Originally posted on lolesports.com by Taylor "Riot RoboTayCo" Cocke and Leh "SpiNN" Jackson
How do you solve a problem like Shu-Wei "Westdoor" Liu? And once you've done that, how do you figure out what to do with Chun An "AN" Chou? AHQ e-Sports victories have long been The Westdoor Show, but with AD carry AN stepping up in the LMS Playoffs, it's becoming increasingly hard to figure out exactly how to deal with the Picks and Bans of AHQ.
To make matters more interesting, there's been some shakeups to the roster. Their season-long jungler Chia-Wei "Albis" Kang has migrated down to the support position, while former Taipei Snipers jungler Zhao-Hong "Mountain" Xue has joined the squad.
As they head to the Mid-Season Invitational, the teams facing off against AHQ are going to have to figure out how to deal with them.
CLOSE THE WESTDOOR?
Here's a fun fact: during the 21 games in the LMS Spring Split regular season, Westdoor was targeted by double or triple bans 15 times. The mid laner is feared by the entirety of the Taiwanese scene, and for good reason -- he's likely the best player in Taiwan, and is more than capable of hard carrying matches.
Basically, if you give Westdoor Zed, Twisted Fate, or his beloved Fizz, expect a hard time. He rarely loses lane, allowing him to wander and get his side lanes rolling as well. Whether it's the assassination potential of Fizz and Zed or the global pressure of Twisted Fate, he always finds a way to make his presence known.
In previous seasons, the answer to the Westdoor puzzle was easy: just ban out his three key champions. This season, however, he's expanded his admittedly tiny pool. In the playoffs, he pulled out Cho'Gath and Karthus, playing both to great effect. His ability to snowball his own lane while simultaneously applying pressure all over the map is key in many of AHQ's wins. Notice how four of the five champions he played during the Playoffs have either global ultimates or extreme mobility. He may have world-class mechanics on assassins, but his roams are what wins AHQ games.
So, what the hell do teams do against Westdoor? You could ban out his three best champions and hope for the best, but that didn't work out for Hong Kong Esports, Taipei Assassins, or yoe Flash Wolves. The alternative is to ban out whichever of his champions seems the most fearsome, nabbing a counterpick, and focusing more heavily on taking out other lanes.
THE OTHER CARRY
The most obvious secondary banning choice would be to go after AD carry An. After a solid regular season, he became a massive threat for the AHQ side during the Playoffs. He's put up double digit kill performances on Jinx, Sivir, and Urgot, and damn near got there with Kalista. When Westdoor can't quite win the game on his own, An can more than pick up the slack.
Much like Westdoor, his champion pool is a bit too deep to completely wipe out with a triple ban, but his Urgot looks to be the best target for bans on the international stage. Due to his prevalence as a mid lane champion in many regions, there's a strong chance that duo lanes won't have a ton of experience against the Headsman's Pride.
Though, if a team is looking to snowball off of the bottom lane, banning out An's Sivir and Westoor's more engage-heavy champions could be an option. Ideally, without Sivir's On The Hunt enabling Westdoor and the rest of AHQ to get to exactly the right position to win, there's a chance that teams will be able to bring the carries down before they tear through rosters.
It might seem a bit sketchy to not aim any bans at either of AHQ's monster carries, but there is another way to put AHQ on their back foot. That is, aiming bans against their jungler and support.
With Albis moving from the jungle spot down to support, and Mountain coming in as the new jungler right before playoffs, AHQ has two players who haven't necessarily . Taking aim at them may be just the thing to get under the team's skin.
As a result, AHQ has largely found success by running disengage compositions, allowing their two carries to do what they need to do to win the game. By taking away Albis' ability to peel for AN, there's a chance that the AD carry could very well be taken out of the fight, albeit indirectly. We have yet to see him prioritize anything but those disengage champions, so forcing him onto something a bit less safe looks like a good way to get in his head. And with Albis only playing two champions more than once in the Playoffs -- Nautilus and Janna -- he might just be the best option for target bans.
Alternatively, teams could take aim at Mountain. The newest member of the team, he may not have completely settled down into a symbiotic, synergistic team player. So far, he's been playing very solidly in the AHQ style, peeling for AN and Westdoor during early fights, and looking for engages once they've gotten leads. So far, he's been the role player that AHQ has needed.
He's been performing well, but there is a chance that throwing bans at him could throw him off just enough to break the team's newly minted synergy. And on the international stage of the Mid-Season Invitational, where excellent team play is crucial, that uneasiness may be just the thing to bring AHQ down.
Make sure to keep your eyes on Lolesports for everything MSI. And remember that matches start up May 8 (PH Time)! AHQ will be facing of against EDG in the third match of the day.