5 Tips to Improve Your Blitzcrank Play ft. Team Dignitas Adrian
Sun 6th Aug 2017 - 12:57pm
In a close 2-1 series against Team Echo Fox in Week 8 of the NA LCS, Team Dignitas clinched a hard-earned playoff spot. Despite a clean Game 2 by Echo Fox, Team Dignitas bounced back with their own swift victory in Game 3 on the back of Adrian “Adrian” Ma’s Blitzcrank.
In this article, we’ll look at how to play Blitzcrank, a strong pick in the current meta, like Adrian.
Team Dignitas hid their support pick until the very last pick of the draft which suggests that they prioritized a winning bot lane over concealing a mid lane or top lane pick. Two of the strongest AD Carries in Tristana and Caitlyn were banned away, so Team Dignitas first picked Kalista for Altec in the first rotation of the draft. They could have gone for a Jhin or Varus as well, but Altec has been performing well on Kalista and she is considered one of the top 3 AD Carries in the current meta.
The support pick drastically changes the dynamic of the bot lane, and Team Dignitas decided to carefully select their support to match what their game plan was. In the Echo Fox series, Adrian had already played Janna and Soraka, two incredibly powerful defensive supports. With Thresh, Alistar, and Taric banned away and Janna already picked by Echo Fox, Team Dignitas was left with a smaller support champion pool. If Team Dignitas was looking to play a defensive bot lane, they could have picked something like a Soraka or Braum which provide defense in different ways.
Blitzcrank, however, is an offensive support meant to win lane and roam into other lanes. The Blitzcrank pick was excellent by Team Dignitas because it punished the low mobility bot lane in Janna and Varus. Despite Janna’s passive providing movement speed, Blitzcrank is considered a counter to Janna as Blitzcrank can disrupt the positioning required to effectively peel. In addition, this series in particular seemed to be swayed by the success of the bot lane. The bot lane duo that was performing well in the prior two games was on the team that ended up being victorious, and Blitzcrank allows the bot lane to heavily snowball if played correctly.
Runes & Masteries
Image taken from the Match History
Adrian’s runes include armor quints, attack damage marks, flat health seals and mana glyphs. In contrast to other supports such as Cloud 9’s Smoothie, Adrian invests more heavily into health and armor over magic resist and movement speed. By investing in armor and health, Adrian significantly improves his tankiness in the early laning phase. Adrian also probably does not take movement speed runes because of his itemization, which would include a Righteous Glory as the second completed item.
Adrian also does not take any magic resist glyphs while Smoothie takes 3. This could be because of the matchup — Echo Fox’s Gate played Janna which does not deal as much magic damage as someone like a Karma or a Zyra.
The mana glyphs serve two purposes. First, it significantly increases Blitzcrank’s mana pool which allows for the Blitzcrank to get off one more grab than he otherwise would without the bonus mana. Blitzcrank Q costs 100 mana at Rank 1 and Blitzcrank’s base mana at level 1 is only about 250. By getting a bonus 100 mana, the rune page allows Adrian to pull an additional time before running completely out of mana. The glyphs also serve the secondary purpose of buffing his passive shield which scales off mana. This alongside Courage of the Colossus can provide a very large shield early on.
For masteries, Adrian runs 0-9-21, taking Courage of the Colossus as his Keystone. This set up is relatively standard for tank supports including Alistar, Thresh, and Braum, though some Braums take Stoneborn Pact over Courage of the Colossus. Adrian did opt to take Bandit, which generates additional gold from minion deaths or hitting a champion, to increase his gold generation which many supports do not. Bandit helps him reach some of his core early game items in Mobility Boots and Sightstone earlier. In addition, Blitzcrank does not excel at extended fights like Braum does so the extra health and mana from Dangerous Game is not as beneficial to Blitzcrank.
The first powerful moment for Adrian’s Blitzcrank was his level 2 spike. As Adrian approached level 2, he walked forward to threaten a pull on the still level 1 Echo Fox duo. Pushing for level 2 is standard bot lane play, but it is especially powerful with Blitzcrank’s hook. Team Dignitas’ bot lane executes this perfectly as they are able to push the wave in early to secure the level advantage and apply pressure to the Echo Fox bot lane. Adrian, who chooses not to go for the hook, merely threatens the possibility of a hook and this is enough to push back the opposing duo lane. Adrian and Altec also pushed fast enough so that the second minion wave would not block a potential hook from Blitzcrank, which secured pressure on the botlane. With this new pressure, Team Dignitas set up vision in the tri brush and continued to play aggressively and secure lane dominance.
Adrian positions forward as he hits level 2
1. Abuse the level 2 in lane as Blitzcrank!
Adrian made two proactive plays in quick succession which resulted in a kill, and 3 summoner spells burned within the first 5 minutes of the game. These plays were mechanically perfect. The first was the first blood in the bot lane. Shrimp was able to sneak into the bot lane river brush for a gank, but the setup was from Adrian. Adrian walked forward towards the Janna which made it seem like the Janna was the target. However, Adrian quickly switched targets and hit a Flash + Knock-up + Ignite combo onto Keith. This forced Keith to Flash and Heal, but Adrian followed up with an easy hook onto the Flashless Keith to secure first blood for Altec. Opting for the Flash + Knock-up combo ensured that the CC would land, and the Ignite reduced the efficacy of Keith’s Heal (though to Keith’s credit, he did try and hold out on using it as long as he could).
This play demonstrates exactly why Blitzcrank is a counter to Janna and Adrian’s knowledge of the match up. As was mentioned earlier, Blitzcrank counters Janna because he can pull Janna out of position to prevent her excellent peeling. With this knowledge, Adrian walked towards the Janna which signaled that she was the target. Adrian skillfully put Janna into a tough position with two options. Janna could walk backwards to save herself and try and maintain her optimal peeling position, but this exposes Varus to a grab. Of course, Janna can try and use her Howling Gale, but it is much harder to hit against a champion who is far away. Alternatively, Janna could have attempted to peel from her current position but this made her vulnerable to getting pulled herself. Gate chooses the first option. This decision may also have been influenced by the fact that Keith was standing behind caster minions and so there was a veneer of safety from a hook. Seeing that Gate was the only one that could get hooked at that moment, Gate walked backwards. However, Adrian instantly punished the decision by going for Keith.
The black arrow indicates the potential hook that forces Gate back.
2. Abuse the threat of a hook when making plays!
Adrian continually put his opponents in these tough situations by abusing the threat of a hook. A good Blitzcrank player makes plays by landing hooks, but a great one makes plays before throwing the hooks out. Like the level 2 play, Adrian merely threatens a hook onto Janna which allows for the easy play onto Keith.
Adrian demonstrates this again by immediately following up the first blood with a roam to the mid lane. Though he did not secure a kill for Keane, Adrian roamed up when there was no vision and pressured Froggen’s Corki. Patience is again key to the success of this play. Knowing that Corki has Valkyrie, Adrian speeds towards Froggen with his W and threatens the grab. Once again, Corki is faced with a tough situation. If Corki holds onto his Valkyrie for too long and Blitzcrank gets too close, Adrian can land an easy knock-up with his empowered auto-attack for the CC without having to use his hook. If Corki Valkyries immediately, then Blitzcrank can land an easier hook as Corki has no more escapes except Flash. Froggen played it very well and chose a good medium between the two options, but the patience paid off and Adrian was able to land the pull after Corki Valkyried.
3. Be Patient with the hook!
In the laning phase that followed these plays, Adrian continued to be aggressive. Even though they didn’t turn into a kill, and in fact it ended up giving the opposing bot lane a kill, Adrian continued to be confident and aggressive with his hooks. While some hooks were more successful than others, Adrian never let off the pressure and kept Echo Fox on their feet.
The next big play from Adrian was at 17 minutes, after Echo Fox secured the mid lane tower with their Rift Herald buff. Blitzcrank is often seen as an engage tool picking off out of position champions in the jungle or during sieges. Here, Adrian used Blitzcrank’s hook as a counter-engage tool. Akadian’s Maokai dove onto Adrian as soon as the tower went down, and Altec quickly reacted with a Fate’s Call to keep Adrian safe. This forced Echo Fox to back off, and disengage but Adrian had other plans. Instead of resetting, Adrian chooses to move forward with the Fate’s Call and throw out an instant grab onto the retreating Echo Fox Team. This followed up by a disgustingly good Petrifying Gaze from Keane set up a clean fight for Team Dignitas.
Clean hook onto a retreating Echo Fox
Adrian utilizes Blitzcrank not only as an engage tool, but also a powerful counter-engage tool to set up big plays for his team.
4. Diversify the usage of Blitzcrank’s hook as both an engage tool and a counter-engage tool!
The last tip is about Adrian’s positioning. Adrian often positioned himself between the tank frontline of Gragas and Shen and the carries in the back. This positioning was beneficial for a couple reasons. The first was that from this position, he could peel off Akadian’s Maokai. Throughout the game, Maokai attempted to flash onto Altec to root him. But Adrian was able to knock him up, as well as silence him at critical points to ensure that Altec was safe.
Adrian positions between the tanks and the carries.
This positioning also allowed Adrian to safely look for hooks behind his tanky frontline without exposing himself to poke damage. Despite his Bandit mastery, Adrian did not generate a lot of gold and could not purchase many tank stats. In fact, in the 30-minute game, Adrian only completed the Face of the Mountain, Mobility Boots and a Ruby Sightstone. While this is a lot of items for a support at this point in the game, this is not enough to get sufficiently tanky. Therefore, Blitzcrank needed a slightly safer position to look for hooks.
5. Position behind your tanks to peel for carries while looking for hook opportunities. When you see one, move forward and land that grab!
Adrian moves forward in front of the tanks to land the pull
Adrian’s Blitzcrank has been banned against him several times, and Game 3 against Echo Fox showed us exactly what Adrian can do on the champion. His excellent game knowledge, patience and positioning allowed him to secure kill after kill on Echo Fox and take the game. With Team Dignitas safely securing the playoff position, we hope to see him continue to shine on Blitzcrank in the post-season! Hopefully Team Dignitas can ride the current momentum and “grab” a spot for worlds!