5 sleeper champions on the verge of meta success

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Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

It’s no secret that LCS players inspire which champions we choose to climb the ladder with but sometimes we want to step away from our Jhins, Cassiopeias and Jayces and surprise our opponents with zany pocket picks and fringe strategies that are crazy enough to work. With that said, it’s also important to think of your teammates and communicate what you want to play so that they’re not just as surprised by your support Singed as the enemy team.

Simply put, I understand that you want to play something wacky and off-meta, but your teammates do not want you to play the support Singed you’ve been craving.

But fear not, as there are a number of niche champions that are still incredibly fun to play without invoking the ire of your teammates. Furthermore, these are picks on the precipice of the meta so be prepared to see a few of them in professional play soon.

Tahm Kench, Top Lane

With the advent of the assassin rework, protecting your Attack Damage and Ability Power carries is absolutely key. Shields, heals, and even large stomachs are needed to keep the damage away, and Tahm Kench is very, very, adept at the latter. Tahm is amazing to play into tanks such as Nautilus, Maokai, and Poppy, and his laning is also fantastic into certain melee splitpushers such as Irelia, Fiora, and Jax. His laning is exemplified by his early kill pressure through two forms of crowd control.

Tahm is also a champion with a pseudo-global ultimate, which will give your team an assured advantage and pressure in a meta that doesn’t really focus on champions with global abilities. This allows for collapses and pick possibilities previously unknown, and your tankiness and consistent damage and utility in fights will make you a nuisance in skirmishes and full teamfights. Tahm’s waveclear is also quite reasonable, with sunfire and his Devour (W) providing appropriate area-of-effect damage to prepare sidewaves before setting up for objectives. Both Flash and Ghost are seen as viable mobility summoner options to pair with Teleport given Tahm’s chasing potential in lane.

Quick Tip: Using Devour (W) on an enemy champion will have them lose their passive stacks, but using Tongue Lash (Q) on a fully stacked target will keep the stacks on the enemy, allowing you to follow up with a Devour.

Early Buys: Bami’s Cinder, Spectre’s Cowl, Tier 1 Boots

Full Build: Sunfire Cape, Mercury Treads, Spirit Visage, Frozen Mallet, Guardian Angel, Titanic Hydra/Knight’s Vow/Redemption/Randuin’s Omen

Runes: Attack Damage Reds, Armor Yellows, Magic Resist per level Blues, Attack Speed Quints

Masteries*

Tahm Kench Masteries

* Both Grasp of the undying and Courage of the Colossus are worth taking, but Courage’s current overtuned state allows it to be much more viable.

Poppy, Jungle

A powerhouse top laner in the current meta, Poppy is also an incredibly effective jungle champion. She has percentage health damage on her Q, which speeds up her early clear quite a bit with Greenfather’s Gift. Additionally, her sustainability is bolstered by her shield passive and easy ability to stun large camps with very little mana. Poppy also engages with other junglers quite well when invading or getting invaded on. The narrow corridors of the jungle make it very likely for her to get a 1v1 advantage in the immediate engage.

When it comes to ganks, Poppy is best played as a pseudo-Lee Sin that’s looking to get behind her targets in order to push them into walls or further away from the safety of their turret. If she ends up behind a gank target, it’s very likely that the enemy jungler will blow a Flash. Counterganks done by a Poppy, especially after Level 6, could be devastating, with her W and R carving out natural advantages against those who overextend.

Quick Tip: Even if E does not stun, its displacement will trigger Courage of the Colossus for you.

Early Buys: Tier 1 Boots, Skirmisher’s/Tracker’s (Cinderhulk), Iceborne Gauntlet,

Full Build: Mercury Treads, Skirmisher’s/Tracker’s (Cinderhulk), Iceborne Gauntlet, Randuin’s Omen, Spirit Visage, Guardian Angel

Runes: Attack Damage Reds, four Armor + five Health per level Yellows, Magic resist per level blues, Attack Damage Quints

Masteries

Poppy Masteries

AP Kog’Maw, Mid Lane

As of November 16, AP Kog’Maw mid has an absurdly high 55.9% win rate, and has been powerful since the Living Artillery changes in patch 6.21 went through. But why is it that the void puppy sees so much success with the assassins running about? Simple answer: insane lane pressure and waveclear with E; your ideal spacing between you and your opponent is the end of your E. Be careful of early ganks, especially from pesky roaming supports and tanky junglers who hope to dive you under tower.

Kog’Maw also has incredibly good scaling with high AP ratios and is a purchaser of Tear of The Goddess; the combination of the Seraph’s Embrace shield and Health from Rylai’s Crystal Sceptre makes Kog’Maw deceptively tanky and allows him to survive and get off more damage when collapsed on. But his value is similar to Jhin’s, as Kog’Maw can keep his distance as a fight starts, rendering him more difficult to catch with any sort of direct frontline engage. After all the initiations are blown, he can then float further in and rain on the parade of his enemies.

Quick Tip: You can use E and Q simultaneously for trading on attempted harass by your lane opponent. Follow it up with a W-empowered auto attack as they fade away from their harass pattern to get extra percentage health damage and trigger your Thunderlord’s Decree.

Early Buys: Tear of the Goddess, Tier 1 Boots, Lost Chapter

Full Build: Sorceror’s Shoes > Morellonomicon > Rylai’s Crystal Scepter > Seraph’s Embrace > Void Staff > Guardian Angel/Banshee’s Veil/Mercurial Scimitar

Runes: Magic Penetration Reds, Health per level Yellows, six Cooldown Reduction per level + three Flat Magic Resistance Blues, Ability Power Quints

Masteries

Kog'Maw Masteries

Evelynn, Jungle

A beneficiary of the downtime the new jungle provides, Evelynn has a solid first clear and provides heavy pressure through her constantly camouflaged presence as only Scryer’s Blooms can spot her in the early game unless individuals sacrifice early gold for control wards. She also provides high damage during ganks after a couple key items. Her overall burst, with a combination of Thunderlord’s Decree, Hextech Revolver and Sheen, and even Runic Echoes on a Skirmisher’s Smite, lead her to be a potent ganker in the early and middle game for lanes with powerful initiation, tankiness, and stickiness. She also can help get splitpushers further ahead through sneakily ganking the 1v1, similar to the collapses of a Twisted Fate, Taliyah, or Ryze.

Quick Tip: She can exploit this technique to make her clear healthier and safer than it usually is.

Early Buys: Skirmisher’s Smite (Runic Echoes), Hextech Revolver, Sheen

Full Build: Skirmisher’s Smite (Runic Echoes) > Protobelt > Lichbane > Rylai’s Crystal Scepter > Dead Man’s Plate/Randuin’s Omen > Abyssal Scepter/Void Staff/Banshee’s Veil

Runes: Attack Damage Reds, Armor Yellows, six Cooldown Reduction per level + three Ability Power Blues, Ability Power Quints

Masteries

Evelynn Masteries

Fiora, Top Lane

Changes to splitpushing in patch 6.22 have made freezing waves much easier than it used to be, and has allowed splitpushers to threaten tier three towers moreso thanks to their loss of deadly laser beams. As a result, duelists, heavy splitpushers and cleanup champions like Fiora should be seeing more play. While she has more difficult matchups in the form of champions such as Jayce or Kennen, the resurgence of picks such as Poppy, Maokai, and even the new toplane Rengar make for matchups that skew more in her favour, and matchups that allow her to scale into a potent sidelane threat.

Using your Q combined with Greenfather’s Gift, Fresh Blood, and hitting a vital deals over 100 damage (mixed as physical, magic, and true) after resistances on one hit. At level two, your auto attack and E reset can add roughly 200 damage to this after resistances, not including additional vital procs, or keystone damage such as Fervor of Battle, Grasp of the Undying or Thunderlord’s Decree.

Quick Tip: Fiora can Riposte (W) while moving with her Lunge (Q), allowing her to slide into position or away from others while baiting crowd control with her mobility.

Early Buys: Tiamat, Phage, Tier 1 Boots

Full Build: CDR/Swiftness/Mercury Treads, Black Cleaver, Ravenous Hydra, Bloodthirster/Mercurial Scimitar, Spirit Visage/Edge of Night/Mercurial Scimitar/Maw of Malmortius, Guardian Angel

Runes: Attack Damage Reds, Armor Yellows, six Cooldown Reduction per level + three Flat Magic Resistance Blues, Attack Speed Quints

Masteries*

Fiora Masteries

*Fiora can viably take Fervor of Battle, Grasp of the Undying or Thunderlord’s Decree, depending on the difficulty of her matchup.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

Riot to hold international tournament in July

by 12h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Riot Games

Riot Games will host an international League of Legends tournament in July, separate from the Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds, according to sections of a Chinese press conference translated by Yahoo Esports' Kelsey Moster.

According to the translation, Riot employee Ye Qiang said that instead of shortening the spring split in order to allow for more international competition, Riot will be hosting an international event in July, which would put it in the middle of the summer split.

“We are still considering what kind of event would be the most interesting for everyone," Qiang said. "For example, can we do a World Cup-type tournament? We hope LoL events can be more diversified, can satisfy our audience, and can give everyone a better player experience, so this is what we will target for the event this year in July. Wait and see.”

The exact format of this tournament is unknown, as is the specific location, date and even how participants will be selected. While the conference was held in China, there is no clear indication that the tournament will be held in Asia.

Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Riot Games and Big Ten Network partner for new conference LoL championship

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Riot Games

Riot Games and the Big Ten Network are set to announce a partnership for a new season-long collegiate League of Legends championship, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.

The championship will feature 12 of the 14 conference schools competing in the championship, the exceptions being Nebraska and Penn State, and is set to begin on Jan. 30. Divided into two divisions named BTN East and West, teams will play in a best-of-three round robin against division opponents, with the top four moving on to a single elimination playoff bracket. The finals will take place on March 27 and will be televised by the BTN.

The winner of the BTN league will subsequently go on to compete in the LoL Collegiate Championship. For BTN, this league will hopefully allow them to reach an audience who they have not connected with before.

"As a content provider, we have obviously seen the popularity in esports grow," Erin Harvego, BTN's vice president of marketing, told ESPN. "Given the demographic that watches, perhaps this could reach a younger viewer who we haven't reached before."

This is not the first time that Riot and BTN have partnered for an event. Last April, BTN and Riot worked together to create the BTN Invitational, a best-of-five series between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan State Spartans.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports whose journalism idol is Dino Ghiranze. You can follow him on Twitter.

Fantasy LCS: 5 Dark Horse players to draft

by 4d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Jose Silva / theScore esports

With Fantasy LCS descending upon us very, very soon, we at theScore esports have taken it upon ourselves to indulge you in what may be your breakout pick of the fantasy season. These picks are generally high risk picks with the possibility of an even higher reward. If you miss out on Bjergsen or Reignover (very likely if you're down in the draft order), you might want to keep an eye out on one of these picks. Who knows, you may strike gold and outperform the top picks of your draft....or take to Twitter to call me an idiot.

As I stressed in my previous articles, EU picks are underwhelming in the "Best Two Games" format due to the league's new format that will see some teams only compete in two games per week.

Top Lane

NA Dark Horse: Samson ”Lourlo” Jackson, Team Liquid

Steady growth is the name of the game for Lourlo. The end of summer saw him expand his champion pool and become a more reliable top laner for Team Liquid. If Lourlo can continue his growth, that, combined with the jungle pressure of Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, could be the perfect combination to make him a top tier top laner.

EU Dark Horse: Barney “Alphari” Morris, Misfits

We simply don't know how Misfits will perform in their group, but we do know that the top lane talent in that group is fairly exploitable for the likes of Alphari. A rookie entering his first LCS split, his active laning and the support of Lee "KaKAO" Byung-kwon will likely put him as the top of the top laners in his group.

Jungler

NA Dark Horse: Lee “Chaser” Sang-Hyun, Dignitas

Chaser's career trajectory would rival the greatest of rollercoasters. From being one of the best junglers across 2015 and a superstar on Jin Air, Chaser was subsequently part of a Longzhu superteam that did not come close to living up to expectations. Benched for upcoming aggressive talent Lee "Crash" Dong-woo, Chaser did not perform well in 2016. In a revitalized Dignitas lineup, Chaser is the catalyst for the lineup's early game and a key factor in the performance of his aggressive sidelanes. Look for Chaser to rack up assists and/or die trying.

EU Dark Horse: Andrei “Xerxe” Dragomir, Unicorns of Love

When you think of "dark horses", maybe a unicorn isn't your first thought. But, newcomer Xerxe has been hyped up by peers and enemies alike, with his entry into the jungle being a true X-factor in determining just how good the Unicorns of Love will be. If you think love prevails, you might want to pick up the jungle prodigy just to see how far he can go under the guidance of his incredibly experienced peers.

Mid Laner

NA Dark Horse: Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook, Phoenix1

Nothing says under the radar like having a Worlds semifinalist moving to a historically poor NA LCS team and people not making a bigger deal about it. Alas, Ryu and his stats can tell the whole story. Constantly in the upper echelon in the EU LCS, he benefited from Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski's aggressive jungling style. Rami "Inori" Charagh will provide similar coverage on this team, potentially leaving Ryu in familiar territory to rack up points in the mid lane.

EU Dark Horse: Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten, H2k-Gaming

There's no denying Febiven's talent. I mean, did you see him solo-kill Faker? Memes aside, Febiven is coming onto a revitalization after a disappointing 2016. His presence in H2K, matched with a new self-sufficient bot lane should see the first blood king come back to form as the playmaker he was known to be in Season 5.

AD carry

NA Dark Horse: Benjamin “LOD” deMunck, Dignitas

Seventy-three KDA in the first week, a top three KDA in his position by the end of the split, and an absurdly low 13.2 percent of his team's death. You wouldn't know it if I just said the stats, but this was LOD on a team that barely squeaked into playoffs, not Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng. With the support of the new Dignitas lineup, it's likely that he can ascend to new heights and cement himself as one of the region's best AD carries.

EU Dark Horse: Pierre “Steeelback” Medjaldi, Team Vitality

Steeelback is moving to a team with an undeniably higher ceiling, and communicating with his Vitality teammates will be a lot as the team fields a number of French-speaking players. His rapport with veteran support Ha "Hachani" Seung-chan will be important in establishing a solid presence in the bottom lane, and could be the catalyst in padding his already stellar statistics.

Support

NA Dark Horse: Matthew “Matt” Elento, Team Liquid

Team Liquid look poised to have a solid bot lane and jungle synergy with their two imports operating in both these positions. Matt will serve to benefit as well, being a natural playmaker on champions like Bard and Thresh. He has the chance to rack up an incredible amount of assists as a result. He may also cut down on his deaths in a better team environment with better synergy.

EU Dark Horse: Lee “IgNar“ Dong-geun, Misfits

IgNar may be new to the EU LCS, but his talent on other teams have not been questioned. He has played in the top level of North America and Korea, and will be the anchor to rookie AD carry Steven "Hans Sama" Liv. His experience may be underrated and as a result could be a solid pickup in the support position, able to rival the top tier supports in needed statistics.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

Scripting site shuts down after settlement with Riot Games

by 6d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

After a six-month court case, the hackers behind scripting service LeagueSharp have ceased operations after reaching a settlement with Riot, according to a post on their now-defunct website.

"As some of you may know, Riot Games has filed a lawsuit against LeagueSharp and has made it clear to us that LeagueSharp violates their Terms of Use. As a result of our lawsuit with Riot, we have agreed to cease development and support for LeagueSharp and any other tools related to Riot Games. You also should be aware that using third-party tools in League of Legends may result in the suspension or banning of your account by Riot Games. We apologize for any pain we've caused to players of League of Legends."

Riot originally filed a complaint, which was obtained by Rift Herald, against the five people behind the service on Aug. 5, citing breaches to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and facilitating the means by which thousands of players violated LoL's Terms of Use.

They also accused the defendants of leaking personal information about a Riot employee who they threatened and harassed on social media after Riot reached out to them to try and settle the matter out of court.

"[The] defendants or those working in concert with them disseminated personal and non-public information about a Riot employee, threatened that employee, and posted offensive comments on the employee’s social media," the complaint said.

According to the complaint, the five defendants operated through a Peruvian shell company which held the copyright to their scripting software in hopes that it would protect them from legal ramifications.

"Additionally, knowing that this lawsuit was imminent, Defendants have been quickly and carefully destroying or concealing evidence such as their most incriminating online posts and purporting to hide behind a Peruvian shell corporation created solely for the purpose of evading liability," it said.

With the settlement, the average LoL player can expect encountering a few less unwinnable battles in Solo Q as well as some balance restored to the Summoner's Code.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. Follow him on Twitter, it'll be great for his self-esteem.

Sandbox mode details released

na.leagueoflegends.com
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Riot Games have released a blog post with more details about the long-awaited sandbox mode that's coming to the Summoners' Rift.

According to the post, commands included in the practice tool for its first iteration include auto-refresh cooldowns, health and mana, respawning the jungle and Dragons, creating dummies and disabling turrets among others.

While Riot has yet to give a release date for the tool, the post states that they will be trying to implement a "bare-bones version" of it early in the patch cycle. However, they will continue working on improvements to the practice tool over time.

Click here for the full article via na.leagueoflegends.com

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