The 2017 KeSPA Cup ended with KT Rolster netting their first win of the year. As Longzhu entered the ‘Trifecta’ of Samsung Galaxy, SKT T1, and KT Rolster, they marked the new age of ‘Yonko- 4 Emperors’. KT Rolster, the only one among them to not have a league victory, held up their trophy with proud faces.
This KeSPA Cup used the 7.22 preseason patch that was applied on November 8th. It was the first version of the preseason, as the new rune system brought about a ‘cataclysm’. It was also the version that created the meta that favored champions with speed and destructive abilities.
Perhaps that is why teams that focused on early game snowballs and fierce battles had such good results this KeSPA Cup. And the finals were held between the best two teams in that area, KT Rolster and Longzhu Gaming.
There is no doubt that the keywords of this preseason KeSPA Cup were speed and destruction.
#Speed- The peak of quick snowballing through victory in lane
The reason behind choosing speed as the first keyword isn’t solely because the match times were shorter than previous patches. In fact, there were many long games in this patch as well, some even exceeding the World Championship ‘ardent censer meta’ in game time. The second set between MVP and BBQ Olivers took 72 minutes and 50 seconds.
Then why did many fans feel the games were faster paced? It is because 7.22 patch itself favors teams that create snowballs and use it to start continuous aggression that leads to victory.
Kleptomancy’s strength is based on its potential for a quicker snowball
We can see this change in meta through not only this KeSPA Cup, but also in the champions popular in ranked games. Think of Kleptomancy Ezreal, considered OP, or the Kleptomancy Gangplank that more skilled players are using. They can buy items more quickly thanks to their Kleptomancy and Future’s Market, which in turn grants them the ability to gain the upper hand from an earlier time.
The the appearance of champions who have strong trading and laning presence also contribute to the quick pace to the game. Champions who can poke the enemy from afar like Jhin and Varus, as well as Miss Fortune who can use her Double Up ability to win lane trades climbed to top tier. Xerath, who suddenly started to make appearances as a supporter, is based off similar logic.
Both Gnar and Jayce in the Top lane, as well as the Azir back in Mid, are all for similar reasons. They are picks aimed for a victory in lane that will create a rapid snowball. Azir was considered a pick to hold off sieges based off of its strong waveclear ability, but now he is used for the exact opposite reason.
When you apply strong pressure towards your opponents in lane, it usually means that a solid base for a snowball has formed. That’s because the standard procedure for a snowball is through demolition of enemy towers and the vision control of the area so as to pressure the other side. Therefore, having champions with swift waveclear is a key.
More importantly, these champions can also increase their damage with ‘Summon Aery’ and ‘Arcane Comet’. The champions mentioned earlier especially have a good synergy with these runes. Previously there were cases where defensive compositions held on, minimizing losses and pulling off a comeback. In the current preseason, it is much easier for aggressive compositions to achieve their win conditions through one sided trades against a defensive one.
They did lose, but even a late game oriented SKT tries for these compositions now.
Of course, there were situations where a well balanced composition held on and reached the point where they could show off their strength. However, compared to past patches, it took longer to recover from the early game losses- creating the long games we’ve seen in KeSPA Cup.
Then what would be the reason for the heightened tension behind the games that we feel?
#Destruction – a train of unforeseen damage and exciting initiations
Again, we can figure this out by observing the champions we’ve seen recently. Gnar, Gangplank, Jayce, Azir, Jhin, Varus, Miss Fortune, and Xerath- they all have intense burst damage. So much, in fact, that the champions on the receiving end die in a blink of an eye. The game had many moments where the enemy, stunned from the amount of damage coming onto them, was too surprised to react.
Then there must also be a way to retaliate. Gnar, Jayce, and Gangplank all have strong poke but are weak to ganks. Miss Fortune and Jhin also have a lack of survivability in their kits. So, junglers picked champions that were effective for early ganks. Jarvan IV, Gragas, Sejuani, Lee Sin, and Khazix all have strong gank capabilities that worked as a deterrent to strong pushes in lane.
Trades lead to ganks, which can lead to a big teamfight.
They are also glass cannons- strong but immobile, meaning that they are weak to proactive initiations. They are champions that will die, nine times out of ten, if they are jumped upon. So, champions that had strong initiation were also selected frequently. Most of the champions mentioned above can initiate fights themselves. Jhin’s Curtain Call, Varus’s Chain of Corruption, as well as Jarvan and Sejuani’s respective ults are all great tools.
The supports were picked to help these abilities. Leona and Alistar are the main two. They have the best initiation compared to every other support by far. It makes them perfect to chase down the enemy’s immobile damage dealers.
Let us assume a game between these compositions happen. The early game is filled with skillshots flying across the lane. While it may differ per game, they both will push lane proactively, with junglers prowling in the fog of war looking for that early game gank. In the course of all that, the first tower should fall quickly. Then, it is time to jockey for vision. Both sides initiate as soon as they see each other, sparking a teamfight. Amongst the chaotic game, both teams jump in to pick off the immobile cannons of the other, as the glass cannons kite for their lives as they try to put forth as much damage as possible.
Most games of the preseason unfolded exactly this way. Heated damage trades as junglers hurried to gank lanes, with strong initiations as well as the damage dealers trying to find a position that would circumvent all the cc. There is so much more ‘destruction’ in the game.
#2017 ‘Preseason’ KeSPA Cup was fun
Many fans have more fervor for a sport with a quick tempo. Most fans find that intense and fast games are more exciting than slow and clinical ones. Therefore, it is only natural that LoL fans find these chaotic games more appealing than a slow, calculated macro game.
In that regard, I want to say that the preseason brought ‘good change’. In KeSPA Cup, fans had a fun time watching games whether it was twenty minutes or an hour. It is because of the speedy and destructive game style appeared more than ever, even without any assassins.
The preseason is a time where Riot Games decide on the main theme of League of Legend’s next season through continuous patches. If the players have fun playing the new patches, and the leagues do the same, fans build up hype for next season.
And without a shred of doubt, KeSPA Cup was amazingly fun to watch. Among the action packed games, we could see gamers’ reflexes and game sense. Fans were on the edge every moment, grew nervous and happy for their team, cheered, and screamed for delight.
And I too, thoroughly enjoyed this KeSPA Cup held using a preseason patch.