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Innovation and Counterplay: VON Diablo vs HH Force

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Just over a week ago we witnessed some incredibly interesting and well-played matches between VON Diablo and HH Force. This remains permanently fixed in my memory because of the sheer tactical elegance displayed by both teams involved. No other best-of-three even came close in terms of the enjoyability of this one. Grab on to your brackets and pull up the archived VaingloryLeague Twitch broadcast – we are about to dive into this incredible series of games!



VON vs. HH Game One

This best-of-three began with the familiar drafting phase of the first game like any other set we’ve watched so far. However, VON Diablo (a team somewhat overshadowed by the first-seeded VON Menace) completely baffled viewers by drafting Phinn, Ardan, and Krul against their opponents, HH Force. As expected, Twitch chat was in an uproar – surely there was some mistake! VON must have made some gruesome typo as they listed their picks! Autocorrect must certainly have eaten them alive as they typed! The thoughts of everyone were identical: “There is absolutely no way that VON can win with a team composition as ridiculous as triple melee with two supports.”

HH Force seemed to share this sentiment, as they wasted no time being aggressive in the first five minutes of game one. BillytheKid poked hard at Napoleonfixcar’s sluggish Phinn in the lane, causing the latter to miss out on a few minion waves very early on and resulting in an early advantage in lane CS for HH. Furthermore, XenoTek’s made some impressive dives in lane with Skye, scoring him an impressive early-game KDA. With confidence that they would win against Diablo’s outlandish draft, Force pushed hard to secure the early game momentum. And it worked – they had a clear early game advantage in just KDA alone, not to mention gold. People were saying “gg” already in their minds, confident that HH Force would take home the game in a decisive sweep.

VON vs. HH mid game one

And then the mid-game hit. I’m sure more than a few mouths hung open at this point in the game. Diablo surprised everyone by aggressively ganking BillytheKid in lane and succeeding. Then they did this again. And again. And again. And again. The extreme tankiness of all three heroes on Diablo’s side (Napoleonfixcar rushed a fountain on Phinn over building damage from the get-go) combined with the incredible supportive utility offered by Phinn and Ardan allowed VON Diablo to pull off these aggressive maneuvers with relative ease. Only when they severely overextended did they finally die in the lane.

Diablo’s sucess did not just stop in the lane. Starting from the mid-game and going forward, they won almost every key teamfight against HH. Skye’s Forward Barrage failed to even scratch VON’s defenses, and BillyTheKid was just too horribly underfarmed at this point –  thanks to lane ganks – to make a difference in terms of damage. VON’s success in itself was also a major factor as to why HH lost the first game; they were completely taken aback by this new playstyle and were totally swept away by the element of surprise before they could adjust. Overall, VON Diablo demonstrated an incredibly unique, creative, and deadly strategy that strayed from the meta and could actually beat it.

VON vs. HH end game one

Now, North America looked to HH Force. Could they figure out how to come back after such a stunning loss?



VON vs. HH Game Two

What impressed me the most was not Diablo’s ridiculously novel strategy and composition but rather how masterfully Force countered this new demon with one of their own. Recognizing correctly that Krul, not Phinn, was the centerpiece of Diablo’s tactic, HH banned Krul in the second match. They realized that although the combination of Ardan and Phinn provided insane defense and utility to the entire team, it did not actually output much raw damage. Rather, all of the VON’s fights in game one had their damage coming from one source: MaRs’ Krul. Ardan and Phinn only shone because they supported Krul to a ridiculous degree with defensive buffs and allowed him to successfully 1v3 in every fight by keeping all of HH Force within Krul’s limited range.

In addition to banning Krul, HH also made excellent choices by opting for Fortress and Vox while shifting BillyTheKid’s Ringo to jungle. This change allowed for HH to generate incredible early game aggression in the jungle from a distance and overpower VON’s Ardan and Rona with the raw burst damage and mobility from Fortress, whose viability and strength in this patch is severely underrated.

VON vs. HH mid game two

Vox, an incredible kiter, was the magnum opus of HH Force’s counterstrategy. XenoTek showed creativity and daring rivaling that of Diablo by building Aftershock, Broken Myth, and Clockwork. This unique build was designed to counter the incredible tanky composition of VON; Aftershock’s percent health slice ensured that Vox would always do sufficient damage to any member of Diablo while the low four-second cooldown on Sonic Zoom (more like 2-3 seconds thanks to Aftershock and Clockwork’s CD acceleration) guarenteed that every Sonic Zoom would always proc Aftershock, as Aftershock has a 1.5 second recharge.

Interestingly enough, this build also neglected the traditional Alternating Current in favor of a faster Broken Myth – a very smart choice. An immediate build into Broken Myth (which actually increases the base CP damage of all abilities) following Aftershock ensured that Vox could spam Sonic Zoom in a fight and deal a ton of bouncing damage to all enemies through his A ability alone. Combined with the consistent percent health slice damage from Aftershock, XenoTek was doing tremendous amounts of damage by the mid game in every fight. Building Broken Myth early in the game and neglecting Alternating Current also gave XenoTek’s Vox a much stronger power spike on his resonating attacks, Sonic Zoom, and ultimate than a regular Vox (who would have significantly weaker burst damage due to them track speed investment). HH Force’s excellent decisions and choices in countering VON Diablo’s off-meta playstyle ultimately culimated in a complete sweep of both the second and third games in their favor.

VON vs. HH end game two

All in all, VON Diablo vs. HH Force is definitely going to be remembered as one of the most insightful and exciting matches of the VGL Autumn Season. Throughout the three games, we were able to gain a deeper insight into the intricate dynamics of off-meta play and counterplay in general. Both teams were entrenched in a deep tactical game of strategy that put their skill and creativity to the test. Both teams had their highs and lows. But in the end, despite VON Diablo’s impressive performance in game one, HH Force triumphed due to their superior strategm and execution. Hopefully, we can all learn a little from this entertaining matchup and apply it to our own gameplay strategies in the future.


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