Link: Brainstorming Shadow Isles Comps (discussion thread)
Behold the plight of the Shadow Isles!
The first Balance of Power hasn’t been posted yet, but I can informally confirm that it’s not looking very good for the Isles. (Though this isn’t adjusted for skill gaps and the like just yet, their raw winrate is less than ten percent.) They have a decidedly non-meta roster, clearly inferior for running a standard solo-queue comp. I strongly suspect that, this being early in the arc, the Isles are running into trouble because they’re trying to play a by-the-book teamcomp with a roster that simply isn’t capable of supporting one.
Though most factions only really begin to shine when their players learn their particular strengths and weaknesses, many have at least passable success rates when deploying an essentially “meta” teamcomp. Not so with the Shadow Isles. The Isles have one of the most bizarre rosters in all of Factions, and the evidence so far indicates that trying to run meta comps falls flat just about every time.
Crittlesticks has just not been working out. But please don’t take it out on him: he’s already pretty sad that nobody showed up for his birthday party. He has tried teaching his crows to wield tiny bows, but so far has met with little success. Demacia steadfastly refuses to share Quinn’s secrets of avian archery.
I strongly suspect that, when the first Champion-pickup opportunity comes around, SI Summoners will go straight for Urgot. But even before then, might there not be a strategy that works better for the Isles than trying to follow the solo queue strategy?
“What is an ADC? A miserable pile of DPS!”
The elephant (not) in the room is that the Shadow Isles do not have an ADC. Here’s an overview of why I think ADCs are “a thing”, from my scrub perspective.
- ADCs provide lategame power. Mathematically speaking, ADCs have the steepest DPS-per-unit-gold curves of any class. This is why ADCs are such KSing primadonnas. (Can you tell I main mid?) AD multiplies AS multiplies Crit multiplies ArPen to produce arguably quartic (or at least cubic) scaling. However, this also means that they’re exceptionally weak early on.
- In contrast, mages typically rule the midgame. Supports have a fairly “constant” power trend: Ashe’s autoattack scales on items dramatically more than Blitz’s hook does.
- Takeaway: SI is very likely to lose a “farmfest” match that goes late. Their window of opportunity is the early game and midgame, when the Champion they’re fielding in place of an ADC is significantly stronger than the enemy ADC. Ever seen an all-support team win in solo queue? I have. How? Nonstop early aggression, when all that non-scaling power overwhelms enemy Champions who need gold to ramp up.
- ADCs provide sustained DPS at range. ADCs deal primarily autoattack damage. Autoattacks are not nearly so cooldown-limited as spells are, and ADCs can put out a steady stream of damage for as long as they like. They also do it from a distance, which allows them to pelt enemies during the pre-teamfight positioning dance.
- SI does have some Champions, like Nocturne, who can put out a lot of sustained physical damage from melee range. Once the fight gets going, SI’s physical DPS might match or exceed the other side’s.
- Takeaway: The longer a standoff between SI and another faction goes on, the worse SI will do. SI wants to dive in and get the fight started ASAP, before the ADC can chip away their health.
- ADCs provide physical damage. Even on an otherwise all-magic team, a fed ADC puts out enough physical DPS that the enemy can’t get away with just buying stacks of MR.
- Takeaway: SI needs to be sure to bring at least some physical damage, or else the enemy can simply buy Negatron after Negatron and shut down their damage.
There’s a good reason why teams run ADCs. However, by understanding why ADCs are important, and further in what situations ADCs are most valuable, Summoners may be able to work out some strategies to nullify that advantage, and exploit ADC’s weaknesses (such as lower early-game power).
The Shadow Isles also do have some unique strengths, such as a large number of junglers.
A Few Ideas
Here are some examples of strategies that SI Summoners could try. Some of them can be combined with others.
- Kill lane. Run a mage or fighter in the bot lane with Thresh. Beat down on the enemy ADC with stacking CC. Use SI’s diverse jungler lineup to get lots of lane kills. Force the ADC out of lane and disrupt their farming.
- All-in AoE. When teamfights happen, fight as five and don’t waste time dancing around. Designate an initiator. Combine Crowstorm (and Fiddle’s MR-shredding passive) with a Karthus AoE lightshow. Use Hecarim to force fleeing enemies back into the mayhem. (I really wish they still had Maokai, but his new lore makes it really hard to justify him fighting for the Isles.)
- Melee ADCs. Don’t underestimate the power of a Champion like Nocturne to dish out sustained physical DPS. Unlike a ranged ADC, however, he needs a hard engage and support from his team to do so, as he can’t just plink away from a safe distance.
- Double jungle. If any roster can pull it off, SI can. Consider running two junglers, combined with a durable solo laner in bot who can play it safe and keep the tower up. Counterjungle the enemy to oblivion and take their camps.
These are just my random scrub ideas, of course, provided for purposes of stimulating discussion. Speaking of discussion, read on for more.
Participate in the Discussion
I invite all Shadow Isles Summoners (or even just interested theorycrafters) to participate in the current r/leaguefactions discussion thread about formulating good SI team comps. It’s sufficiently interesting that I’ve stickied it.
Not a member of Reddit? Scared by the Reddit interface? Pshaw. It takes literally less than a minute to sign up. If you’re willing to sign a dark pact with necromancers like Karthus in the pursuit of unholy power, you can deal with learning to use a new discussion interface. I’m fairly sure that sacrificing your soul to Reddit is still optional.
This sort of community theorycrafting is, in my opinion, one of the most fun aspects of Factions. Let’s see what the Isles can come up with.