LCS All Stars: A Jade Reflection



Tue 28th May 2013 - 10:25pm

A Jade Reflection

I did not play my best this weekend.

That's the first thing that comes to mind in immediate hindsight regarding the all star event.

Our ban/pick strategy:
We were pretty much forced to pick Ryze/Diana/Karthus first rotation due to the lack of champion pool that I brought to the team. That was probably the biggest weakness in our drafting is that the team didn't want to run Gragas/Zed due to being uncomfortable, and I didn't have any other blind pick mid op champions (Khazix/Jayce/TF).

I think this is unacceptable, but it's something we had to deal with because of how I structured my own personal practice for playoffs and relegation matches. We had specific champions we practiced for one specific bo3 or bo5 and the other champions I tried to pick up at the time didn’t end up working out for the team. Due to this and the fact that I didn’t catch on to just how incredibly strong Kha’zix or Jayce was in the current game forced me to play catchup.

Had we even had another champion pick available, we would have opted for more focus on Jayce/Rumble for Dyrus which is just the most effective ban/pick route on that specific patch.

The rest of this will be breaking down the game from my standpoint pretty much alone. I tend to focus a lot on the laning phase because if your laning phase is bad, you won’t even get to the later areas of the game, and it’s something that’s very valuable to give insight on.

Games vs China

Game 1: I played Ryze middle versus Zed.
From the start of our bootcamp, I kind of expected to know exactly the champion Misaya would pick in our games. His champion pick is fairly predictable, and WE's ban/pick strategy is typically having their mid pick early so they can counterpick the other lanes. Even if his pick isn't first rotation, he typically never saves his pick for last.

This game was a combination of matchup inexperience and taking the wrong summoner + item build.

This matchup is one I actually lacked a lot of practice in. For some reason, there really weren't many Zed players in NA (even pre-nerfs) that played mid lane. We started scrimming with the allstar team mostly on the post-nerf Zed patch where none of our scrim partners played the champion at all.

This made me unsure of how to open against a good Zed player. I tried to rectify my weaknesses here last-minute by 1v1ing Dyrus three or four times the day of the match, and because of this I settled on a very defensive item opener aka cloth + 5 health potions. This build at best can only let me split the lane against Zed, which is a champion that can push and roam much more effectively than Ryze. To counter Ryze's weaknesses of pressure on the map, most Ryze players take TP to be able to control the mid lane while still having constant pressure across the map. I decided to take Ignite to try and pressure Misaya mid, but I chose a very weak item opener to do that. I should have gone mana crystal + 2 pots with Ignite and punished Zed for weak early level power or alternatively just started cloth, 4 health, + 1 mana pot, and teleport, so I could cut off the eventual gank I knew would come top lane. I got baited to start cloth armor because of my inexperience with the matchup as well as the AD combination of the jungler (Jarvan), the mid lane (Zed), and the threat of a potential 1v2 middle. I knew in advance that their 2v2 would want to follow ours since they had the counterpick, so even in the worse case scenario I had to run mana crystal against a 1v2 middle lane, I could just know my ADC would outscale theirs while I would just call for Saint to either dive and 3v1 their solo lane or hold middle with me to stall the game for Vayne + Ryze.

I played the early game ok, being only behind ~12 cs by lvl 6, but I knew the gap would just steadily increase over time unless I could put kill pressure on mid lane. I had my Flash blown by a good Jarvan gank and then randomly walked into our left side middle with ward coverage on Misaya and died. This caused Misaya to snowball the lane and without Teleport the game was pretty much just me hoping we could go into a late game team fight because our late game was disgustingly good with Ryze + Vayne.

We stole Baron but ended up losing the game due to some communication/positioning errors.

I think this game was the game I performed the worst in general positioning.


Game 2: I played Diana vs Ryze mid.
This is a matchup I really like to play. Almost no Ryze knows how to correctly take advantage of this matchup. Misaya actually ran extremely greedy runes (no armor) that let him play the matchup as best as he could have with a mana crystal start and Teleport. I'm actually surprised he wasn't afraid of a 1v2 middle.

I played the laning phase correctly by constantly shoving in prediction for our three man dive bottom. I knew he would look for it, and if he TP'd bot, He would have lost half his turret health as well as two or more waves on the dive. I took Ignite to put pressure on the mid lane so he could never move past mid river and forced an early TP middle at ~lvl 4/5 so he would have zero pressure on the lanes while I had all the roam potential. To be honest, TP was also a good choice here.

He just slowly got his mid tower chipped away while farming under turret which Misaya did a great job at. In the meantime, the team itself was doing a great job getting objectives that I felt like I didn't have to look to make plays on Diana. This was a very lax and bad train of thought, but ultimately not the reason why we lost this game. We ended up trying to end the game incorrectly by Baron baiting instead of getting all the outer turrets and then warding their red jungle for catches.

The dive bottom was incorrectly communicated and just a stupid idea in the first place. This was our game to win, and we ended up throwing it enormously.

For improvement, I should have just looked to coordinate more dives with Saint and pressure top a lot more to speed up the early game. I should have been more impactful in the early-mid transition.

Score against China: 0-2.

Against Europe

Game 1: I played Karthus bot vs MF and Elise.
We came into this specific game to 1v2 middle against TF. I had the better 1v2 champion but even then it was a really big risk to give TF to another team. Alex ich started a very poor 1v2 item build (boots + 3) and played the lane incorrectly taking way too much free harass when he could have settled to just have an experience lead on me.

I had one significant misplay this game. At level 5, I was equal cs with middle lane with higher turret health but lower experience due to the fact that you can't really zone xp as easily middle lane as you can in a longer lane. I had about 2 waves coming into my turret at this time. TF hit 6, and I felt pressured to equalize our experience and moved up too far to try to get xp + cs. I should have just stayed at turret and waited for the cs, but I got greedy and didn't flash a Cocoon from Elise, and I lost about 2 waves, the bottom turret, and my flash. That was an awful play and goes to show that a lot of times, you should really just be happy not dying and getting xp in the 1v2. Because of that play, they got better bottom area control, and I lost about 15-20 cs after I had to back off the turret.

At this point. I made the decision in freezing bottom lane, and waited for someone to come bottom. TF came and underestimated karthus laning with blue buff and was forced to flash after taking a significant chunk of his hp. That allowed me to reestablish control of the lane and force MF to come back bottom because it was way too dangerous for TF to farm it until he got more items and his summoners back up. We again got baited by Baron and almost wasn't able to close out the game even with a disgusting kill advantage.

I probably played the team fights the best this game.


Game 2: I played Karthus vs Jayce Mid.
This matchup is an interesting one that favors Jayce until Karthus can get items.

Our level 1 strat went straight to the gutter as soon as I ended up having to flash and using 2 of my 5 health pots at lvl 1. I was able to equalize my lane to even cs till my flash came up, but we started on a back foot due to that blunder. This was really problematic because he started a really greedy dorans blade build that I could have punished with an early lvl 1/2/3 all-in but I was too low to correctly punish his build in the early levels.

The biggest problem this game was that I just missed a lot of CS in lane. This was probably the first time I've ever missed so much CS on Karthus before in lane with barely any Jayce pressure. A lot of my games with Karthus I end up pulsing E along with Q spam to get the CS in lane. However when I tried it this series, I ended up missing 2 cs a wave for 10~ or so waves. It was ridiculous. That on top of the fact that Alex was farming more jungle minions than I was really set me behind in terms of farm and therefore impact for the game.

I also made a misclick error in a mid team fight when I flash exhausted a Lulu instead of the Jayce. That was tragic.

I eventually rotated from flash diving their double adc backline to just playing killing the front line because I knew Doublelift could outcarry their backline if our front line was still alive. A good example of this was the Baron fight where Doublelift gets a pentakill, I spent a lot of my time trying to position to damage their front line but making it so their back line couldn't engage on Doublelift.

As soon as I hit 6 items, I just flash went on EU's backline and killed everyone because Karthus is a silly champion.

Score against Europe: 2-0

Against Korea

Game 1: I played Ryze vs Kennen top.
Going into this series I kind of expected Karthus bans. It's just a champion that can do too much for the effort you put in with him, and he's incredibly flexible in terms of laning and team comps. By now most teams know the champ pool I went into this series with was fairly limited so it was a pretty easy option to choose.

In the pick and ban phase, we had already messed up. Doublelift picked an adc he didn't want to play, and we tried to deny Ryze from the enemy team and gave Dyrus Diana, a champ he's never played before in scrims. Honestly his Diana play wasn't even the problem this game, it's just the first thing you learn to do in real games is not to deviate too far from what you've practiced.

Somehow we also executed our level 1 horribly as well. Our 1v2 mid started with an xp disadvantage. The same thing happened to top lane. It was really bad communication.

Ryze should beat Kennen top starting crystal with ignite pre-6. I was playing the lane correctly and ended up picking up a kill on Cait because she messed up and had to run out a very silly way. With a kill advantage and about 250g on top of the Kennen, I made a horrible decision to shove the wave and back before the wave fully pushed onto the enemy turret. I thought he would take way more damage tanking the 3 waves than he did and it cause the wave to be frozen in a bad spot for me. As I came to lane with tear + ruby against his double dorans, I tried to force harass on him and make the lane shove back to my turret.

What happened is lack of matchup experience in the long lane. Both players were level 5, and I used my full rotation to chunk the Kennen to ~40%. In the long lane, you really can't use your only CC doing that though against a Kennen. He ended up lightning rushing me to get close and all-in'd getting a long range stun shuriken after I flashed away. Had I saved my W for his Lightning Rush, there was no way I could possibly die. You win the matchup by slowly chipping the Kennen out. I died here and lost 2.5 waves on my turret. Then I follow this bad play with rotating bottom to replace Dyrus. I don't really remember who made this call (it was probably me), but this was a horrible call. Without Flash/Ignite and being behind, there's no way I can stop the Rumble from 100-0ing me. I should have stayed top lane against Kennen and just played a better spacing game knowing both players had no flash and Ryze actually has an advantage in that lane as long as Kennen can't close range. As soon as I touch the bottom wave, I thought Rumble based and died in a horribly obvious way. That + Ezreal going 0-5 or something sealed the fate of the game. Dyrus actually performed the best this game with Saint but it doesn't matter if your two carries are behind by that much. I was XP and gold starved at this point, and there was no way a team as good as Korea was going to give up their stranglehold on that big of a lead.


Game 2: I played Diana vs Caitlyn and Thresh middle.
We expected they would copy their previous game level 1 where they invaded our red and dropped 3+ wards. The problem with this game is that Doublelift didn't want to stand in tribush because of thresh hook pressure (which is fine), but it wasn't properly communicated to Dyrus where to stand, and he pretty much died for free.

Even after this blunder, we were able to successfully late invade blue and force their jungler to start behind by about 30s, which is really big. On Diana, rather than invade, I should have just solo'd wraith camps and then went middle rather than being late to middle and having Cait have the XP advantage on me. We knew based on the late blue start that Saint would be stronger than the other jungler and just coordinated some good ganks on the side lanes.

The lane was really boring. Not much to talk about. I started cloth 5 because I knew they’d 1v2 mid.

A big problem was just that me and Dyrus should have swapped summoners. Dyrus could have crushed Ryze 1v1 with Ignite but was forced to play a farm out lane against a better late game scaling champion. I had no use for my Ignite early due to 1v2, and by the time I lane shifted to bot lane, Teleport would have put more pressure on the map than Ignite.

There was a period where I got froze on when I shifted to the bot lane by Kennen. I tried to do something silly like take double golems. What should have happened is we 5 man the top portion of the map while Kennen tries to freeze bottom and take control of their red buff area as well as put pressure on the top and middle areas to force Kennen to unfreeze to help out his team. I ended up losing about ~20 cs for that. This was more of a lack of communication, in my opinion, than anything else.

I was confident in my playmaking ability and impact this game, but we as a team struggled to push our advantage into actual map control and lost off a poor bottom lane play + very smart Baron sneak.

Score against Korea: 0-2

From these games and my personal observations, I can deduce a couple of things to work on:

1) Limited champion pool: This was obviously a big problem in our bans/picks and caused us to have to ban/pick in a very specific and stupid way. If I had one single more blind pickable champion (ex. Orianna/Khazix), we could have looked to focus on prioritizing top lane (Jayce/Rumble) as well as Thresh (support king). This is something I’ll improve going into LCS, but had problems improving the one week of the all star bootcamp.

2) Inexperience in long lane: I shouldn't be losing favorable matchups in the long lane 1v1. This is just something I'll be working on in scrims so that we can rotate the lanes and play more similar to the asians. They just rotate lanes so they get favorable matchups, and that honestly is the best way to play the game.

3) Trading smart: Just splitting the lane shouldn’t be what any player looks to do. You should always look to win the lane and a lot of knowing how to do that is by understanding how to effectively trade. I just need to put in some serious time learning how to space properly in lane. The best way to play the lane is calculated aggression, and sometimes I shy away from trading even when I should be looking for it.

Your Comments

  • Wed 30th Oct 2013 - 4:03am
    Scarra, I'd like to get in contact with you about some issues I've been having. i now you're busy, but just a few minutes would be greatly appreciated.
  • Thu 6th Jun 2013 - 5:24pm
    Before anything else, I'd really have to applaud you, Scarra, for actually taking time to not only analyze what occurred in all the games, but specifically find what you did wrong as well and own up to it. Seeing this, as well as your team's (All-Stars) strong showing against EU has given me more faith in NA's skill. As for All-Stars voting, I think NA sent as good a team as we could have with the players we have. The only change I'd see making a difference is swapping Dyrus out for Voyboy. I know this is a massively controversial issue that TSM fans love to go at by showing TSM's wins against Curse towards the end of the LCS Spring Split, but I still believe Voyboy may have had a better showing at All-Stars. This is not to say that Voyboy is by any means a better player than Dyrus, but that Dyrus' play style is more passive than it needs to be, and it seemed like most of the time he was incapable of getting consistent unsupported lane-pressure or solo kills. This is where I think Voyboy differs in that he's more willing to make plays, and being that both players are on as even a skill level so as to make the difference insignificant, I believe the ability to make plays in lane and be assertive would've brought more to the All-Stars team. Of course, Voyboy's potential for over-aggression is always there, and he makes mistakes too, which is why I'm not going to say Voyboy > Dyrus where skill is concerned. I'm simply stating that as the event was run, the limited number of games and exposure to time in lane meant that the higher the reward, regardless of risk factor, the better. In close match-ups, especially the games vs China, big flashy plays, personal initiative, and snow-balling a lane, count for more than consistency because consistency will only begin to shine based on the increase in number of games played. Working off of what was said regarding Voyboy's ability to make plays and his personal initiative as a solo-laner, the Asian scene in general seems to play very differently to others. I refrain from calling it hyper-aggressive as some do, as watching OGN and a little LPL has shown this is not in fact the case. If anything I think it just boils down to better assessment, rather than defaulting to option X or Y. So many players identify as Aggressive or Passive, Play-maker or Rock-solid (where consistency is concerned) but I think this is all for naught. When it comes to being a good LoL player, assessing the situation correctly, and drawing from this your best plan of action, is one's greatest skill to master. Take for instance PDD vs Dyrus with the multiple lane-swaps game. For PDD to walk forward and simply go for damage against both Dyrus and Saint, and then walk out with a double kill, speaks volumes of his correctly assessing the situation and realizing the full potential of it with what some would call the best possible result in a 1v2. Branching off correct assessment of situations, there's a stark contrast in chasing that I see happening between LCS and OGN, which I watch most frequently. In LCS I regularly see players chase someone who they theoretically can kill, were they to be suddenly given a gap-close of a few-hundred units or refresh of some cool-downs when the abilities are still in-range, but their target escapes none-the-less. Now, not only is pursuing a target you cannot kill a waste of time that could be spent grabbing CS as it disappears further back in your lane, or chipping at the enemy tower while you have the chance, but so many of these pursuits result in even worse outcomes than the wasting of time. Quite often the pursuer winds up being killed because of his reckless pursuit. Where OGN/Korea differs is that players seem to more frequently correctly assess their kill-potential and better allocate their time to doing things productive. Often I'll see a trade turn into an all-in during laning either top or mid, and one side get reduced to 20%, or even less, but the opposing player merely goes back to CS'ing, preferably after forcing a flash, but otherwise not at all interested in burning Ignite, Flash, or Red-pot, or what have you, to try to get the kill. Initially it may seem like a missed kill, but with more analysis most of these situations can in fact be confirmed as the better call. Perhaps if they attempted to Flash in for a final auto, an ability, or Ignite, their opponent would simply Flash in response and both would simply be down a Flash, hampering both players whilst granting the player trying to make the kill absolutely nothing. Perhaps even costing him several creeps or the chance to shove hard so as to make the enemy tower waste CS and XP before the opposing laner can recall and return, or call in their jungler. All said and done, I think NA performed much better than anyone could have anticipated. Going in to All-Stars, most people had LPL and OGN as top 2, varying from person to person on who was 1st place. SEA seemed to disappear as people over-looked S2 Worlds and GPL has comparatively fewer viewers than OGN/LPL/LCS. With LPL and OGN vying for 1st and 2nd, SEA and EU would likely be the 3rd/4th place, simply because everyone watches EU LCS and sees Gambit wrecking face and says EU > NA. Or better yet "EU is bestest country NA, NA is worstest country EU" as Twitch chat would have it. The fact that NA came reasonably close, and showed team vs team you guys could go toe-to-toe with China was something to be talked about. But then to see so many big names from EU get knocked out in a resounding 2-0, and by NA at that, the region that get's pissed on by pretty much everyone else, is something I'm rather proud of. (Hell there are people who say BR > NA, but where's the LoL Hue League?) Both 0-2 defeats to the Asian regions shows there's a lot to improve, the games vs LPL showing NA needs to better make use of it's leads and maintain a hold on games, and the games vs OGN showing... well... NA needs to step it up after learning from their mistakes vs LPL. The OGN games were nothing short of a solid stomping, with a side of curb, no matter how you slice it, the Koreans have this game figured out, 2-0'ing every team they played against, and showing up big at All-Stars as they did at any international event. I hope by the time Summer Split ends, and Worlds is to follow, NA has patched some things up and puts up a strong showing at Worlds. I'd honestly be perfectly happy with NA placing 4th, as to even make it to the semi-finals as a non-Asian team is practically unheard of for international LoL events with more than 8 teams involved.
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 10:10pm
    I feel like as a whole the NA scene really needs to rethink how they play the game. Though, I will agree skill wise on a 1 v 1 level the Koreans have everyone beat their playing styles are far more effective than NA. They play so hyper aggressive that even disciplined pro players were able to get caught off guard and picked off. Regardless of your champion pool, I feel its the player that decides if its a counter pick not the champion. If you just look at the Ryze top that the Koreans took; everyone always talked about how easy it is to counter it and how vulnerable he is top and yet he stomped every single game. You can put the blame on the jungler, the top laner, summoners, or lack of communication but at the end of the day it was because Shy was the superior player. Until we as fans see Ryze top get shutdown 80% of the time from a counter pick or a gank; statements about how weak a champion (any champion) is in a lane are more or less than opinions. The biggest gripe I have about the NA scene as a whole is that everyone plays so passively. It's like the playing style we see on streams and the playing style we see in the pro scene is greatly varied and I understand you're playing against more skilled players than solo Qers. But, waiting around for mid / late game didn't work out too well in any of the games (against the Asia scene) because from my point of view Korea was always looking for that pick, that kill, that innovative way to catch someone off guard while NA was waiting around thinking lets just not make any mistakes. Also, I feel the words counter pick are too often thrown around; in the same way Scarra says he'd pick Diana into any lane, I feel anyone else could do the same with any other champion, in any other lane, with any other team comp. Just my two cents, I'm not some high level League player, I just watch the streams / LCS like everyone else for fun and judge based off of what the pros say. My opinions could be completely wrong, biased (of course) or misinterpreted but it's how I feel as a whole.
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 1:18pm
    Being able to pick out the details of your play so clearly is such a rare trait lately, and it just goes to show why NA picked you to go to Allstars. I think this will turn out to be a great turning point for you Scarra, if your able to use this as fuel to expand your own champion pool and bring some of that fancy play work the asians use to the NA scene, that would just be a double win. Keep your head up, practice hard and we'll all be cheering for You and Dignitas come LCS!
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 8:27am
    scarra as a mid you should be able to play all mid champions and play them well. goodluck in getting better scarra it is neither your fault personally that na lost nor is it not its a team game that there was no team. P.S doesnt matter who it is or how good they are you can always come back with precise timing/strategy.
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 5:09am
    That was some impressive insight, Scarra. I hope you you will continue this series of blogging. It was a very enjoyable read.
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 2:31am
    This kind of post is thoughtful, honest, and very difficult to write. Just wanted to say I'm a big fan, Scarra. I appreciate your willingness to work hard and how quick you are to see faults in your own play. That maturity is what makes you a professional, in the truest sense of the word. Honestly. I didn't expect NA to win. I saw mistakes and I saw us getting outplayed, but I also saw some things to be proud of. We could have done better, but I was proud of how you and the rest of the team did.
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 1:34am
    What is the point of saying all that on this post? This post is about reflecting his own performance in the competition, not about sending who to all star was the best decision. Besides, the fans, which include you I believe, voted for the all star roster. He did not make the decision to join this event. What is the reason to cry about it now? Does that make Scarra feel better? He has already stated that he did not perform his best on the first sentence of this entire post. What else do you want from him? As for Scarra, I really appreciate you spend the time to type this all out. We all understand all the members of NA team has tried their best. I believe this is a valuable experience to learn. To be honest, the personal skill level of each KR is probably higher than NA, so there was no one to blame. I am not even a Dig fan, I love Crs. Just look at the bigger picture, this is about the entire NA scene. Please just stop discussing about who should have played mid in all star. It simply does not help at all.
  • Wed 29th May 2013 - 12:44am
    To be honest scarra, you are very knowledgeable and have a very likeable stream compared to the other midlaners competing for this spot for the average LoL player, that same crowd is who mostly voted for you to go to the AllStars...but was it the right decision if NA wanted to win? No. Just like in Korea Locodoco was winning cause he is popular and then koreans realized this was serious business and they gathered and voted for a better adc. Your champion pool is very limited and the bans and picks showed that during the matches, and when you were on Ryze you were struggling and mostly getting kills by picking off people that were low life in the jungle. I'm not even a TSM fanboi or anything (Curse or die!) but I think sending Regi would have been NA's best bet to succeed. He synergizes really well with Saint's playstyle, and clearly as well with Dyrus/Xpecial, and as we could see, DL had no issues meshing with Xpecial. I'm not blaming you for having NA lose, just saying that it wasn't our optimal team to represent our region.

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