The last time we took a look at duos raging through the competitive ecosystem we saw Sejuani and Braum, a tanky tandem that could dish out abnormally large amounts of chain crowd control across multiple targets. They were also a good setup to protect hyper carries and splitpushers alike.
As patch 7.16 comes upon us, they also took a backseat to a new emerging combination among pro players and teams. Tristana and Cassiopeia, AD carry and mid laner respectively, have the strength to completely carry teams to victory on their own. This isn't just through raw damage either, as both champions have access to a number of things that make them a stable and powerful scaling carry duo for teams.
The combination of Cassiopeia and Tristana can provide some of the best carry potential of any mid and AD carry duo in the game. Cassiopeia has a strong consistent damage source through Twin Fangs and better burst damage through her ultimate. Tristana, as well, has an attack speed steroid and scales well with critical chance as a result. She also has her own reasonable set of burst damage through her E and ultimate.
This carry potential also generates itself through ways in which the duo’s positioning can change, allowing them to get kills and escape sticky situations. Tristana has reset potential through her Rocket Jump, while Cassiopeia has great repositioning ability through her Q’s bonus movement speed and her passive, which allows her movement speed to outscale her opponents with boots.
Beyond all this, the duo has no real drawbacks in the laning phase. Cassiopeia has great laning through her aggressive level one Twin Fang to show dominance, while Tristana continues the trend of AD carries who can aggressively push in waves to get priority. As well, Tristana has great all-in potential against many meta AD carries, including most notably Kalista and Varus.
Even with all of this, it still doesn't cover just how aggressively good they are at taking objectives together. On towers, Tristana can hit her Explosive Charge unencumbered, allowing her to siege down towers incredibly quickly. This is explicitly because of the zone control provided by Cassiopeia, who completely nullifies any attempt to engage onto the sieging threat of Tristana.
On objectives such as Dragon and Baron, the two burn it down incredibly quickly, thanks to ridiculous damage per second through empowered Twin Fangs and Tristana Q plus her attack damage and stacking critical chance. If left alone, and especially with Mountain Drakes, they will take seconds if not milliseconds burning down the large creatures.
When this duo is ahead, the amount of peel and zone control they provide onto targets trying to get their way is immense. This is even without a frontline, where they can stall targets with a grounded spell, an area-of-effect stun, and a long knockback.
As shown in this series between Misfits and Unicorns of Love in the EU LCS playoffs, Hans Sama extends his lead in the bottom lane by being able to constantly jump onto targets, while PowerOfEvil casually does the most damage in the game at 31 minutes despite a 1/0/0 scoreline. This lead and scaling eventually gets summed up by a Hans Sama pentakill into a Misfits victory.
Even when behind, this duo is dangerous and pumps out enough consistent damage per second to be relevant in the mid to late game stages. From 24 minutes on, CLG takes control of the match against EnVyUs where they are able to bully a major tank line like Cho’Gath, Nautilus, and Galio, despite their ability to close the gap. This consistent damage allows CLG to completely outscale the attempted snowball by NV.
This combination, while stable, has some issue against very long range champions, though those aren't in the meta thanks to the plethora of engage available to tanks to jump onto champions from afar. As long as poke-related compositions are kept down by the meta, this duo will continue to thrive accordingly.
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.