The sexy, red-haired, rain making elephant in the room

Every Worlds, there’s always a not-popular/meta champion pick that emerges from some team, usually from Korea, that takes the tournament by storm, or is effective enough to surprise out some critical victories.  Sometimes they’re picked against lesser opponents so that players can hide their hands and not reveal their A-games to those stronger challengers scouting in the wings, or sometimes they’re busted out at a critical juncture of a series to catch the opponent off guard, and by the time they understand what is happening it’s too late.

Every year, there’s always one or a few picks that are remembered for its breaking of the meta, and outside the box thinking, or sometimes just plain goofy audacity, that sometimes works because nobody is expecting it.  In Season 3, OMG’s LoveLing bust out a jungle Volibear that completely blindsided TSM en route to a 43-13 drubbing.  In the Season 4 Finals, Royal Club’s inSec selected Rammus to jungle, and although his line score didn’t look that impressive, he most definitely contributed to Royal’s only win before ultimately succumbing to Samsung White.  And then there was last season SK Telecom T1’s Faker going all the way to Jupiter to select Olaf to play in mid lane (link above), and then still throttling a completely lost Bangkok Titans squad who inexplicably tried to go bruiser-vs-bruiser against Faker by picking Irelia mid.

It’s a legit strategy when it comes to League of Legends, since there are just so many available champions to pick from.  No matter how infallible or statistically reliable some champions are, out of 150+ available, there’s going to be one that’s an effective counter somewhere.  And the players that hide them in their hands until critical points are legit risk takers, choosing to unleash them when the stakes are high.

The Season 6 Finals haven’t happened yet, but I think it’s safe to say the pick of tournament that will be immortalized has been found, during the semis of the ROX Tigers versus SK Telecom T1.  When SKT picked Zyra; the 13th time Zyra was outright picked throughout Worlds, because of her general effectiveness as a support pick, ROX countered with a pick nobody was expecting, eliciting surprise from everyone from the fans in attendance, the fans at home (mythical and I were both like “wtf??”) as well as the casters commentating the game: Miss Fortune.

At first, I thought it had to be a mistake; it has happened in professional League before, where a misclick, a glitch or some other reason, results in a lock-in of a champion nobody had any intention of playing.  And Riot does allow for the genuine mulligan, allowing both teams to agree to make the same bans and picks prior to the said mulligan, and I figured we were seconds away from seeing a reset of the pick and ban phase after MF was locked in.

But no, that without-hesitation insta-lock with conviction was no mistake.  ROX’s Gorilla deliberately picked an MF to go against a Zyra, and based on how quickly and with zero hesitation the decision was, it was clear that there was a plan.

And as the match progressed, it was clear what ROX’s and Gorilla’s intentions were.  Support Miss Fortune countered support Zyra pretty damn effectively; whereas Zyra’s buds require two abilities to generate plants and proc the gold-generating Spellthief’s Edge item, all MF has to do is hit E to Make it Rain, which applies a slow, does a little bit of damage, and because it hits multiple times, procs Spellthief’s Edge multiple times, all while having a slightly better range than Zyra.  And that’s just during the laning phase.

Once the game expanded, support MF basically started building armor penetration items, and became a walking ult, helping deal auxiliary damage during team fights; an extremely effective tactic, when paired up with PraY’s Ashe, stunning one or more opponents with a giant crystal arrow.

Support Miss Fortune’s debut resulted in the ROX Tigers defeating SK Telecom T1, 21-11, to tie the series at one game apiece. 

Whether SKT was being arrogant or deciding support MF to be a fluke, they went into Game 3 with Zyra again, only for Gorilla to pick MF again, and the ROX Tigers winning again, 19-11, and taking a 2-1 series lead in the best of five.  It was at this point, SKT learned their lesson, and with no time mid-series to figure out how to counter support MF, they had no choice but to utilize one of their bans to simply, take her out of the equation. 

The gamble paid off, as with no support MF screwing up team fights and throw off damage distribution, SKT was able to even up, and ultimately take the series in five games.  But the mark in the short history book of Worlds was made by the ROX Tigers’ Gorilla unleashing the unexpectedly effective support MF.

To no surprise, when it works with one, it will be imitated by others.  The following day Samsung Galaxy’s CoreJJ bust out support MF against a Zyra, and although they had fewer kills than H2K, 13-15, they still won the game.  H2K too, was then forced to use a ban on MF, but they still eventually lost the series in three games.  Support MF strikes again!

Miss Fortune is one of my favorite champions.  She was the first champion I ever “mained,” and I literally played almost nothing but MF between levels 3-25 on my grind towards 30.  As far as mastery points are concerned, there’s no champion I have more points with than MF, including Jinx, Lulu and Volibear, other champions that I enjoy playing a lot of.

But I’m aware of MF’s irrelevance in the game’s meta; she hasn’t been relevant in high-level/professional play since like, early season 2.  There are simply way more effective and utilitarian ADCs available, that have more crowd-control and/or escape means on top of the damage they deal.  Regardless of the numerous tweaks the game has done to ADC items and MF herself, to try and make her a little more relevant, her lack of escapability is often still her biggest downfall.

None of which has actually stopped me from playing her, in the rare instances where I actually play tryhard mode AKA Summoner’s Rift, because I am not a professional much less high-level player, so I don’t concern myself much with inSec mechanics and bemoan the difference between an 8 ping versus a 38 ping.

Regardless, I’ve always wanted to see MF played by professionals, to see what one of my favorite champions looks like in the hands of the most talented of the talented.  And finally, such a small dream was fulfilled, on the Worlds stage, no less.  I wouldn’t have imagined it would ever have happened at Worlds, and even if it was in a support role, without the requisite Infinity Edge/Bloodthirster/DPS item build, it was truly awesome to see Miss Fortune being unleashed at the professional level.

Even if it means more people are going to start playing MF and pretending like they’ve loved her nearly half as long as I have.  God damn it

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