Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story 31 Combo Player
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"Huh?" Yuel examined the audience, spotting Lars and Julia. Everybody else went to watch the first string match, but Lars said he'd be here to root on Yuel. Julia probably just tagged along.
["From the moment you accepted your spot on the team, you're no longer playing just for yourself. You're obligated to put on your best performance for those who didn't make the cut."] Yuel recalled Howard's words.
Even though he and Lars both wanted to play in the compet.i.tive scene, right now Yuel was on the stage while Lars was in the audience. Only Yuel made it this time. It was merely the fault of circ.u.mstances, it just so happened the Carry role was occupied by a talented senior and the Support role happened to be available. Nevertheless, as the one standing on the stage right here and now, Yuel had the responsibility to put on his best performance, to make it up for those who couldn't play here today.
Ironically, even though Lars came here to support Yuel, he only made Yuel more nervous. And, it didn't help there were some other unfamiliar faces in the audience. What were these people doing here? The scrimmage matches were open to the public, so anybody had the right to come and watch. Still, even if they were interested in watching a scrimmage between middle schoolers, why didn't they head to the first string's stadium? Did they come here to laugh at the second string or something?
All these random thoughts occupied his mind, refusing to give him rest. His body felt like lead as he wobbled across the stage. He finally got to relax a little when he dropped on his chair and focused on the monitor in front of him.
Following Trever's instructions, he scanned the QR code on the monitor. After confirming the login, all his account data was carried over to the PC in front of him. This included key bindings, skins and, of course, his IGN: Chessmaster. Ugh, he still couldn't believe Howard roped him into picking that nick. Sigh.
"Enter the practice room." Trever said. "You gotta warm up before we begin. Get used to the controls and everything."
"Got it." Yuel nodded and did as he was told. Even though his key bindings were carried over via the login, he still was going to operate unfamiliar mouse and keyboard. From his experience in the club at the beginning of the year, he already learned the importance of getting used to the equipment.
Fortunately, the equipment here was top notch, unlike the relics in their club. The keys struck perfect balance between being hard enough to feel every press, yet responsive enough to make pressing effortless. The mouse was comfortable to grip and the mousepad was smooth. Truly, this was equipment suitable for gaming, unlike the poor excuse in their club.
After a few minutes of warming up, the "referee" announced the beginning of the match. Like, that young man announced himself the "referee" and everything, but he looked like a regular staff member in the center. He didn't look like some qualified expert or anything of the sort. A bit disappointing, but not surprising. Unlike real life sports, Cla.s.smancers was a video game, so all the rules were already enforced by the game itself. There wasn't much for a "referee" to do here.
The drafting phase proceed smoothly, with Yuel and Gilbert handling it from start to end. Trever was the captain on paper, but his response to everything was "Just pick your best cla.s.ses and we gonna win!". A very Lars-esque att.i.tude, sigh.
"Wait, they have no Carry?" Trever c.o.c.ked his head, as if only now realizing he should [maybe ]pay some attention to the drafting.
"It's most likely going to be Carry Pyromancer." Yuel explained. The enemy team didn't pick any marksmen, the long-ranged DPS cla.s.ses meant to be played as Carry. Instead, they had two damage dealing mages: Pyromancer and Warlock. Out of the two, only Pyromancer had the apt.i.tude to be played as a Carry. In fact, upon release, Pyromancer was a broken tier S Carry who dominated the meta, Yuel watched some older videos covering that.
Fortunately, Pyromancer was hammered by nerfs multiple times since then. It retained the qualities which allowed it to be played as a Carry, most notably its high attack speed, but that build fell out of favor in the meta. While Mid Pyromancer was considered tier B, sometimes even tier A, Carry Pyromancer was put around tier C on most tier lists. Based on Yuel's brief experimentation and theorycrafting, these tiers seemed fairly reasonable. Carry Pyromancer had its niches, but it was a rather risky pick. Their Carry must had been very confident in their skill to make this pick.
Then again, Yuel's team didn't exactly have a standard Carry either. Trever picked his favorite Ranger, a Jungler who only pa.s.sed as a Carry thanks to his long-ranged basic attacks. Carry Ranger was also along tier C, but at least it was much more common in the meta than Carry Pyromancer.
To cover up for the Ranger's early weaknesses as a Carry, Yuel picked Druid. It was the same duo composition they played during Yuel's entry exam. For the second time now, he was heading into an important match with Trever as his lane partner.
On one hand, he was disappointed it wasn't Lars by his side. But, on the other hand, he was glad he didn't have a partner who required high maintenance. Both Lars and Trever were goofs, but Trever was the more knowledgeable and experienced one, Yuel didn't need to hold Trever's hand much during practice matches, so he could focus on doing his job as a Support. This was very rea.s.suring when playing on such a grand stage.
As arranged: Gilbert played Mid, Dan played Jungle and Roi played Top. Once the drafting phase ended, the real battle began. They started off by clearing the Ogre Camp and Wolf Camp together with Dan, then Yuel and Trever headed to Bot Lane.
As expected, their lane opponents were Pyromancer and Cryomancer. Pyromancer was played by ComboBreaker, the female captain they met during the team greeting. Her demotivated companion from that time, Freezer, played Warlock in Mid.
[Since their team is full of seniors, I better take my time studying them. ]Yuel was wary of rus.h.i.+ng things. He thirsted for gaining an advantage as early as possible, but such desires could lead to disaster, he learned that on his flesh in practice matches. If the enemy team had at least one fox like Ellen, Yuel's tactics could easily backfire.
Therefore, he laid low for the first minutes of the match and quietly observed his foes. He provided by-the-book support, without making any risky shot-calls. By the end of the first five minutes, he got a rough idea of how the enemies carried themselves.
The Pyromancer, ComboBreaker, was an all-around strong player, as expected of a captain. She showcased decent mechanical skill by landing most last hits on minions and elegantly blocking most of Trever's attempts at aggression. Also, she maintained great positioning through the laning phase, standing far enough to avoid being punished too easily, yet close enough to punish her enemies if the opportunity presented itself. This attesting to her solid decision-making and experience. On top of that, she seemed to have acceptable game knowledge, based on her Carry Pyromancer build, which properly combined power and attack speed.
All in all, she was a tough cookie. Trever couldn't get an edge on her, no matter how many time they exchanged blows. Her partner, the Cryomancer, was also contributed to that, showcasing impressive mechanical skill for a Support. In particular, the way he swiftly and accurately cast his Ice Coffin put a lot of pressure on Trever. Even while protected by the Druid's s.h.i.+eld, Trever didn't have much leeway when going on the offensive. Getting too close to the Cryomancer would result in Trever being frozen in place, becoming a sitting duck for the Pyromancer.
To make things worse, the Cryomancer bought Blink to expand his reach. He could now instantly teleport forward and freeze his target. It's a popular Cryomancer trick, which Yuel had trouble executing in real matches.
At one point, the Cryomancer caught Trever off guard by blinking through a wall and freezing him. This almost resulted in Trever's death. Yuel barely saved the day with a timely Nature's Grasp pull on Trever, getting the goof out of danger.
"Man, I swear this Cryo is after my a.s.s." Trever exclaimed. Ever since, even the battle-hungry beast became cautious of going aggressive. He was completely zoned by the Cryomancer's mere presence, that's how much pressure Blink + Ice Coffin could apply in capable hands. This Cryomancer definitely warranted a ban next game.
The rest of the enemy team was composed of solid players as well, giving both Roi and Dan a ran for their money. Their Top Laner clashed face-to-face with Roi, refusing to give in. They were like two beasts fighting for territory. It was a brute and unsophisticated face-off to Yuel's taste, but it's undeniable both players exhibited impressive mechanical skill.
As for jungling, the enemy Jungler farmed and ganked about as effectively as Dan. They were both textbook players and It didn't feel like either team had a superior Jungler.
All in all, the forces seemed quite evenly distributed across the board. The only one who had an easy time was Gilbert. His enemy was Freezer, the unmotivated fellow they met during the team greeting. It was difficult to properly discern Freezer's playstyle while he was pushed back, but it seemed he was a very defensive player. He rarely ever advanced to the frontline, preferring to bait the opponent into overextending.
Unfortunately for Freezer, Gilbert was a rational and methodical player. He wasn't some aggressive beast hungering for blood, so he had no problem slowly grinding his opponent to dust. Therefore, instead of falling for Freezer's baits and pus.h.i.+ng further along the lane, Gilbert rotated out of lane to farm or gank whenever he gained lane advantage. That put Freezer's defensive plays to waste and turned them into a weakness.
It's difficult to judge whether Freezer was a relatively weak member of the Leopards or he simply had a terrible matchup against Gilbert. Either way, he was the enemy's weakest link right now. As a result, Gilbert outleveled Freezer via farming jungle camps between waves and helped other lanes gain the upper hand. Thanks to repeated ganks from Gilbert, the deadlock in Top was broken and Roi managed to push the enemy Top Laner all the way to the Turret.
That's about all the information Yuel gathered so far about the match from observing the mini-map and others' monitors. Was this enough? Did he properly figure out his opponents and was ready to counter them? He wanted to shout "Of course!" and go ahead, but he hesitated.
His opponents were seniors, they trained for the the last two years to get this far. There's no way some newbie could deconstruct them this easily, right? Or, maybe he was overthinking it? Bitter memories of being outsmarted by Ellen played over and over in his head, warning him.
[I'll wait just a little more. ]Yuel nodded to himself for about the millionth time this match. He was going to begin soon, real soon. He just needed to observe his foes a little longer, to be 100% sure about their playstyles.
"Man, this chick is sure a hard nut to crack." Trever sighed as he exchanged blows with ComboBreaker. "Got any idea how to take her out?"
"I'm not sure yet." Yuel answered as he cast Gaia's Protection on Trever, granting enough s.h.i.+eld to soak all the damage from this fight.
"You know, you've been awfully quiet this match. Wait, I know. You're still nervous, ain'tcha?"
"Maybe a little, but that's not it. I'm not sure I got all the data I need about our enemies, so I don't want to pull anything reckless."
"Data? You sound like Aron." Trever laughed. "Well, I dunno how you 'data people' do your magic, but don't leave us hanging until late game like Aron does. Dude doesn't tell us anything until it's too late, haha."
"Got it." Yuel nodded. His increased caution was definitely the result of Aron's influence, but he had no intention waiting until late game. "I almost got them figured out, I just need a little- wha!?"
The battle between Trever and Breaker took an unexpected turn. The Cryomancer blinked forward and froze Trever with Ice Coffin, turning Trever's Ranger into a cube of ice.
It was an unexpected a.s.sault, but wasn't it a waste? Trever still had the s.h.i.+eld he got from Yuel, so it was going to soak some damage. The freeze of Ice Coffin was pretty short on low levels, so there's no way the Pyromancer would have enough time... eh?
『An ally has been killed!』
It happened in an instant. Flames engulfed Trever's Ranger and wiped him out of existence. He was at 70% HP + s.h.i.+eld, yet he was eliminated in an instant.
"Wow, what the actual heck?" Trever stared at his screen with a dumb face. "What did I just see? What the h.e.l.l happened!? You saw that s.h.i.+t!?"
"Yeah, I saw it." Yuel frowned as he was forced to retreat back to his Turret, escaping the 1v2 situation. "I believe it was a combo play. Yes, Spellbook of Doom, as I thought."
Until this point, Breaker's build followed the standards of a Carry Pyromancer build. However, over the last couple of minutes, there had been a missing item slot in her build. She should had had enough gold to buy one more item by now, probably even upgrade it to Lv.3. Yet, nothing showed up in her third item slot. That is, until now.
That fourth item was a Lv.3 Spellbook of Doom, which enabled a niche "combo" playstyle. She must had purchased it a while ago, but kept it "cloaked" all this time. Then, after finding the right moment, she equipped Spellbook of Doom in the heat of battle to strike with the element of surprise.
Ugh, such a high level of play was unexpected from middle schoolers. If they knew she built Spellbook of Doom ahead of time, they could had played around it. She caught them completely off guard here.
"So, she's going for a combo build? Chick is crazy." Trever laughed.
"That's really rare." Yuel nodded. He didn't expect to meet a combo player in an official match of all places. It was mostly considered a meme in the Cla.s.smancers community, despite having some representation in the pro scene, primarily in Asia. Dimensions.h.i.+ft was a well-known Korean combo player and was considered among the top players in the world. So, calling combo a "meme" didn't do it justice.
Nevertheless, it was an unpopular playstyle, especially in the west. It revolved around building a niche stat: Casting Speed. The same way Attack Speed raised the speed of basic attacks, Casting Speed increased the speed of skill animations. It sounded strong on paper, as it allowed to quickly chain multiple spells in succession. However, in practice, most items with Casting Speed had subpar stats and paled compared to other meta options.
The one exception among them was Spellbook of Doom, which had an interesting pa.s.sive: after landing a hit with a spell, all subsequent spell hits within the next 2 seconds dealt +100% damage. The effect could only be activated once every minute, so it was unlikely to proc it more than once in a fight.
In other words, it was a gla.s.s cannon effect at its finest. It provided a tiny window of time to dish out tremendous damage via chaining spells. +100% damage sounded absurd on paper, but it was difficult to take full advantage of this effect within mere 2 seconds.
First, it was necessary to hit an enemy with a damaging spell, so that Spellbook of Doom could be proc'd. After that, they had to quickly dish out their other spells and land them on the target within the span of less than two seconds, all the while taking into account the spells' casting animation, the skillshots' travel time and the enemy's movements. The execution bar was maddening.
Yet, ComboBreaker perfectly pulled that off and killed Trever from 70% HP + s.h.i.+eld, in under two seconds. First, during her fight with Trever, she lowered his defense with basic attacks thanks to Demonic Arm. Then, she opened her combo with Pillar of Flame, a low damage spell which proc'd Spellbook of Doom. For the finis.h.i.+ng blow, she chained Blaze of Inferno into Flame Wave, taking advantage of her increased Casting Speed. So many fine details were squeezed into a matter of seconds, it was astonis.h.i.+ng.
Regardless of how the combo playstyle was viewed in the meta, it was a terrifying weapon in Breaker's hands. After witnessing Trever's instantaneous defeat, everybody in StormBlitz now knew they had to be extremely cautious around Breaker. Just one kill put the whole team on their toes.
Was she going to consistently dish that combo? Or, was it a one-time fluke? There's no telling until they saw more of her playstyle.
[Ugh, just when I thought I got them figured out. ]Yuel bit his lip. He took so much time during the early game to carefully a.n.a.lyze his opponents, only for everything to crumble during the mid game. Did other players in the Leopards also hide such surprises? No wonder Aron always waited until late game before drawing any conclusions.
Was there even a way for Yuel to foresee that combo playstyle ahead of time? If it were Howard, could he had predicted this possibility and found a way to protect Trever? There was no way to tell, but the thought didn't give Yuel rest.
After ComboBreaker got rid of Trever and pushed Bot Lane forward, she left the lane. Did she head to Mid? That's the most likely scenario, considering Freezer struggled against Gilbert there. Taking into account her cooldown reduction and how long had pa.s.sed since she last used her combo, everything except her ult was definitely out of cooldown by now. Once the one minute cooldown on Spellbook of Doom were to end - she could dish out tremendous damage yet again.
[I better rotate to help Mid, but...] Yuel frowned as the Cryomancer insisted on zoning him. His hands were tied, all he could do was call missing. "The Pyromancer left Bot, most likely heading to Mid."
"Got it." Gilbert nodded and began retreating. However, that's when the unexpected happened. Freezer, who had been playing defensively until now, went on the offensive! He chased after Gilbert and activated his ultimate: Eldritch Nightmare.
Darkness erupted from Freezer's Warlock, spreading throughout Mid Lane. Gilbert's screen was consumed by blackness, painted by visages of eldritch abominations. While within the range of Eldritch Nightmare, Gilbert's Electromancer was slowed and disoriented, wobbling as he ran. That's on top of Gilbert being robbed of his vision, unable to tell what was happening around him.
However, it wasn't fatal. Eldritch Nightmare had a limited range, so everything was going to be fine once Gilbert were to step out of it. He activated Thunderclap, dissolving into a could of electricity and cras.h.i.+ng from the sky a short distance away. That created enough distance between himself and Freeze, or so it should had been.
For some reason, that wasn't enough. He was still suck within the darkness, unable to tell his position.
"Jesus, just how much did he level his ult?" Gilbert ranted. "You're playing Mid, not Support."
Was Gilbert already back at his Turret? Was it still ahead? Did he pa.s.s it? It was impossible to tell with his vision robbed. None of his teammates could help him either, as Eldritch Nightmare stained their mini-maps with black ink. He had to brave through this darkness all by himself.
"I think the Turret is still a little ahead." Yuel said, restlessly s.h.i.+fting his attention between his and Gilbert's monitors. It's frustrating, because he should had been there to support Gilbert. Yet, he was stuck under tower in Bot, dealing with minions and the Cryomancer. All he could do right now was throw some advice in Gilbert's way, to at least somewhat make up for the lack of proper support.
"Man, I really can't tell anymore." Gilbert frowned. Was the Turret really still further ahead? Even though he already blinked forward with Thunderclap? Well, there's no way to tell. He simply kept running, hoping he hadn't reached the Turret yet.
"You sure he didn't pa.s.s it already?" Trever also peeked at Gilbert's screen, bored while waiting for his resp.a.w.n. "He even blinked and everything, so I say he totally pa.s.sed it."
"I wouldn't be so sure." Yuel said. "Look at the range of that ult, he leveled it up quite a bit and the slowdown gets stronger with each level. He also built Chains of Infinity, which slows down even more."
"Holy s.h.i.+t, Chains actually stacks with that? s.h.i.+t is nasty as heck."
"Heh, just look at us. Three pros sitting here and can't solve this thing." Gilbert chuckled. "Well, with that much slow, I'm probably screwed anyway if that Combo Pyro is coming for me. I'll just roll dice here."
Gilbert activated his ult, Thunderstorm, and randomly targeted the area to his left. He couldn't see anything there, but that's the direction the Pyromancer was bound to appear from. With some luck, he might scare her off.
Thunderstorm turned a big area into target practice for lighting strikes. Any enemy stepping into the area was going to be repeatedly struck by lighting, receiving ma.s.sive damage. On top of that, these strikes applied Electric Charges, which Gilbert could detonate for further damage.
This electric danger zone was an effective zoning tool, as one would have to think twice or thrice before even considering to chase somebody through it. Unfortunately, in this darkness, it was effectively a die roll. There's no telling whether Gilbert even cast the ult in an area which truly threatened the Pyromancer. In fact, it was arguably a waste of an ult. However, Gibert knew all too well the importance of not feeding this Pyromancer so early into the game. Wasting an ult was a small price to pay for surviving through his gank.
But, it didn't work. Fireb.a.l.l.s came flying at Gilbert from within the darkness, shredding his protections. Then, the ground under his feet was set ablaze. Pillar of Fire, it was the signal that the Pyromancer's combo was about to follow.
In a span of a second, his 90% HP dropped to 5%. Just as death was about to claim him, the darkness of Eldritch Nightmare finally cleared up. He now saw ComboBreaker clearly, with her 20% HP and multiple Electric Charges. Gilbert's gamble was spot on, Thunderstorm hit Breaker multiple times. But, even that wasn't enough scare off this mad combo chick. She pushed forward for the kill, despite the immense danger.
[Wait, maybe I can...! ]Gilbert pressed Q, activating Electrical Explosion. Breaker was at 20% HP with three Electric Charges on her, so there's a good chance he'd be able to-
『You have been killed!』
Too late. His Electromancer collapsed by the time he hit the Q b.u.t.ton. If he just reacted a spit second earlier, he might had turned the tables on his a.s.saulter. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Oh well.
"In hindsight, I probably should have just aggressed on the Warlock." Gilbert said.
"Yes, that might have ended better." Yuel nodded, then turned to Trever. "By the way, I was right. He still hasn't reached the Turret."
"Heh, cheeky brat." Trever sneered. "If you're so smart, how did you let both of us die without doing s.h.i.+t, eh?"
"Ah, that's..." Yuel hung his head and clenched his mouse. He felt so powerless during both situations, he failed to provide any support. Just where did he misplay in all of this? What was the wrong move he committed that led to this disaster? Was there any way to defend against Breaker's plays? Could Howard had done so?
"Hey, relax, bro. I'm just kidding." Trever smacked Yuel on the back. "They pulled some serious s.h.i.+t outta nowhere, of course you couldn't see that coming."
"He's right." Gilbert agreed. "The combo chick and the Support-like Warlock were quite unexpected. They were probably going for that surprise element from the get-go, so no much you could do about it. Now we know what aces they got, so we gotta figure how to beat them. Don't hang up on past mistakes, or you'll blow the rest of the game."
"You're right, thanks." Yuel took a deep breath. It didn't matter what he could or couldn't had done in these two unfortunate situations. Whatever happened, happened. Right now, his job was to figure how to deal with these enemies from here on out. He wasn't going allow these terrible misplays repeat themselves.
The team had shaky start. However, now that the enemies played their hands, Yuel started preparing his countermeasures.
Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story 31 Combo Player
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Classmancers - A MOBA Esport Story 31 Combo Player summary
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