The last we saw of J Team was truly disappointing. The core of Season 4 TPA players led by fervent mid lane talent FoFo sustained not a single BO2 loss in Summer 2016. The lineup abused meta picks, Gangplank and Jhin, and dominated the league with early-game laning and late game scaling. The lineup was meant to have Worlds aspirations, but as the playoff gauntlet and Worlds qualifier arrived; J Team faded. 0-3 against Flash Wolves in the LMS Summer Final and 2-3 against Machi 17 in the Worlds qualifier halted everything.
Fast-forward to the present and it’s fairly clear that J Team’s dominance was a bubble bound to pop. LMS teams handed it everything they wanted and J Team took every advantage in stride. In a brand new meta, it’s somewhat difficult to predict how J Team will interact with foreign teams at IEM, but there are still a few things to note for J Team at this event.
FoFo’s International Debut
The MVP of LMS Summer 2016 was the hottest mid laner in the league and although he simmered down toward the end, he still has much promise. During the regular season, FoFo was the first mid laner to really hold down Maple in over a split. His lane control and pressure is what allowed for J Team’s lane snowballing tactics to prosper during the regular season. Mid lane turret was almost always whittled and resulted in J Team having the highest 1st Mid tower rate at 75%. It’s disappointing that FoFo went missing when it mattered most, but IEM is the chance to find himself again, in front of the eyes of many.
The current mid laners of choice play heavily into FoFo’s champion pool. When he debuted, his go-to picks tended towards Ryze, Leblanc, and Ekko. While Ekko is far more niche, Ryze and Leblanc are terrifying mid laners on the current patch and will certainly be high priority picks for J Team. Pobelter and potentially Crown will be stiff opposition for FoFo regardless of what champion he gets, but if he can play to his Summer form, should hold up nicely.
BeBe’s Return to the International Stage
Bebe has always been a solid AD carry and proved in 2016 that he is far from washed up. In 2016 Summer, Bebe made a case for himself as the best AD carry Taiwan had to offer, similar to the reputation he held in Season 3 and 4. If not for his brief hiatus in Season 5, he may be remembered more fondly in the League of Legends community. He isn’t necessarily the AD carry that won the Season 2 World Championship, but his current form can at least weather the storm of great AD carries, unlike NL and AN who get vaporized.
Bebe brings a healthy amount of experience against IMT, as the team has recently signed highly esteemed rookie AD carry Cody Sun. Bebe and Jay have laned together for years so playing against a rookie AD with an unconfirmed support should play into their advantage.
Can Achie actually jungle?
Achie has long been a solo laner in the Taiwanese scene, having played top lane on the S4 Taipei Assassins and mid lane on S5 meme-team, Assassin Sniper. While his play top lane wasn’t poor, it wasn’t anything to get excited about. His mid lane play dazzled in his comeback season however, as he thrived in the meta of Varus, Azir, and Viktor. As far as Jungle experience goes, he’s only played a handful of games at the position, failing to be impactful on S5 Assassin Sniper and 2016 Spring Taipei Assassins.
Much like J Team’s current top laner Morning, Achie doesn’t thrive in situations where he has to make the first move for his team. This is why his transition from Top to Mid was so successful, while his transition from Mid to Jungle was fairly poor. Considering the current jungle pool of Lee Sin, Elise, Rek’sai, and Graves, it’s hard to see Achie being aggressive at all. He’ll probably end up being more of a farm-bot that contributes in teamfights than an actual jungler. This doesn’t bode well for J Team against a jungler like Dardoch or Ambition, but Graves may serve as a decent enough heel.
J Team's performances in the LMS Summer Split were great, but clearly flawed. Regardless, it's difficult to expect any replication of such performances with Achie manning the jungler position for J Team. This LAN isn't one that J Team should win, given the competition. It's one for the team to seek a new direction and hopefully give players like FoFo and Bebe the chance to show themselves on an international stage.
Photos Courtesy of Garena, Riot, and J Team