In the first week of Patch 8.4 being implemented, there were a lot of unusual changes. In the midst of all these changes, what caught a majority of people’s eye was CLG, a bottom ranked team, defeating the top tier teams like Team Liquid and Cloud9. Although Echo Fox, leading 1st place in the NA LCS, won a game in week 7, this performance from Echo Fox was not like the performance we had seen from them prior. From only a single patch, what could be the reason for these two teams’ performance (CLG and Echo Fox) to have changed so drastically?
¤ Patch 8.4 - The change in snowballing
From top and bot to now the jungle.
From the beginning of the Spring Split, snowballing always originated from the top and/or bottom lane. Depending on the picks/bans, the teams had prioritized which lane (top or bot) would get the most attention for snowballing. From this attention, whichever lane destroyed the first tower gained the upper hand and snowballed.
In a scenario like this, the mid laner did not have much influence in the matter. Due to the jungler warding the map and giving his position away, the mid laners were tasked to clear the wave as fast as possible. In essence, it made it very difficult for mid lane to snowball.
However in Patch 8.4, the removal of Tracker’s Knife made it extremely difficult to spot the whereabouts of the enemy jungler. Inevitably due to this, the jungler’s ability to influence the map skyrocketed. Although the best way to snowball a game prior to Patch 8.4 was to help out the lanes, Patch 8.4 dictated the ability and significance of a jungler to weigh heavily to snowball.
¤ CLG’s jungle focus and Echo Fox’s top lane focus
Two teams that have gotten the most influence from the patch.
Echo Fox was predominantly a team that focused on top and/or bottom to gain their snowball lead. However with the new patch, Echo Fox seemed to have lost one of their core strengths. Because the role of the jungler has changed to more of a carry style format, what was noticeable was that Echo Fox was now forced to play tanks in the top lane.
With the removal of Tracker's Knife limiting the amount of wards a team can place, the jungle gained an easier avenue to influence the lanes. This caused the focus from tank junglers to shift to aggressive junglers that can gank more efficiently. To bring consistency and safety to teamfighting, a team requires at least one tank front liner. Since the jungle had acquired the role of a tank prior to the patch, Patch 8.4 left a void for the tank role and was quickly substituted by a tank in the top lane.
With Echo Fox’s ace, Huni, forced to play tanks, Huni’s impact in the games had been drastically reduced. On top of all this, the once solid and reliable bot lane for Echo Fox started to struggle. With the foundations for the team crumbling, Echo Fox is having a difficult time going into games.
On the other side, CLG always had a tendency to focus the game around their jungler, Reignover. The reason why CLG showed a rather lackluster performance in the previous patch was due to Reignover’s position given away by the wards placed by the enemy team. In instances where Reignover would counter jungler or gank, he would get easily punished.
With the limited amount of wards now in the early game, the current state of the game allows Reignover’s ganking style to shine. Alongside the backup from Huhi’s incredible roaming abilities, CLG was able to actively close out games. With Team Liquid and Cloud9 already beating CLG, it gave more of an emphasis to CLG’s 2 consecutive wins against them. Although CLG is one loss away from their dreams for playoffs, CLG’s chances to make it to the post season is not in any way out of reach when looking at their current performances.
¤ Patch 8.4 - Will it influence the post season?
The key is to adapt to the patch as quick as possible.
By reviewing the first week of games after Patch 8.4, there is a high chance for the list of teams expected to reach playoffs to change within the next 2 weeks. It will be a particularly difficult time for teams with passive junglers to gain the lead. On top of this, it is not simply a matter of getting used to different champions due to the change in snowball focus. It is a matter of who has the most active shotcalling in a team, and the difficulties in changing how a team operates as a whole.
Carrying on this idea, teams with passive or cover focus junglers such as TSM and Echo Fox are expected to have a difficult time. On the other hand, teams with active and aggressive junglers like CLG and Golden Guardians could show a performance very different from their past performances.
However, the variables of a game are not just determined by the jungler. It is also determined by the combination of a team’s performances, and the opponent’s mistakes. Due to the amazing adaptability of pro players, we would just have to wait and see what kind of games will come out from the deciding two week left in the regular season.
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