing’ to come out of the professional League of Legends meta and presently it has seen some use to in solo queue to an extent. Now as much as this strategy is very boring to watch and has brought disapproving looks from many casters and analysts (myself included), it has proved effective with teams like G2 winning games with a Kai’Sa funnel in EU LCS and Echo Fox doing the same with a Lucian-orientated funnel in the NA LCS. However, when new strategies hit the LoL forefront, counters begin to be developed and, in this piece, I hope to showcase some of these counter-strategies that maybe you (and potentially your friends alongside you) can utilize to defeat this latest meta flavor.
Pushing in the Funneler
The big part of the funnel strategy is to have one champion farm waves in mid and, once the wave is killed, go farm the jungle while a funneler (usually a tank support such as Taric, Braum among others) then holds the mid-wave minions until the funnellee can come farm it, so the funnellee gets two sources of gold and hits their gold spikes earlier and reaches a hypercarry state.
However, what happens when the funneler is shoved in so that the turret is killing his partner's minions before they can farm them? Well they simply go to waste, meaning that the strategy is shut down as instead of the two gold sources for the hypercarry (jungle camps and mid lane farm), they are getting one to 1.5 (the jungle camps and whatever scraps of mid lane farm the funnellee manages to get their hands on). This means that picking a shover in the mid lane who is also good clearing waves as quickly as possible (for example, Ziggs or maybe even Heimerdinger) can force the funnel strat into making bad decisions that could potentially shut the strategy down if executed well.
An AoE shover such as Ziggs can potentially deny a lot of minion resources from a funneled champion by shoving minion waves into turrets, killing them and negating the funnel strategy through gold starvation.
Kill the Side Lanes on Repeat
Now one of the big flaws in the funnelling strategy is that it removes the jungle role for your team. Yes, you still have a smite (on the mid laner who is going to be power-farming and not ganking) but this means that there is no jungler to counter-gank and/or protect your side lanes, making them very vulnerable to being camped and killed on repeat.
So how does this counter the funnel strat? Well, when the funnellee wants to carry in their hyperfed state, they will still need a team to provide the non-damaging parts of a teamfight: peeling, tanking, and supporting. If the team members responsible for these roles are so far behind that they are useless (say, if they had been camped by a jungler who cannot be counter-ganked by a jungler who does not exist in that match), then they just die in the early stages of the fight leaving the funnellee alone with the only outcome being deleted. The point is that by shutting down those around a funnellee in a funnel strat, the carry will have no base and and will be unable to succeed meaning the strategy has been shut down.
A strong ganking jungler such as Vi who can camp and shut out side lanes when unopposed can remove the base a funneled champ needs to succeed and win the game/match.
Probably the riskiest counter-strategy on this list, but it's based on a very simple concept. The funnel strategy focuses on one primary damage source, the funnellee (typically a Kai’Sa, Lucian, or Master Yi) but what happens when that single damage source is removed? Well, with no damage, you can’t do anything. Your team can’t push waves, win teamfights, take turrets, take neutral objectives. They can do nothing.
This is where the role of the assassin comes into effect. This is the polar opposite of our previous counter-strat, where the focus goes back to the funnellee rather than their teammates. The assassin has one job - kill the funnelled champion to remove the only damage source and only win condition for the enemy team, negating the effectiveness of the funnel strategy. Now, what champions are ideal for this approach? Personally, Zed comes to mind, but there are other options available, such as Fizz and Talon. Now, this is a very risky strategy that requires a player with a lot of experience on assassins (a player like Westdoor comes to mind). as this task is being made more difficult by the target having up to four friends peeling for them.
An assassin such as Zed who can remove the funnel champ from the scenario can potentially shut down the strategy.
To conclude, the funnel strategy is difficult to pull off but is probably unbeatable when played correctly against the standard compositions that we have seen in the last year. However, necessity drives innovation and so we are now seeing new strategies like some of those featured here. Now, remember if you have to learn a new pick, do it in a normal game first and if you need to try this new playstyle with friends, do that in a normal game first, so you don’t cost yourself, your teammates, and those you play with that hard-earned LP. With that, I leave you with the thoughts of GL, HF, and GG.
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