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IWillDominate unchained: life after Voyboy

by Kelsey Moser Feb 6 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of Damian Estrada / theScore

It’s impossible for two players to play together as much as IWillDominate and Voyboy have without influencing one another. IWillDominate and Voyboy played on two major teams together: Dignitas and Curse. On both those squads, at their peaks, Voyboy received the most attention and scrutiny as a core playmaker. In game, despite Dominate's more heavy farm, carry-oriented style, the jungler often appeared to be the player to adapt to his solo laner's needs.

With Voyboy departing competitive League of Legends as Curse becomes Team Liquid, he's left the playmaker role open. It's Dominate's time to shine, but the question becomes whether or not he can fill the void after playing second fiddle.

Voyboy

When one makes the claim that Voyboy was the primary playmaker for both Team Dignitas and for Team Curse, it's not to say he was their best player. Especially during his time as Curse's mid laner in 2014, cases can be made for Quas, IWillDominate, and Xpecial being superior to Voyboy in many regards. Rather, Voyboy has taken risks on every team for which he's played to get advantages and carry. As a player, his style forces him into the center of attention and requires those around him to adapt.

Voyboy has never been known to play a more supportive style. His overall records in major tournaments on supportive tank champions like Malphite or Shen are either negative or nonexistent. Sometimes he would receive criticisms for a shallow champion pool as he only ever achieved notable success on high risk, high reward carry champions like Akali or Lee Sin. 

Both as a top laner and a mid laner, Voyboy's most successful periods have featured IWillDominate as his jungler. On CLG, his disconnect with HotShotGG and lack of follow-up from him team resulted in poor results for the squad. Arguably, he had some success on Curse with SaintVicious, but it has been IWillDominate who has seemingly moderated his own style for the sake of Voyboy's success.

At one point, I remember watching Scarra's stream in Season 2. He remarked in passing that he and Voyboy constantly counter-jungled their own jungler on Team Dignitas, farming camps perhaps more than other solo laners in League of Legends. In his "Reflections" interview, Dominate recalled that he ended up playing Dr. Mundo at one point so that Voyboy could start with the first blue buff. In his Curse Five for Five interview, manager LiQuiD112 referenced IWillDominate's centering personality as a counter-balance to Voyboy's tendency to "get hyphy."

In 2014, when Voyboy began to make strides as a mid laner and improve in his style with Yasuo, he demanded an increased proportion of Curse's gold in the second LCS split. IWillDominate took the largest hit to accommodate the change in resource allocation.

A good case can be made for Voyboy owing his success to IWillDominate's follow-up or lane pressure getting him advantages outside just accommodating him in champion picks and resources. They're not often touted as such, but Voyboy and Dominate might be one of the most notable duos in North American League of Legends history.

Without Voyboy

While a lot Voyboy's playmaking on Dignitas and Curse came with the assistance of IWillDminate in his jungle, it's harder to make the argument that Dominate's brightest periods have been with Voyboy as a solo laner. Even with Crumbzz as a top laner in transition, Dignitas at the end of Season 2 was a top two North American team. In the Regional Semifinals that won Dignitas their Worlds spot, IWillDominate was able to play the heavier farm jungle style at which he excelled, and most of Dignitas' advantages over CLG came as a result of making plays in the jungle as Udyr. 

Even their primary Group Stage Season 2 Worlds strategy revolved around Patoy, Dignitas' support, roaming alongside Dominate. Before his ban came, Dignitas had begun to revolve around IWillDominate as a primary focal point and playmaker.

Beyond this brief stint, IWillDominate doesn't have much of a track record at the top level of play in North America without Voyboy. Despite his heavy farm style and supposed preference for carry junglers, IWillDominate's greatest career successes still come from making Voyboy stand out. His unique ability to adapt to Voyboy's risky playstyle and champion pool mark him more than his own identity in the jungle.

Filling the Voyd

Voyboy's departure from Team Liquid once again removes his squad's focal point and primary playmaking force. Many players on Liquid stand out as candidates to replace him. Xpecial has excelled as a mechanically strong support with initiative to roam or control the lane. Though Quas has mainly been solid and reliable, he has a brief history as a flashy playmaker on one of his Challenger teams, Gold Gaming Los Angeles, and shares some of Voyboy's penchant for playing offmeta carry picks in the top lane. Even Piglet (or Keith) and Fenix seem to have the mechanics  or have, in the past, shown initiative for the job.

In the first week of the North American LCS, IWillDominate stepped up. In Liquid's games against CLG and Team Impulse, Dominate came out with an impressive 13.67 KDA and set up most winning opportunities for his team with Absolute Zeros on Nunu and Cataclysms on Jarvan IV. At the end of those games, even with powerful lanes at his disposal, IWillDominate looked like he would finally get a chance to fulfill his carry impulses as the new playmaker of Team Liquid.

That all unraveled in week two. Against Cloud9 and Team SoloMid, IWillDominate, and everyone else on Team Liquid struggled to have any impact on the overall game. IWillDominate, while very active in week one, couldn't snap into action. When he did show up, he typically died without landing a kill or an assist and ended the week with a dismal .43 KDA for his two games.

The question for IWillDominate now becomes whether he can still play the carry jungle style to which he has historically appeared inclined. After playing for so long as Voyboy's complement, perhaps supporting his teammates has become more natural than making his own moves across the map.

There's evidence to suggest that two players sharing significant portions of their careers can be formative. In the example of Chauster and Doublelift, it's possible that Doublelift will never again reach the same heights he was able to hit with Chauster as his support simply because he got used to a specific style. Edward Gaming's Clearlove has similarly had to learn how to apply map pressure in the absence of his roam-heavy WE mid laner, Misaya, with very mixed success.

The 2015 NA LCS will forever color how we chronicle IWillDominate's career. The weeks ahead will dictate whether he really can dominate or if his true claim to fame will forever be his ability to elevate Voyboy above his baseline.

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports; her middle name is Aron. Follow her on Twitter.

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