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Zven: “I think Ocean Drake, if you get it in the laning phase (like 6, 7, 8 minutes), is the strongest Drake by far.”

G2's Zven seems to think the Ocean Drake is the strongest
G2's Zven says Ocean Drake, if taken in the laning phase, is the strongest in League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

G2 Esports’ Week 8 defeat of Ninjas in Pyjamas in the European League of Legends Championship Series featured a composition that ran slightly counter to the heavy tank meta, causing a few hiccups around Baron. G2 managed to close the series 2-0, however, looking primed to finish the split strong. After the series, AD Carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen spoke with Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about Jayce, strong lanes, and creating more balanced compositions.

Kelsey Moser: It seems the difference between this week and last week so far is that rather than indiscriminately prioritizing tanks, there are more nuances depending on which tanks are picked. For example, what signaled that it was OK for you guys to pick Jayce?

Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen: We had Elise. Jayce mid doesn’t really work without Elise jungle or some early game. Like early game Rek’Sai is really strong, so some early game. That game, we should have probably picked a mage in hindsight. Like our composition is good early, we would always win early game, with Gnar counterpick, we have Jayce mid with Elise jungle. It’s very strong. We have good bottom matchup as well after like three levels.

But I think in hindsight, our comp was very reliant on us playing very well and then playing not so well. But generally, Jayce mid is good if you have jungle Elise. So yeah, our comp didn’t have engage or much fighting power, but it has a lot laning phase power and skirmishing power, so — also, snowball is very good.

KM: We also saw more of the Trundle today, and some of the response to this was more of these early game picks.

JS: I think Trundle is meta now because we have supports like Alistar, Braum, Rakan, Tahm, so Trundle can lane without any problems. A lot of AD carries like Ashe-Varus mainly are static, so Trundle punishes them in lane. He can lane against them and win even. His ult is very strong in tank meta because the R armor and MR thingy, so he’s a strong pick for team fights.

You don’t really have to play like early game against Trundle, but you can. Champs like Lucian or Caitlyn. Anything with a dash really is good against Trundle in lane, so he probably can’t be blind-picked so easily, but he’s strong in team fights, strong in laning phase, his E is really good with the Mastery — the Bond of Stone mastery change — so he’ll have a lot of healing in team fights as well.

KM: It was interesting in the second game that you picked the Zac, and they went with the Maokai-Kalista, then you were able to respond with Cho’Gath and Alistar. This draft seemed a little —

JS: Free win?

KM: Yeah, like a little bit predictable maybe. Do you know what their thought process might have been for that?

JS: When we saw that they didn’t ban an OP champion like Zac, Elise, Caitlyn, or Cho’Gath second ban, we knew that we were going to get something OP like either Cho’Gath for free or Zac or Elise. So we decided to ban Elise this time, and then we would first pick Zac if we could. Trade Zac-Cho’Gath, which is good for us. Or they will ban Zac, and we will get Cho’Gath for free anyway, so it’s a fine trade for us regardless of the outcome.

They didn’t ban Zac, so we picked Zac, and we were like “Fine, they will pick Cho’Gath-Kalista, and then we will go something.” Right? Then they didn’t pick Cho’Gath, and we were like “Hm, well Alistar is good against Kalista. I can play more AD carries against Kalista than just two, so they can’t ban me out.” Then we just picked Alistar there and then Cho’Gath, and we thought we have front line, we have pretty good engage (Zac-Alistar is good engage). We can pick Ashe/Varus or something if we need to. Otherwise we can go Tristana, we can go — there’s options, so we thought it was a good base to have.

KM: Do you think the Kalista blind priority has been justified lately or do you think it’s kind of weird?

JS: I think the only thing that’s good against Kalista is if you have OP champs like Zac or something. She can’t kill this kind of — she can kill tanks, but not hyper tanks like Zac. She’s not DPS champion like that, but she’s really strong, but meta is like Alistar, Rakan, Kennen support (it’s popular in EU), Braum — all these champions that are good with Kalista. And she’s really good against them too. So she’s really good in the meta for supports. Her damage is pretty good early game for laning phase. Her damage is strong, like 1-v-1 laning phase, she’s strong. She has good skirmishing, most important of all, and her ult is like so good for supports. They can be super far up. They can make mistakes, and she can just ult them out, and they’re OK.

I think it’s understandable that she’s picked so much. She’s overall really good, and the only thing that’s bad about her is that she’s not really good against tanks if you need like high DPS champs. She must have like a mage or something else that does damage in a team comp if you’re playing against like Cho’Gath-Zac or something, you know? Only thing that counters her is like Alistar is good. Champions with grounded effects like Cassiopeia are good. Overall, she doesn’t have many counters necessarily.

KM: One of the side effects of drafting these lower CC comps was that teams seemed more afraid to contest river vision. How do you go about approaching some of these things when you are playing comps like you were playing today?

JS: Most games we play, we usually win laning phase, so if you win laning phase, you can get a ward somewhere on a Gromp or, you know, on golems or raptors, whatever you need. When you see someone in the jungle, you see he’s there, let’s go here then, get vision down. Get pink wards, take the pink wards. If you have a winning lane, you can always play off a winning lane. Make him help you to win. Then you have two winning lanes all of a sudden. You have pushing both sides. Generally, if you can facecheck with tanks like Alistar, you have Kalista maybe, you have someone to facecheck like Ashe E any other skill. If you can facecheck, you have vision spells, orbs (blue trinkets), then it’s fine. Use them. If not, then you have to give up the objective. Unless you can run down in the river and just fight them. Otherwise you can push mid first, you can maybe control the minion wave if they don’t show, get mid tower, get a drake (mid tower for drake is fine trade). Otherwise, they show mid. You can go into the river. It’s hard sometimes, but if you have tools, it’s good.

KM: I talked to Trick last week really briefly. He thinks that right now Infernal Drake priority has gone down a bit situationally. Could you talk a little bit more about that?

JS: I think Ocean Drake, if you get it in the laning phase (like 6, 7, 8 minutes), is the strongest Drake by far. Early, it’s the most OP drake in the game. Lanes can be won even more so in top lane or mid lane, I think, if you have like mana matchups, but in bot lane, sometimes, Ocean drake can just win the lane instantly. Kalista doesn’t care about it or these champs, but some champs that have strong spells with Ocean Drake can just win the lane without even trying. So Ocean Drake early game is the strongest.

I think Mountain Drake is also second best Drake. If you get Mountain Drake, you have like, so much more Baron pressure. Mid champs like Cassio, Cho’Gath, Kalista — those champions with Mountain Drake can one-shot Baron in like 10 seconds or so. Mountain Drake is more Baron pressure. Tower damage is decent, I guess.

Infernal Drake is good, but you don’t feel the effect so much. It goes unnoticed. You only get like 10-15 AD from it, and like some AP. It’s a good drake anyways, but I think Ocean early game is best drake. Mountain is good in the mid game. If you are ahead, it’s really OP.

KM: It seems a bit like you are saying if you win lane, the CC and stuff from the tank picks is less scary. Could you elaborate on this point a bit or clarify?

JS: If you win lane, you can kind of avoid being team fought on. If you win your lane really hard, thanks to your picks that are not team fighters. Yeah, if you win lane, you can just avoid team fighting. Like in Game 1, we had winning lanes everywhere with Jayce, Elise, Gnar, which counters their lanes. We had pressure in a way. That makes you get towers, which towers give you vision, which gives you free drakes. We had Ocean Drake too, we had Mountain Drake that game as well. We can control the map, we can get Herald, we can get something going anywhere we want. And they can never get a fight on us that is not bad for them. If they force fights, they will lose something else somewhere else, and it will be worth more for us if we can get second tower top. We had tempo on map, basically, and yeah, they can just go Baron and run down and just fight Baron no matter what, but if we play that game well, they would not be able to get Baron. They would not be able to fight Baron without losing everyone or taking a team fight that they start in Baron taking damage, right?

I think if you win lanes really hard, you can avoid ever fighting.

KM: On the desk, it seemed Perkz is super confident about the Fnatic matchup. Do you feel similarly, or are you a bit more concerned?

JS: I mean, I’m always confident. I’m not over-confident or anything, but I’m pretty confident that we can win against anyone. I think we are a very good team right now. Sharpen up our play a little bit more. We still make mistakes, of course. Everyone does, but I feel confident right now. The meta is a bit up-and-down. Some games I feel like we have good drafts. Some games I feel like we have not-so-good drafts. Overall, I think we have a decent understanding of the meta right now, so we should be fine in that regard, and I think we can beat them.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games