Contractz vs. Svenskeren: A Look at Jungle Paths at the NA LCS Finals
Mon 8th May 2017 - 11:44am
The NA LCS just witnessed another extremely close series between reigning champions Team SoloMid and Cloud 9. The series ultimately came down to one crucial team fight where Jensen misjudged the incoming damage and went down without using Zhonya’s Hourglass or his ultimate.
In this article, we’ll take a look at another component of the series — the jungle battle between Spring Split Rookie of the Split Contractz and veteran Svenskeren. We’ll take a look at the early game pathing of all 5 games, and see what impact each was able to have. Each section will briefly list the jungle path taken by each jungler for around the first 5 minutes. It will then be followed by a brief analysis of what strategic value that path may have had.
While we won’t be discussing the pick and ban phase, there was definitely strategic value in each of the jungler picks in all 5 games and could warrant its own individual article.
Svenskeren (Red Side): Ivern
Raptors (passive) → Red buff (passive) → Enemy Blue buff (Smite) [2:05] → Enemy Wolves (passive) → Enemy Gromp (passive) → Red buff [2:45] → Krugs (passive) → Gank top [3:08] → Enemy Gromp → Enemy Wolves → Recall [3:33]
The path Svenskeren took revolved almost entirely around the top side of the map. Svenskeren marked his Raptors and Red buff first before heading into the enemy jungle. We tend to see Iverns Smite their first buff, but Svenskeren opted not to Smite in order to quickly get the Blue buff steal. This showcases the flexibility and power of Ivern. Ivern can effectively start anywhere in the jungle, and can steal away camps with relative ease due to his passive Friend of the Forest.
Svenskeren's pathing highlights TSM's main strategy for the first game — to play around top side to get Hauntzer's extremely proficient Camille ahead. Svenskeren did not even go into the bot side of his jungle for the first 3 minutes. TSM even sent Bjergsen to the C9 Raptor camp to ensure that C9 was starting in the bot side to allow this Blue buff invade to happen. Svenskeren's first gank at around the 3:00 minute mark is at top lane, where he succesfully got Ray's Flash. Svenskeren would return to the top lane 5 minutes later to secure a kill and get Camille going.
Contractz (Blue Side): Lee Sin
Raptors → Enemy Blue buff (Smite) → Dies giving first blood to Caitlyn [2:42] → Red [3:28] → Krugs → Scuttle → Raptors → Gank bot → Recall [6:13]
Contractz also started at Raptors. An early ward placed by Ray spotted out Ivern walking towards C9's Blue buff, so instead of going to his own Red buff, Contractz went for the Blue buff trade.
Unfortunately, Contractz is spotted out going for TSM’s blue buff by a ward placed by WildTurtle earlier at 1:25 into the game and is easily collapsed on by the TSM bot lane. TSM’s bot lane duo was a strong pushing lane of Caitlyn and Karma which allowed them to shove the lane early. This gives time for Biofrost’s Karma to make a quick roam to the blue buff to disrupt Contractz and WildTurtle easily caught up and netted (literally with Caitlyn E) first blood.
After his death, Contractz needed to catch up on experience so we don't see him going for any ganks until around the 6 minute mark. This was definitely not ideal because Lee Sin is an early game jungler which uses his high ganking potential to get an advantage. Contractz instead cleared all his camps on the bot side. Contractz probably recognized that his top side jungle was completely taken away by Svenskeren after the Blue buff steal. This was the correct assessment, as after Svenskeren ganked the top lane, he stole away both Gromp and Wolves.
The first game jungling was completely dominated by Svenskeren, of course with the help of his team. Svenskeren’s Ivern was able to steal so many of the camps and burn the top lane Flash giving Hauntzer a huge advantage. This strategy paid off as Hauntzer’s Camille would end up going 9 and 0 by the end of the game.
Of course, we might say that it was a mistake by Contractz, more so than Svenskeren out jungling him. However, even if Contractz didn’t die at the Blue buff, Svenskeren still likely would have ganked top and burned a Flash giving Camille the advantage. The extra jungle camps were just a bonus.
Contractz (Red Side): Graves
Raptors → Red buff → Blue buff → Gromp [3:08] → Wolves → Krugs [4:27] → Scuttle → Recall 5:22 → Gromp → Wolves
This path seems like a relatively standard full clear path for Graves. Graves has great dueling potential and can clear his camps pretty well due to the bonus armor gained from his E, Quickdraw. Contractz likely did not want to repeat his mistake in Game 1, so did not go for any risky invades or attempts at stealing buffs. A safe, but effective full clear.
Svenskeren (Blue Side): Rengar
Raptor → Red buff → Krugs → Recall [2:45] → Wolves → Blue buff → Gromp [3:50] → Enemy Raptors → Dies giving first blood to Ekko [4:45]
Svenskeren similarly went for an early full clear on Rengar. Svenskeren's path involved an extra recall, which allowed him to pick up his second component for the jungle item. This path also helped improve his full clear speed, which gave him about a 30 second lead on Contractz's Graves. This gave him time to roam top while Contractz was still finishing his Krugs.
However, Svenskeren got greedy and tried to steal away some of Graves' Raptor camp which was just respawning. This ended up giving away first blood to Jensen's Ekko. Bjergsen had just recalled to lane and was catching the wave at his turret which meant he couldn't roam up to help him. Jensen’s Ekko was recalling, but had Teleport to quickly cut away his escape path even after blowing Flash.
The early game jungle pathing seems to have been quite even in the second game except for this small (maybe big) mistake on Svenskeren's part. If Svenskeren did not die, he likely would have went back to his jungle and power farmed until 6 when he could utilize Rengar's ultimate to get a kill somewhere. Contractz seemed to have been doing the same thing, though he did succesfully get this advantage by helping Jensen kill Svenskeren.
Svenskeren (Red Side): Lee Sin
Raptors → Red Buff → Wolves → Gromp → Blue Buff → Scuttle → Krugs [4:15] → Gank top → First Blood [4:32]
Game 3 saw a similar strategy from TSM. Svenskeren again wanted to play around Hauntzer’s Camille in the top lane. This time, however, Svenskeren played a more aggressive early game jungler in Lee Sin. He also couldn't steal camps as easily on Lee Sin as he could on Ivern, so we don't see any attempts at buff steals. Additionally, Svenskeren died early in the previous game so he probably wanted to player safer than before.
Svenskeren's path gave him a good full clear by around 4:15 which got him up to level 4. The path also got Svenskeren to end up on the top side of the map, which allowed him to gank top lane immediately after clearing his jungle. Ray was playing top lane Fizz, which notably takes Ignite instead of Flash. This meant that Lee Sin would have an easier time ganking as long as they played around Fizz’s E, Playful/Trickster. Svenskeren successfully accomplished this, and got first blood at 4:32.
Contractz (Blue Side): Kha'Zix
Raptors → Red buff → Blue buff → Gromp → Wolves → Bot lane gank [4:15]
Kha’Zix is not nearly a good of an early game ganker or jungle clearer, so it is understandable that Contractz couldn’t get too much done. Kha'Zix is a good duelist in the jungle, but so is Lee Sin. Contractz went for almost a full clear except he didn't clear his Krugs. Krugs give a lot of experience, but also take a long time to clear, especially on Kha'Zix who relies on isolation damage. Perhaps this is why he opted to try and gank bot lane first around 4:15. On top of this, Fizz is already a strong laner taking Ignite for more 1v1 power, so maybe C9 wanted to try and get the bot lane going.
Unfortunately for Contractz, TSM’s ward in the river bush barely spotted Kha’Zix before the expiring. It's interesting to think about what would have happened if Contractz went for his Krugs before the bot lane gank. The ward would have expired, but it would also be an additional 40 seconds or so, so maybe the gank wouldn't have been successful anyway.
Contractz (Red Side): Graves
Raptors → Red buff → Blue buff → Enemy Red (Not Secured) → Gromp → Wolves → Recall [4:22]
Contractz started the same way he did in Game 2, starting with Raptors and immediately securing his first 2 buffs. He then went into the enemy jungle through the Dragon pit in an attempt to steal away Ivern's Red buff. This seems like a relatively risky move. Contractz saw Ivern early in the game on the top side, but there was no vision in the TSM jungle that would have given him 100% certainty that Ivern would be starting on the top side. However, Sneaky fired a Hawkshot into the TSM jungle which saw Ivern moving up to collect his top side camps. The Hawkshot also saw Svenskeren's Red buff still up, which may have prompted Contractz to go for the steal.
Contractz recognized this and went in to place a deep ward by TSM's Raptors and started attacking the red buff. Unfortunately, Svenskeren had already marked red buff with his passive and was able to return to his Red buff in time and Smite secure it. Seeing Svenskeren moving up towards his top side from Sneaky's Hawkshot probably gave Contractz the confidence to be able to steal away the Red buff. Additionally, Graves would always beat Ivern in a 1 vs 1 in the jungle as long as Graves can get close enough. But Contractz was only a couple seconds too late, and Svenskeren was able to secure his buff.
Again, it's interesting to think about whether or not Contractz could have taken the Red buff if he had opted not to place down the ward to catch out the returning Ivern and start attacking the buff immediately after dashing over the dragon pit wall. Would those couple of seconds given Contractz enough time to take the Red buff? Or would the risk be too high if C9 couldn't see Ivern returning to his bot side jungle? And even further, would it have been a significant enough early game advantage if Contractz was able to steal away the Red buff?
Svenskeren (Blue Side): Ivern
Wolves (passive) → Blue buff (Smite) → Gromp (passive) → Raptors (passive) → Red buff (passive) → Krugs (passive) → Wolves → Gromp → Raptors → Red buff → Krugs [3:25]
For the first time in game 4, the traditional Raptor start path is broken by Svenskeren’s Ivern. Ivern started by getting his passive on Wolves, then smiting blue buff. The path above demonstrates just how fast Ivern can get his jungle cleared. C9 probably knew this path as well, evinced by Sneaky's Hawkshot spotting out Ivern exactly, which suggests this might be the optimal Ivern path on Blue Side. By 3:25 he is able to get all of his camps, while Contractz's Graves hadn't even touched his Gromp, Wolves or Krugs. Of course, Contractz went for the early steal, but if he had tried to full clear he would have still been significantly slower.
In this game, it looked like both junglers were trying to play around the mid lane. The top lane match up was a tank battle, which probably didn't give either team much incentive to try and get them ahead. The mid lane focus is furhter suggested when both junglers headed to the mid lane for a gank at around 5 minutes. No kills happened, but there might have been a mid lane focus.
Svenskeren (Red Side): Lee Sin
Raptors → Red buff → Wolves → Blue buff → Gromp → Recall [3:55]
Svenskeren took basically the same path he did on Red Side Lee Sin in game 3. The only difference in this path was that he went from Wolves straight to Blue buff rather than getting his Gromp first. C9 might have predicted this path, which is why the botlane shoved in early to roam and placed a ward at TSM's blue buff. This ward pays off big time as we'll see below.
There could be a couple of reasons for why Svenskeren took this path again. Maybe this is path the most efficient for Lee Sin on Red Side, which is why we see Svenskeren go for the same route again. Or, like a couple games before, maybe TSM wanted to play around Hauntzer's Camille and this route enables TSM to do that. Maybe it is a combination of both. If Hauntzer didn't get first blooded, we might have seen Svenskeren finish the same route he did in Game 3 by clearing his Krugs and ganking top at around 4:20. However, Hauntzer did get first blooded and Svenskeren's Krugs also were taken away.
Contractz (Blue Side): Kha'Zix
Raptors → Red buff → Blue buff → Gank Top, First Blood [3:05] → Enemy Krugs → Gromp
Contractz, unlike Svenskeren changed up his route from Game 3. Instead of going to clear his jungle and ganking bot lane, Contractz ganked top lane extremely early and secured first blood.
This is likely influenced by a number of things. First, the ward placed by the C9 bot lane. The C9 duo was able to shove in early to roam up and place this early ward which spots out Lee Sin at his Blue buff. This definitely gave Ray and Contractz enough confidence to go for the early gank and secure first blood. Kha'Zix is also great for ganking solo lanes because of the easier activation of isolation, as long as there are no minions, making this strategy quite potent.
The second is that Kled is a champion that needs to get going early. Kled becomes woefully inefficient if he falls behind, so C9 probably felt that they needed to make plays happen on the top side of the map. This ended up paying off as Kled was able to roam midlane as well to secure another kill on Bjergsen for C9. Additionally, the C9 bot lane solo (duo?) killed the TSM botlane in the previous game which may have given them much needed confidence.
Finally, perhaps knowledge of Svenskeren's previous jungle route from Game 3 allowed Contractz to take this path and get first blood. C9 was right in predicting where Svenskeren was going to go, so Contractz was able to use that information to his advantage.
The early game jungle pathing offers a couple of observations about the series. First, there was a lot of focus on the top lane. This may be due to the champions picked, or to each team's strategy, but a lot of jungle attention, especially from Svenskeren, was directed towards the top lane. The second observation was full clearing seemed to be the safe alternative for pretty much every jungler starting raptors. The third is that entering the enemy jungle was extremely risky. About 50% of the time, the jungler attempting to steal away a camp was killed (Contractz Game 1, Svenskeren Game 2).
No matter what, such an exciting series will likely be discussed in future splits that came down to one crucial team fight. These are only small observations (by a nonprofessional player) about the jungle paths, and there is certainly more room for discussion, corrections, criticism, or further analysis. Hopefully we will see more exciting series at MSI and the next split!
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