It’s 2016. Someone please tell me how it’s acceptable that professional League of Legends players are losing in PvE. Yes… Let’s forget about the Dignitas & Renegades clown fiesta from a couple of weeks ago where we saw 4 players dying to turrets – I attribute that to highly adaptive meta decisions, where mastering wave control is still new to some teams in the Western League of Legends scene. But what about Barons?…
Here we see a classic example of Kiwikid dying at Baron, to the monster itself. I mean, Baron is the most powerful neutral monster in the game. That however, does not excuse making the conscious choice to sacrifice oneself to it, especially at the competitive level. Team Dignitas has consistently made game-throwing plays at the Baron every single year, however, most of these can be attributed to steals or fights around the pit.
This malady is not bound solely to North America though. xPepii and Wisdom of Giants Gaming recently decided to feed themselves to the purple lord in the final game of the promotion series between Giants and Splyce (they would eventually go on to lose this game).
In attempting to understand why this happens, I ask two questions: Are professional League of Legends teams too ignorant of the baron and late-game macro control as a whole? Or is Baron itself and the volatility of its skills a problem for the game?
Learning the Late-Game
We are finally starting to see some fantastic macro play out of nearly every single team across every region. Players are really starting to get the hang of lane swap techniques, wave control, and fast push decision-making. But through all of the calculated early games, matches often erupt into a mid-game clown fiesta.
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Could this perhaps be attributed to a lack of strategic priority towards the later stages of the game? Baron executions possibly indicate this, as many players’ understanding of Nashor’s power at each stage of the game seem to be missing.
The drafting stage of game these days though does indicate greater cohesion in the mid-late game strategies of each team. We’re seeing very defensive poke compositions, to well-executed pick compositions, to the tankiest mess of bruisers at times. So maybe teams are getting a lot better at macro decision making as a whole, including the late-game.
Is Baron Too Much?
There’s no doubt, Baron Nashor is a pretty jacked up monster. He’s immune to any crowd-control effects (aside from Bard Ult), debuffs the person he’s attacking, and has all kinds of different attacking abilities.
Actually, Baron has 3 different kinds of basic attacks, two of which actually can stun you if you’re standing behind him. Passively, Baron applies a stacking debuff that reduces armor/magic resist, has another debuff that reduces damage output by 50%, and an AOE aura that does damage periodically.
When you combine that with the powerful active abilities of Acid Pool, Acid Shot, and Tentacle Knockup, Baron becomes quite the volatile force. Even beyond the plain numbers of the monster, the thing that makes engaging baron so difficult is the fact that he has 11 different skills. 11. That’s some Invoker level stuff.
Does this immense complexity to Baron make sense, given the nature of other monsters? Even Dragon and the Rift Herald are near 1-dimensional in their attacks. The reward from Baron is undoubtedly much greater, but that does not necessarily mean the monster itself needs to be so complex that even professional players don’t quite know what it does. A monster can be strong without being an overly complex beast (see Master Yi Bot).
Either way, the onus is on professional players to be adaptive to the game. The complexity of Baron gives newer teams a chance to create a competitive advantage in their late-game macro strategy. I doubt we’ll see any changes to Nash within this season. I do hope however, that we do see much fewer PvE casualties in the summer split, especially from our friends at Dignitas.