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The End of an Era: The Elite Bottom Lane Duos

Izento 2018-12-04 04:50:15
  The expanse of the internet has allowed us to connect with one another and with that, there has been an increase in multiplayer games, but at the time it was generally 1v1, pitting your wit against another person to see whom could be victorious. Now we’ve come to an age where many games are team efforts. League of Legends has established a culture which rewards those who work well together and that is further exemplified through the meta which has been established from the community with the bottom lane duo. This function that has been in LoL for the better part of seven years and makes the bittersweet taste of so many epic bottom laners dissolving that much more difficult to swallow. Here we look back at some of the most elite bot lanes to ever exist but will sadly not continue coming into Season 9.

“We’ve played over 1000 games together, maybe more and I’m confident in him and he’s confident in me” – Altec (about Adrian)

[Source: TheShotcaller] Bang and Wolf have been together for the longest time out of any of these iconic bot lanes. They had first played on Najin Shield in 2012 but would split up for a short period only to return together on SK Telecom T1 S. They were overshadowed by their sister team SKT T1 K, which had the likes of Piglet and PoohManDu. Riot then implemented a ruling disallowing two teams from the same organization to compete in the league which forced SKT to merge their teams, and in this merging Bang and Wolf were chosen to be the starting bot lane. This duo would go on to win two world championships as the starters for the SKT lineup in 2015 and 2016. SKT would later have struggles in 2017, still making it to Worlds but falling to Samsung Galaxy 0-3 in the finals to lose their first world championship in three years. Bang and Wolf would falter in 2018, unable to qualify for Worlds and in the case of Wolf, being substituted out consistently or swapped to different roles. Wolf often served as the team’s initiation on the likes of Alistar, dictating many late game teamfights and allowing space for Bang to operate and excel at what Bang is most well-known for, incredible damage output during the late game. Bang can be considered as one of the best ADCs in the world when it comes to maximum damage output with consistently keeping survivability a priority. Bang and Wolf were such a necessary part in the SKT team due to being a stable bot lane, never chaotic and always being there as late game insurance for the team to fall back on if the early game faltered, which was often. Heading into Season 9, this will be the first time in six years where both Bang and Wolf haven’t been on the same team. Bang has moved onto 100 Thieves in NA whereas Wolf has joined Supermassive in TCL.

“It felt very affirming. I played my best and put everything that I had. Having your duo partner say ‘Hey, I can’t find anyone better than you so lets stick together’ is a good feeling” - Mithy (about Zven)

[Source: Inven Global] Zven and Mithy have been playing together since Season 5 when they both joined Origen, back when Zven’s in-game name was Niels. This team would never go on to win an EU LCS title, but their miraculous run from Challenger all the way to Worlds semifinals would be acknowledged as a phenomenal accomplishment that the EU region could take pride in. They would later move onto G2 in 2016 Summer Split where they would win 3 EU championship titles and place second at the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational. After G2, the duo would move to NA in order to form a powerful roster on TSM. Unfortunately, they would go on to be part of the first lineup in TSM’s history to fail to make Worlds. Zven and Mithy both play a safe style, able to completely crush weaker bot lanes but tempering aggression when going up against world class competition. This duo has been given an average amount of resources throughout their games and it’s been a reason why they’ve always given their teams another lane to play towards if it fits the team composition and general game plan. Mithy is renowned for his shotcalling abilities, being able to mold a team around one specific goal at a time and dictate the gamestate. There were even instances where the community would discredit Mithy’s coaches simply because the rumors of his shotcalling was so grandiose that it were as if he strategically ran the team by himself. Zven’s had a quick rise to fame as a challenger for best ADC in Europe. Under the tutelage of Mithy, he’s become a valuable ADC to acquire in any lineup. Zven’s playstyle could be considered by some to play neutral unless the matchup dictates he play otherwise, although his willingness to exploit weaknesses or gaps has always been his biggest strength, as both he and Mithy will not hesitate when the circumstances present themselves. Zven has chosen to stay on TSM in NA whereas Mithy has returned to EU in Origen.

“Whenever I left a team, I was always the last to leave. I wasn't as sad when I left ROX Tigers for Kingzone as I still had PraY with me. However, this time, I truly felt that it was the end. When I saw PraY packing his things to leave the Kingzone teamhouse, I burst out in tears”. – Gorilla

[Source: Inven Global] PraY started out on Najin Sword (later named Najin Black Sword) in 2012 whereas GorillA joined Najin White Shield in 2013. It wouldn’t be long before the competitive ruling forced Najin to form one team and that meant PraY and GorillA would join to form the famous “PrillA” bot lane in 2015 on the KOO Tigers. They would struggle for the 2015 Summer Split but would qualify for Worlds in the process with their circuit points where they would challenge SKT in the finals but ultimately lose out 1-3. In 2016, the ROX Tigers (previously KOO Tigers) looked incredibly dominant, having a 2nd place finish in the Spring Split and coming 1st in Summer Split. They headed into Worlds as one of the most feared teams in attendance but would ultimately fall to SKT once again, but this time at the semifinals 2-3. Pray and GorillA would switch to Longzhu Gaming (later becoming Kingzone DragonX) where they would have great domestic success in 2017 but fail to translate that into the world championship. In 2018 they had even worse conditions, failing to make Worlds at all. PraY is most known for his Ashe pick, considered by many to be the best Ashe player in the world, which also alludes to his ability to shotcall and be an initiator for his team. His aggressive style in lane pairs well with GorillA as they look to keep the lane pushed almost always. Gorilla is most known for his Janna and Alistar as well as his famous innovative pick Miss Fortune which he revealed during the 2016 semifinals match against SKT, a series which many herald as the best series of all-time. This duo has been plagued with being just out of arms reach of ultimate greatness in securing a Worlds title, which shows that they still have room for improvement but are hopefully not haunted by their past failures. PraY has decided to take a break from playing competitively whereas GorillA has signed with Misfits in EU.

“When you’re a really good duo, I think you just communicate really well with each other and you always know what the other person is thinking and you’re always thinking about how you can help your duo partner. After you do that for a while, you eventually just feel like the same person. You have the same mind.” – Doublelift

[Source: Team Liquid] Both Deft and Mata were part of the MVP organization back in 2013, with Deft being on MVP Blue and Mata playing for MVP Ozone. Both would fight for a chance on the new Samsung squads before ultimately Mata would join Samsung White with Imp as his ADC whereas Deft would join Samsung Blue. These two teams would go on to face each other at Worlds 2014 semifinals and going into the match, many had commented that Samsung Blue was the stronger team. Samsung White would dismantle Blue in 3-0 fashion, knocking Deft out of Worlds and White would go on to win Worlds 2014. Both Deft and Mata would leave Korea as they headed into Season 5, being part of the great Korean Exodus where they would join Edward Gaming and Vici Gaming respectively. It wasn’t until 2017 where both would join forces to create a superteam in KT Rolster, but the team had little success in their first year as analysts would observe that the team’s early game was phenomenal but would fall apart in the later stages of the game. KT would fail to reach Worlds in 2017, but 2018 they saw massive improvements, winning LCK Summer and making it to Worlds 2018 quarterfinals where they would lose to eventual world champions Invictus Gaming in a convincing 2-3 series. Deft and Mata are one of the most stable bot lane duos in existence. The KT Rolster bot lane would rarely (if ever) lose their lane and would be a crucial lynch pin in trying to hold out for the late game. Elsewhere on the map, Score would dictate the early game for this team and work well with Mata to secure vision. Mata has been known to be a roam-heavy support with signature champions such as Thresh and Alistar. His skills in both shotcalling and understanding other roles by having multiple challenger accounts for each role signifies that he has an unassailable comprehension of the game. Deft has been the sidekick of Mata for two solid years now with his signature champion Ezreal being feared every time it’s picked. Deft has been able to play safely and coordinate with Mata whenever his support would roam. Deft has joined Kingzone DragonX while Mata has joined SKT T1.

“I can see why people [stick together]. If you’re performing well as a duo and you work well with the other person, then it’s really good to just move with each other so you don’t have to regain that synergy with another person. I think it might depend on the player – sometimes two players aren’t working with other players and they just found the perfect support or ADC”. – Apollo

[Source: TheShotcaller] Ruler and CoreJJ have vastly different stories from many other Korean duos, as Ruler would stay in Korea for his entire career whereas CoreJJ would move to NA to join Team Dignitas in 2015 as their ADC where there was far less competition considering LCK was reshuffling because of the sister team ruling. CoreJJ would not find success in NA as the Team Dignitas roster saw several substitutions and narrowly avoided relegations in the Spring Split. During the Summer Split they would see more roster moves with their jungler Azingy being changed for Helios, but the change proved to be disastrous and the team failed to qualify for Worlds. He would then move back to LCK to join Samsung Galaxy, fighting for the starting ADC spot against Stitch. The team would go on to miss out on playoffs and start reforming their starting roster. Ruler is a much younger player than CoreJJ as five years separates the duo. Ruler’s pro career would start in Challenger but was quickly picked up by Samsung Galaxy in 2016 Summer Split to form the iconic duo as CoreJJ would roleswap to support. The team had another substitute support in Wraith, who would see much more playing time than CoreJJ but would ultimately be swapped out in favor of CoreJJ during the end of the Summer Split. Ruler and CoreJJ would go on to be a Worlds finalist in 2016 where they went to five games against SKT, only for Ruler to massively misstep and give SKT full momentum and therefore the trophy. Finally at Worlds 2017 SSG get their deserved victory against SKT, taking home the Summoner’s Cup in convincing 3-0 fashion. 2018 would prove to be a large endeavor as Gen.G (previously KSV and Samsung Galaxy) entered Worlds 2018 as the 3rd seed and would later be the first LCK team ever to not make quarterfinals. The style of the Samsung bot lane is known to be resource heavy. Ambition would often play around mid and bot in order to help secure vision and allow Ruler and CoreJJ to play up in lane. Ruler is known for his Varus and Jhin picks with the intention of being lane bullies and getting lane priority so that plays can be made from his jungler. CoreJJ is an aggressive laner with a champion pool comprised of most notably Zyra and Lulu. He isn’t a heavy roamer, but does his duty in helping his jungler invade for vision. One missing factor from CoreJJ that separates him from other supports on this list is he isn’t known for shotcalling and being the gel of the team, as that was Ambition’s job, which was particularly evident whenever Ambition would be subbed out and the team would be a stark contrast from their normal world class selves Ruler has renewed his contract with Gen.G and CoreJJ moves to NA to join Team Liquid. When you’ve been around someone for long enough you begin to understand them almost at an instinctive level. How do they act in large group settings? When do they feel most pressured? Are they having an off day? These questions are only thoroughly answered with time, and bot lanes are no exception, as it takes time for two players to mesh together and form a cohesive unit. Being a world class bot lane not only takes skill, it takes sacrifice, compromise, and the drive to constantly improve even the micro aspects of your game. The fit is not only determined by the two players, but also their environment and how well their playstyle can best serve their team. Here we say goodbye to some of the best bot lane duos to play the game and we exit an era to birth a new one full of promise and optimism. Let us not mourn our loss for long, as there are many prospects which may carry the mantle as they contend for best bot lane duo and may soon make their mark on the halls of history. ___ Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content. Images courtesy of Lolesports Flickr. Special thanks to Gamepedia

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