All six EU LCS playoffs spots are already accounted for with a week and a half still to go. We’ll likely get to that tomorrow, but first I must bring something of grave importance to your attention: the Gamera franchise.
In 1965, Daiei films conceived of a giant turtle monster and launched the film, Gamera, allegedly to compete with Godzilla. Gamera didn’t achieve the popularity of Godzilla, but several Gamera films have been made throughout the years, including the 1995 Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, in which Gamera is conceived of as a creature created to combat a group of three genetically engineered vampire bats.
A new Gamera film is set to launch this year, but after today’s European League of Legends Championship Series matches, I feel I no longer need to watch the movie. Rammus is League of Legends’ own Gamera, fully formed and wreaking havoc. Just as in Guardian of the Universe, Gamera rose in popularity initially to combat a trio of vampire bats (also known as triple AD carry comps), but has since evolved into a superior, occasionally misunderstood phenomenon.
In three victories today, Rammus wasn’t always picked into AD carries. H2K Gaming selected Rammus after a first rotation of Quinn and Kalista, fitting the formula, but Fnatic picked Rammus very early for Noh “Gamsu” Yeongjin, and G2 Esports also selected it before a multi-ADC rotation for Mateusz "Kikis" Szkudlarek, opening it up to counter-picks.
Outside just being able to engage on and punish high AD carry compositions with Puncturing Taunt into Defensive Ball Curl to return auto attack damage, Rammus also has benefited from other changes. Rammus received a few slight buffs in Season 5 that weren’t properly explored in competitive, including: reducing the cost of Powerball andincreasing Armor and return damage to attackers in exchange for a reduction in Powerball collision radius and slow duration.
Rammus also benefits from many sources of Lifesteal in the new Mastery tree as well as many of the Resolve masteries, especially the Grasp of the Undying keystone. It does damage equal to three percent of your maximum health on the fourth attack after you enter combat, and heals for the same amount. Rammus relies heavily on autoattacks to deal damage, and functions as a melee champion. This allows him to heal while attacking in addition to reflecting damage.
More recently, buffs to Sunfire Cape on Patch 6.1 and 6.3 give Rammus more wave clear and armor, making the item a rush. All these factors allow Rammus to enter a fight (using the Tenacity Mastery in the Resolve tree), taunt targets, and clear side waves to split-push semi-effectively. His low cooldown Tremors ultimate also deals damage to structures, making him useful in the turret push meta.
Fnatic’s wrecking ball isn’t Rekkles
In today’s matches, Rammus demonstrated several uses outside simply countering high AD carry compositions. In Fnatic’s quick game against Giants Gaming, Lee “Spirit” Dayoon gave heavy attention to Gamsu’s lane against Lennart "Smittyj" Warkus. Though Giants Gaming didn’t select Fiora until after Rammus came into rotation, getting a lead against Fiora with Rammus became very important for their duels later on. With Kim "Wisdom" Taewan doing almost nothing while Spirit persisted on the bottom side for nearly ten minutes, Gamsu eventually got the significant lead Fnatic wanted.
With this lead, Gamsu was able to secure his Sunfire Cape and engage quickly and easily. He zipped efficiently into fights to create situations for picks. Fabien “Febiven” Diepstraten’s Corki was the show-stealer, but he and Spirit’s Lee Sin also took gap closes to allow them to aggressively dive into a fight. This left Martin “Rekkles” Larsson’s Jhin to take pot-shots from the back line with little peel.
Getting the lead on Rammus early here allowed Fnatic to execute their all-in composition and have an easy answer to Fiora for later scaling. Giants’ draft in general had no response for the early game pressure Fnatic’s composition provided, given the presence of scaling picks like Viktor and Ezreal. Fnatic could roll through Giants’ base behind Rammus for an easy win.
Of course there’s a Sivir
A quiet buff to Rammus I haven’t mentioned is primarily a buff to Sivir. Sivir’s Ricochet bounces are now able to critically strike. This slight improvement will make her terrifying as teams begin to play with her more often, since as she scales, her damage output intensifies. This means teams can begin to run compositions that utilize Sivir’s ultimate for collapses once again.
Rammus synergizes extremely well with Sivir’s On The Hunt, allowing him to get into fights and use Puncturing Taunt more quickly. Though H2K ended this matchup efficiently without demonstrating the full potential of the combination of Sivir’s On the Hunt and Rammus’ Powerball, it gave us a taste. It’s possible that Sivir’s presence made Andrei “Odoamne” Pascu decide to take Legendary Armor over the Swiftness Mastery, though ROCCAT also lacked significant CC to stop Rammus.
Odoamne’s Rammus managed to build Sunfire Cape, Thornmail, and Spirit Visage. The combination of these three items makes playing against Rammus a sensation similar to chewing on gravel. It’s difficult to deal damage to Rammus with all of his armor and his regeneration, then Thonmail and Defensive Ball Curl return damage to attackers. The Spirit Visage also provides additional cooldown reduction (Rammus players tend to build this in rune pages as well), allowing Rammus to spam his buttons more frequently. His 1v2 was truly agonizing for ROCCAT fans.
Rammus, vision and the flank
There’s a reason the EU LCS broadcast chose to interview Kikis following G2’s match against Vitality. Many have given G2 the label of the “team fighting team,” attributing very little strategy to their success. Today, the team’s Rammus effectively demonstrated the kind of game G2 like to play.
Luka "PerkZ" Perković almost always has G2’s mid lane pushed out. This makes him susceptible to ganks, but it makes invade access easy for Kim "Trick" Gangyun. Trick was back to his old tricks today in securing early vision. By placing wards deep in Vitality’s jungle, Kikis could Teleport and create flanking opportunities. G2 continually got picks off Kikis’ fast flanks. Even when Vitality had control of the side waves, G2 could change the flow of the game using a Teleport flank.
As for the Nasus counterpick, there are still a few things we have yet to see. Nasus has underestimated wave clear, and the Azir pick can stop a Rammus flank in grouped situations with his ultimate. Azir often needs set up to fight, and Rammus has more of an ability to get into a skirmish than Nasus. I would like to see this strategy again, but I think the element of surprise G2 could maintain through vision control to set up their flanks, coupled with the speed of Rammus, still ultimately wins out.
Rammus is a top lane pick that has enjoyed popularity in multiple regions, but today’s Rammus games stood out as some of the most impressive. Many situations have aligned for Rammus to come into full swing on Patch 6.4. Like Gamera, Rammus may not be as glamorous as some of the other popular picks that have preceded him in the meta, but he's still going to be big. I’m excited to see what else Rammus has to offer as a frustrating and low skill-cap champion and what strategies teams like Vitality may devise to play against it in the coming weeks.
Kelsey Moser is a Sivir advocate and staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.