Play Like The Pros: Curse's Global Composition

Play Like The Pros: Curse's Global Composition

Welcome to Play like the Pros, where we examine strategies employed by the professionals in the LCS and understand the decision making involved so that you can improve your game. Today, we’ll look at an age-old team composition used by Curse against dignitas: Mass Globals.

Curse's bans: Diana, Zac, Kennen
Curse's picks: Shen, Nocturne/Karthus, Ezreal/Leona
Team Dignitas's bans: Nunu, Thresh, Twisted Fate
Team Dignitas's picks: Blitzcrank/Draven, Lee Sin/Jayce, Evelynn

The Goals of Mass Globals

There’s a lot to consider when building a team composition, so let’s look at this through the lens of two important rules for champion select:

1. Your team needs to place some kind of major pressure on your opponent: There needs to be at least one thing your team does really well.

  • Curse’s lineup is able to constantly redirect action. Does the enemy team send someone to deal with Shen’s split push? Curse will fight you 5v4 and take Dragon. Do they try to take the Dragon with 5? Curse will kill your turrets and still contest Dragon 5v5. When the action does begin, the Curse’s composition is able to teamfight incredibly well. This is incredibly important.

2. Ideally, your team should not have any obviously exploitable weaknesses.

  • Curse’s lineup has no weak lanes. Shen, Karthus, and Ezreal/Leona are completely acceptable lanes with no obvious weaknesses. They have a good level 1 team composition, good late game scaling, and function well in 4v4 fights (without Shen).

Pre-Level 6 and the Laning Phase

Mass Globals (and by extension, Curse) only really starts to matter once Shen, Nocturne, and Karthus hit level 6 and learn their ultimates. Because of this, Curse only has one goal for the laning phase: don’t lose. They’re not particularly concerned with doing anything special in the beginning. In fact, they want as uninteresting a laning phase as possible.

The laning assignments are completely standard, but there’s one early decision that’s worth pointing out: Curse’s jungler Saintvicious starts at the Elder Lizard camp. Because Curse wants a slow-paced early game, they want to defend against early turret pressure. With 2v1 top lanes and subsequent 3v1 turret dives being very common, a popular tactic is to send the Jungler to the undermanned lane for defense as soon as he hits level 3. Saintvicious wants to take red buff, then blue buff, and be right next to Voyboy’s Shen in plenty of time to defend a turret dive.

However, an early move from dignitas breaks this plan apart: Upon spotting Blitzcrank and Draven top lane, they surmise that the Ancient Golem was Rocket Grabbed and stolen from over the wall. This is where another important rule comes into play: You need to adapt to the game at hand because nothing ever goes exactly to plan.

As a response, Curse realizes that the other Ancient Golem camp is still available and that Curse has a numbers advantage on the bottom side of the map. Saintvicious doubles back and runs for the dignitas Ancient Golem camp, relying on EDward and Cop to help, as they outnumber KiWiKiD. As soon as the Golem is killed and Saintvicious hits level 3, he makes a bee-line for the top lane to defend Voyboy. The problem is, Crumbzz is already ahead and the 3v1 dive is successful for dignitas. Saintvicious is left to hold the turret and Voyboy falls behind.

As a second adaptation, Curse are able to successfully dive KiWiKiD on his own turret, as they know Crumbzz is otherwise engaged at the top lane, so Curse build a large lead in one area while falling behind in another.

Saintvicious rushes to Level 6 as soon as possible, but the rest of the laning phase is rather uneventful. Karthus hits level 6 first, then Nocturne, then finally Shen. As soon as all three ultimates are available, the real game begins.

Level 6

Watch the clip

Literally the instant Voyboy’s Shen hits level 6, Curse turns aggressive to follow Rule #1. The attack is pre-planned. Saintvicious is already lurking in the shadows behind the bottom lane. EDward dives in on Imaqtpie with Leona while Nocturne and Shen pop their ultimates as well, securing an easy kill on the dignitas AD Carry.

An incredibly important note about teams like this is that their windows to create major pressure on their opponent are few and far between because the cooldowns on the important ultimates are all very long at this stage of the game. Each expended ultimate must not only result in a kill, but some kind of major objective as well. Curse turns their kill into a Dragon, while also trying to defend any counter-attacks on their other lanes’ turrets.

Mid Game Decision Making

It’s important to realize that playing this composition is not a brain-dead activity. There are large windows where you’re completely open to counter-attack, and misuse of your ultimate cooldowns can completely backfire. Curse makes two such missteps over the next three minutes.

At 10:25, EDward initiates a 2v2 in the bottom lane before the global ultimates are back from cooldown. Dignitas’s Jungler is waiting for a counter-gank, making Curse lose a 2v3 fight and their bottom lane turret. In general, a fight like this can be a good idea: EDward engaged immediately upon hitting level 6, so surprise was on his side. However, he had imperfect vision and never spotted Lee Sin sneak into range. Realistically, the team cannot simply do nothing for three minutes at a time as good teams will exert pressure against you.

11 minutes in, Saintvicious attempts to fight an underhanded 2v3: All three global ultimates are available, but he is the only member near three low-health dignitas players. He dives in hoping to surprise his victims, but their damage output simply outpaces Shen’s Stand United shield and dignitas get a free kill.

There’s one really convenient fact regarding the cooldowns of Curse’s global ultimates and the respawn of the Dragon. The ultimates’ cooldowns are all right around 3 minutes, while the Dragon respawns every 6, so Curse basically gets one “Dragonless” set of ultimates before the next Dragon fight occurs. After the prior failed attempt, the next three minutes are again fairly uneventful for the Curse lineup, following Rule #2. They are successful in surviving while waiting for cooldowns. They’re happy to sit and wait for their next opportunity that coincides with Dragon’s respawn as well as the return of Curse’s ultimates.

Like clockwork as Curse’s ultimates come back, Curse groups Nocturne, Ezreal, and Leona to the bottom lane while Shen split-pushes the top lane. This follows Rule #1: stop Shen in the top lane only to lose control of Dragon, or try to take Dragon 5v4, losing the top lane turret as well as baiting out a teamfight with Curse’s ultimates available. Dignitas chooses option number 2, which brings us to our first major teamfight of the game.

Teamfights with Mass Globals

Watch the clip

Once actual fights begin, your map mobility doesn’t matter anymore. If dignitas wins the teamfight, they take control of the map and likely win the game. If Curse wins this fight, they get to keep playing the global pressure and are likely to take the victory. It’s Dragon fight #2 at around 15 minutes that decides much of the game.

Let’s look back at the other champions selected by Curse, because they were picked for the specific purpose of teamfighting. Saintvicious’s Nocturne will almost always jump straight onto KiWiKiD’s Jayce or Imaqtpie’s Draven. Voyboy’s Shen will always Stand United onto Nocturne and attack the same target. NyJacky’s Karthus will often Flash in and follow up as well, or at very least cast Requiem from safety. So far we have guaranteed damage on the back line, and that’s where Ezreal and Leona come in. It is incredibly easy for the team to follow up with Solar Flare and Trueshot Barrage to take out the back line. After the initial burst comes through, Ezreal and Karthus are easily able to clean up the stragglers and control the map.

That’s exactly what happens in the 15 minute teamfight. Curse goes in hard and there’s no way for Dignitas to push them back. Curse simply unloads damage onto the back line, killing Imaqtpie as soon as possible, and mopping up the rest.

Late Game

The game dynamic changes one final time when Baron Nashor becomes a viable objective. Up until now, Voyboy’s Shen has been the primary split-pusher in the top lane. That all changes once teams are strong enough to kill the Baron. Remember that Voyboy can get anywhere on the map in just a few seconds. Curse is wise to place him as far away from the most important objectives as possible: If Dignitas fights Voyboy, they lose the objective. If Dignitas fights for the objective, Voyboy continues to make progress on the opposite side of the map. Curse will continue taking Dragon whenever it’s available, but when it’s not, Shen is now in the bottom lane and the rest of the team is able to do whatever they want.

Curse chooses to use Cop’s Ezreal as a second split pusher. While he can’t get around the map easily, he can contribute to a battle or slow a push with Trueshot Barrage. Additionally, the rest of the Curse lineup can start a battle at a moment’s notice if they catch someone off guard and the dignitas lineup is likely to be spread out because of the pressure all around the map. Curse randomly stumbles into scarra’s Evelynn and with the help of Solar Flare and Paranoia, she becomes an easy kill. Curse capitalizes on this kill with a follow-up push on the bottom lane. Mid game adaptations are results of abusing the lineup strengths from Rule #1.

The rest of the game plays out according to plan for Curse. Nocturne and Leona are always with the “main” group of Curse’s lineup, and once the Inner Turrets start falling, Ezreal groups up as well. Only Voyboy’s Shen split pushes. However, mid game adaptations start to mean more and more. Curse has built up a 20% Gold lead by this point in the game. They have several unanswered Dragons, 5 more champion kills, 2 more turret kills, and a lead in minion kills due to their split pushing. Now all they need to do is force a 5 vs. 5 battle away from Dignitas’s turrets. This opportunity finally presents itself at 22:30. Even though Curse could easily keep split pushing with Shen, teams should take advantage of their leads and stretch them whenever possible. Teamfights are great ways to do this.

Curse fights it the exact same way they did before. Saintvicious and Voyboy jump onto the back line and kill whatever they can. Instead of relentlessly chasing champions who Flash away, they’ll simply move onto whatever’s next in line, relying on Karthus’s Requiem to finish off any stragglers. As stated before, Baron Nashor is an achievable objective at this point, and Curse turns to the Baron pit to cement the advantage they gained from the teamfight.

The game ends on the next teamfight, which is fought with a 10,000 Gold advantage as well as Baron Buff. Unsurprisingly, Curse wins the game.

Conclusions

No game will play out exactly like this one. Different mistakes and clutch plays will happen on both sides and you’ll have to make your own adaptations. But to get you started on emulating the success shown here by Curse, let’s recount a few important priorities.

  • Curse rarely forces the issue when their ultimates are on cooldown, but they can fend for themselves in lane.
  • Curse leaps into action immediately after grabbing their 3 most important ultimates.
  • Curse translates those ultimates into teamfight victories, and those teamfight victories into global objectives.
  • Shen split pushes as far away from the most important global objective at the time: top lane (Dragon) until 15 minutes, and bottom lane (Baron Nashor) after.
  • Curse never pushes if they can be outnumbered. The only time they pushed without Ezreal was when the enemy Evelynn was already dead. Stand United always had to be available when venturing into enemy territory.
  • The remaining champion selections complemented the in-your-face diving nature of Nocturne and Shen. Leona and Ezreal can easily contribute to killing the back line.
  • The champions’ itemization fits their goals. Nocturne and Shen build tanky, and Shen additionally builds a Sunfire Cape for split pushing power. Karthus and Ezreal build largely for up-front damage.

That should get you started on your way to conquering the map with Mass Globals. Spread your opponents out, engage immediately with a numbers advantage, and take over the game.

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About Play Like The Pros

Play Like The Pros is a recurring feature where we learn to emulate the strategies and tactics employed by the professional players of the LCS. In an effort to maintain confidentiality among the pros, these articles are written from the author's point of view and analysis. Unless players give permission, the author will not reveal something told in confidence. Stay tuned for more columns in the coming weeks.

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