Out of all the major leagues around the world, the League of Legends Pro League is the biggest with 17 teams competing in the 2022 spring split. With this many teams in the league, there forms a huge skill disparity between the top and the bottom-tier teams. One can see this disparity vividly whenever the bottom-tier teams run into the misfortune of playing against the likes of Royal Never Give Up, Weibo Gaming and Edward Gaming. These wipe-out series, however, act as a motivator for the audience to wait for the series where these top teams play against one another. Victory Five in the past two weeks faced off against RNG and EDG and come out victorious without dropping a single game. These V5 victories are due to two legends, Song “Rookie” Eui-jin and Hung “Karsa” Hao-Hsuan.
The pathing genius
Karsa is one of the most experienced junglers in League of Legends esports history who consistently impressed viewers across the multiple teams he has carried to the League of Legends World Championships. While his mechanical excellence is unquestionable, what truly makes Karsa exceptional is his immaculate jungle pathing.
During 5:19 of the first game versus EDG, Tian “Meiko” Ye interrupted Rookie’s recall while dropping a control ward in V5’s red-side jungle. Off of this event, Rookie loses lane priority against Lee “Scout” Ye-chan, who will be deployed in mid-lane far earlier than him. This was additionally problematic because of the composition identity by V5 with Sejuani, who was piloted by Karsa, as she is heavily reliant on her ability Permafrost. When Sejuani, or her ally melee champions, auto-attack the opponents four times, Sejuani can cast Permafrost to stun them. With it having only a 1.5 second cooldown, Sejuani becomes an unstoppable juggernaut with melee champions who can assist her in casting Permafrost faster. As such, Karsa’s game plan relies on linking up with melee champions and looking for advantageous skirmishes. With this context in mind, losing mid-priority due to Meiko’s interruption is additionally detrimental to V5 since EDG will likely use this priority to capture the upcoming scuttle crab in the top river. The vision provided by the scuttle crab will deter V5’s skirmish attempts since EDG will be able to spot out V5’s rotations in the river.
With this in mind, Karsa decides to head to EDG’s red-side jungle instead of clearing his Krugs that were coming up. As a result, he ensures that Lee “Rich” Jae-won can crash his wave safely into EDG’s top tower and join the scuttle contest while Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun was busy collecting the minion wave. All of this was possible because Karsa created a temporary move advantage by forgoing a jungle camp that he could have cleared. This play was additionally unexpected to EDG since Sejuani typically wants to unlock her ultimate, Glacial Prison, as fast as possible. With EDG clueless about Karsa’s location, the trap was set to trigger. When Scout and Zhao “Jiejie” Li-Jie entered the river, they were surrounded on all sides with Rich coming down from the top lane and Rookie abandoning a part of his wave to join the fight. Lastly, Karsa cut off EDG’s escape route into their own jungle. The net made by V5, spearheaded by Karsa, tightened around Scout while Jiejie fled.
The baton pass to the coup de grâce
With Scout dead, Rookie shoved in the mid wave thanks to Karsa. Rookie utilized this free move to change the bot lane’s lane state. With Rift Herald spawning in one minute, EDG was poised to have their bot lane arrive first to the objective with the unstoppable push power of Caitlyn and Lux. Giving the Rift Herald to EDG is additionally dangerous since Caitlyn can chunk down towers low enough for the Herald to execute them with ease.
Rookie knew that without his help, his bot lane will not be able to break this game flow. At the same time, he also knew that the bot-side river was likely controlled by EDG with Meiko emerging out of it mere minutes ago to stop his recall. Being spotted early would only delay the inevitable as EDG’s bot lane will back off until Scout forces Rookie to return to the mid lane. Taking advantage of Tryndamere’s Spinning Slash, Rookie went through EDG’s blue side jungle to remain undetected until he was behind EDG’s bot lane. Despite Ying “Photic” Qi-Shen’s poor performance, Rookie successfully killed Meiko and forced him to revisit the bot lane to make sure that the wave is crashed after reviving.
With this play, V5 could contest the Rift Herald without suffering from a temporary numbers disadvantage. EDG quickly learned the terror of V5’s composition as they were wiped from the map after trying to take the objective. This short, three-minute sequence went completely different from EDG’s expectations due to these immaculate decisions by Rookie and Karsa.
Karsa and Rookie on V5
Rookie and Karsa are by no means young blood. Karsa competed against legends like Bae “Bengi” Sung-woong at their peaks while Rookie began his career as the only mid laner in LCK who could consistently best Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in lane. Both players have often acted as the linchpin to their teams. As such, I cannot help but be excited to see what these two legends are going to accomplish together.