With the Vainglory Summer season starting this weekend, it will be interesting to see which North American teams go on to become the next champions. Quite a few changes happened over the break between the Western Unified Spring Championship and now. These team changes, acquisitions, and roster alterations have made the outcome of the North American Vainglory8 far less predictable than in the past.
The Unified Live Champions Cloud9, and the team that took out 3rd place, TeamSoloMid (TSM), have not seen any changes to their starting rosters. Therefore, in conjunction with their dominant performances in the Spring Vainglory8 season, we can expect both these teams to stay out the front of the pack. Look out for them this weekend as they face off against each other.
Coming up behind them, I believe that GankStars and the Hollywood Hammers will continue fighting fiercely, and will round out the last of the top 4 spots. However, both teams have seen roster changes, and it is not clear as to whether this will help or hinder their performance. Hammers’ new jungler is now Arkaik, a role that was previously occupied by ttigers. GankStars, on the other hand, have had to let go of their old roamer R3cKeD, and brought in former Immortals roamer Vains. While the abilities of Vain have been seen before, Arkaik has yet to prove himself; however, he now has an amazing opportunity to do so in Vainglory8. If Arkaik synergises well with his team, Hammers may taste the success that they couldn’t achieve at the Unified Championship, in which they were knocked out in the first round by Immortals. On the other hand, GankStars’ overall play style will likely not change much, but it will be interesting to see if Vains’ style of roaming will match former roamer R3cKeD’s aggressive style.
Next up, I believe that out of the bottom four teams, Tempo Storm has the highest chance of success. They have already experienced the Vainglory8, and their starting roster is still the same, which may be a considerable advantage. Furthermore, while they were promoted last season from the Challengers battles, they were then able to build up enough points to avoid the relegation spots that demoted Rogue, Tribe, and Immortals. However, having been 3-0’d by GankStars at the Unified Championship, it is still unclear whether they will ever be able to perform well against the top 4 teams.
Finally, NRG, Nova Esports, and EchoFox are the teams I’m hoping will surprise us the most. As none of these teams have taken part in Vainglory8 in previous seasons, there is no telling who will succeed, but it will be intriguing to see if they can shake up the standings. For anyone who might be confused at the moment, allow me clear up the team changes. NRG was previously a Vainglory Invitational Series (VIS) Challengers team, but acquired LOS BABOONS, who defeated Immortals. Nova Esports was formerly Rage Pingers, who knocked out Rogue. Lastly, the new EchoFox roster is made up of the acquired team Giraffes, who defeated Tribe Gaming to secure their spot in the Vainglory8. In my honest (and biased, basically because I’ve watched the stream of Nova captain ‘starboi’) opinion, I believe that of these three teams, Nova will definitely be the team to watch this upcoming weekend, especially once we consider that they were ranked first in Challengers.
Summer season in North American Vainglory8 is set to be a blast! What are your predictions?
Article written by Ryann17 and edited by DarkSquall
Who is the best laner in the world? Before Worlds, everyone had a different opinion. Laners such as Cloud9’s Oldskool (formerly of GankStars), TSM’s BestChuckNa and GankStar’s IraqiZorro were often mentioned in the debate, due to their high level of play across the board. However, following Phoenix Armada (now Invincible Armada) taking out the championship, it has been almost unanimously established that the true star laner of Vainglory is Druid. Surprisingly, many of us hadn’t even heard of him previously due to his team competing on the East Asian server. Sporting a 17.36 KDA ratio and averaging 147 CS per game, while also holding the #2 world rank on VGPRO and winning 98% of his ranked games, Druid is an unrivaled star whom no one would want to verse in ranked queue. Judging by his impressive accomplishments, I believe that everyone can learn more about laning by watching him in action and imitating some of his habits – according to my teammates, I definitely should. In this article I’ll be referencing some of his matches in public ranked queue. Let’s break down what it means to be a laner, and what it takes to be the best laner in the world
The Role: An Overview
In Vainglory, the laner, also known as the carry, is basically responsible for being the highest damage threat on the team. As the name “carry” implies, the laner must often carry their team to victory. In order to do the most damage, they need to obtain as much gold as possible, allowing them to buy tier 3 items as soon as they can. Additionally, they must be knowledgeable of the capabilities of their opposing laner, as well as always thinking about where their team and where the enemies are on the map. To simplify, there are three main areas where you must be proficient:
Accumulating gold through a variety of methods
Understanding hero matchups
1. Being greedy for gold
As a laner, you must acquire as much gold as you can in order to buy items and dish out as much damage as possible. How do you do this?
Last hit consistently: simply put, you need to time your attack to kill the minions in lane by looking at their health-bars (when they turn orange, one basic attack will kill them). If they are killed by other minions or the turret, you don’t receive any gold. High CS (creep-score, the number of minions you kill) is vital as a laner.
Control the minion wave: this refers to either pushing the wave forward by farming quicker (or with minion candies) or strictly last hitting and letting the wave come closer. This can make it much easier to last hit minions, and allows you to manipulate lane pressure. For more info, refer to this awesome article on BrokenMyth. (http://brokenmyth.net/vainglory-mastery-wave-control-101/)
Share farm with the jungler: probably the hardest of the steps, a good laner will attempt to gain gold not only from his own lane but from one or both jungles. Now let’s look at Druid doing exactly this.
At this point in the match Druid had just returned out onto the map after shopping at base. Seeing that his jungler was going to clear backs and the lane was in a good position, Druid decides to take farm with samuel. Now, this is a relatively difficult strategy to implement, because it requires that the laner keeps up with the junglers rotation, the jungler doesn’t get tilted by his laner “stealing farm” (in solo queue, this can be avoided by just picking up ambient gold), and the support stays in the lane to hold the minion wave. I have implemented this particular strategy into my laning gameplay, and it has helped me stay close to a perfect CS in many games.
2. Thinking about the map
As a laner, it’s imperative you always know what’s happening on the map. Map awareness helps with knowing when to rotate into jungle, and ensuring you aren’t ganked by any pesky junglers (i.e. that annoying Taka who keeps two-shotting you). Always remember to:
Check the minimap for enemy movement: this tip works better if your Captain has set down consistent vision, but you may be able to spot your enemies if both junglers are at shop. Keeping tabs on your enemies allows you to do decide if you should act more aggressively or if you must play passive. Further on in the article is an example of how Druid was able to do just this.
Keep an eye on the junglers’ rotations: attempt to coordinate your minion wave control with your jungler’s movement. Furthermore, you can gauge where the enemy might be if they have been clearing their jungle faster than your jungler.
In the match shown in the above pictures, Druid had just destroyed the choke point turret and was chasing a kill on Skye. On the map you can see that Ardan and Taka are in the enemy jungle as they had killed the other two members of the enemy team, and were clearing the backs. Therefore, Druid knew that he could have a 1v1 fight against the Skye without worrying about any other enemies.
Furthermore, in this other picture we can see Druid is taking the enemy backs while his team pushes the turret.
Prior to him rotating into the enemy jungle, his team had engaged their opponents and forced them back to spawn. This allowed Druid to obtain more farm because he knew his team was pushing lane and the enemy team wouldn’t be able to reach their jungle. Taking this kind of information and using it to capitalize on advantages is how Druid is able to consistently be aggressive and successfully build leads.
3. Knowing both thy enemy and thyself
As a laner, a big part of your role is outperforming your opposing carry. In order to use the correct amount of aggression in the lane, and to know when to chase a kill and when to play cautiously, the laner must look at whether they have an advantage or disadvantage against the other laner and the enemy team.
Take stats such as range and fire rate into account: someone like Adagio can have an advantage over Gwen in terms of range, but Gwen has a higher potential for bursting you down.
Look at itemisation of the enemy laner. A crystal-power Vox is a big threat in a team fight, but not in a 1v1. Conversely, a weapon Vox is very strong in a 1v1, but can also be melted down easier as he needs to stay closer to the opposing team. Also, depending on whether your opponent buys pure damage, or buys items with lifesteal will affect your playstyle and own itemisation.
Beware of ganks: a great tip is to think about how the enemy might want to kill you. If you know the enemy team has a Glaive or Catherine, then you don’t want to get in range of their stuns, or need to be ready with a Reflex Block. However, if the laner is someone like Gwen (who has the shortest range) with a Reim jungling (slow with a short engage range) the enemy will try to bring the minion wave closer to their turret where they can quickly dive on you for the gank. You need to be thinking about that possibility in such a matchup.
Consider the potential of enemy abilities: for example, a Skye cannot harass with her Forward Barrage if there are lane minions between you. Also, a Skaarf will try to use the Spitfire and his Goop together on the minions, so it would be wise to stay away from them and force him to decide between wave clear or attempting to trade damage. In the following scenario, Druid uses his knowledge of the enemies abilities to score some kills.
In these pictures, it’s evident that Druid was not at all afraid of the enemy Skye. He was aware that as long as his mechanics were quick enough, he could dodge around her Forward Barrage and blow her up. In a Skye vs Vox matchup, and indeed almost any matchup between a weapon laner and a crystal Skye, the laner must juke the Forward Barrage, fight in a spacious area to negate her kiting abilities, and try to melt the Skye before she acquires a Target Lock. In the two pictures shown, Druid had just taken damage from both the Skye and Lance. Afterwards, he had retreated back towards his captain, and having received an extra barrier and movement speed from Ardan’s Vanguard, uses it to re-engage onto Skye and Lance. Druid played to his hero’s win condition and was able to turn the tables on the other team.
After considering all the points here, I hope that you can implement some of these tips into your laning – I have definitely tried to do this myself. I know that bad teammates and ranked solo queue often go hand in hand with each other, but if we, as improving laners, attempt to emulate the best laner in the world, we will eventually find success.
Article written by Ryann17 and edited by hoIIand
Screen captures taken by author from the following sources:
With the presence of esports rising, it’s no wonder that all platforms have gained more exposure these past years. Consoles and PCs were always powerhouses, but recently they’ve been shown to an even larger audience thanks to being broadcast on television. With tournaments such as EVO being shown on Sportscenter, and the ESL CS:GO and Street Fighter V leagues appearing regularly on TBS, esports are now in a better spot than ever to grow and expand.
After the success SEMC had with Vainglory’s 2016 season, it seems that this year Vainglory could be on track for that same level of success. As far as we know, this season will retain the Spring, Summer and Autumn Championships – culminating with Worlds. However, is that it for Vainglory? While the current system is not a terrible thing for Vainglory, it may be a massive disappointment for audiences if the amount of top-level tournaments remains the same.
What would it take for Vainglory to reach a bigger audience?
As it stands, Vainglory has been downloaded over five million times from the Google Play Store, and that number is sure to be even greater on the Apple App Store. Comparing that number to the amount of people who were mobile gamers in 2015 – 165 million – we can see that the Vainglory community has the potential to grow exponentially. Furthermore, we may already know the answer to the above question. When the revolutionary 2.0 update was being showcased, it was revealed to us that Super Evil Megacorp (SEMC) was in the process of constructing a 5v5 gamemode for Vainglory.
I initially rejected the idea of this new gamemode, for fear that we’d lose touch with the 3v3 style of MOBA that made Vainglory unique. Furthermore, I was hoping that if a 5v5 game mode was developed, it wouldn’t become the standard mode of gameplay in the competitive scene. However, I’ve changed my mind. Based on the fact that League of Legends, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm and SMITE all have an enormous following for 5v5 competitive tournaments, it is my opinion that Vainglory’s upcoming 5v5 gamemode will accelerate the expansion of Vainglory – both casually and competitively. 5v5 MOBAs have a pre-existing larger market and audience from the popular PC games already mentioned, and this will increase the appeal and marketing value of Vainglory itself.
What needs to change to encourage this development?
In order to greater support a 5v5 competitive scene, I am of the opinion that Vainglory would need to host more tournaments, with bigger cash prizes to offer. While financing of these tournaments will be difficult, a lot of it can be accomplished with more people and organizations branching out into Vainglory: sponsoring competitive teams, and hosting professional leagues. It’s important to note that the amount of tournaments Vainglory has is suited to the limited amount of professional teams competing at the moment. However, the current financial rewards in the Vainglory esports scene can’t support any more teams, because there are only three live finals to which the top six teams of a region are invited, and only one world invitational – if there’s no money being offered, there’s no reason for more teams to compete. While it might be a stretch, it is possible to fix this. More professional organisations joining Vainglory with the 5v5 boom will increase viewership, which in turn raises revenue and causes prize pools to increase – eventually becoming a self-promoting cycle. For example, Dota 2’s biggest event in 2014 had 20 million views with a peak of 2 million concurrent viewers at one point: the peak audience double that of 2013 viewership. For League of Legends, in the two year gap between 2014 and 2016, League viewership rose dramatically from 27 to 43 million – an enormous 59% increase. If a similar increase in viewership occurs with Vainglory, there is huge potential for significant revenue growth.
What can 5v5 bring to Vainglory’s gameplay?
One of the reasons I enjoy Vainglory are the quick matches that can finish within 20 minutes. While 5v5 would almost certainly increase match length, it will additionally allow for more interesting strategy and depth in game.
Check out this clip from the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split, which shows part of a match between Team SoloMid (TSM) and Cloud9 (C9):
I’m not a League player, but what stands out to me in this video is how well TSM were able to play in the given situation. As they were taking the Elder Dragon (an important objective in League), all five members of C9 came to initiate a teamfight, planning to catch out TSM. In the brawl that ensued, TSM killed three of C9’s players and managed to take the Elder Dragon with no losses. TSM then rotated down to the bottom lane, as the two remaining C9 players moved to take down TSM’s towers. To counteract this rotation, TSM sent back only two players – and this is what got me hyped up while watching the clip. TSM simultaneously pushed down the lane towards C9’s Nexus (League’s equivalent of the Vain crystal) while also winning the 2v2 against C9 at their base – securing the championship in a series of decisive plays. In my opinion, it would be amazing for that level of strategy to be introduced into Vainglory: not just the more complex team-fighting dynamic, but the increased importance of map awareness and rotations, as well as the larger focus on objective-splitting and strategic positioning of players.
How will the professional scene change with the introduction of 5v5?
It’s always been a fairly common opinion that North America is the best region in the world at Vainglory, with the best teams competing in NA. The same reasons are continually thrown around when debating “NA > EU”, such as better drafting strategies, players having higher skill, and increased aggression being the meta. However, during the inaugural Vainglory World Championship, when Phoenix Armada (now Invincible Armada) performed spectacularly, a paradigm shift occurred in the Vainglory community. Armada is now viewed as easily being the strongest and most dominant team in the world. According to several professional players who competed against them, Armada’s success stemmed from their extremely impressive individual mechanics, their rapid decision making in clutch situations, and their utilisation of early game aggression even more effectively than the teams from NA.
One clear example of their dominance can be seen when looking at a match where Armada were up against GankStars Sirius. While Armada were on the back foot and retreating after losing Willy, both druid and Mango quickly bought infusions at the jungle shop, and thus were able to quickly and brutally retaliate against an overconfident Sirius.
While plays like this will still be possible in the future of Vainglory, it is my opinion that 5v5 will shake up the current professional scene dramatically. With a larger map, deeper strategy and a greater number of teams, I feel that while individual mechanics will remain relevant, they will no longer be the most important factor when deciding the outcome of a match – and gaps between skill will be able to be bridged with advanced macroplay. Invincible Armada may no longer remain on top of the professional Vainglory scene, with brilliant thinkers like FlashX able to counteract the overwhelming skill of players like druid through strategy, instead of having to match their mechanics.
Lastly, while I haven’t kept in touch with regions other than EU and NA, the recent VGL and VIS matches have showcased how the overall skill level of high-tier players in Vainglory has increased, and the gap between Vainglory8 and Challenger teams has decreased. Recently, all three Challenger teams defeated the Vainglory8 teams in the Challenge battles, taking their spots for the next split of Vainglory8. With the reliance on mechanics likely to reduce in the future, the perceived differences between professional and Challenger teams may disappear forever.
So, how will new players coming into Vainglory perform?
My current opinion is that some of the competitive players who are brought in by professional organisations from PC MOBAs will end up performing better than expected. As the 5v5 map in Vainglory will most likely be similar to the maps of other existing MOBAs (think League or Dota maps), any new competitive players with a background in 5v5 MOBAs will have an advantage over the current crop of competitive players, who are habituated to the 3v3 map. Their preexisting knowledge of 5v5 strategies and rotations could possibly see newcomers in Vainglory dominate the old hands such as the Hollywood Hammers (formerly Hammers Esports) and GankStars.
As for playing skills and mechanics on touchscreen devices, since many current professional players already come from MOBA backgrounds, I am of the opinion that the mechanics of newcomers would eventually catch up to the rest of the competitive scene. This is seen all the time in many other esports, where players transition to other games and find success. In Call Of Duty, players like FormaL and Crimsix first played Halo, before switching over and dominating. In Tekken 7, Poongko switched from playing Street Fighter and was also quite successful. Finally, while he hasn’t played competitively in Vainglory, Zekent – a developer in SEMC – used to play competitively in League of Legends. I find it extremely plausible that players could switch over to Vainglory from games like League, Dota 2 and SMITE, and end up thriving.
This returns us to the main question: will Vainglory ever make it to the big screen? As of right now, it may still be too small, and lacking in appeal to a larger audience. However, if everything goes right for SEMC in the roll-out of the 5v5 gamemode, and the introduction of more professional organisations into the Vainglory scene is successful, it’s not impossible that one day Vainglory may become bigger and better than anything we could ever imagine.
In the inaugural season of EZL in North America, Team Lunaris captain MujyKun led his team throughout the season to victory, taking out the Championship with a solid record and an increasingly impressive reputation. With the second season of EZL fast approaching, our journalist Ryann17 approached MujyKun on Discord to delve deeper into his role as a captain, his team’s dynamics and his personal experiences in the first season of EZL.
Why did you decide to become a captain in EZL?
“I had a team called Lunaris before EZL started, and I applied to EZL to become a moderator and a captain. As a team, we wanted to participate, so I decided to try drafting my original team into EZL. I became captain because my Lunaris teammates didn’t feel like doing it and I am also able to organize things more efficiently.”
How did you end up with your team? Was it all through the draft or did you pick up some people later?
“I was one of the last people in the drafting list. I was number 37 out of 40. I first picked one of my main carries from Lunaris, and as my second pick I picked another member from the Lunaris team. The next three people were random POA Silver and Gold players who we helped to get to Vainglorious. We met three new people through the EZL team, and they are now part of my normal Lunaris team. We never switched out any of our members because we were extremely lucky, all the members were active. These were people determined to play Vainglory and that is what kept our team together. There was no need to pick up anybody later.”
How did you feel your team performed last season? Did you have a set of players that played most of the games, or did all six of you have the same amount of playing time?
“Well, our team won the finals and we won EZL’s North American Playoffs for Season our team did their best during these games. We had our moments of being flawed, where we were not able to get practice before our matches – resulting in us losing some of our games. One of our members was only able to play one game the entire season. He was one of our original team members and we felt it was fine. Given he was from a different timezone, he was not able to play because the majority of our games were on weekdays and at night. We had five people that basically played the entire season, with a distributed amount of playtime between us. Whichever member wanted to play a certain game, we would allow them to play it. We also had team scrims just to check how well our team synergy clicked with certain combinations of players. We gathered the most aggressive three people from our team and put them together. This was considered our team core and we decided to take that to the finals. This team core played the most – however, the time was divided up throughout all the weeks to make sure everyone got a decent share of game time and gained the same experiences.”
Your team did exceptionally well during the season with twenty-two wins and three losses. Did you develop rivalries with other strong teams that were able to give you a run for your money?
“We did develop connections with other teams and started to scrim with them. There were some teams that showed great synergy, and they motivated us to get stronger with our comps. Our finals was definitely a hard match-up against Team Retro. We were extremely close to losing both games, but luckily won 2-0 in the end.”
What was the hardest thing about last season?
“In my opinion, it was having to put our heart into every game in order to win. Our team focused on not getting any mistakes and following up with each other to have a solid win. There weren’t really any difficulties throughout the weeks, after the first week we were pretty much used to the other six weeks – it was just normal gameplay for us by the end. What helped us the most, was practicing for the games and really putting in effort the whole time.”
With your team playing twenty-five sets of matches, did anyone suffer from burnout? Did anyone ever feel like it was too much, for too long a period that they almost gave up?
“We had our members switching around. If someone felt they were playing too much, we would give them a break. There were not really any problems with that during the season. Our members were active and you could tell they loved being part of the Vainglory community. There would be small complaints, but ultimately my team members would get right back up on their feet.”
On the topic of the draft, what were you looking for back then in your players? What are you looking for now?
“I looked for people who were active and people who were not toxic. When I was doing my tryouts, I based it completely off of who was toxic. As of right now, I probably won’t hold any tryouts, but I will pick up some new people. I have gotten very familiar with the community and I know a lot of members that are on the list. I know the people who actually try in their games and do not rage quit. I also look for people who are able to voice chat. If they are inexperienced vainglory players, we will bring them to POA Gold to VG Bronze at least, and help them understand the game better. Team practices help out our newest members a lot with understanding how we play! The synergy gained from this is very beneficial.”
Why aren’t you holding tryouts? Were you able to keep your team?
“No, we requested personally to have our team stay in EZL as a team without having to draft as our reward for winning the season. It was put into consideration and we have not heard back yet. We assume we are not able to keep our team. As I said earlier, I have just gotten familiar with the community and I know the members a lot better now. If the members from the first season go onto the next season, then I will know their gameplay very well. With nine weeks of gameplay, you get to know all of the players around you – how well they play and their personality. I will draft based off my current judgement. It’s still a possibility that I might hold tryouts, however it is not as likely, especially since I have been very busy recently. I’m looking to pick up some new members this season instead of picking up my original team. It is more efficient to play with new people and have my old EZL team stay as my current ingame team as of right now. Having several teams is not a bad thing, and the more people you get to know, the more experiences you are able to share with each other.”
*When this interview was conducted, the decision on Team Lunaris had not yet been made. However, by the time of publishing it was ruled that Lunaris could keep its entire team for Season 2. MujyKun has since decided to keep half of the players from Season 1, and is now looking for fresh new faces to fill his roster.
How stressful has EZL been with you needing to schedule matches, compete and still obviously take care of your own personal responsibilities. Are you ready to do it all over again in Season 2?
“Yes, well with my current setup, I have been hosting my own tournaments for several regions every single weekend. It is hard to manage it, however I manage to squeeze in time to free up my schedule for EZL. There is school work that will also get in the way, however for Season 2 it should go smoother since part of it will be during the summer break. Sometimes it was a hassle not having the brackets updated as soon as a match finished. I like to contact captains early and get our matches done as fast as possible to leave us time to complete our finals. That actually gives us more time to lay around while waiting for our enemies. It is a bit hard to contact some captains, but it works out in the end.”
What do you plan for your future with Vainglory and the community?
“I plan to remain a permanent tournament hoster. I registered our original team in several tournaments. We moved some members from our original team to a new team including me. We have joined up with a team that is already in VIS League to help them progress in VIS, and so we gain experience with very challenging games. I still manage my old teams, I am just not as frequently involved with them. In the case I ever decide to leave the team I just joined, I would always be able to come back and be the captain of my old teams. Currently, we have both teams full and we plan to expand our community. I have a Discord server with more than 1,000 VG players (https://discord.gg/T5w98jF) It is based off our original team and we host all of our tournaments there. It is also a center for our guilds as well. Our guild is not the priority for how we stay in the community, however it is good to have as a basis and have people join it. We plan to have our teams scrim against each other and hopefully we can all progress in our skill tier a bit further and reach Vainglorious Gold. When we accomplish this, we will hopefully gain recognition for the hard work we have done. We will continue to join all of the amateur and professional tournaments being hosted, so that our team won’t die off because it always has something to compete in. We try to play to our maximum capacity at all times – that’s what makes our team very synchronized.”
Any last thoughts you want to share with the teams you’ll be facing this season?
“Even if you can’t synchronize with your team, there’s always a way to win. Have a team that is willing to try their hardest. Give your team a reason to try hard. Even if you do not win, the amount of experience you earn with strategizing will help you in the future. Especially with the lower tier members: the more higher tier players you face, the more you figure out how to counter them.”
MujyKun is a strong and dedicated captain and player who wants to push his team to be the best. His involvement and commitment with not only EZL but also his own team’s tournaments show that he really enjoys being an integral part of the Vainglory community – and in time, he is sure to become a household name for all of the members of EZL.
Article written by Ryann17 and edited by hoIIand
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