“I truly believe that Odoamne is one of the best top laners in EUW and will continue to prove that by his performance in the LCS. His ability to adapt from a utility role to a tank role to a hard carry role during the expansion tournament really showcased just how versatile and skilled he was at all aspects of the role. His laning and teleport knowledge are on point, and he will impress a lot of people.
He is probably not only my player to watch for H2K but also could be my player to watch for the entirety of LCS.”
— Brokenshard on Odoamne, Jan. 8 2015
The challenger team of Cloud9 Eclipse was formed with a central idea: gather the best available solo queue talent and form it into something more. The team’s first tournament would be a victory, as they, with the help of their mid laner Febiven’s then infamous Riven, took out the then hyped Gamers 2 squad in the finals. This was the SCAN invitational and it’s significance in European League of Legends history could have ended at the first appearance of the team that would become H2K and the mid laner that would become dominant on Fnatic. Yet it endured a legacy through one pick in particular.
In Cloud9 Eclipse’s debut against Reason Gaming, the draft phase took a turn in the second rotation. Seeing the appearance of Mundo and Shyvana on the side of RG (two of the most sought after hypertank top picks in the meta which should have forced a Renekton pick), C9 brought out the world’s first Trundle pick which went to their top laner. That top laner’s name was Odoamne. Odoamne took a 20 CS lead in lane and went on to end 1-0-4. His ability to steal stats from the opposing tanks made it a perfect counter to Mundo’s build path as well as Shyvana’s Dragon’s Descent. It was innovative. It was brave. It was new. It would be repeated all across the world.
It was Odoamne’s arrival.
The New Rivals of Top Lane
Odoamne spent years with H2K-Gaming before they qualified for the LCS. Huni had no such legacy and no experience in the professional circuit. Coming out of a substitute roster for Samsung and attached to their European wing, Samsung Red, Huni would attract the eyes of Fnatic in the run up to the World Championships while subbing out for Looper during scrims with Samsung White. Supposedly, Fnatic had never been trashed harder than when they played against Huni.
Apparently that was enough. When Fnatic was forced to restructure over the departure of xPeke they knew exactly where to go for their new lineup. Yellowstar supposedly scouted and verified every person for his team, including Febiven who was formerly with H2K, and Deilor, their now revered coach. Each would come to be recognised as one of the best, if not the best, at their role. To much of the general public, Huni is the best top laner, Reign0ver is the best jungler, Febiven is the best mid laner, and Rekkles/Yellowstar are the best bot lane duo in Europe. This is what happens when you’re 12-0.
We’re not here to dispel each of these, just bring an alternative name to the conversation.
Stylistically Odoamne and Huni are far away from each other and if I wanted a more direct comparison/rival to Huni it would be Cabochard. Both are on the same page when it comes to their objective: exert pressure and carry. Given this stylistic similarity even Huni rates Cabochard as the next best top laner in Europe. To do so would ignore the things Odoamne has always brought to the table.
They Don’t Lie
Everybody talks about Odoamne’s flexibility and compared to Huni we are placing a prima ballerina assoluta next to a construction worker. Taking Gnar as a full utility tank, Huni has played 24 games on carries as opposed to six games on tanks. Meanwhile, Odoamne has played 11 games on carries and 19 games on tanks. It is debateable whether Gnar or Cho’Gath could fit in one or the other, but if I changed them around Huni would have only played four games on tanks since his LCS debut.
But what does this matter? Surely this is due to Huni’s role as a carry and a focus on becoming a larger damage threat than Odoamne. Not so. For the summer split, Huni has accrued 545 DPM across his games while Odoamne is in second place at 541. Cabochard is in third at 432, which is over 100 less than Odoamne, a player who spends a large amount of his time on tanks. Granted this split has seen his Rumble come out more often as teams are starting to target the champion pools of his bottom lane, but Huni has spent all but two games on AP carries (those games being on Gnar, a champion that deals exceptionally high damage for a tank).
The damage stats become surprising for those who consider Huni to be a primary damage threat above Odoamne. Though he is a carry, Odoamne holds a higher percentage of his team’s damage output (25.9%) than Huni does (24.1%), and both are again far and away ahead of their next highest opponent, Unicorns of Love’s Visiscacsi (22.4%). When you add these percentages to the fact that Odoamne actually has the lowest percentage of gold share across all EU LCS top laners at 19.9% (discounting the Copenhagen Wolves’ Lenny), Odoamne is an effective and essential tool for H2K. Granted that statistics such as DPM and the like can be conflated with the presence of both of these players in Europe’s Top 2 teams, the final percentages still undeniably show Odoamne as a player that is effective at doing more with less. An EU Koro1, perhaps.
I like to lead with undeniable facts though I am sure these will be left open to discussion by many. Among topics likely to be discussed are how Huni is able to be impactful in Fnatic’s games and many may point specifically to H2K’s last meeting with Fnatic. First let’s discuss why this is. Fnatic are the only team in the west that properly understand lane swaps. Theirs are effective at relieving map pressure away from junglers like Svenskeren who rely on such. Teams like Origen have thrown away the game to the reigning champions in this phase, mismanaging waves and making poor decisions with their swaps which leads to bad objective trades.
H2K are no different. Comparisons have been made between H2K and LGD, but H2K’s lane swapping has historically been quite poor. It is exacerbated by the presence of loulex on the roster, who holds the second lowest kill participation in the league at 60.2% and elevated by kaSing, who holds the highest kill participation of all supports (and fourth overall in the EU LCS) at 75.1%. Fnatic were able to abuse this. Odoamne was denied through and through in their matchup, which allowed Huni to take a comfortable lead. Wave control has always been the great positive Huni held over Odoamne, though arguably it can be a team effort. In the end Huni was able to play out his style.
Huni has one style and one style only: all in. He makes plays and they are aggressive ones. In fact they are the same from behind as they are from ahead, it’s just very difficult to tell because Fnatic are so often ahead due to their near-perfect lane swaps. One of the few case studies we have of Fnatic being behind is their game against Gambit. Cabochard, the rival Huni talks up the most, got priority as he often does on Hecarim. He was able to duel his opponent and push out his lane. Gambit had a lead across the board, only Rekkles truly holding on. In spite of this, Huni still made a teleport play bottom lane in the first 15 minutes reacting to Cabochard’s. He should have cancelled as Rekkles’ fate was already sealed, but he went in anyway and burned his flash/ultimate to retreat.
The game doesn’t get much better as far as Huni’s gameplay goes. He continued to push out the top lane despite having no vision control of the blue side jungle. It is even clear at this point that Diamond and Cabochard are topside too. Huni managed to get two kills off of Diamond and Cabochard’s return push, but this is due to Cabochard deciding to tank half of his health for the turret instead of waiting for another wave to take the brunt of the damage. Had Huni gone in without that circumstance, he likely would’ve died again - though Ekko is rather broken. He was rewarded for Gambit’s poor decision making.
With that reward, he decides to solo invade the jungle and dies again.
Huni was playing as if he and the rest of Fnatic were ahead. Usually he’d be able to push out the topside without fear of reprisal. Fnatic would simply have so much going on elsewhere in the map and be ahead enough that they could comfortably ward as a group (the supportive duo of Reign0ver/Yellowstar would certainly see to good map control). In the end, a lot has to be extrapolated from this one instance as Huni is not often behind in the EU LCS, but it reflects a lot of his mentality — and we also have to remember that Fnatic often ahead due to their super lane swap. Other times have included against MaRin and Koro1 at MSI, where the same binary decision making was also present. Hopefully this will improve or it may be a point of abuse from other teams.
On the other hand, Odoamne always manages to make himself useful, dating back to his time in the challenger scene. From behind he would create openings for his carries to get damage down no matter what the circumstance, such as separating carries for Ryu’s shockblasts against SK Gaming. If he has to snowball an advantage he will do it in conjunction with loulex and kaSing, diving his opponents. He can be a frontline zoning machine and a damage dealing carry on Rumble. He can even be a supportive Lulu or an aggressive Lissandra.
Odoamne can literally be whatever his team needs him to be and he is effective at it.
I am not by any means saying that Odoamne does not have bad games. He does. His wave management is worse than Huni’s and his recent game on Rumble did not rake up a strong KDA and a misguided flash following his Rumble ultimate at the bottom inhibitor almost paved the way for a comeback by the Unicorns of Love. Odoamne is as human as Huni, but they are both irrevocably human, neither the most dominant figure of top lane by a far degree and both debatably so.
So what about Cabochard? Cabochard is the third factor here. Were this article to compare Cabochard to Huni it would pointless as Cabochard, at this point in time, is a worse Huni with a lot of room to grow. Still, he is one of the three best top laners in Europe in his own right. Perhaps Gambit’s recent improvements will let him shine brighter. He was certainly able to give Huni a run for his money in their last meeting.
Odoamne is something different. He is the top laner you pick for the long term. He is the top laner you pick to play whatever it is your team needs played. I have had a lot of flak for repeatedly choosing Odoamne over Huni for my teams. It’s because if I leave Odoamne to 1v1 his opponent and carry, I know he can. If I don’t want to give Odoamne any priority and put him on something like Maokai or Sion, I know he’ll be one of the best Maokai’s or Sions in Europe.
This is what people mean when they say he is versatile. There will come a point where Huni will have to develop his very binary nature into something more. For now he may be the best and he certainly is the best at what he does, but long after his style of play has left the meta and the game has evolved into something else I know I can only count on one thing.
Odoamne will still be there. I cannot, and perhaps maybe never, say the same for Huni.
That is the argument for Odoamne.
Michael “Veteran” Archer is an EU expert and professional writer. He will never say ‘I’ll just write a quick 1,000 word article’ again.' You can follow him on Twitter.
Some of the stats compiled in this article were courtesy of oracleselixir.com.