Esports VainGlory International Premier League 7

The Pros Have Big Bounties on Their Heads

Someone should have called Boba Fett, because bounty hunting was in full swing for the VIPL semifinals. The clash of American teams GankStars and Ardent Alliance this morning had a surprising outcome that didn’t go as we anticipated. After three incredible back and forth games, Ardent Alliance came out on top and will go on to face Invincible Armada in the VIPL finals on Saturday. Both teams showed dominant strategies and mechanics throughout, but the larger gold bounties on kills that are relatively new to the Fold became a huge deciding factor.

The semifinals are the first games in this VIPL season to be played on patch 1.12, in which gold bounties for kills got a significant change to benefit the losing team, and this impacted the match-up of GankStars and Ardent. The first game saw a strong early lead for GankStars as CullTheMeek and IraqiZorro exhibited comfortable skill with Koshka and Skye respectively. Ardent Alliance struggled as MICSHE‘s Vox and ShinKaigan‘s Kestrel tried to build up power to counter the quick aggression.

GankStars took the Kraken around 16 minutes and pushed toward Ardent’s last two turrets with a 6K gold lead, but what seemed like “GG” turned into an ace for Ardent with only their vain left standing. The kill bounties on all three Gankstars players, as well as 500 gold apiece for Kraken, closed the gold deficit to 3K. Ardent went on to get two more kills in the next team fight, took two turrets as gabevizzle backed off, and went back to base with the gold dead even at 35.2K. Ardent continued to push toward victory until an expert Kraken steal by CullTheMeek secured the win for GankStars, but this one could have gone either way due to Ardent capitalizing on that gold bump.

The second game saw similar carries for both teams, Iraqi still scary with Skye, and a mirrored start for GankStars with early dominance. Ardent farmed diligently, and stole the miner with a sweet Kestrel snipe, to keep gold even despite Gankstars leading considerably in kills. The game remained even throughout, so large kill bounties did not come into play as Ardent fought their way back to a win and forced the series to a third game.

The final game used blind pick and no bans, so CullTheMeek was finally able to bust out his Blackfeather play (the Book of Eulogies bug was hot fixed) and both teams chose Skye for lane. An off-meta roam Taka for gabevizzle proved a costly gamble as he wasn’t able to sustain his carries or burst his enemies significantly enough to pay off. By 12 minutes in, Ardent rose a 4K gold lead and 12-1 in kills. Ardent fought patiently for the remainder of the game and ultilized superior positioning so that not a single hero was caught out and, therefore, GankStars could not take advantage of the massive bounties. This was similar to the way Invincible Armada handled their second game with WEV, being sure to play it safe so the losing team could not close the lead. Ardent broke their opponents crystal with a 15-1 kill advantage in the most decisive, but still competitive, game of the match.

Throughout the series, Ardent had to consider both sides of the coin when it comes to death payouts. These come-from-behind kill bounties are a significant balancing improvement that further nullifies the “snowball” effect and makes every moment of the game crucial.

Good luck to Ardent Alliance as they face Invincible Armada on January 9th for the championship! Special congratulations to ShinKaigan who was awarded MVP honors for his increasingly effective Kestrel in all three games.


  • Reply
    Jan 08, 2016 5:39 am

    In a blind pick 3rd match, you choose Taka support? I don’t know what the thought there was or why you take one of the best roam/support players in the world and put him on a carry you doesn’t have the skill set to act as a semi-support character.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on why they would have chosen this?

    • Reply
      Jan 08, 2016 5:46 am

      Something came up that Shinkaigan mentioned the hyper carry comps that Ardent run where both junglers support (adagio as a second support instead of jungle carry) MISCHE in lane as he does all primary damage dealing. It seems GS took a chance that Ardenr may pick a comp like this and wanted Takas burst to remove the carry quickly.

    • Reply
      Jan 08, 2016 7:32 am

      You can see Shin’s speculation here:
      (where he suggests that it may have had to do with the mortal wounds cutting in to Adagio’s healing). Recall that GS worked hard to deny Adagio to Ardent in the earlier games so seemed particularly worried about Adagio in the blind pick round. This says a lot about GS’s respect/fear for Shin’s Adagio, which played a far more important role in the group stage than his KDA alone would suggest. Fortunately for Ardent, they had other tricks up their sleeves besides their buff comps from the group stage.

    • Reply
      Jan 08, 2016 9:09 am

      Thanks for the clarification. Seems like GS took a pretty big risk in trying to guess what Ardent was going to do instead of just playing their own game. You could tell they were off almost as soon as the game started. I think that could be a lesson that with only 3 heroes on the fold it’s better to go with your best team instead of trying to counter their team – particularly with blind picks.

      I know it’s all speculation at this point, but wouldn’t have a skye lane, with ardan (or Cath) and BF in jungle provided enough burst to erase MISCHE? Even if they would have just gone back to their double CP comp with Skye and Koshka – they were deleting him in the first game. I wonder if it was a risk that they didn’t completely agree on because their play didn’t seem to have the same chemistry it normally does.

  • Reply
    Jan 07, 2016 7:39 pm

    I really wanted gankstars to win but I was so disappointed. Their third game looked like an average solo q match with little communication :/ . Congrats to Arden tho and goo luck.

  • Reply
    Jan 07, 2016 12:49 pm

    These matches were incredible to watch. Definitely some of the best and most intense Vainglory matches I’ve ever seen! (and that includes Liberation X’s amazing run through VON and Nemesis at the NA Live Finals).

    A few random thoughts:
    – I was really struck by how little vision Ardent/FlashX bothered with throughout the series. Gankstars/Gabevizzle were mining up everywhere really well, but Ardent came out on top nonetheless. Not sure what this says since I’ve always found vision (or wision) to be so key to winning. Any thoughts on this?

    – Man, that Taka roam pick… quite the game 3 gamble! Really wonder how it would have turned out with an Ardan there instead…

    – The announcers were obsessed with the lack of Reflex Block in game 1, and while sometimes they get fixated on something random without a great reason, it seemed justified in this case. Seemed really odd/bizarre to have no Reflex Blocks against Koshka ultimate for so long!

    – Was crazy how these games were on a knife’s edge for so long. One split second difference and the results could have gone either way. Such well matched teams, and I didn’t even know who to root for. A Gankstars-INV grudge match finals would have been great fun, but a new team is also exciting and perhaps more healthy for the competitive scene. Not that I’m sure anyone can stand against Druid (#stylusOP).

    • Reply
      Jan 07, 2016 3:16 pm

      I agree, really some of my favorite matches in quite a while! You got some great points there, if I had gone into deep detail I would have definitely mentioned the lack of vision and reflex blocks on behalf of Ardent. Both of those were odd choices that I thought made their job a lot harder in the long run.

      I can’t wait for the finals, not sure what to expect!

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