Hello everyone ! The International is already over, I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did. Once again ValvE proved the community that their awesomeness has no limit. I don’t want to write about the event today, obviously I will be publishing articles on that topic later on this month… All I can say is how much I was sorry about our performance for the wildcard match. It was a huge disappointment for us, but in a good way. As would Dendi say, it is about learning to stand up again after falling.
As this blog’s aim isn’t (yet?) to share my opinion about the team, the scene or the results, I’ll go back to more in-game related topics ! And the one I want to discuss today is the laning phase.
What is the decision-making process behind the laning phase of the top teams ? What is the best lane set-up and why ? What is the real impact of the lanes setup in a competitive match ?
Before I jump into further details, I’ll just give a quick description of what we, competitive players, call the ‘laning’. Once the draft is over, the 5 versus 5 match-up is final, it is then up to both teams to decide where they want to place their 5 heroes. The importance of those decisions is crucial, as it can heavily one team or the other for the next phases of the game. Here is a quick example : The draft made it obvious for team A & B that they will be facing each other’s trilanes, and have on the midlane and one of the sidelanes a 1 versus 1 matchup. Team A has two solo laners, OD & QoP, Team B has Prophet & Razor. The standard match up would be for OD and Razor to be mid, and Prophet & Qop on the sidelane. That would obviously favor team B, as Razor does great against OD, and same goes for NP vs Qop. But if the laning mindgame allows Team A to have the OD to face Prophet, and the Qop against Razor, then the outcome is completely reversed..
For this article, I tried to classify the different laning styles amongst the top teams. I’ll just start by the first one :
The ALL-IN-LANES style : ( example old : Empire line-up : Goblak, Scandal, Blowyourbrain, Silent, Funn1k, or Liquid nowadays )
This style consists in wining in a very convincing fashion the laning stage. The drafter has almost nothing else in mind when he does the picking. The outcome of it doesn’t really matter, as long as they end up with favorable match-ups in all of the lanes. This kind of team often end up forcing a 3vs3 situation, as the most easy lane wins to predict are the 1vs1 situation. Their 5-man line-up usually do not make lots of sense, as they plan to capitalize on their early game gold & xp lead to extend it. They do not necessarily need to win the three lanes, two are way enough. They even accept to give away small disadvantage on one of those ( trading even on the trilane, or even giving away few kills to the enemy ), as long as their solo laners are doing great. Indeed, they understand that the heroes with the biggest experience on the map are having a perfect game, and their impact later on will most likely secure them the victory.
Strength : It doesn’t allow the opponent to stick to what they had in mind during the draft
Weakness : It relies a lot on early game execution, and requires a total control and prediction of the enemy’s moves in early game
Here is an example of this type of drafts : Razor safelane will dominate the offlane Furion, CW mid is great against a Magnus, and the offensive trilane is very solid. The synergy of the draft as a whole is yet to be determined, but Liquid will capitalize on their strong lane performance to win that best of one.
The RIGHT-BALANCE style : ( example : Alliance )
This style is the most common one, as it also is the safest. It consists in keeping the right balance between solid lanes that can’t get completely crushed and a 5-man line-up that actually allows the team to stick to a pre-defined gameplan. The drafts are then very standard, kind of predictable as well. Depending on how much ‘greedy’ the pick is, the pressure can be reported on the enemy. A kotl + pl pick might force them to try something new, for instance.
Strength : The risk of failing is very reduced, as nothing ‘crazy’ is tried. The pressure is usually on the opponent’s side.
Weakness : Easily readable, wether it is in early, or in mid game.
Very standard Alliance draft, their safelane is very scary : visage / kotl / lancer, not so easy to contest. Clockwerk mid is solid and pretty defensive, and furion is one of the best offlaner in the game. It is quite hard to find a weakness in their laning, and prevent them from farming early on. Nevertheless, the np + kotl + pl combo will allow them to apply constant map pressure and to split farm.
The LANES-DO-NOT-MATTER style : ( Example LGD.cn )
This style almost disappeared nowadays, it is very old school. The main explication for that is that the execution and innovation has highly increased over the past few years. Weak laning is now heavily punished, and the gold & xp disadvantage caused requires an insane level of teamfight execution in order to come back even into the game. The drafter in this case almost exclusively thinks of the 5-man line-up, wether it is to have insane teamfight abilities, or to be able to apply global pressure on the map, etc… The laning is then decided very standardly, farm will be given on the item-dependent hero, xp to the xp-dependent heroes, etc. Usually it ends up with the 1-1-3 laning.
Strength : Stronger mid-game in almost every case
Weakness : The outcome of the early game exclusively depends on the enemy’s moves.
Again, very standard LGD.cn draft. They basically send two melee solos, without even considering the match up they will get. Which almost ensures them to lose two lanes already. Nevertheless, their teamfight and late game potential with the magnus / tidehunter / alchi combination is extremely scary, and will allow them to dominate all the teamfights, even though they play from behind. They will eventually end up wining the game.
It is now up to you to examinate which laning style is the most interesting, some counters each others, etc…
One thing though is common to all, they are predictable. I do miss the NaVi 2012, where no one could ever predict the lanes they would go for. That made them very very strong, and made it so hard for any team to draft against them. This time looks to be over, but maybe it is on its way back, who knows guys =D
I hope you had a nice read, cheers, and see you for the next one!