I’ve received quite a few questions on Twitter about my take on Morello’s proposed changes to lesson the “dominance of 2v1 lane swapping.”
Here’s his original post, which I will break down with my experience of watching competitive LoL from around the world:
The quotes in italics below are taken from Morello’s post, followed by my point-by-point responses.
Why do people favor 2v1?
2v1 lanes largely exist to hyper-push and trade towers down, harvesting the global gold and XP to move into a strong mid-game phase early. It has the added benefit of shutting down that lane, but that is less important in this case.
To a certain degree this is true, and fast-push has been an aspect of 2v1 lanes as far back as the MLG Summer Arena nearly a year ago when Blaze played Lulu/Graves. Admittedly, teams began to abuse this more and more in Champions Spring, and quick turret kills became relatively normal.
However, teams adjusted to this style of play and began developing solid counters, particularly CJ Blaze. When Blaze would lose an early turret, they frequently froze lane deep in their own territory and developed a massive minion wave that I called “The Sixth Man.” For an in-depth breakdown, please see my article on the strategy here: http://ggchronicle.com/montecristo-analysis-blazes-slow-minion-push-or-the-sixth-man/
Blaze’s brilliance shines through when you begin to realize that by using this strategy they can actually recover from a dragon/tower gold deficit and, most importantly, concentrate gold/xp onto carries. Dragon/Turret rewards are spread out over the whole team, which may not be optimal depending on a team’s composition or objectives.
Indeed, losing turret with a champion such as top lane Ryze can be advantageous since it makes it much easier to farm and stack Tear on a wave frozen in your territory. It accelerates his power spike and can help the team with Ryze fight sooner than they ordinarily be able. If the team composition possesses solid disengage (Janna, etc.), waveclear (Nasus, etc.), and/or counter-engage (Sona, Varus, etc.), they can hold the other two outer turrets while Ryze freezes. The team that pushed down the tower is denied gold/xp since they can’t farm deep in enemy territory, and the advantage gained from the tower balances out but gets concentrated on Ryze.
Moreover, the freeze can be used to implement The Sixth Man and then counter-push with split pressure across all three lanes. This often results in the team losing a fast tower taking down one or more in response! Pretty cool.
In short, I believe that the ability to run fast-push comps actually increases strategic depth since there are comps that can deal with the pressure and even benefit from it.
What is problematic about this?
This circumvents the laning phase almost entirely. Laning is something that’s really important to the gameflow of League - it gives an area where dueling and small optimizations on your champions are really important, gives players individual agency in their team game, and allows for cool matchups. It’s one of the core pieces that makes League work. 2v1 fast push also creates more a team snowball scenario, as opposed to a personal snowball scenario (team snowball is more problematic).
I actually find the laning phase the least exciting aspect of League of Legends. As a team game, I get pumped up when the actual teamwork gets involved instead of 1v1 + a jungler.
My personal preferences aside, I disagree with the statement that “team snowball” is more problematic than “personal snowball.” With the right champions, like the Ryze example above, team snowball is actually worse than a personal snowball. Blaze is living proof that an ultra-farmed Ryze from empty lanes after an early objective deficit can nearly single-handedly win after 24 minutes.
Most fast-pushes on turrets end up with both teams reacting to push down one outer tower simultaneously, which seems as equal to me as no turrets going down. Given the examples above, it’s still quite possible to win from an early tower deficit with proper team comps and strategy even if you fail in the turret trade.
So what are we going to do?
There’s a version and place where 2v1 lanes are actually even desirable - as a gambit strategy, or to counter a particularly scary lane, etc. If it’s something that can be used, as opposed to something that must be used, it could be healthy.
That being said, the fast-push problem and the tower relationships (along with the rewards) are likely the direction we’re going to attack this from. By making 2v1 less of an inevitable lane win, it opens itself to more counter-strategies like jungler assistance/level differental (this is what moved the game from 2-1-2 to 1-1-2-jungle way back). In short, we’re OK with 2v1 still being used sometimes, but not OK with the objective and team-gold aspects that follow.
As strategies designed to benefit from early turret losses already exist in Korea and have proved effective, I’m afraid that changing the rewards will empower these tactics further. If deep lane freezes become more effective than they are currently, it may actually cause teams to not want to push down turrets for an extended period of time, lest an enemy hyper-carry become incredibly farmed. This will lead to long laning phases and extreme boredom for spectators.
Are you trying to eliminate the strategy?
No, but we are trying to change the incentive structure for it. If used sometimes as a different strategy, or a way to handle someone else’s, then great. If it’s the besty way to snowball global gold into mid game and bypass laning consistently, then it’s a problem. The towers themselves are likely the focus for this.
Sorry for my confusing posts earlier on the subject, there’s a lot of nuance worth discussing on this.
Admittedly, I would like to see some small changes to turret gold/xp, but this most makes me fear for the worst. While I don’t know how long Riot has been ruminating on this problem, it seems suspicious that Morello brings this up after the LCS resumed. In Korean LoL, we’ve seen the fast-push rise in Champions Spring but also face its fair share of counters as teams adapted. Need I remind you that CJ Blaze thrived and went on a 13 game win streak by coming up with answers to fast-push?
(NOTE: Before you say, “OMFG! BLAZE GOT OWNED BY OZONE! THEIR STRAT SUCKS!” please note that MVP ran a strat to abuse their freezing. Dade’s Zed roamed and assassinated targets deep in Blaze territory to prevent their farming. It was a counter-counter strat to fast pushing.)
If the LCS teams were given more time, they too would adapt.
Vulcun has already begun implementing The Sixth Man, as you can see here in their Week 2 game against Curse: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRWLJo4sMs4
While Vulcun does achieve a simultaneous tower trade, they actually would have been fine without it, as they could keep Kennen frozen in top and held long enough for the minion wave to develop. It’s not ideal, but the point is that the counterplay is beginning to develop in NA. I would hate to see 2v1s get nerfed into the ground and see a return to Season 2 lane boredom.
TL;DR: There’s already counterplay developing for the fast-push and I’d hate to see 2v1’s get overnerfed and the game return to Season 2 laning phase hell.
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