Dissecting the Draft is a weekly feature that takes an in depth look at how the draft played out and helped shape a series. We’ll examine what went wrong and what went right and how it affected the series and what we can learn.
Fox is on the red side for game one, and again for most matches the common red side bans are Leblanc, Camille and Rengar. Fox changes this up a bit, banning Kha’Zix, Rengar and Camille, but Dignitas bans Leblanc along with Twisted Fate and Jayce.
Dignitas opens with a Varus pick to secure their favoured adc. Fox grabs Rek’Sai, due to the pinched jungler pool, and Zyra. Dignitas picks up Lee Sin, so Chaser can’t be knocked down to his sixth best jungler and pick up Ryze for Keane. Fox grabs Ashe for Keith.
In the second round of bans Dignitas focused on Froggen, banning Anivia and Cassiopeia, while Fox banned out Malzahar and Fiora.
Echo Fox opens here with Corki for Froggen, which is slightly odd. With Fiora and Jayce banned, Ssumday is very likely going for a tank. Fox could have picked Maokai, the best tank, but may have been worried about a Kennen counter pick. Dignitas grabs Maokai and picks up Karma as support. Looper locks in Nautilus to finish the draft.
This was a pretty standard draft and both teams got more or less what they wanted. Dignitas ended up with a stronger mid laner but Echo Fox had the stronger support, so it evens out. I think Dignitas viewed this as their bot lane could win with the worse support, while Keane would need the help versus Froggen, which is likely the right call. I do credit Echo Fox for knowing that Xpecial isn’t comfortable on Miss Fortune, the Zyra counter pick, and thus left it up and unbanned. That’s good scouting. The only other odd choice was Akaadian picking Rek'Sai over Lee Sin. While those champs are roughly on the same tier, his later performance on Lee makes that worth looking into.
This is the draft where the series changed, and while it’s easy to point that out in hindsight, I think there are really obvious lessons to be learned here.
Dignitas is red side and bans the standard three, while Echo Fox counters with Ryze, Varus and Lee Sin, three champions who were incredibly effective against them in game one.
With the first pick Echo Fox picks up Kha’Zix for Akaadian. Dig grabs Rek’Sai for Chaser and Zyra for Xpecial. Fox lock in their entire bot lane with Ashe and Miss Fortune while Dignitas picks up Maokai in the top lane.
I think this is a big win for Echo Fox already. For starters, they’ve got three top tier picks, including a counter pick on support. Secondly, they’ve forced Chaser onto a tank jungler, and Dignitas has locked in Maokai for a second tank in the top lane. While Dignitas will have a huge front line in team fights, they’re now depending on Keane, LOD and Xpecial for almost all of their damage. On top of that, neither Keane nor LOD have their champs yet, and can get targeted in the next bans.
In the second round of bans Dignitas bans Fiora and Jayce, not wanting Looper to be able to get a carry top laner. Fox bans Jhin, knocking LOD down onto a second tier adc and Syndra.
Dignitas opens with an Ezreal pick, wanting to leave the counter pick option open for Keane. Echo Fox lock in Swain, a surprise pick, and Twisted Fate, which they had banned against them last game. Dignitas finishes the draft with Cassiopeia.
This draft was a huge win for Echo Fox for a few reasons. First off they got counter picks in top and support, with the better jungle pick and better adc pick, and all it cost them was a blind pick mid, which turned out to be a Froggen comfort pick anyways. Dignitas meanwhile got the best tank in Maokai, and a counter pick that in mid that wasn’t overly useful. I also think Echo Fox deserves credit for thinking a bit outside of the box. Having useful counter picks like Swain into Maokai is a vastly underutilized resource in professional League of Legends. While Maokai is the better tank, Swain brings a lot more damage to the field, while still being a respectable tank in his own right. Also being unpredictable is a big strength, particularly if you’re the weaker team. Dignitas entire draft relied on damage from the mid and bot lanes, while Echo Fox brought damage from every position. To make matters worse, Echo Fox clearly won the bot lane, with Keith and Gate combining to go 10-0-19 in this game.
Echo Fox is back on the red side and again doesn’t ban Leblanc, banning Varus instead. They do ban out Rengar and Camille though. Dignitas counters with the Leblanc ban, Jayce and Twisted Fate.
Dignitas opens the draft with Kha’Zix, wanting to get Chaser back onto a carry style jungler. Echo Fox picks up Ashe and Zyra in their first round. Dignitas grabs Jhin, stopping LOD from getting banned out, and pick up the Ryze. Echo Fox locks in Anivia for Froggen.
A few quick takeaways here. Echo Fox managed to get Ashe for Keith in all three games of this series. While he was mediocre in the first game, he stepped up big in the last two, finishing with a combined score of 11-1-17. Dignitas needed to do a better job of identifying that Ashe was the pick they wanted. While he wasn’t great in game one, he had the lowest deaths and the highest kill participation of anybody on Fox.
Echo Fox also once again identified that Xpecial doesn’t like to play Miss Fortune. Now either he’s not comfortable on the champion, which is a bad sign and very exploitable, or he feels the Karma shield move speed boost is more useful into dodging potential Ashe arrows, as he did play Karma only into the Ashe. I’m not against Dignitas leaving Anivia up, I think the Twisted Fate ban is probably more useful, but they should strive to get Zyra when they’re giving over Anivia. The zone control of that combo is incredibly strong.
In the second round of bans Dignitas targets the jungle, banning Rek’Sai and Graves, while Echo Fox bans Malzahar and Fiora. Echo Fox then first picks Maokai. Dignitas picks up Nautilus, the next best tank in the top lane, and the Karma pick they forced Xpecial onto. Echo Fox ends the draft with Lee Sin.
I think this was another tactical error from Dignitas. Banning Rek’Sai is fine, but the Graves ban over the Lee Sin ban seems suspect. Outside of the Ashe arrow, Echo Fox doesn’t have a lot of engage unless someone simply walks too close to Zyra, Anivia or Maokai. Considering your team has Karma, Jhin and Ryze, you have just as much poke as the other team, and have a much easier time engaging with Nautilus. If Naut misses his Q you wait a few seconds and try again. If Ashe misses her arrow, you’ve got a much longer wait. By leaving up Lee Sin, you’ve given Echo Fox a chance to create another pick with a Lee Sin kick. Graves gives you none of that utility, and he can only do damage in close, something he’ll have trouble doing with a Nautilus there to stop him.
What did we learn:
I think both teams showed exploitable traits in this series. Dignitas showed a real lack of draft strategy and diversity, giving up the Ashe in all three games, trying to ban out Froggen and failing, and not being able to draft to any major advantage. Over a three game series Dignitas routinely gave up advantages without getting any back on their own. LOD was on a noticeably worse adc twice, Xpecial was on a worse support twice, Ssumday got counter picked or the worse tank twice, Chaser got the worse jungler or got forced onto a tank twice, and Froggen got a comfort pick twice. That’s a lot of losses when you consider their only win was getting Keane on Ryze into Froggen’s Corki, which is still a high tier champion. Again I think it’s worth noticing that Xpecial won’t play Miss Fortune to counter Zyra, either because he’s not comfortable or because he prefers Karma into the Ashe. Dignitas also showed a very structured pick and ban phase, always looking for a similar team comp. While that’s not nearly as big a disadvantage as their other drafting woes, it’s something better teams can really take advantage of.
Meanwhile Echo Fox showed some easy to exploit issues. Keith’s reliance on Ashe, and the teams reliance on Ashe Arrows for engage, show me that’s a champion you really need to take away from him. I think trying to ban out Froggen is pretty fruitless, and banning Twisted Fate or Anivia is probably more effective than banning Cassiopeia. Echo Fox’s worst game was when Akaadian was on a tank jungler in Rek’Sai. While his Kha’Zix game wasn’t nearly as effective as his Lee Sin game, he was far more dangerous on both of those than Rek’Sai. Echo Fox also surrendered Ryze twice and Cassiopeia once, something that’s fine against a lower tier mid in Keane, but could be back breaking against teams with stronger mid laners.
While the Camille support pick will grab the headlines for Echo Fox this weekend, I think the Swain pick is far more notable. While Echo Fox clearly has good players, this is a new team with possible communication issues that have had a lot of trouble finishing games out. Adding an element of unpredictability is a big deal; it’s something the Unicorns of Love have used to be successful for years. At the end of the day you can be better than the other team, be worse, or be different. If you realize that Dignitas is a better team, and being worse isn’t an option, than it’s time to be different, and that’s something Echo Fox used to it’s full advantage in this series, and over this weekend all around.
Post: Dissecting the Draft: Week Two: Dignitas vs Echo Fox