Amumu was a highly anticipated pick going into Worlds 2021. The champion looked very strong both on its own and paired with Miss Fortune, the most valued ADC pick at Worlds so far. The swap to support was a weird one for the champion, but the change to his Q has made him a great fit for the role. Or so it seemed before Play-ins.
Now, Amumu has ended Play-ins with an abysmal 27.3% win rate and while the champion clearly has strengths, it appears that teams have a hard time accounting for his weaknesses. Two days into the group stage, Amumu has been banned three times and picked zero times in 16 games. Is Amumu just a bad pick, or is there a key to success with Amumu that players are missing?
Off to a rough start
Amumu’s early game is really, really strong. In theory. In practice, this is where most players seem to be throwing their lane. While Amumu’s double bandage toss is great for locking down the opponent, the champion itself lacks the tank stats other support champions have. Unless Amumu succeeds at all-inning the enemy, he’s pretty much guaranteed to die. Even in games where Amumu wins, players at Worlds so far have tried and failed to take advantage of his level 1 power.
Here, Oh "Vsta" Hyo-seong tried to go for a big play at level one. He all-inned Chiu "Doggo" Tzu-Chuan, including the use of both summoner spells and both Qs. Chu Wu "Kino" Hsin-Jung easily peeled Vsta away, and they fired back for first blood. Starting Vayne’s W for the extra true damage was a smart move from Doggo, but it’s still a mistake from Vsta nonetheless.
HLE still crushed this game (largely due to BYG’s sudden roster troubles), but this early blunder would have been crushing against the right team.
Enter Cloud 9.
With what was more of a Bandage Throw than a Bandage Toss, Philippe "Vulcan"Laflamme managed to live through getting engaged on by DFM’s bot lane only to Q back in and die. Yikes. As I’m sure many of you know, C9 lost this game (in no small part due to their bot lane being behind) and were forced to play through a best-of-5 to keep themselves afloat at Worlds.
It seems like level 1 engages are far too predictable to work in pro play, and Amumu’s level 2 is outright worse than most meta supports because of how heavily he leans on Bandage Toss. He has a strong early game*, with an asterisk that bears a ton of caveats and weaknesses somewhat unique to Amumu. He’s a champion who’s been shoved into a new role because of one buff, and it shows. With power spikes that differ from other support champions, it can be difficult to adjust for players so used to other hard-engage champs.
Early game aside, what do people really pick Amumu for?
The big circle diff
Amumu’s kit is archaic in comparison to modern champion designs, even in the support role. Where a new support champion like Rell has abilities that have their own unique strengths and weaknesses in certain situations with complex interactions and counterplay, Amumu has Bandage Toss, a circle with toggle, a circle that does damage and has a passive, and big circle that stuns. He’s essentially three circles and a skillshot.
However, a simple kit doesn’t mean simple decision-making. A good Amumu ult can save a losing game or secure the win, while a poorly-placed ult can render the champion next to useless in late game teamfights. Fortunately, with how big Amumu’s ult is, it’s pretty damn hard to miss.
Here’s Vsta taking advantage of PEACE’s poor positioning going into this jungle fight. While Vsta didn’t land some sort of massive five-man game-winning Amumu ult here, it’s important to note where he used the ult and why.
Vsta positioned to prepare for PCE’s attempt at closing in on Chovy and Willer in the jungle. Because of how spread out PCE were, it was easy for Vsta to keep the enemy spread out.
Vsta’s ult only hits two targets, but it zoned all five members of PCE. They were already far behind in this game, but the rest of PCE were too afraid to walk into Amumu due to how oppressive the massive size of his ult can be. Fear is something Amumu players use to their advantage. He doesn’t have a literal fear in his kit, but considering how well Amumu can lock people down, he might as well have one. From ahead, Amumu makes comebacks almost impossible for the enemy team.
From behind, though? He can make fights happen, but his engage isn’t nearly as effective. This is true to some extent for every support champ, but the one-and-done nature of Amumu’s AoE CC means that being behind really hurts. On top of that, Amumu isn’t the best pick for every team composition.
Back to C9’s game against DFM, Vulcan did manage to play around Robert "Blaber" Huang and get back into the game. He wasn’t behind before this fight. Sure, Vulcan and Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen were able to get the MF/Amumu ult combo onto two targets. What else is there in C9’s composition to be afraid of? Getting slept by Zoe? Empowered Q from Jayce? An axe from Olaf?
It doesn’t help that the rest of C9 weren’t close enough to do anything meaningful off of Vulcan’s engage, and Vulcan immediately died after getting his CC chain off. Again, Amumu has one use as a champion. He can’t get out, and he can’t bulk himself up if he gets collapsed on. Amumu goes in, and he (usually) dies. What the team does to follow up his ult and whether they can win the fight off his ult tends to be out of the Amumu player’s hands after the initial CC chain.
Amumu can’t be shoved into a lane with MF and be expected to win the game for his team. Perhaps if Luka "Perkz" Perković picked Yone or if Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami picked Malphite, C9 would have had a better shot at taking down DFM and making NA a little less of a meme. C9 needed a teamfight champ that could really take advantage of Amumu’s setup, but they locked in MF assuming she’d be enough. She clearly wasn’t.
I think we’ll see more Amumu as Worlds goes on. However, his strength as a hard engage support with a ton of chase comes with fragility and inconsistency. It’s very possible that we’ll see the top teams utilize this champion well with better drafts and a higher level of coordination once we hit the Group Stage. For now, though, Amumu seems like a strong champion whose potential hasn’t been reached yet on the World Stage.
Carver is an esports journalist and analyst who specializes in Eastern League of Legends.