Shen has been gaining momentum since his buff buffet on Patch 5.11, but the advent to AP items has made him paramount on 5.13. Shen appeared in four games in the European LCS today, and it’s time to give him his due.
With changes to AP items, the meta game in competitive play may trend toward more of a burst and anti-burst escalation game. Though Needlessly Large Rod changes make the item slightly less efficient for the AP it gives (1600 gold for 80 AP is cheaper per point than 1250 gold for 60 AP), the change made hitting mid game spikes faster. If AP champions look to build big ticket items and scale into late game, they'll have less of a power trough.
On top of that, a lot of big ticket items like Seraph's Embrace and Rabadon's Deathcap scale better for a little extra gold. This makes individual item slots more efficient for AP champions in the late game.
AP champions get less of a power curve as they build powerful late game items and more burst potential. This might cut out some weaker tank champions, but those with more benefit from stacking health or shielding reign supreme. Shen's passive and healing scale with building more health items, making him extremely attractive. Add in champions like Nidalee or Alistar with changes to Spirit Visage healing, and Shen benefited indirectly from 5.13 after an already long string of buffs.
Burst is better, so anti-burst is better. Not only does Shen come with his own shield and sustain, but he provides an ability to shield a teammate from anywhere else on the map. Picking Shen will protect your own assassin or hyper carry against an onslaught of burst damage. Even if the enemy team brings a lot of area of effect damage, sometimes protecting one carry is all you need.
I didn't even mention the crowd control and damage mitigation. Or the split-pushing with Trinity Force, which I'm sure we'll see used to great effect — just not today.
Today's European Shens put a great deal of his usefulness on display. From Odoamne's carry Shen to nRated's support, this pick demanded a closer look.
Ryze has been a menace. Patch 5.12 put more of his power on his Overload rather than Rune Prison, so it's hard for him to completely destroy his opposition at early levels. This gives Shen enough time to scale his healing and his shield to deal with him in the mid and late game. With pressure on the top side of the map, Odoamne and loulex could effectively shut down Werlyb's Ryze and give Odoamne the momentum to take over the rest of the game.
Shen also worked very well with Kalista's back line engage. Throw in an Alistar and follow up with Shen for oppressive lock down. Ryu's Ahri could maneuver easily through the enemy team without interference, and his 14 kills are a true testament to how easy H2K's composition made taking this game.
There's only one perfect champion in League of Legends, and her name is Sivir. Every other champion will lose games on occasion, even Shen.
It might be rude to say that even Copenhagen Wolves' Lenny found a way to have a positive game impact on Shen, but he did when he's otherwise looked completely out of his element. Shook and Lenny looked to replicate the magic of Odoamne's snowball, and Lenny grabbed an early kill and assist.
Copenhagen Wolves' composition seemed to revolve around individual shielding to counter-act the damage from Elements' composition rather than building Aegis of the Legion. They probably still should have built Aegis, but that wasn't the reason they lost.
Elements' real advantage came from avoiding the all-in setup Copenhagen Wolves' came with. Shen couldn't use the counter-engage power from his ultimate or his global pressure if Elements didn't force a lot of fights until they'd managed to slowly strangle and outscale. A few scuffles here and there went in Copenhagen Wolves' advantage, but Elements knew what they were doing and avoided the Shen and shield composition.
I want to make it clear that I in no way condone the use of Shen support.
Today I'll make an exception.
Top lane Shen is better than support Shen in almost every instance. Shen scales well with health stacking, and health stacking isn't typically something support players do outside Sightstones and the slightly-nerfed Righeous Glory. In the late game as a support, Shen can easily be eliminated, and that's something H2K's Kasing demonstrated previously.
The best time to pick Shen is if you know you don't want to play it top, but you want to deny it. Rumble isn't the best matchup for Shen overall, though he isn't terrible. Unicorns of Love picked Rumble after Shen, and Svenskeren likely knew his attentions would be more focused on seeking and destroying Gilius who is notorious for predictable jungle pathing.
To make the support pick work better for SK Gaming, nRated has fallen on his face completely playing any champion other than Lulu. Naturally, Unicorns of Love banned Lulu. nRated seemed capable of locking down targets easily with his Taunt, so it's hard to criticize the pickup.
It's worth noting that SK Gaming snowballed completely out of control. The Nidalee pick has become top tier once again with buffs to Runeglaive and Seraph's Embrace. Svenskeren demolished SK Gaming's old substitute jungler, and nRated played his role. The Lulu-only win record is dead, and nRated has Shen and Sven to thank.
Shen of the Day: Cabochard and the poke-and-heal comp
When Gambit and Origen finished their draft, I found myself appalled. Not only are Shen, Nidalee, Jayce, and Alistar top tier picks in and of themselves, but they synergize incredibly well together.
Building Spirit Visage is an absolute must for Shen in this composition, as the changes on 5.13 make him benefit from outside healing, including Nidalee and Alistar. With his own healing and the abilities of his compatriots, he becomes effectively unkillable in the late game.
That didn't get to the point where it mattered. Gambit could only really struggle with this composition if they didn't get ahead early, and Diamond made a point of making his presence felt. Nidalee's high mobility allowed him to control the map well, and the global presence of Cabochard's Shen added to his power.
I've already covered the power of Jayce at length, and his poke synergy with Nidalee makes sieging straightforward. Alistar's all-in or lockdown in conjunction with Shen makes it easy to lane single-target spears and Shockblasts. Shen can also follow-up Nidalee on an assassination dive with his ultimate to keep her safe to destroy.
The only "bad" champion on display was Lucian, but all he really had to do was follow up with ultimates. This was one of FORG1VEN's lowest damage games relative to his teammates, and he managed to find success taking a backseat to his solo laners.
Besides, it's FORG1VEN's Lucian.
Even if Gambit didn't necessarily get to show off the full extent of the brokenness of their composition, it was fantastic conceptually. I doubt they'll get to run it again if their opposition thinks it through, but today they took home a well-deserved win.
As a side note, there wasn't a Shen in the Fnatic vs ROCCAT game, but Huni destroyed Steve's Rumble with Riven. Just another day in the European LCS.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. She can't write about Sivir if it's banned. You can still follow her on Twitter.