Rebuilding China: Language barrier, Uzi's buyout, and preseason exhibition

by
Thumbnail image courtesy of LPL / LPL Screengrab

As far as I’m aware, the problems with Chinese teams persist. The National Electron Sports Open results may be more or less disregarded, as it happened quite soon after the World Championship, but that doesn’t make headaches less severe.

Weekly hurdle: The Korean influence

There’s a Chinese proverb I’ve seen fans use when discussing what they perceive as the problem of the Korean imports meaning “to quench one’s thirst with poisoned wine,” or to seek temporary relief at a high cost. Typically, the belief is that Chinese teams imported Koreans to improve their level of talent, but in-game communication suffered. As the meta game changed, they weren’t able to play lane swaps correctly because they lacked the necessary communication.

As with all popular theories, there is some validity to these claims and some pitfalls. Initially, when Koreans arrived in China and began to adjust to the environment, EDward Gaming’s coach Ji “Aaron” Xing said he noticed the biggest difference was in the way the Korean players approached the game. They practiced more and in a different way that focused on developing their flaws.

In top teams, this approach allegedly began to rub off on the Chinese players. Players like Wei “GODV” Zhen had always practiced a lot, but some within LGD have said he changed his approach as a result of the Korean influence. Ming “Clearlove” Kai, who had always been known as a rare Chinese player for his work ethic and dedication to the game, even saw initial improvements and more development in his approach, though it may be unrelated.

Over time, as we’ve seen players like Lee “Spirit” Dayoon express frustration with the practice ethic that has been reported to exist in many Chinese teams for years, it became clear that the environment was also beginning to impact the Koreans. As some team owners and managers are quite friendly with their players, Chinese players can often get away with toeing the line of instructions from coach and staff. As soon as top Korean player discovered they could also shirk orders, their own focus declined. LGD’s Korean players took scrims leading up to the World Championship about as seriously as their Chinese brethren.

I’ll discuss solutions to what I perceive as the infrastructural problem later, but in many ways the Koreans have adapted to their environment. They’re still strong players, but in a less structured realm. Song “RooKie” Euijin’s popularity is strong given his commitment to learning Mandarin Chinese, the fact that many enjoy his stream, and his friendships with Chinese players on other teams.

Ultimately, the Korean influence initially improved the Chinese practice ethic, but over time other problems became difficult to overcome. This is something that has been acknowledged, at least in part, in discussions of the topic. As a result, proponents of this argument have included that improvements do not counter-balance the ultimate cost of the language barrier.

While I do think language barrier plays an important factor in disrupting team cohesion, it seems to have a larger impact outside the game than inside the game. One can devise a communication system to deal with even something as complex as lane swaps as long as the team understands how to execute them. Overall, the Chinese teams at Worlds were strategically behind, and the language barrier exacerbating the issue has been exaggerated.

The language barrier may have still played a part in the strategic lag. As Dignitas coach Ram “Brokenshard” Djemal said in an interview I conducted with him about the North American team Dignitas with both Korean and English-speaking players, he said he felt the biggest problem was communicating when players had a problem or just cooperating outside the game.

It’s possible that this problem lead to the inability of Chinese teams to quickly adapt to the meta, as discussions would have been stunted. If having discussions about the meta is a strain, and the team sports a roster of supreme quality, teams may be more likely to rely on individual skill than to develop a tactical approach.

Problems between Korean and Chinese players may be difficult to express. I’ve heard a few surprisingly damaging stories that resulted from mistranslations of comments made between players or players and staff. Some Korean players have felt less confident competing in China since they aren’t sure whether Chinese fans are cheering them on or insulting them when they meet them.

The larger problem with language barrier sits outside the game rather than ingame, and I think it’s often used as a straw man argument for why the teams failed to perform. Ultimately, other arguments like teams not playing their more comfortable strategy, as KaKAO suggested, or not practicing adequately hold larger sway and aren’t necessarily the fault of importing Koreans.

Since, however, it is certainly a problem that can be fixed, more effort can be done to teach Korean players who choose to stay in China to speak Mandarin Chinese. KaKAO said that learning the language is one of his primary goals for next year. Implementing mandatory classes like this could also go along with overall infrastructural improvements, but the act of importing Koreans is not at fault for the poor performance by Chinese teams at the World Championship.

One aspect I think is worth more investigation is the contribution of the Korean element to the stunting of Chinese talent scouting. Many young Chinese players like Yu “300” Zuxing, Zhou “Soda” Pengxian, and Chen “Cherish” Zhe have been unable to advance to LPL, and we’re seeing older Chinese talent retire with a generational gap.

Again, however, I think there is a larger systemic failure of organizations to scout or transfer proper talent either because of buyouts or a lack of effort even before the arrival of Koreans. Feng “TnT” Qingyu, for example, spent a year in LSPL after proving himself in LPL even before Koreans arrived.

Roster Rumblings

Confirmations

NESO showed us some of the first confirmations of transfer season. Wang “wushuang” Li, already announced on WE’s weibo prior to the World Championship, played for WE. Bo “Mo” Cai from Acfun appeared on Invictus Gaming’s roster as support. Bong “Republic” Guntae, a Korean player previously of Taiwan’s Machi eSports played for Energy Pacemaker All. The organization had participated in one other tournament with him before, but with EPA’s third place, it was a good chance to assess his form. King’s Dong “SinkDream” Shichun joined Oh My Dream.

More obscure regional qualifiers for Tencent Games Arena, which allows teams to compete for entry into LSPL, showed ex-Vici Gaming support Ying “Yh” Hai and the resurfacing of Gan “ChouD1” Junjie who played for Wings of Aurora in 2013 transferring to Wk.Panda.

Fans of LGD Gaming in Spring of 2014 may also remember the Riven player Fu "Star" Yang who has resurfaced alongside Energy Pacemaker All's Le "2eggs" Xiaotian to compete on Energy Pacemaker.E for a spot in LSPL.

None of these transfers are particularly inspiring, but wushuang and Republic are the most interesting. wushuang has performed well in solo queue and is largely regarded as a positive acquisition. He didn’t display much prowess in NESO. Republic looked much stronger than the team’s previous mid laner, but likely won’t contest some of the LPL giants.

Chinese Rumor Mill

As for ongoing rumors, the prevailing ones at the moment circle around Jian “Uzi” Zihao, the top laners associated with the WE organization, Lee “Easyhoon” Jihoon, and the constant influx of Lee “Duke” Hoseong rumors that never seem to die.

The Uzi rumors are the top story. Some even found their way to Reddit, though the sphere of mythos has already shifted. It’s sometimes hard to take rumors coming out of China completely seriously, so I would advise caution in interpreting some of them. At the moment, the speculation revolves around Uzi’s buyout, which OMG had previously stated is quite sizable.

At the moment, rumors suggest Uzi’s buyout bidding has exceeded the minimum required and has now gone to numbers around 50,000,000RMB ($7,857,929 USD). If you recall from last week, the entirety of Qiao Gu, including LPL spot, players, and staff, is likely to go for 12 million RMB, meaning that Uzi himself would go for four times the price of the team that finished second in LPL this summer.

I can’t remotely validate the rumors of this price—it may even be a joke! The original poster was doubted by others as part of the discussion. It's worth noting OMG had previously seemed very confident that few could afford their buyout, meaning that the number is steep. While this number may not come near $7 million USD, if Uzi is sold, I imagine it breaking the transfer price record for a single player.

The poor performance of LPL teams at the World Championship has significantly raised Uzi’s stock, as he’s made the final for China twice. The rumored bidders are Royal Club, as reddit has seen, and Invictus Gaming. Royal might be the better option since they’re liable to rebuild a team around him, which suits Uzi’s play. Invictus Gaming would be—interesting. RooKie is a very good Lulu player after all, but I’d rather iG build their team around him with a more stable AD carry than break the bank on Uzi. As fans like to say, however, if iG really are involved, Wang Sicong, iG's owner, gets what he wants.

The WE top transfer rumors speculate that Jang “looper” Hyeongseok at least will remain in China and will transfer to the main team, WE, replacing Peng “Aluka” Zhenming, who will go to WEF with Ke “957” Changyu moving to Master3. I’d prefer 957, who may be the best prospect of the three, to remain on WEF rather than go to either WE or Master3. If Yang “OldB” Seungbin remains with WEF, that team could surpass both M3 and WE. If Chen “CjLear” Chen Jianliu, who has been playing jungle for WEF recently, is the starter, then perhaps 957 is better off trying to prove himself on a failing LPL team.

If this rumor is true, it suggests WE acknowledge that Aluka is a problem, which is a small positive sign for fans of the team in 2016.

If China’s forums are to be believed, Lee “Duke” Hoseong is to play top lane for every single team in LPL, just as he was supposed to last split. (Thank you, Sun “XiaoXiao” Yalong, for getting everyone excited for no reason.) Changes may, however, be coming to Najin that might make Duke’s appearance in China more likely.

The most recent rumor has more credibility than the others, as it was a hint left by Young Glory’s manager on weibo. The comment said “Welcome Easyhoon to China?” Since Snake’s manager suggested Easyhoon may be interested in leaving SK Telecom T1 before the World Championship, Easyhoon has been one of the players with the most buzz on the forums. Armanini’s follow-up post mentioned he was “bored” when he left the hint, so it’s not clear if he was merely looking to stir the pot or Easyhoon is coming to China.

A bit of old news still worth writing about

One development that has been confirmed is something I missed while traveling at the end of July. Royal Club’s new coach, Kim “vicaL” Sunmook, has worked with the organization before. In 2014 Summer, vicaL joined Star Horn Royal Club as their Korean coach, and Yoon “Zero” Kyungsup has attributed most of the team’s strategy and teamwork to him. While Siu “Chris” Keung got most of the glory, vicaL floated under the radar.

I’ve promised never to get excited about Royal Never Give Up (ex-King) again, but I’m happy to see a Korean coach acclimated to the scene return and continue to work in it.

Upcoming Events: Preseason Exhibition

The ongoing Tencent Games Carnival will hold an exhibition match between players from Snake, MG owner Liu "PDD" Mou, and LPL casters. At 6 a.m. EST on November 16th, the event will begin with a discussion by professional players and other celebrities of preseason changes. At 6:30 a.m. EST, the match will start.

Team Top Jungle Mid ADC Support
Blue PDD ZZR LoveJY kRYST4L Ella
Red Flandre JoKer U Martin  苦笑

It’s unclear if the matches will be played on the preseason patch 5.22 unless the players are using some version of the PBE, but at the very least 5.21 will show off Kindred while the commentators discuss how preseason changes will affect the game.

Originally, this was supposed to be a showmatch between Vici Gaming and Qiao Gu, but other events, such as Vici Gaming's visits to universities, conflicted.

Kelsey Moser 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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