Rand: A look back at Longzhu's failings and Korea in 2016

by
Thumbnail image courtesy of KeSPA / LCK Summer 2016

By Winter 2014, Korea's dominance over international competition had been firmly established. That dominance more often relied on the team as a whole than gathering five star players on the same roster. While players on these teams became stars during their race to the top — all 10 starting Samsung Galaxy players from 2014 were paid handsomely and scattered among various Chinese teams come 2015 — they didn't begin as stars. They weren't always successful. They weren't always champions. Assembling a cohesive roster was, and still is, an art.

Until recently, Korea generally eschewed the idea of a superteam — gathering big-name and high-performing players on one roster — for focusing on developing hand-picked players first. Organizations in OnGameNet’s Champions didn’t need to stockpile every proven talent within their region when they had a two-team system and the concurrent NLB tournament.

Two, or more, competitive teams gave organizations a chance to test out new talent and develop separate rosters based on communication and team synergy in addition to raw mechanics. Meanwhile, the existence of the NLB gave amateur talent a chance to prove themselves against the best in Korea — a far greater representation of how solo queue players plucked from the ladder would actually perform in a competitive environment. Teams that were eliminated from the premier OGN Champions tournament dropped down into the NLB and duked it out with qualifying amateur teams or the lesser sister teams of top-tier organizations that had failed to make it into Champions that season.

The cream rose to the top. Even if a more well-known organization didn’t expressly develop the amateur talent they wanted on their own sister teams, they had a myriad of players and rosters from NLB-level teams from which to scout new players. By the end of 2014, this system was a well-oiled machine, churning out winning lineups that were not only composed of talented players, but also focused on how those players fit together as a unit — from solo queue ladder, to amateur organization or lesser sister team, to the big-name organizations with non-endemic sponsors.

Elsewhere, the idea of a superteam was born with 2014 Europe’s Alliance roster being the first lineup to earn the title of “superteam” within the Western community. The idea was to gather as much rising, proven, or experienced talent on one team and make a run for international recognition. Korean teams’ continued dominance at international events — partially in thanks to their aforementioned talent development system — played a large role in birthing the idea of a superteam. If teams from other regions couldn’t best Korean teams at international events organically, they could simply collect big names from within their own region, and later import big names from other regions, to hopefully garner international success.

The first recognized superteam, Alliance, built their roster around the core of former Counter Logic Gaming.EU/Evil Geniuses mid laner Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and top laner Mike “Wickd” Petersen. Alliance are still known for their complete dominance of the 2014 European League Championship Series Summer split with a 21-7 regular season record and 3-1 victories over SK Gaming and Fnatic en route to the championship title. They’re also known for failing to make it out of groups at the 2014 World Championship.

With the acquisition of star AD carry Jian “Uzi” Zhihao, Oh My God fully committed to a superstar all-Chinese roster while nearly every other organization was betting their respective farm on Korean imports. OMG finished third in the 2015 LPL Spring regular season, the team’s highest finish they would earn that year. Unlike previous OMG lineups, this much-lauded one failed to even make it to the World Championship.

Last year, Team SoloMid signed a roster that had fans salivating in anticipation of their performance in the 2016 NA LCS Spring including former Counter Logic Gaming legacy AD carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, former SK Gaming jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, and veteran Fnatic support Bora “YellOwStaR” Kim to complement superstar mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. They finished sixth in the 2016 NA LCS Spring regular season, the lowest finish of any lineup in TSM history. Although they ended up making it to the finals and barely lost to CLG, this iteration of TSM is not remembered fondly, with visible synergy issues between Doublelift and YellOwStaR.

When evaluating the failure of superteams, two main factors come into play — a lack of synergy between the star players acquired, and lofty performance expectations. Korea’s first superteam — 2016's Longzhu Gaming — had both.

In early 2015 — immediately post-Korean Exodus — most Korean organizations struggled to curate their rosters without the former two-team system and NLB tournament in place. The new LCK and Challengers Korea system eliminated the chance for amateur teams and players to cut their teeth on the heavy hitters of the Champions tournament, further separating amateur from professional. Fuller rosters with up to 10 players were allowed, but only five could start at a time — no more sister teams. This meant less competition for those who didn’t start and the larger risk of fracturing the oft-delicate balance of a strong starting five.

Initially the then-GE Tigers exploded onto the scene with superior coordination and team unity. Eventually, across both LCK splits, SK Telecom T1 rose to power, dominating the Korean landscape in 2015 summer and blazing through the 2015 World Championship nearly untouched. This increasing lack of parity within Korea itself helped spawn the idea of a Korean superteam roster.

The 2015-16 League of Legends offseason was greeted with apathy compared to what had come before. Another year of Korean talent — including proven champions and names on the ladder — flooded the international market. This is what interregional movement would look like for the foreseeable future. What began in 2014-15 as the “Korean Exodus” was now simply “the offseason.” The only difference a year made was of what region players were shuttled off to.

SK Telecom T1 was the known anomaly, whose financial investment into their LoL team, coupled with a winning environment and a second World Championship, kept players like superstar Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok happy enough to stay in Korea. Alongside mentions of SKT, and Faker’s salary, rumors of a Korean “superteam” arose.

Touted as a team of Korean stars backed with Chinese money, Longzhu Gaming had a full ten-man roster with star players like the legendary Lee “Flame” Ho-jong, Jin Air Green Wings’ 2015 star jungler Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun, and mid laner Shin “CoCo” Jin-yeong, the lone bright spot on CJ Entus by the end of 2015.

Longzhu the superteam started off shakily. It was immediately apparent that the team hadn’t synergized as much as they had hoped during their offseason practice time. This wasn’t an immediate indictment of the roster, and didn’t necessarily point to failure — Alliance went 0-4 in their first week as a team and were at the bottom of the EU LCS — just that Longzhu would have a slower start than other teams. The high expectations of the roster did the team no favors. Longzhu had a mediocre 3-3 record across the first three weeks of LCK Spring 2016 but were regarded by many as an already sinking ship.

To counter the risk of lessening coordination while balancing such a large roster, Longzhu implemented a two-line strategy. Separating the team into two lines — similar to professional hockey — in top, jungle and mid while keeping the static bot lane of AD carry Kang “Cpt Jack” Hyung-woo and support Kim “Pure” Jin-sun allowed Longzhu to develop stronger synergy in two separate units while still juggling all ten players.

This all changed when Longzhu’s second AD carry Lee “Fury” Jin-yong became eligible for a starting position mid-spring. The idea of developing two lines with their own strengths, weaknesses, and synergy was abandoned, and Longzhu grasped at straws for the remainder of the season, scrambling their roster in various permutations hoping that one of these lineups would stick. None of them did. Last-place Kongdoo Monster, who lacked LCK-level talent in multiple positions, were far more coordinated than Longzhu. The superteam finished in seventh place, behind Samsung Galaxy and the surprising upstart Afreeca Freecs.

Longzhu only fared worse in LCK Summer 2016, finishing in eighth place, barely out of relegations. They continued to experiment with their ten-man roster, eventually settling on the lineup of Koo “Expession” Bon-taek, Lee “Crash” Dong-woo, Kim “Frozen” Tae-il, Fury and Pure.

Regardless of who they trotted out onto the Rift, Longzhu lacked not only coordination but a brain. Silent comms and despondent faces prevailed in the Longzhu booth. Longzhu’s players were still visibly talented. Even in their worst, hour-long slugfests, Frozen would have a solo kill here, or Pure would have a fantastic initiation there, but none of it mattered when the team couldn’t coordinate as a unit. Another League of Legends superteam down the drain.

Across League of Legends history, most rosters dubbed superteams have been doomed to mediocrity or far worse, complete and utter failure. Part of this is due to expectations of the roster in question on paper before they ever play a competitive match. A superteam is expected to not only be successful in their own region, but perform well internationally. Longzhu failed to perform well within Korea, never once making the playoffs while less impressive rosters on paper like the Afreeca Freecs rose through the LCK standings. The one international tournament Longzhu attended, IEM Oakland in late 2016, was an embarrassment.

On paper, the new Longzhu look a bit like the old Longzhu — too many players — but have made noticeable improvements that demonstrate a desire to learn from their previous mistakes. Signing three mid laners to a roster is extraneous, although having two isn’t as much of an indictment of the organization as it could be given the mid laners in question. Song “Fly” Yong-jun has an odd champion pool, and swapping him out for talented youngster Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong could depend on the meta, and what exactly they want from their mid laner at a given time.

The acquisition of Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon and Kim “PraY” Jong-in show that Longzhu will emphasize synergy over on-paper talent after an entire year of little to no unity or communication. GorillA is one of the best supports in the world, and is well-recognized for his leadership qualities in addition to his impeccable initiation and disengage timing for teamfights. The former ROX Tigers bottom lane made it a point to stay together, keeping their strong teamwork in tact.

Their veteran experience along with that of top laner Expession should provide a strong core to help steady their two mid-laners and presumed starting jungler Crash, who never developed beyond being a strong power-farmer during his time with the team last year. The roster has core veterans in at least three of their five positions, which should provide in-game leadership for Bdd and Crash, both of whom languished in 2016 with little guidance.

In the 2016-2017 offseason, the landscape has shifted again from the year preceding it. Korean teams on the whole are shelling out more money for players. Longzhu isn’t one of the monetary heavy hitters. That distinction belongs to KT Rolster — dubbed 2017 Spring’s superteam — and SK Telecom T1.

The initial Longzhu experiment was a complete misadventure in frustration, another example for the League of Legends world to learn from and avoid. This year’s iteration has a stronger focus on pre-existing synergy while developing the young talents of Bdd and Crash, a more traditional Korean roster, banking on striking that elusive and delicate balance. For Longzhu to succeed in the long tradition of Korean teams, they do not need to be a superteam, they just need to communicate.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.

Best Skin Concepts: Lee Sin, the Blind Monk

by 14h ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of no crowns for kings / Tumblr

Skins of the Week is a weekly series that highlights the best skins and skin concepts for a heroes, champions and characters across a variety of games.

This week, we're focusing on League of Legends' greatest martial artist, Lee Sin, the Blind Monk. With a new skin set to debut soon, we're taking a look at the best skins and concepts for LoL's ubiquitous jungler.

God Fist Lee Sin

Lee Sin's moniker is "The Blind Monk," so it seems a bit silly to create a skin that is defined by Lee Sin being able to see normally. That said, for every Lee Sin player who has ever gotten tired of the constant jokes about being blind, God Fist Lee Skin is the skin for you.

Beyond the inclusion of sight, God Fist Lee Sin has a great silhouette, which seems more than slightly similar to Marvel's Iron Fist. Personally, I can't wait until Riot releases Super Ultimate God Level Tier Lee Sin, which will likely feature gigantic hair for no real reason.

Red Demon Lee Sin

by mist XG

Taking Lee Sin in a completely new direction, this 'Red Demon Lee Sin' by mist XG turns the peaceful, meditative monk into a fighter bent on destruction. The greaves and gauntlets are the highlights of this concept, showcasing just how deadly Lee Sin can be. Twisted and dangerous, Red Demon Lee Sin is a solid concept for a darker, evil version of the well-loved champion.

Traditional Lee Sin

by no crowns for kings

Outside of his default appearance, Lee Sin's skins gradually move further and further away from his moniker. But no so with this skin, which is inspired by traditional clothes worn by Chinese monks.

While the beads are a nice touch, it's the sashes that flow outward from his back that are the highlight of this concept. They could provide some great animations were this concept to become reality. This twist on Lee Sin's title is colorful, exciting, and makes me wish it was available for use.

Dragon Priest Lee Sin

by Beastysakura

Dragon Priest Lee Sin is certainly more beastly than what one would expect the monk to be. Much like Red Demon Lee Sin, this concept features greaves to emphasize his deadlier aspects, though the primary draw this time are the monstrous face and hands. While Lee Sin is normally fierce yet retains an air of peace, this Dragon Priest variant is more animalistic, more tortured, yet undoubtedly just as cool to imagine as his other skins.

Galactic Pilgrim Lee Sin

by narm

Lee Sin in space is just a great image in and of itself, but this skin concept takes the idea and runs with it to a strange yet awesome conclusion. Galactic Pilgrim Lee Sin has a lot going on for him, with the color scheme and shock gauntlets being at the forefront, but it remains recognizably Lee Sin as its core.

Preston Dozsa is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Tainted Minds release statement on OPL contract dispute

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of theScore esports / Tainted Minds

Tainted Minds have spoken out on the ongoing contract dispute with their former OPL roster, stating that conditions in their team house, amongst other allegations, were not severe enough to allow the players to attempt to terminate their contracts.

On Feb. 13, Ryan "ShorterACE" Nget, Tristan "Cake" Côté-Lalumière, Aaron "ChuChuZ" Bland, Andrew "Rosey" Rose, the team's coach, Nick "Inero" Smith, and manager Fasffy left Tainted Minds' Strathfield team house after retaining a lawyer, Matt Jessep, who advised them to send notices of contract termination to the organization over a number of contract breaches.

RELATED: Former Tainted Minds coach alleges team was mistreated by org, players reportedly in contract dispute

Many of the players' complaints revolve around perceived inaction on the part of Tainted Minds in regards to addressing issues such as unstable internet and electricity in the house as well as the general sanitary situation. But, the organization's statement says that it was difficult to procure solutions because of a number of factors including difficulty getting in touch with contractors due to the Australian holiday season, a record-breaking heatwave and the fact that the house was a rental property.

"Tainted Minds acknowledges that issues arose with their gaming house but by the time of mediation with Riot on February 6, 2017, it appeared the majority of the issues had been resolved, although a few minor problems remained," the statement said. "These minor issues were subsequently resolved. Because of this, the notices of termination came as a complete surprise to Tainted Minds, especially after a win the day before."

However, according to a counter-statement from Fasffy, the issues had remained serious even after mediation.

"We still had no extra council [garbage] bins, power in the house was still tripping, we still had internet issues, we still didn’t have the pc’s we were promised," she wrote. "3 times random people showed up at the house, we didn’t know when they’d be coming and we'd lose practice. We didn't know when people would be coming. So most importantly.. we were still NOT ABLE TO PERFORM OUR JOBS OUTLINED IN OUR AGREEMENTS."

While Tainted Minds acquired four players to create a new OPL roster to fill in for the rest of the season (one player from the original team stayed on), the org refused to acknowledge that the rest of the original roster's contracts had been terminated and kept them signed on Riot Games' official contract database.

"Tainted Minds was advised by their legal counsel that the grounds disclosed for termination were not legally sufficient under the termination provisions in the team members' contracts and were therefore of no effect," the organization said in their statement. "Tainted Minds had invested a significant amount of money in the players and held them to their legal contracts. It was also believed that this would set a bad precedent for the industry if players could ignore contracts and walk from a team at any moment without following process."

While the original roster accused Tainted Minds of breaking Riot regulations by having a 13-player roster on the contract database and attempting to cover it up by changing the "date modified" field, according to a statement from Riot OCE, a temporary exception was made for Tainted Minds and the database failed to update properly.

RELATED: Riot OCE responds to Tainted Minds controversy

While Inero and ShorterACE have settled with Tainted Minds and ChuChuZ retired from competitive League, Rosey and Cake are still signed to the org on the contract database. On Mar. 22, Cake publicly released an extensive database of chat logs documenting conversations between Inero, Fasffy and Tainted Minds between November and February. This database was previously made available to the press, including theScore esports.

"I am only releasing this to cover my reputation and seek recovery for the damages they have caused me by restraining my ability to play for the rest of split 1, when my contract has been legally terminated," Cake wrote in a Twitlonger. "Tainted Minds declined arbitration offered by Riot NA a few weeks ago, but are suddenly interested in it, after a few of my friends have been released, and after I threatened to release the chat logs. If all those proofs are not enough to get Tainted Minds a competitive ruling from OPL, I will make sure to find more."

According to Tainted Minds' statement, while they attempted to negotiate a settlement with Cake, the 22-year-old Canadian refused and sought out damages for the time he was unable to play.

"The additional terms of the settlement were that neither party acknowledge fault and that both parties release a joint statement to express their regret in the situation and wish each other the best in their future endeavors. Tristan declined this to which his legal representative immediately emailed back to say Tristan would consider the offer," the statement said.

"March 17th Tristan then threatened to release confidential communications unless he was paid $10,000 USD. Even still TM reiterated the previous offer to him with one more chance to sign, which was declined."

According to Cake, while he did ask for $10,000 in damages in exchange for signing the settlement agreement, he only said he would release the chat logs after negotiations with Tainted Minds broke down.

"I asked for money to cover some of my damages and also for my reputation being hurt signing that deed with them after going public. It was the amount i was willing for my reputation to take a hit," he told theScore esports.

"In [one] email I mention chat logs going public, but that was after I publicly said that I would release stuff in 24 [hours]."

Tainted Minds' statement also leveled serious accusations against Fasffy, saying that many of the issues have arisen as a result of the quality of the contracts. According to Tainted Minds and the player's database, Fasffy brought forward a personal friend whom she appeared to present as a "practicing lawyer" in the players' chat logs. She allegedly said her friend could draw up contracts for free on the condition that the contracts not be re-used outside of the agreed upon players and personnel.

However, Tainted Minds said that after confronting Fasffy about contacting the captain of their recently-acquired CS:GO squad about the terms of their contracts, Fasffy then requested they pay her friend a fee because they broke his terms and used his contracts outside of their intended purpose. The incident appears to arise in chat logs from both from Tainted Minds and the players' database.

Though Tainted Minds say Fasffy would not initially share the friend's full name or contact information, relaying their negotiations through herself, their own lawyer discovered Fasffy's friend was not a fully-licensed lawyer.

"It was discovered that the individual was not a certified, practicing lawyer but 'someone that works at [redacted] Legal,'" the statement said. "However, we emphasise that the person represented as a lawyer, never made that statement themselves and it was only ever Fasffy who referred to them as a 'lawyer.'"

While Tainted Minds were previously accused of missing payments, they said in their statement that they held back payments from players who had not properly filled out tax documents.

"Player payments provided by Riot were paid immediately to players who provided compliant tax details to Tainted Minds. 49% was withheld from players who had not, as required by law and the Australian Tax Office (ATO)," the statement said. "Under the agreement, TM has the right to make such deductions to meet its legal requirements. These player payments have since been made in full upon request from Riot. All other relevant player monthly / OPL match payments / valid invoices were paid on time and in full and complied with Riot payment schedules"

Cake confirmed in a counter-statement that he has since been paid the sums he previously said he was not paid.

While Fasffy has also accused the organization of failing to remunerate her after working hefty amounts of overtime and also paying household expenses out of pocket, the statement says there was "considerable doubt over the billable hours claimed, these include 24 hour days which under no circumstance would be requested by management for health and safety reasons and general welfare of the individual."

Tainted Minds said that while they did review her contract with the intent of drafting a new agreement that better reflected her responsibilities, she and the players left before that process was completed.

"Even in mediation you would not pay me for the previously agreed upon necessary overtime worked unless I’d signed a new contract," Fasffy wrote in a counter-statement. "I did not refuse to accept a new contract, I simply stated that I was not comfortable going into new contract negotiations until the outstanding and and old issues were resolved and that it looked like you had no intention of paying my ... December overtime so it looked like we were not going to be able to move forward from this."

On March 16, Riot Games announced that they would be investigating the Tainted Minds situation alongside Riot OCE. The results of the investigation should be released later this week.

Sasha Erfanian is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.

Best Rumble builds

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Rumble's builds as an AP carry are pretty varied beyond his core of early magic penetration. As such, he has some unique build paths based on the enemy composition and how he chooses to deal damage or deal with the mix of damage presented by the enemy team. Because of Rumble's early health through Liandry's, runes and masteries, resists are particularly potent in making the firestarter as durable as he is damaging.

RELATED: A guide to Rumble

The Classic

  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon’s Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Against Heavy AP

  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Negatron Cloak

  5. Liandry’s Torment

  6. Abyssal Scepter

  7. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  8. Void Staff

  9. Guardian Angel

RELATED: 8 quick tips for Rumble

Against heavy AD
  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon's Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Against majority squishies
  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon's Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Against majority tanks
  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rylai's Crystal Scepter

  8. Rabadon's Deathcap if ahead, or Luden's Echo if even or behind

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.

8 quick tips for Rumble

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Rumble is one of the more difficult champions to play to perfection. The tiny Yordle's mechanic are full of tricks and surprises, which often can turn your small leg up into a giant robot leg up instead. These tips and tricks focus around ease and usability mostly, to make your time with Rumble more focused on what to do with your advantages rather than how you secure them.

RELATED: A guide to Rumble

  1. Use Electro-Harpoon to keep your heat up at yellow stages so that you can continue using amplified spells

  2. Harass enemies from afar with Flamespitter by using your stop key (Default S) to stand outside of turret aggro range or further away from them

  3. Do not smartcast your equalizer when starting to play Rumble — it is very difficult to land consistently good ones and sometimes you will have some incredibly bad results

  4. If you do want to smartcast your ultimate, hold down your ultimate key to see the trajectory and right-click if you want to cancel the input

  5. Flamespitter does damage every 0.25 seconds, so you should be able to pivot Rumble quickly to do damage to things you want to do damage to, such as using Q to last hit a minion quickly and turning away

  6. No form of crowd control stops Flamespitter

  7. Build up heat before minions spawn so that you have access to the enhanced version of your Flamespitter once you enter the lane, giving you greater lane bully potential

  8. If you overheat casting Electro-Harpoon, you can continue casting other Electro-Harpoons for the duration of the Overheat passive

RELATED: Best Rumble builds

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.

A guide to Rumble

by 1d ago
Thumbnail image courtesy of Riot Games

Rumble has been a staple of competitive play since his introduction in Season 1. His game-changing ultimates, low-cooldown damage abilities, and resource-free design make him incredibly fun and interesting for people to play as well, yielding a decent level of popularity in solo queue and a very significant level of popularity in higher ELO. Once you master Rumble, he's a champion that can completely change the tide of a fight. In the truest sense, he's your go-to 1v9'er in the top lane.

Runes

Magic Penetration Reds, Scaling Health Yellows, Ability Power Blues, Ability Power Quintessences

Magic penetration reds synergize with Rumble’s early itemization and give him 37.8 magic penetration once he completes his early game combo of Haunting Guise and Sorcerer Shoes. This is enough to shred through almost a full Negatron Cloak. Scaling health yellows give Rumble some much-needed durability, moreso against tanks than armor would just due to their propensity to not deal attack damage as heavily. AP blues and quints give Rumble even more early damage to bully opponents out of lane.

Masteries

Eighteen points in ferocity give Rumble access to the most possible damage. Battle Trance should be taken over Double-Edged Sword for a few reasons. Firstly, your damage over time will keep your Battle Trance stacks up, and Deathfire Touch will as well. Secondly, it does all this without the downside of having Double-Edged Sword’s additional damage inflicted onto you. Deathfire Touch’s nerfs don’t affect Rumble, and the damage helps him substantially as he seeks to burn down enemies with his multiple damage-over-time area-of-effect spells.

Veteran Scars will help you with your early laning and ability to survive the early game more than Runic Armor would. Insight gives you lower Flash and Teleport cooldowns which would be incredibly useful for coming into fights more consistently and landing those crucial Equalizers. As such, 12 in Resolve is more worth it than 12 in Cunning would be.

Skill order

First six levels: QEWQQR

Your Flamespitter is your most active and useful ability for a few reasons. One is that it will frequently help build up and maintain heat, as well as your Deathfire Touch damage and your Battle Trance stacks. But it’s also your best ability to harass enemies due to its high damage and ability to hit through minion waves, terrain and other enemies. It should be maxed in basically all circumstances.

Putting points into your Electro-Harpoon second continues to add to your damage and harass, provides an easy way to keep your Heat in the yellow, and also provides a ranged option to CS if need be. The slow is also great for early gank assistance in the long lane.

Your Scrap shield should be maxed last, but leveled early for its utility. An early level could be the difference between surviving a gank and not, and it gives you a comfortable shield against minion harass when using your Flamespitter to harass champions through a creep wave. It also has a secondary usage of managing heat. Your ultimate should be leveled up whenever available, due to its sheer impact and importance.

Build order

Rumble benefits greatly from a large amount of early magic penetration in order to keep bullying his opponents and do damage to squishy enemies. Early magic penetration also helps against tanks who will grab magic resistance in the form of an early Spectre’s Cowl or Negatron Cloak. Rushing into Liandry’s as early as possible with your Sorcerer Shoes will make it incredibly difficult to take trades with you, due to the magic penetration and burn damage. Your AP scalings are incredibly good on your damage as well, so going into heavier AP items are beneficial to you and your team.

RELATED: Best Rumble builds

  1. Doran’s Shield + Health Potion

  2. Haunting Guise

  3. Sorcerer Shoes

  4. Liandry’s Torment

  5. Zhonya’s Hourglass

  6. Void Staff

  7. Rabadon’s Deathcap

  8. Guardian Angel

Playstyle

The early game is about Rumble's status as an AP Carry and lane bully. However, building into these offensive stats early on does make you a little more vulnerable, so be sure to play forward based on the information you have from your vision and the minimap. Try and track the jungler and play based on where you suspect he is. Use your pushing advantage against most every champ to get ahead and ward deep to have a greater warning if the enemy jungler is showing up. Rumble in his current 7.5/7.6 state can win most trades one versus one when even, so it really is a matter of how much you neutralize the effect of the enemy jungler’s pressure in order to stay ahead and outscale your opponent.

RELATED: 8 quick tips for Rumble

The mid game is Rumble’s time to swing fights one way or the other. His Equalizer is more than just an equalizing presence, it’s a complete game-changer. A well-placed Rumble ultimate in a teamfight can cause chaos and remove people from a fight. Either using it to cover a key corridor or to split the frontline tanks and backline damage dealers are ideal scenarios. Any crowd control that can keep them in the Equalizer is doubly effective too, such as Ashe ultimate or Orianna ultimate.

The late game is the exact same thing as the mid game, except Rumble also has the added benefit of being able to split push fairly effectively. His damage versus tanks puts a lot of pressure on the map, stretching it such that his team can use that pressure to effectively control neutral objectives or siege towers on other parts of the map.

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.

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