Vainglory League European Finals saw some rather unique and even successful compositions over the course of three days. In total 18 of the 19 available heroes made it into the Fold during the competition, Blackfeather being the only exception, including an respectable 71% win rate for Petal in seven appearances (take that patches 1.3-1.10!). Keep in mind this tournament was played on patch 1.11 so Kestrel was not available.
Arguably the most impressive showing came in the form of the towering river troll Phinneas. Over the course of three days, he made five appearances and only lost one. Even better, that loss was at the hands of the team (Media Pixels eSports) that tanked him to victory in the other four.
Media Pixels eSports unveiled a SAW, Phinn and Adagio comp on day two against Snow, mirroring the effectiveness of the SAW, Ardan and Adagio that has been hot and cold on the big stage. The tactic was similar: PUSH THE LANE; but, Media Pixel’s success came in the way Mowglie (as Phinn) used Forced Accord to yank the enemies away from the protection of their turrets and secure quick kills by a buffed and spun-up SAW. This compliments one of SAW’s biggest weaknesses in that he has trouble getting to the action with such sluggish move speed. By pairing him with the Fold’s slowest and “pullingest” hero, Media Pixels set their own pace and brought the fight to SAW. When the battle did arrive, SAW benefitted from the protection of Phinn’s Quibble and Polite Company. Pouncing on SAW meant pouncing on the big troll as well, spelling trouble for any would-be attacker
Rotating to lane quickly after the game began, Mowglie didn’t spend much in the way of vision so he used the wealth of his Ironguard Contract to secure a Fountain of Renewel by five minutes in. This improved his synergy with Adagio in keeping SAW alive at all costs. By mid-game, team Snow all had reflex blocks to on their rather squishy Skye, Catherine and Skaarf heroes but that still did not stop Mowglie from landing a surprising number of ults and pulling his victims into a deadly storm of green fire and bullets. As this game was played on 1.11, Mowglie didn’t even have the extra benefit of reduced cool down on Phinn’s Forced Accord, a considerable 1.12 buff.
In addition, Phinn can very well be the worst match-up for Catherine as he cannot be stunned and therefore has free reign to focus the enemy carries with his own stun and slow. Media Pixels went on to a decisive victory in Game 1 against Snow, dropped the second game using a completely different comp, and brought the lane boys back in Game 3 during blind pick and took the series. I would argue this is an improvement on the Ardan-based lane comp when it comes to pushing, because Phinn can provide defense stats that allow SAW to stand there and fire away until either he or the turret falls. Of course, any solo queue player can tell you this is exactly what SAW wants to do.
The Dead Zone
On Day 3, Media Pixels met eventual third place finisher, Blackhawk, in the semi-finals. Facing an early Adagio pick by Blackhawk, Media locked in a new comp with Rona, Skaarf and Phinn. This time the game was different as Mowglie kept the enemies within range to take advantage of his allies’ devasting area of effect (AOE) abilities. Phinn held Koshka and Vox in place while Rona spun and Skaarf burned. By late game Mowglie had only built Journey Boots, Warhorn and Fountain of Renewel, using any remaining gold to literally carpet the jungle in Scout Traps and keep Minion Candy in reserve to protect the Gold Mine as well as empower the lane minions. Yet even with just two items granting defense, a single Polite Company on overdrive with his allies nearby grants each around 73 shield and 63 armor. That’s almost as potent as a tier 2 defensive item, not to mention the health barrier. This combination creates a more dangerous atmosphere than Ardan’s Gauntlet, albeit shorter, and can be followed up with a stunning Quibble (if on overdrive) while the targets are still too slow to dodge. Team synergy on behalf of Media Pixels milked every second of opportunity out of Phinn’s near unparalleled crowd control.
Thumbs Down For Trolling
A strong showing and win in Game 1 against Blackhawk lead into Game 2 where the first official Phinn ban came out. Another started off the finals when Media Pixel faced Rebirth of Empire for the championship. In both situations, this was a double-edged sword for those placing the ban, as there are many more “classic” comps that Media Pixels was able to take advantage of. I found this significant for the Vainglory competitive scene. During selection, there are heroes that draw forth a visceral reaction from the audience when soft-locked, let alone chosen, but after this spectacular showing by Mowglie, it doesn’t seem like Phinn will be much of a surprise going forward. Commanding play like this ripples across the community and redefines what’s meta. Now let’s just hope Mowglie doesn’t cause Phinn to get nerfed like LostBoyToph did to Ardan.
On a final note, the last six games against Media Pixels opponents banned Roam heroes, targeting the exceptional support of Mowglie. This is becoming a bit of a reoccurring theme in tournament play, and quite possibly heralds the arrival of a golden age of respect for Roam players worldwide. Instalockers beware, your Roam might carry you instead.