Everything we know to be true about League of Legends ends at Challenger. In Challenger, Viktor never wins. In Challenger, pick comps reign supreme. In Challenger, Riven will be gifted a solo lane in a lane swap. In Challenger, nobody wards against the Rengar and the Rengar ends 1-11. Nothing I have spent a period of my life learning and applying matters in this dark, dark realm and yet the task has been passed to me to explain it all to you.
Denial shouldn’t even be here. They are as a result of a DDOS attack and Riot’s response being their disqualification. Here is a quick rundown of the darkest timeline.
Game of Throws
Rengar is still a solid pick in Challenger. Teams are unable to ward against the feral jungler and it was put to good use in Denial’s first series against Dignitas EU. The Elise ban is of note. Yes, Elise is essentially pick-or-ban in every region right now but the champion affords itself a special place in Kirei’s champion pool. Denial deliver the priority picks thick and fast. Viktor is the highest scaling control mage in the game right now and a great response to all-ins. Braum was made even better by Gamer 2’s Janna ban and on it’s own goes far to counter Corki’s poke. Tristana meant that a split push strategy from Gamers 2 would be all but undone.
In the face of all this, Gamers 2 opt for a ball delivery composition that emphasises split pushing and all-in potential. Needless to say they lost teamfights extremely hard and were unable to capitalise on the split pushing potential of their Riven. Denial rolled over them in the first game and victory was all but assured until CozQ’s Viktor opted to flank around a dragon fight instead of stay with his team and optimise his zoning potential. A fatal mistake that cost Denial the entire game. One near-ace and an extremely messy finale threw Denial down a game with a comp that both could not lose and was winning hard.
Nothing Makes Sense
Let’s talk about Riven. Riven is an effective split pusher whose most obvious flaw is in her dependency on item advantages. To this effect, Riven is best picked against counter matchups like Rumble and in situations where you know you can guarantee a standard lane setup. Here, Riven was picked blind and given a solo lane against Corki in a lane swap initiated by Denial. Gamers 2’s picks in this series were a standard ‘Challenger Killer’ composition, essentially a 4-1 with pick potential, the type that took LowLandLions above and beyond everybody’s expectations last split. This composition works well in the Challenger Series because it relies on the individual mispositioning of opponents and a teams’ strategic inability to cope with a well disciplined splitpush.
The composition is in effect a BM statement of one teams’ estimation of another. Added on to that was such nuggets as Jesse’s decision to rush a completed Phantom Dancer before Infinity Edge and opt for Furor’s Enchantment over Alacrity. Yet despite having a Braum against Corki, Karma and Viktor Denial won fights in the mid-late game and with the scaling of Viktor victory was all but assured. In the end it was SmittyJ’s decision to enchant his boots with Distortion that culminated in a game winning flash play that ended the game with a clean ace. An incredibly AOE stun that melted Denial’s health and their final dreams of LCS.
Comeback into Nothing
Denial didn’t deserve what happened to them. Perhaps having their most powerful champion, Viktor, on their least powerful player, CozQ, was doom from the start, but it is very possible that without DDOS issues Denial would have beaten Dignitas. Had that happened, it is likely they would have beaten Mouz and acquired the automatic LCS spot. What they can do is hold their heads up high.
The world was against Denial this tournament. Even in this game, down to a pick composition that was playing on their mentality, they made every effort to bring the game back in their favour. They picked more intelligently than their opponents and capitalised more effectively on teamfight wins. However one mistake in each game was enough. Denial will end as a story of what could have been, and the victory Gamers 2 take from this could ultimately be a hollow one. They have a lot of work to do before they can take on Gambit or SK Gaming.
Michael “Veteran” Archer is unfortunately an EU writer and analyst who watched these games out of his own free will. He will die with at least one regret. You can follow him on Twitter.