ANALYSIS: Stubborn Splyce Overcommit To Kennen As Their Playoffs Are ‘Sliced’ Apart
Splyce squandered their chances of an EU LCS Spring Split playoff semifinal after investing their faith in the niche AD Carry champion, Kennen. Having convincingly dispatched their opponents Misfits in the opening two games of the series with fairly standard team compositions, Splyce Head Coach Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi sought to close out the match in style. Seemingly determined to witness victory using Kennen, SPY unsuccessfully flexed the champion to both top and bot lane as Misfits rallied to reverse sweep the series.
The return of AD Carry Kennen to the competitive meta remains a topic of contention. Whilst Fnatic ADC and team captain, Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, has demonstrated the potential of the pocket pick, few other pros have been able replicated his success on the champion. Sadly for Splyce, both Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and Martin “Wunder” Hansen can be added to the list of Kennen failures.
The buff to the Blade of the Ruined King item in addition to Runaan’s Hurricane, coupled with Kennen’s ultimate tweak and on-hit damage, have made the yordle a viable option for the AD Carry position. Yet unlike champions like Ezreal, who has the potential to synergise with any team composition, Kennen requires a strict set of criteria in order to be an effective force.
The champions lack of range requires that players positions themselves in the thick of the action, flicking the switch from kiting to going all in using the team fight altering ultimate, Slicing Maelstrom. One positional error or choosing the wrong moment to commit will inevitably result in death, as was depressingly displayed by both Splyce’s ADC and top laner in the series vs Misfits.
To keep Kennen alive, and provide him with the opportunity to dish out the damage, teams are required to protect their fragile, short-ranged carry at all costs. The result, when performed correctly, can be devestating – as demonstrated by Rekkles and Paul “sOAZ” Boyer in their clean victory over H2K-Gaming:
The changes to Kennen’s ultimate made it increasingly difficult for an Ability Power focussed build to kill enemies within seconds, as so many fans had grown accustomed to following Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho’s mesmerising play at the 2016 World Championship.
The point of AD Kennen is to deal auto-attack damage, much like any other traditional ADC. The champion’s ability to provide mass crowd control is best employed by Rekkles to act as an impenetrable, ‘anti-dive’ forcefield as he continues to stack damage on any enemies in sight.
Pls stop trying to make Kennen + Braum work. Only Rekkles is allowed to pick Kennen.
— Martin Lynge (@RiotDeficio) 8 April 2017
After enjoying success on first Ezreal then Varus, Splyce pulled out the Kennen pick for first time in what looked set to be the conclusive match in the series. Overpowered by MSF Steven “Hans sama” Liv’s Kalista, Kobbe struggled to get a foothold in the game. Game 4 provided similarly disappointing results, as the Fiddlesticks combination in the bottom lane leaked kills to Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage’s LeBlanc, who ultimately snowballed the game.
After evidently proving to be an ineffective pick for Splyce, coach YamatoCannon insisted that the roster incorporated the champion into their draft once more. Shifting Kennen from bot to top lane, Wunder was tasked with unlocking the power of AD Kennen.
In theory, AD Kennen top lane works well as a situational counter to a number of tanks that struggle to deal with his ability to split push; the combination of hybrid damage and ranged tower taking is rough for any melee champ.
Wunder appeared clueless as to how AD Kennen was supposed to be played, recording a depressing scoreline of 0/7/1 as Splyce were toppled by Misfits. On numerous occasions during the final game of the series, Wunder suicided into the midst of the Misfits squad, perhaps in hope of near one-shotting the team ‘Smeb style’. In reality, the outcome frequently looked more like this:
Not a single member of the Splyce roster appeared to understand how to play AD Kennen. Without any ability power, it seems baffling that both Wunder and Kobbe expected to Slicing Maelstrom 1 v 4 and live to tell the tale. Splyce’s insistency to crowbar the niche pick into their strategy ultimately cost the Scandinavian Squad a shot at the playoff semi-finals.