James Busby, February 28, 2017

League of Fisticuffs: An analysis of teamfights in the LCS

Just like any competitive game or sport, League of Legends requires a high level of skill, communication and most importantly perseverance.

The LCS pros didn’t become become experts overnight, instead they are always looking for ways of improving their abilities and performance out on the Rift. League of Legends has always put a huge emphasis on individual skill, but without proper teamwork and communication it can be extremely hard to win games. Team fights are decisive in both casual and competitive levels of play and it’s arguably the most exciting element of League of Legends. Fights can be won or lost in mere seconds and uncoordinated engagements can result in bloodshed for both sides. Below are a two teams who have managed to impress us with their game-changing fights in this year’s LCS.

Cloud9 vs FlyQuest

The deciding team fight in game one between FlyQuest and Cloud9 from week four of the North American LCS showed us just how important coordinated skirmishes can be. In this fight, Cloud9 made great use of their initiation and defensive tools to stop FlyQuest from cutting them down with their poke-heavy comp. Hai and Altec picked Jayce and Jhin so that they could constantly barrage Cloud9 from a safe distance, while Moon picked Evelynn to try and dive onto their squishy backline. However, Cloud9 responded by picking strong initiation champions that gave them tremendous lockdown and clean engagements, which helped counter FlyQuest’s long-range poke.

A final fight broke out in the mid-lane and both teams looked to close out the game. Altec laid down damage onto Cloud9 with Curtain Call to try and weaken them before the rest of his team engaged, but instead of retreating away from the incoming shots Cloud9 instantly began their counter-attack. Smoothie used Taric’s Cosmic Radiance to give his team 2.5 seconds of invulnerability, which instantly allowed Impact’s Camille to engage FlyQuest’s backline with Hookshot. However, Balls quickly stopped Camille by launching her away with Keeper’s Verdict, prematurely ending Hextech Ultimatum and giving FlyQuest an opportunity to turn the fight around.

Meanwhile, Moon noticed that the invulnerability from Cosmic Radiance had worn off and he managed to land Agony’s Embrace onto four members of Cloud9. The damage from Moon’s ultimate forced Cloud9 to begin retreating, and Hai’s Jayce started to poke Jensen’s Cassiopeia. Altec then began to reposition himself so that he could continue attacking the retreating Cloud9, but Jensen quickly stunned him with Petrifying Gaze, giving him enough time to activate the shield from Seraph’s Embrace and quickly get to the safety of his team. Sneaky’s Ashe then engaged LemonNation’s Malzahar with Enchanted Crystal Arrow, which instantly shut him out of the fight. This allowed Cloud9’s Camille to sneak round the river and dispatch LemonNation before his team could even respond. Poppy tried to stop Camille, but in doing so she had left her remaining teammates tankless in the mid-lane.

This mistake from Poppy gave Contractz the opportunity to force both Altec and Hai down towards Camille with a well-placed Smoke Screen, which allowed Impact to Hookshot and flash over the river wall. However, Impact failed to apply the stun and was instantly shut down by Altec’s Jhin. It looked as though both teams were at a stalemate, but Contractz made a big play on Graves and quickly burst down Moon with a combination of Quickdraw and End of the Line, while Altec mistakenly walked into the explosion. This risky Graves play from Contractz landed Cloud9 with a decisive double kill and gave his team the chance to chase the remaining members of FlyQuest and take the victory. Cloud9 proved that teams who conceptually understand their win conditions in a fight will thrive, but setting up game winning-plays must start when drafting individual champions.

Fnatic vs Splyce

Game three between Fnatic and Splyce from week five of the European LCS was extremely tense and both teams looked ready to take home the win. Fnatic picked a high mobility team comp and chose both Kled and Lee Sin to give them gap closers and instant initiation. Caps picked Ryze to counter Splyce’s Corki, and it was hoped that he would snare Sencux and give Broxah’s Lee Sin plenty of opportunities to gank. However, Splyce picked a very poke heavy team with Corki and Jhin, as they hoped to win via objective superiority, but Splyce’s pick of Kha’Zix and Rumble meant they lacked a tanky engage. As a result, Mikyx had to play extremely carefully to ensure he didn’t overextend on Thresh, as bad engages with his hook could result in a swift death.

Fnatic looked like they had the stronger team composition, but Splyce remained even in gold and had a one kill advantage. Splyce knew their weaknesses and proved that they could turn the tide of the battle. This was shown when a fight erupted in mid-lane after Wunder managed to start split-pushing bot and took a turret. As a result Broxah roamed mid to help Rekkles and Jesiz push mid in the hopes of securing a turret and a kill for themselves. Rekkles saw an opportunity to engage Mikyx’s Thresh and used Chain of Corruption to lock him in place, while Broxah ward-hopped over the river and delivered a flurry of punches with Lee Sin. Rekkles then used Hail of Arrows and an auto attack to shut down the ghostly warden. However, Mikyx had anticipated the engage and placed his ultimate down moments before his death. Thresh’s Box slowed Lee Sin and allowed Kobbe to safely poke Broxah, forcing him to flash into Sencux’s Corki who picked up a free kill.

Meanwhile, Wunder stopped his split push in bot-lane and quickly teleported mid just in time to throw down his Equalizer on the retreating members of Fnatic. Splyce chased them through the jungle and Kobbe managed to dispatch a fleeing Jesiz, while both Sencux and Wunder melted Caps’ Ryze with Gatling Gun and Flamespitter. The bloodbath continued as sOAZ used Kled’s ultimate to try and help Caps, but he was too late and ran straight into Trashy and Splyce who simply collapsed on him, forcing sOAZ to turn tail. However, Kobbe’s Jhin ultimate made it certain that there was nowhere for the fleeing sOAZ to hide and punished him for his mistake. Instead of recalling, Fnatic’s Rekkles decided to hide near raptors to try and get revenge for his team. He waited for Trashy’s Kha’Zix to get closer and he sent a Piercing Arrow out of jungle and into the mid-lane. The blow would have proved fatal, but it narrowly missed and gave away his position.

Kobbe then took aim and killed Rekkles with Deadly Flourish, allowing his team to take mid-lane turret undisturbed. This single team fight put Splyce ahead in gold, damage and kills, which allowed them to capitalise off their strong objective play and win future team fights in the late game. Splyce knew their weaknesses and understood that they couldn’t engage due to their lack of tanky frontliners, so they patiently waited for Fnatic to make mistakes and outplayed them at every turn. As a result, Fnatic couldn’t play to their desired goals and both Ryze and Lee Sin struggled to influence the game. Splyce went on to win the series 2-1, placing them in third place in the group B bracket.

James Busby

Bet your bottom Unikoin that James knows his esports. Hailing from the British Isles, making sense of the scraps on Summoner's Rift is his specialty. Find him on Twitter @JamesBusby64