Play Analysis: Imaqtpie
Sat 22nd Sep 2012 - 7:53pm: League of Legends
Michael 'Imaqtpie' Santana of Team Dignitas is probably one of the most entertaining AD Carries to watch play. Originally known for playing primarily Corki and Ezreal, Imaqtpie has shown as of late that his champion pool is probably one of the most diverse of the people who play the role--being one of the few to play Kog'maw (and successfully) at recent NA LAN events. This article is an attempt to take a look at his playstyle and what makes him different from other AD Carries.
Qtpie's champion pool consists largely of the champions that are dominant in the current meta: Corki and Ezreal are staples and well known champions of his. The only other staple champion that he does not play professionally is Graves--which in itself is not true because he has played him in the past. Recently, however, he has not favored the champion. It is also noteworthy that he has, to the best of my knowledge, not played Vayne in a competitive setting with Team Dignitas (or certainly not recently). This comes as little surprise; most AD players do not favor Vayne due to her notoriously weak laning.
Curiously (and this is what separates him recently) even though Corki and Ezreal are known in his repertoire Qtpie has not favored playing them in the recent MLG Regional events. Instead he has been favoring undervalued champions: Kog'maw is of special note. At Regionals for instance he was in fact the only person to play him. Going hand in hand with this champion choice is Caitlyn, not one of his more well known champions but certainly noteworthy; he plays both Caitlyn and Kog'maw eerily similar in lane.
He is yet to play Draven or Varus in a competitive setting. He has said in his reddit AMA that he believes Varus can be viable (although difficult to discern if he is being sarcastic or not).
This is by no means all the champions in his pool (he does have at least one competitive game with Urgot) but it highlights what he is most known for and known for in recent events.
Traditionally Qtpie has been one of the most if not the most aggressive ADs in the game. It is only recently that other players are beginning to play AD as an aggressive, harass prone lane as opposed to a more passive "farm" lane. With supports like Lulu being added to many players' repertoire, Sona becoming viable and the near permaban of Alistar, the aggressive poke lane that Qtpie was one of the early adopters of is becoming more or less the standard.
If Qtpie is able to harass without any risk of a trade in damage, he will almost certainly go for it even at the expense of CS. In this regard Qtpie seldom has one of the higher CS totals over the course of a series or tournament. The tradeoff is that if Qtpie is able to convert and secure more kills, he snowballs into a win harder than almost any AD in the game. This feast or famine type of approach to lane is emphasized further by his atypical builds that continue to push for immediate advantages. Furthermore, this style of botlane is complimented by the recent addition of Patoy (Support) who frequently plays as overtly agressive.
This approach to botlane is most obvious when viewing his Kog'maw. A champion known typically for its weak early game but menacing late game, Qtpie will actually use Kog'maw's range with the steroid based on his W (Bio-Arcane Barrage) to attempt to bully and chip away at champions that would typically win exchanges and trades. This approach makes perfect sense: Kog'maw's ability to push lanes early is considerably weak making it impossible to force pressure in lane by traditional methods. Rather it is more effecient to attack enemy champions in the hope to divert pressure.
Not all of this should be praised: on many occasions this agression has backfired dramatically forcing the lane into a defensive position. Some casters have referred to this type of laning as "suicidal" - putting oneself in immediate danger if it means securing a kill or doing damage. In the end it depends on the skill of the enemy lane and their ability to invert Qtpie's type of aggression by either punishing, outsustaining or managing to outfarm.
With almost 100% success, if Qtpie is able to convert enough kills he snowballs harder than almost any AD in the game. His teamfight is almost identical in approach to his lane phase: do as much damage as possible to the right targets, regardless of the potential for counter-agression. His positioning is therefore usually based upon damage output rather than safety.
Qtpie is known not so much for building a champion atypically but for buying items out of order or buying incomplete items. He is known for being one of the only players to buy a Cloak of Agility before the BF Sword when going for an Infinity edge.
This in itself merits discussion. Depending on the champion the returns for the extra crit chance can actually allow you to out-dps a champion who built a BF sword (provided you are lucky). Additionally the Cloak of Agility allows for as many viable build options as the BF Sword. In the current meta the BF will build into either a Blood Thirster (more common) or Infinity Edge (less common). Cloak of Agility opens potential for a Phantom Dancer or IE and depending on the champion the cheaper Phantom Dancer can be more beneficial (in the case of Kog'maw). This is still atypical and in most circumstances you will want a BF Sword first but it does show that there is some logic behind it.
The build he is most know for, however, is rushing a Black Cleaver on Corki. Although hindsight shows this may not have been ideal, one has to consider the meta for the time which was AD Bruiser heavy. The immediate benefit of armor shred (in addition to Corki's gatling gun) combined with the immediate jump in damage allows for more utility and immediate gains rather than playing for a lategame. Therefore, the math behind the item is mostly correct: if you have more than one AD champion on your team a Black Cleaver can provide a massive boon to damage output.
Lately Qtpie has been known for buying an early Phage on Ezreal, something that is fairly standard, but what is noteworthy is that he does not always finish the Trinity Force. This presents an often underrated third option for Ezreal. Most of the time people consider the utility of rushing a Trinity Force versus the raw DPS of building straight for an Infinity Edge or Bloodthirster.
The early Phage and then building straight AD provides the best of both worlds: it saves you from the poor lategame scaling of the Trinity Force while still allowing you to keep the most important piece for early dueling (the slow proc from the Phage). I wish more players would catch on to the logic of this, it is just as viable as the other two options.
For every game he falters and misses the mark early on, he will snowball and hard carry Team Dignitas in another. This makes him wildly unpredictable but equally effective provided his team can buffer a weak early game. Other teams have commented of the difficultly with dealing with what is potentially reckless aggression. It is for this factor that Qtpie plays one of the more unique botlanes and is worthy of study.