In Game 5 of just the first day of World’s 2017 Group Stages, Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines came out the gates swinging with an incredibly innovative draft and game plan to take down Europe’s Fnatic.
Here is our step-by-step analysis on how and why this worked so well against Fnatic.
Strategy #1: Lane swapping the top and bottom
Why? It’s a well-known fact that as a player Minh “Archie” Nhựt Trần would be an exploitable weakness for the Marines. In a group where he has to go up against top lane greats like Paul “sOAZ” Boyer, Lee “Flame” Ho-jong, and rising star Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, this was extremely detrimental to Gigabyte Marines’ chances.
How? With the changes to turret protection making the top lane turret harder to take down with damage reduction in the early stages of the game (for the very purpose of deterring lane swaps), the Marines had to strategize around this change to make their plan work. They drafted one of the fastest-pushing combinations in the game using Tristana and Lulu. The former champion is one of the fastest turret breakers thanks to her Explosive Charge and attack speed steroid Rapid Fire, while the latter is one of the best wave clear supports thanks to her Glitter Lance skill.
With that winning combination, they had the top side of the map sorted out. For the bottom side of the map, they drafted Galio (who has significant waveclear abilities even at level 1 with Colossal Smash and Winds of War) and Nocturne. Together with their full jungle clear being able to reach Bot Lane at level 4 and having a level 2 Duskbringer by then (which functions greatly as a line wave-clearing spell), they can effectively 1-shot waves and hold the tower indefinitely.
Execution: Fnatic reacted to this as best as they could with an early 4 man dive attempt on the Bot Lane. However, with a Teleport in from their own Mid Lane, the Gigabyte Marines managed to get away, only losing Archie. Given the early dive timing, Fnatic were unable to effectively tank the turret and blew many summoner spells themselves.
The Result: Ultimately, Fnatic was only able to get 1 kill on Archie and unable to even force Gigabyte Marine off the Turret since Archie was able to teleport back in to continue holding the Turret with Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh.
Meanwhile, the Marines’ bottom lane duo were able to continue chunking the Top Lane turret and funnel farm into Nguyễn “NoWay” Vũ Long undisturbed. Additionally, sOAZ was set even further behind than Archie since he had to commit to the Bot dive before rotating back to the top lane.
Strategy #2 : Lulu with Ignite
Why? Lulu with Ignite as well as Thunderlords, combined with the high early burst damage from Tristana, can easily punish melee and tank top lane champions.
Execution: This worked better than the Marines were probably hoping for since sOAZ committed to the Bot Lane dive and had to walk back to the top lane without a Teleport. In this scenario, kill pressure would be on sOAZ if he oversteps while trying to clear waves.
By the time he was there, NoWay and support Phùng “Nevan” Thiện Nhân were level 4 and had a huge spell and statistic advantage over him, resulting in a free kill for the Marines.
The Result: This really doomed sOAZ and knowing he could no longer return the top lane against the duo of Gigabyte Marines, he tried to rotate Bot to aid in a gank which would end up backfiring even further.
Strategy #3: Funneling farm onto Levi
Why? As the superstar jungler of the Gigabyte Marines, it makes sense to make Đỗ “Levi” Duy Khánh a pivotal player to lead the charge. Additionally, their draft allowed for a damage build Nocturne to dive the immobile backline of Fnatic relatively safely with the massive gold and experience advantage he would have and the additional protection from Lulu and Galio.
Execution: With a full clear downward from their Red Buff, the Gigabyte Marines were able to get Levi to level 4 before reaching Bot Lane without missing a single wave of farm at bot. Despite Fnatic adapting on the fly by diving the Tower, Levi managed to stay alive and catch most of the experience drop. Following this, he would recall and once again complete a full clear downward from his top jungle to reach Bot at level 6 to help Archie, picking up 3 kills themselves for 2 to Fnatic in a 4 versus 2 which was in favour of Fnatic.
The Result: Besides the massive level advantage which could be seen in the previous clip (1 level higher than both mid laners, 3-4 levels higher than both top laners and 2-3 levels higher than any Bot Laner) this early play to Bot Lane as well as all the farm previously funneled onto him would let Levi get a 6 minute Warrior Enchantment on his Skirmisher’s Sabre.
With the massive acceleration of Nocturne’s normally slow early game, Levi would be immediately a threat all around the map. Additionally, with the way Gigabyte Marines were playing the map, Levi’s Nocturne would make it impossible for any Fnatic member to deal with their side wave pressure with his ability to assassinate any stray Fnatic players.
This draft and play from Gigabyte Marines was genius. Not only did it hide their weaknesses from being exploited by Fnatic but it also shuts down their usual strong points, which is their side lane control play with star marksman Martin ‘Rekkles’ Larsson and their late game teamfighting.
With their massive acceleration of the game’s pace, the Marines didn’t allow Fnatic the hope of reaching the late game. It was also completely impossible for any Fnatic member to deal with the side wave pressure from the Marines as they had to contend with not just Kassadin split pushing, but a Galio with Heroic Entrance, a Nocturne with Paranoia able to tip the scales of any fight across the map with their semi-global Ultimates, and even a hugely fed Tristana that had been free farming for most of the game with a Lulu to buff her.
The Marines were able to translate their leads (though it might not seem like much of a gold lead, they had it exactly where they wanted on Tristana and Nocturne) with constant gank squad style plays and split pushing to run Fnatic across the map, capitalizing off their map pressure to shut down the European squad in 24 minutes.
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