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Breaking the Meta: Azubu Taipei Assassins' Four Support Strategy eSports Central

eSports Author Aidos
Breaking the Meta: Azubu Taipei Assassins' Four Support Strategy

New innovations are a constant in the League of Legends pro scene. One team in particular, the Azubu Taipei Assassins, have attracted a significant amount of attention for their unique four support 'Protect the Vayne' team composition they pulled out back on March 8th versus the Singapore Sentinels in the Garena Premier League.

Let's take a look at the picks and bans for that match:

Picks & Bans
Singapore Sentinels
Taipei Assassins

The Taipei Assassins found a way to incorporate four traditional support champions into roles that can work for the lane phase:

Nunu has insanely fast jungle clear with his Consume damage and heal from minions and his Blood Boil for attack speed and movement speed buffs.

Janna can farm safely in the mid lane from a distance by clearing waves with Howling Gale and using the slow from Zephyr to keep herself disengaged from ganks. She can also function as the team's AP carry, boasting strong enough AP ratios, so the mid lane farm was more than welcome.

Lulu also has a strong wave-clearing kit in the other solo lane (in this case the bottom lane) with Glitterlance and her passive Pix, Faerie Companion.

Taric is, of course, always one of the top choices for the support lane. In this game Taric made the most sense remaining in the natural support lane with Vayne as he would be much more prone to ganks then Lulu or Janna because he lacked a wave clear from a safer distance as well as Lulu or Janna.

The Singapore Sentinels had to be a bit confused by TPA's team composition

The Singapore Sentinels boasted powerful early lane phase champions such as Caitlyn and Elise. Lee Sin also gave the Sentinels a strong early game jungler, and with Zyra and Kha'Zix rounding out the composition, the Singapore Sentinels clearly were an early objective, gank-heavy, and tower push dominant team.

Their team composition was indicative of the popular current Asian meta: hyper early aggression with champions that can push and stomp their lanes with constant pressure on the map objectives. SGS aimed to do of all that while pushing down towers as quickly as possible to acquire a high early gold lead and better map presence.

The Azubu Taipei Assasins had to counteract this early hyper-aggression by surviving the lane phase as evenly as possible and slowly creep into the mid and late game where their four support 'Protect the Vayne' composition could be potentially unstoppable.

Essentially, the Singapore Sentinels were dealing with a ticking clock from the beginning of the match. They knew they had to rush down the towers and go for quick ganks on this vulnerable early game TPA squad before Vayne and company become a much stronger team by the Mid Game.

Early Game

The Taipei Assassins pulled out a few early changes to attempt making the laning phase go more smooth. Lilballz gave up his Red Buff to Vayne and Blue Buff to Lulu at the start of the game. Bebe and DinTer did a lane swap with Stanley so bebe's Vayne could free farm 2v1 against ToFuBoi's Elise in the top lane. Toyz's Janna also ran Teleport to help relieve pressure in the top or bottom lanes if necessary.

The Taipei Assassins did their best to prevent the early game aggression by the Singapore Sentinels but could only do so much with their four support strategy in the early phase. The Singapore Sentinels found their first blood on Lulu through an excellent Lee Sin gank in the bottom lane. Soon after ToFuBoi's Elise, with the help of a strong Kha'Zix initiation by hyhy, secured a double kill against Vayne and Taric in the top lane.

ToFuBoi and the Singapore Sentinels dominated the early game

The Singapore Sentinels easily acquired the first two dragons of the game and stretched the gold lead by more than 5,000 by 18 minutes into the game. They had a 3 to 1 tower advantage as well.

As far as items goes, Nunu, Taric and Vayne bought traditional items for their champions. DinTer's Taric rushed an early Ruby Sightstone for heavy ward coverage, and bebe's Vayne bought the standard Blade of the Ruined King.

Specifically for this game, Toyz's Janna rushed a Morellonomicon and Stanley's Lulu bought a Tear of the Goddess and built toward an Athene's Unholy Grail for the extra mana regeneration and cooldown reduction so those champions could quickly push the minion waves back and hold off the Singapore Sentinels heavy tower push. They were looking to bide time for bebe's Vayne to farm up. Janna often casted Eye Of The Storm on TPA's own towers as well to hold the line.

Their strategy was clearly to survive the early game torrent of pressure the Singapore Sentinels would dish out. They needed to acquire a couple major items per champion, and begin to win the team fights going into Mid Game.

For all intents and purposes, it looked like TPA was pulling out an unsuccessful 'cheese' strategy against SGS. However, a major turn around right before the 20 minute mark showed just why their strategy was not only viable, but extremely powerful.

Mid Game

Once the game got close to twenty minutes, the Taipei Assassins displayed just how strong their composition could be.

Toyz used Teleport on a mid lane ward when SGS was pushing down the second mid lane turret. The other four from TPA sprung back out and clamped down on the unsuspecting Sentinels from both sides. A completely surprising Howling Gale on the Singapore Sentinels allowed bebe's Vayne and Toyz's Janna to quickly kill d4arkness's Zyra and Chawy's Caitlyn.

TPA Toyz

TPA's peerless team fighting coordination was simply too much to handle for the Singapore Sentinels. They dominated every team fight after the twenty-minute mark, and systematically picked up objectives and pushed down towers.

While the Singapore Sentinels were on their back heels TPA was able to secure a baron buff. The Taipei Assassins used the buff to barrage the SGS base until it gave way around the 35 minute mark.

Interestingly enough, the feel of the Mid Game took a complete 180 as the Taipei Assassins dominated the Singapore Sentinels even though they looked like they were getting dominated themselves for most of the game thus far. Their team composition was so effective when the mid game and team fighting phase rolled around that they didn't even have to drag the match out to a true late game phase. It was like watching two completely different games.

That is one scary, scary Vayne

Their Four Support 'Protect the Vayne' team composition was truly outrageous.

Why it Worked


The Taipei Assassins had ridiculous speed buffs. Nunu's Blood Boil and Lulu's Whimsy kept Vayne constantly running around the map, which especially helped for pushing down towers quickly and chasing down fleeing champions. Those two spells were even more powerful in conjunction with Janna's passive, Tailwind, and Vayne's passive, Night Hunter. The team speed also allowed the Taipei Assassins to take down objectives at too quick of a rate for the Singapore Sentinels to respond.

By the end of the game, bebe's Vayne reached up to 542 movement speed.

Shields and Heals

TPA also had a high sustainability in team fights. Janna's Eye Of The Storm and Lulu's Help, Pix! could stack shields on Vayne in teamfights. Similarily, Taric's Imbue kept Vayne and other low health teammates alive. Janna's ultimate, Monsoon would also provide an AOE heal that was even more potent with her AP Mid build ratios.

Suprising Tankiness

The Taipei Assassins boasted a much more tanky frontline than expected even with the four supports strategy. Nunu's build was based around increased health with his early Kindlegem acquisition and by picking up a Giant's Belt and Aegis of the Legion later on. Janna picked up a Rod of Ages to make herself a bit less squishy, and Taric had enough tankiness with an Locket of the Iron Solari and Ruby Sightstone in his inventory.

TPA Lilballz

/league-of-legends/champion/vayne-76 Game Changing Ultimates

One reason why supports are crucial to the current meta and need to fill a slot in the team composition is their powerful, game changing ultimates. They boast impressive amounts of crowd control, sustainability, and AoE.

It became unfair in team fights when the Taipei Assassins stacked these ultimates on top of one another with a threat like Vayne always present. Stacking Nunu's Absolute Zero, Janna's Monsoon, and Taric's Radiance provided a massive amount of AoE utility in teamfights. Add Lulu's Wild Growth to buff Vayne on top of it all, and the whole package provided an impressive level of team fighting utility.

The Damage Queen Herself

This strategy wouldn't work without revealing the true potential of a Vayne that has that many buffs on her. Vayne is possibly the strongest AD hyper-carry in the game only rivaled by Kog'Maw and Tristana in some respects late game. Amazingly, it only took twenty minutes for Vayne to begin to shine. This was largely the result of having an ADC whose kit fit perfectly in with the four support comp. Her Tumble adds a strong kiting ability on top of the peel from skills such as Janna's Zephyr and Nunu's Ice Blast.

TPA bebe


Why Does This Matter?

Simply put, the Taipei Assassins beat the current meta with something new. They proved that innovative theory crafting for team compositions is far from stagnant, and that there are clearly many exciting possibilities when it comes to creating a strong team to put out on the Summoner's Rift. Other teams such as Counter Logic Gaming have done a 'Protect the Vayne' composition many times before, but never quite at this level. Hopefully this type of result will motivate the teams in the League Championship Series to innovate with new strategies like this.

The Taipei Assassins' four support innovation here proved once again why they are the reigning World Champs and a team to be reckoned with going further into season 3.

Here's the VoD of the game for those interested:

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daboss94 | April 14, 2013 5:45pm
imagine if that was an ezreal..... pentakills everywhere!!
Temzilla (211) | April 6, 2013 7:37am

Please keep in mind that SGS had already picked Elise as their top laner. Taric gets crushed by Elise top lane, while Lulu doesn't have a very hard time. Never generalize how good a champion is without seeing the matchup first.

Also, their intent wasn't to win a 1v1 lane, or even a 2v1 lane.

TPA picked lulu because of her wave clear, her strong disengage kit, and the ability to buy athenes with the solo lane gold, allowing them to engage more with the lowered cooldown on her ultimate.
menle | April 5, 2013 5:22am
That was a very good tactic lesson from the TPA. Awesome.
Jebus McAzn (457) | April 4, 2013 2:35pm
Please keep in mind that SGS had already picked Elise as their top laner. Taric gets crushed by Elise top lane, while Lulu doesn't have a very hard time. Never generalize how good a champion is without seeing the matchup first.
Rypleys | April 4, 2013 12:37pm
Ravenholm wrote:

PFFT, please. Lulu is one of the best duelists in the game. Taric not so much

Actually Taric is a better top lane than Lulu. Taric got a heal, a stun and a passive to increase his durability (armor). If Lulu get poked so much, Lulu have no substain. Taric skills are more efficient for a solo lane compared with Lulu, and more when you need to buy time to let teammates push other lanes as a team.

+Rep to DarkAkumaLord
Ravenholm (46) | April 3, 2013 5:33pm

Taric is better top lane than Lulu
Really though awesome!

PFFT, please. Lulu is one of the best duelists in the game. Taric not so much
Bioalchemist (155) | April 3, 2013 2:39pm
lol love it!!!
Aidos (3) | April 3, 2013 1:49pm
You should! It's such a different game from the first half to the second
A Chubby Baby (290) | April 3, 2013 4:01am
Holy. I needa watch this now.
DarkAkumaLord (61) | April 2, 2013 9:45pm
Taric is better top lane than Lulu
Really though awesome!
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