Home Champion Analysis Diamond’s Karma: Here to stay!

Diamond’s Karma: Here to stay!

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This is not a spoiler free zone. If you have not seen the games yet then I would suggest you watch them because they are both fantastic. I would hate to spoil them for you.

Remember to click the pictures to enlarge them!

Context

Karma's Summoners

Smite is nowhere to be seen. Source.

Of course the solo queue warriors will claim they always played Karma in the jungle, but it’s very unlikely that they did. I only know of one person on my friend’s list who played Karma jungle; but then again, he was also a fan of Heimerdinger, Soraka and Zilean in the jungle. He even went as far to say:

I can’t jungle Karma for a while now though.

Limecakes

in ultimate hipster fashion.

Karma's win rate

Karma’s overall win rate is approximately 46%. Source.

Karma is notorious for her low win rate and her low popularity (1.92%) so of course it was incredibly shocking for Diamond to pick Karma.

Karma's item win rate this month

You can see that Spirit of the Spectral Wraith has a 52.71% win rate! Source.

Obviously the sample size of the Spirit of the Spectral Wraith item is considerably smaller than the standard ap/support builds for Karma, but it’s certainly worth noting. Perhaps Diamond is onto something after all?

Malunoo

Malunoo gives his seal of approval. Source.

Ocelote's Prediction

Ocelote was very happy to be proved right. Source.

It’s certainly not something that has come from nowhere if you watch a lot of challenger streams, but it was still shocking to see Diamond actually pick Karma. Well, someone has to be the first.

Why would you jungle Karma?

She has good wave clear and ganks

With the rise of the 2v1 lane, a jungler with good wave clear is vital because it relieves pressure from the solo laners. You have the ability to hold the tower for much longer than if you played someone like Volibear who struggles with wave clear pre level 6. If you empower Karma’s Inner Flame (q) to Soulflare it creates a further 250 range area of effect slow and damage radius. The ability also has a 950 range meaning you can do it very safely without risking a dive from the opposition. Unfortunately though, her jungling speed is fairly slow in comparison with some other junglers because it relies on Mantra Stacks for her to deal good damage through her q ability. With the cooldown reduction that Diamond rushes though, this quickly improves.

From the context of ganking, Karma has the 50% slow of the empowered Inner Flame and, if you can keep a target tethered for 2 seconds, Karma’s Focused Resolve (w) roots the enemy in a similar fashion to Nocturne’s Unspeakable Horror (e).Ganks like these are actually pretty strong especially if you can land the empowered Inner Flame because it adds a lot more damage. Karma is a fairly nice mixture between early game damage and good crowd control. Good examples of these types of ganks can be found in Case Study 2 where Darien and Diamond duel Kerp and ForellenLord.

She has good duelling potential

Karma is obviously a niche jungle choice. But as Deficio rightly pointed out:

You have the ability to 1v1 pretty much any jungler in the game, except for maybe Aatrox who will out damage you hard.

Deficio.

But why is that?

Against melee champions like Xin Zhao, Karma can kite them very easily. Even though Xin himself has a gap-closer-slow, the slow from Karma along with the potential root gives her a lot of room to manoeuvre. Karma also has the ability to heal herself through her empowered Focused Resolve (w) which – in a 1v1 situation – is very strong! Look at how much it heals:

Mantra Bonus Focused Resolve deals bonus damage and heals Karma for 20% (+1% per 100 ability power) of her missing health and another 20% (+1% per 100 ability power) if the leash is not broken over 2 seconds.

Source.

If her leash isn’t broken, not only will Karma heal herself for 40% of her missing health, she will root the enemy. This is extremely good in all duelling situations. Though it does rely on you being able to finish the tether to get the most out of your abilities.

And you shouldn’t forget her shield either. Combined with her heal, having a shield means that Karma will take little damage from champions in the early game and still putting out a good deal of it herself. The shield also speeds her up which further adds to her kiting kit. If melee’s can’t reach you, then how can they damage you?

The cooldown of Karma’s Mantra is superficially long. In a duel, hitting a champion with an ability causes the cooldown of Mantra to be lessened by 2 seconds, and auto attacking an enemy champion shortens it by 1 second. Of course the cooldown is 45 seconds so it’s slightly too long to be able to use two Mantra stacks in early duels; Though, Diamond does take some flat cooldown reduction from both masteries and runes to help him in this regard. You’ll also see from Diamond’s other runes and masteries that he utilises them to make Karma’s duelling potential as efficient as possible.

Another aspect of her strong early dueling comes from having no real ultimate. Yes, I know, Mantra is her ultimate but my point is that she gets it a level 1 instead of 6 like Jayce or Elise. As is well documented from Jayce and Elise games, Karma has a strong early game for the same reasons. Having extra abilities in the early levels makes you very powerful pre-6.

It has to be added though that if a melee jungler does catch up to you then he will certainly out damage you. You have to kite effectively and empower your w.

She works incredibly well in both kite compositions and as a support jungler

Karma’s e – Inspire – grants an AOE, 700 range, shield which also speeds up her allies by 60% for 1.5 seconds. It’s a mini Shurelya in this fashion. Shurelya’s Reverie gives 40% movement speed for 3 seconds. Karma’s q has the potential to be an AOE 25-50% slow depending on if its empowered or not and her w utlimately roots a single target for 2 seconds. Karma helps her team kite fantastically well; especially when combined with a Sona as we’ll see later on.

Diamond always aims for 40% CDR very early on with his runes, masteries and items. It gives Inner Flame (q) a laughably short cooldown at rank 5 (3 seconds), Inner Resolve (w) 7.2 second cooldown at rank 5 and Inspire a 6 second cooldown at rank 5. These cooldowns will see many rotations in team fights because Karma tends to make fights last longer as she likes her team to spread out and kite.

Runes and Masteries

Here is the camera shot from the LCS stream:

Diamond's runes and masteries

It’s quite hard to see but, Diamond has: 468 hp, 344 mana, 53 ad, 22 ap, 0.6as, 342 ms, 28 amour, 34 mr

Diamond himself proved to be extremely helpful in this respect. If you search his lolking page, GG BenQ Diamond, he’s thoughtfully got a rune and a mastery page titled Karma. I did some testing and found them to be exactly the same as the ones he used in the LCS.

Diamond's Karma masteries

Diamond’s Karma masteries. Source.

From the Offense tree, Diamond goes down the normal AP carry route. It gives him CDR, AP, Spell Pen and extra on hit damage. This is important if you want to utilise your Mantra passive properly because it lowers the cooldown with auto attacks. You may as well make those auto attacks deal as much damage as possible!

Diamond delves into the Defense tree very slightly making sure to pick up the Tough Skin to increase jungling speeds and the smite mastery point. The hp and armour selection are there because they are the best choices from the options he has left. Plus the extra hp and armour helps slightly in early duels.

It’s interesting to see that Diamond prioritises movement speed (out of combat) over mana regen. He clearly feels that Karma does not have mana issues, so utilising the extra speed covering the map is nice. The cooldown of flash is lowered by a fair amount and the extended buff duration is taken too. What seems like a weird mastery tree is actually pretty logical.

Diamond's Karma runes

Diamond’s Karma runes. Source.

The glyphs total Diamond’s base CDR at 9%. This is used to get his Mantra stacks ready as quickly as possible. With Blue buff this’ll give him 29% CDR which puts his rank 1 mantra on a cooldown of 32 seconds which actually gives it a lower cooldown than the base value of the rank 4 Mantra. The Magic Resistance glyphs are pretty standard and using any more CDR would put him over the 40% cap with the items he gets.

I would presume that Diamond has tested the mixture of marks he uses to see which give him the faster clear times. The attack speed also helps him in duels because it lowers the cooldown of his Mantra. This is the same logic behind using Hybrid marks; if you’re going to have to use auto-attacks to lower the cooldown of your Mantra then why not make them hurt as much as possible but making sure to not hard your other abilities.

The seals are obvious and you couldn’t get away with any other choice without risking dying or losing too much health in the jungle.

The quints are also a no-brainer. He could use something like movement speed but Karma really doesn’t need these when you consider her e ability. Also the AP quints will help with early duels, ganks and clearing times.

My proof

Proof that these are correct: 468 hp, 344 mana, 53 ad, 22 ap, 0.6as, 342 ms, 28 amour, 34 mr.

Items

Diamond had the same build order planned for both games. The furthest he got was:

Diamond's Karma Build

  • Diamond started off with a Machete & 5 pots which was upgraded into spirit stone and ultimately into a Spirit of the Spectral Wraith. This would put him at 19% CDR. It gives him extra speed and sustainability in the jungle so he could use his Mantra stacks in ganks and not on killing monsters.
  • After boots of speed, Diamond grabs a Morellonomicon to bring his CDR to 39% which is the cap. At level 16, Karma’s Mantra will have a 22 second cooldown instead of its base 36 seconds. This enables him to use multiple Mantra stacks in team fights because Mantra’s passive is also lowered by using abilities on enemies and auto attacking them. Cooldown reduction is vital for both poking with her Inner Flame (q) and kitting with her empowered Inspire (e).
  • Due to Alternate’s heavy engage composition in the second game, Diamond picked up Mercury’s Treads. In games where tenacity is not seen as a necessity, he normally buys Sorcerer Shoes to increase his dps. This is from Diamond’s lolking match history:

Diamond playing a lot of Karma

  • From here he’ll normally buy a Runic Bulwark – it might be bought sooner if necessary – because it’s so effective at shutting down characters like Malphite in the Alternate game and Shen in the Fnatic one.
  • His fifth item looks to be a Rylai’s Crystal Sceptre. Both parts of Karma’s q proc Rylai’s (albeit with diminished effects), as does Karma’s w and her empowered e. Of course these aren’t the strongest slows in the game, but it adds more health and ability power along with a little extra utility to further support the team.
  • I can but only guess the sixth item. I’ve not seen him get a sixth item in any solo queue or competitive game so it’s hard to be sure. In my opinion, it would make sense to go for items such as Zhonya’s Hourglass, Liandry’s Torment or an Abyssal Sceptre if you’re looking to round off your builds. These items make the most sense because they add further tank stats and add a lot of damage too. In the game against Alternate, I think that Diamond would have gone for a Liandry’s because it would have helped the backline shred Alternate’s frontline even more quickly due to their high hp values.

Case Study 1: Gambit Gaming vs Fnatic [27/07/13]

Bans

When Karma was picked

Deman’s face says it all.

Gambit’s bans are pretty standard as Twisted Fate and Elise are very commonly banned. Twisted Fate has been picked or banned in 98.6% of games this split and Elise has a similarly high 75% pick or ban rate. The Kassadin, on the other hand, is a far more interesting ban. He has a 27.8% pick or ban rate, though he is receiving somewhat of a resurgence as the split moves on. It’s potentially a respect ban towards xPeke, but Kassadin’s high mobility would actually have been pretty good against Gambit’s kite composition. His area of effect slow, silence and low cooldown flash ultimate would have probably made Gambit’s life harder than Lissandra. That is one of the main reasons why Gambit picked Kassadin in the second game. Also, theoretically, Lissandra’s method of initiation can be countered with Ashe’s ultimate: Enchanted Crystal Arrow. Of course this didn’t happen and the Lissandra pick worked exceptionally well for Fnatic. It’s more a pseudo counter if anything because Lissandra’s ultimate, Frozen Tomb, has an instant cast time leaving no room for error with the Ashe ultimate. Genja would have had to correctly predict when xPeke was initiating for the Enchanted Crystal Arrow to be an effective counter which of course leaves xPeke the room to bait it by feigning the initiation with Glacial Path.

Fnatic’s Thresh ban is expected considering he has a 94.4% pick or ban rate at the moment. Udyr and Zed though, are most certainly respect bans. Diamond is one of the few major players of Udyr in the LCS which shows with his 18.1% pick or ban rate; Alex Ich’s love for mobile assassins is widely documented and Zed is his current most played champion this split, though to be fair, Alex seems to play every mid lane champion.

Team composition

Gambit’s team composition focuses on high levels of mobility along with high sustain.

 

  • High mobility. Every champion on Gambit’s team has a method of either slowing the enemy down or speeding themselves and others up. Evelynn can speed herself up by 70% whilst also producing an AOE slow of up to 70%. Karma can AOE slow by up to 50% and give her team up to a 60% AOE speed up. Kayle can slow a single target by up to 55% and speed a single target up by 30%. Ashe is the odd one out because she can’t speed anyone up, only slow the enemy down; her volley and auto attacks can slow by up to 35% and her ultimate has an AOE slow of 50%. Sona can speed her allies up by up to 14% + 20 movement speed and – at the same time – slowing an enemy down by 40% with the same abilities power chord.
  • High sustain. Both Kayle and Sona can heal their allies. Sona’s is far more spamable than Kayle’s as it has over half the cooldown but Kayle’s is more substantial if Sona herself doesn’t need hp (because it heals both Sona and her ally). Also the shield’s from Karma and Kayle help in keeping hp to a maximum. Sona, Kayle, Ashe and Karma all have a fair amount of poke which means that the sustain is even more effective because you are hurting the opposition as you are healing through their damage.
  • Lockdown. Once the poke had taken a slight toll on the opposition, Gambit would then have had the opportunity to engage through either an Evelynn ultimate (after flanking) or an Ashe Enchanted Crystal Arrow. Eve’s method of initiation would have allowed her to soak up a lot of damage through her own shield and Kayle could have used Divine Intervention should it have been necessary. Sona could then lock them down further with a Crescendo.

Sona is pretty much the best follow up CC you can get from a support

Phreak (source)

This, combined with Karma and Ashe’s own AOE slows would have effectively locked any team composition into place and allowed for both easy kitting and selection of target.

The team composition sounds great in theory and – to be fair – it is great, but it has one major downside: it has to be able to survive the initial burst damage from the other team. Its high sustain and mobility allow the players to spread out and kite but this only works if you don’t get too far behind. It’s what makes Kayle such a great pick. Fnatic has a good composition for targeting a single player but Kayle can help them survive the burst with her invulnerability. Essentially the reason that Gambit lost the game is because they got so far behind that the damage from Fnatic proved too much and they couldn’t sustain through it.

Early game

We lost yesterday because of a lot of mistakes, really, really bad mistakes…and even with 11,000 gold disadvantage we killed them because of our team composition, but we made mistakes again and again and then we lost…it’s not because of Karma.

Diamondprox on why Fnatic won.

Diamond FB

Diamond gets first blooded by a great flash hook from Soaz

The first blood itself was a symptom of Gambit’s problem throughout the game: they had very little map control on the bottom side of the map. Cyanide walked straight into Diamond’s jungle without passing a ward around the mid lane or round the wraith area. It’s not as if Soaz had done a fantastic job using pink wards; the wards just weren’t there. It’s easy to argue that the inexperience of Voidle meant that the bottom area wasn’t warded; but it if wasn’t a conscientious decision by Gambit to ward only the top side, then that in itself suggests there was some miscommunication.

A large criticism of caster junglers such as Fiddlesticks is that they are very easy to counter jungle in the early game, especially with some help from your team. Had Diamond chosen a safer jungler such as Jarvan or Evelynn then this situation would almost certainly not have happened. As Jarvan he could have probably used Demaican Standard and Dragon Strike (e-q) to get away; and Eve herself would have almost certainly seen the danger from afar, in her stealthed position, which – at the very least – would have given Diamond more time to react. In truth though, most junglers would have died in that situation.

Sona double kill

Voidle flashes over the wall to secure a double kill but gives double buffs to shen!

Of course, after that dire start, it made sense for Diamond to attempt to counter jungle the red buff of Fnatic. Because the early buffs are worth more experience since the jungle camps spawn later, it would have been incredibly hard for Diamond to come back had he not successfully stolen the buff. In fact, with the help of Alex Ich, Voidle and Genja, Gambit managed to kill both Cyanide’s Aatrox and xPeke’s Lissandra. The key to it though was the buff transference.

On the surface, Voidle’s audacious flash over the wall to kill Lissandra with the last empowered auto attack looked great. It allowed Diamond to secure his second buff of the game and Gambit to catch up on the gold lead by evening the kill score to 2:2. In reality, Shen obtained the double buffs which allowed him to become a split push menace throughout the game. Whislt lane swapping with Sona against a Shen is an odd choice to make because Sona is certainly one of the squishiest champion in the game when it comes to base health and base armour; Soaz’s Blitz is so good that he possibly wouldn’t have fared better in the bottom lane.

Like I mentioned before, Fnatic gained a huge advantage in team select because they could choose champions to effectively counter the substitute of the team, Voidle. Shen’s taunt range is 575 which is higher the Sona’s attack range which means Voidle would have to be in constant danger when attacking the turret. It explains why – in the next image – Fnatic have done so much more damage to the tower than Gambit have and also how YellOwStaR managed to kill Sona 2 v 1. The taunt under tower, with her low base armour, combined with the red buff slow meant that YellOwStaR had two kills very early in the game. From here, he became a menace and constantly punished Gambit’s map control.

Dreamy Genja

The best explanation that I’ve come up with to explain Genja’s positioning, is that he didn’t notice xPeke’s teleport.

It was odd to see Gambit so confounded by global summoner’s and ultimates. That’s taking nothing away from Fnatic because I can’t recall a single instance when Fnatic wasted a Stand United (Shen ultimate) or teleport. This instance in itself was very impressive. Soaz hooked and ultimately killed Darien’s Evelynn; Diamond, sensing blood, became too caught up in trying to kill Soaz and failed to notice xPeke’s teleport into the bottom lane where he used Frozen Tomb on Diamond. To be fair, the minion that xPeke teleported onto was the last of the wave and it had a slither of health left so it was understandable to an extent. However, I’ve re-watched this clip multiple times and I still can’t explain why Genja was attacking Varus despite xPeke being in almost melee range. Because Genja was so far forward, he was caught by the great Puszu Chain of Corruption which ultimately meant that YellOwStaR had an easy taunt when he ported towards the bottom lane.

Fnatic's globals

Fnatic’s use of Shen ult and Lissandra teleport were sublime all game.

Genja caught

Fnatic’s systematic map control meant Gambit often got caught out of position.

Again Genja was caught walking around aimlessly. He is known for his passive style which often annoyed Edward, so why was he so far forward? Much like Diamond’s first blood, Gambit had no map control of the bottom half of the map (apart from the mid lane side brush). Soaz pink warded the bottom lane tri-brush and found that it wasn’t warded. This enabled him to quickly collapse onto Genja with the help of Varus’s slow. It was certainly a silly position for Genja to be in the first place with no map coverage. You can see that his Hawkshot is not on cooldown. He hadn’t used it which is odd because Genja is normally so good at scouting out ganks with the Hawkshot.

The common theme in the early game revolved around Fnatic exploiting their map control in the bottom half of the map. By 08:50, Gambit found themselves 3.6K gold behind.

Mid game

I’ve only selected a few major parts of the mid game because it all played out so similarly. Fnatic would almost always outnumber Gambit in the fighting situations by utilising their globals cleverly and exploiting their vision with Soaz’s Oracle’s Elixir. But two of the sections I chose give a sense of legitimacy towards Gambit’s composition.

Great Voidle ultimate

Voidle was certainly not feeling apprehensive in his first game.

This was a very cluttered fight. It only went in Fnatic’s favour because xPeke managed to snare three of Gambit’s team with a fantastic flash and because Fnatic were almost 8k ahead by 18:30.

xPeke’s Glacial Path was activated too early which allowed Alex Ich to walk away from him instead of having to flash which meant Alex flashed Puszu’s Chain of Corruption instead. Soaz also attempted a flash hook which missed. Fnatic’s methods of initiation were now very limited which gave Gambit an incredible opportunity to come out ahead in this fight.

Voidle instinctively flash Crescendo’d (Sona’s ultimate) which hit both Varus and Blitzcrank. It was followed by a nice Enchanted Crystal Arrow onto Blitzcrank by Genja. Unfortunately for Gambit, xPeke produced a moment of sheer magic. He flashed into the middle of the three Gambit players and managed to just about snare all three of them with a 450 range area of effect spell. That’s only 50 units greater than the flash range itself!

 

xPeke flash triple snare

Despite making an error with his Glacial Path, xPeke’s flash Ring of Frost more than made up for it.

The snare locked down Gambit which rendred them unable to complete their engagement or even their kitting. It also became a 4 v 5 with YellOwStar’s Stand United. Darien was sent to deal with the split push menace which was a a result of the early game dominance that Fnatic had managed to secure. It was a real problem for Gambit because the only two people who could actually stop the Stand United were Sona and Ashe and you cannot send your ad carry to the top lane when he is so weak and already 50 cs behind the enemy adc.

Even though Darien made it to the mid lane pretty quickly, YellOwStaR had already accomplished what he set out to do with a nice taunt onto Alex Ich. Puszu’s snipe with Piercing Arrow onto Diamond was great to watch.

The main problem that Gambit had in this fight was that they were already so far behind. Fnatic had consistently been escaping the team fights with small amounts of health and had Gambit not been so far behind they could have probably turned the game around at this point. Another problem was Genja’s insistence on buying Tear of the Goddess on a champion who already has a noticeably weak mid game especially now that the tear stacking is even slower due to the patch changes. YellOwStaR only had a Sunfire Cape for armour and yet Genja did very little damage to him. And though this is also due to being quite far behind in comparison to Puszu, the tear build is notorious for it’s weak mid game but strong late game! When you are this far behind, you’d have to be incredibly stubborn to carry on with this build. Like I said above, Fnatic consistently escaped with low amounts of health, had Genja skipped the tear build perhaps some of the fights would not have been one sided. Thankfully he didn’t build it in the second case study!

Alex Ich trying to kite

For me, this summed up another of Gambit’s problems. They were constantly outnumbered and Gambit’s ability to kite was vastly hindered by Fnatic’s hard engage.

On the face of it, this is a very minor death for Gambit, but it really does highlight the problems that Gambit were facing. Throughout the whole of the game, Gambit were outmanned in many of the crucial fights. In the 1 v 1 situation, Alex clearly had the upper hand against YellOwStaR’s Shen but that’s irrelevant when you are out numbered. It also underlined the initiation’s that Gambit were facing and how it made kitting incredibly difficult. xPeke and YellOwStaR consistently provided great initiations which locked down Gambit for so long that they had to retreat. It’s further exemplified by Gambit’s end game items. Three members of Gambit bought Mercury’s Treads – Genja, Alex Ich and Diamond – which showed how effective the crowd control that Fnatic had was at locking them down.

Gambit show the strength of their comp

A 2:0 exchange in favour of Gambit showed the strength of their composition and what could have been had they retained map control.

This was a fight for Gambit which really showed off the power of their team fights. Diamond’s ultimate, Agony’s Embrace, was followed by an Encanted Crystal Arrow and Crescendo. This blew up Fnatic despite them being over 10k behind. The death of Puszu was so quick that Stand United was certainly wasted. The team fight ended in two champion kills for Gambit but the split push of YellOwStaR resulted in another tower loss for Gambit.

The final fight before the Nexus was a mirror image from many of the previous fights in the game which is why I believe it didn’t need an inclusion.

Case Study 2: Team Alternate vs Gambit Gaming [28/07/2013]

Bans

ATN v GG

Was Kerp’s choice to take teleport an effort to simulate Fnatic’s winning method vs Gambit?

The reasons that Alternate had for banning Udyr and Zed have been explained above. Aatrox was an interesting choice because Darien had played Aatrox twice so far this split with varying success, but I think that Alternate thought that Aatrox’s method of initiation and his ability to stay alive would prove to be a thorn in their composition.

Gambit’s ban are all very standard too. They appeared to try and keep the global’s to a minimum because – in the previous game – that really helped Fnatic snowball against them.

Team compositions

Krepo eloquently summed up the compositions:

Alternate’s lineup is all about picking guys off that are clustered. They have the Graves AOE damage, ForellenLord’s AOE damage, Vi picks out one guy off, Malphite ulties one or two guys…on the other side you have Gambit’s lineup: they spread out and they pickup whoever they want here and there. They chase them down, they have the mobility coming from Sona e, they have Karma speeding up, shielding them as well.

Krepo.

At first – I admit – I made the same mistake as Alternate. They thought that Gambit lost the previous Karma game because it was a kite composition and Fnatic’s hard initiate was too powerful. But it is pretty obvious that they lost because they got too far behind. But that’s a bad trap to fall into. Of course it does have a little truth and we see above that Gambit have made significant changes to their team composition to better adjust to Alternate’s hard initiation. Alternate tried to beat Gambit in a Fnatic’s mould which, of course, was’t going to work twice.

Alternate, I know, are expecting Karma. They said, we are almost certain that Diamond is going to play Karma again in the jungle.

DemanSource.

In my opinion, it takes a lot of audacity to choose a very similar composition which got trashed the day before, especially when you know that the other team will think you’re going to choose Karma again.

Anyway, when you consider Gambit’s choices this time, they are very similar to the last case study. Varus has potentially better lockdown than Ashe does if his Chain of Corruption can spread and he also has a decent enough slow. Renekton fulfils the exact same role as Evelynn: initiate when possible and soak up damage. Although Renekton’s initiation isn’t as reliable as Evelynn’s because he is prone to slows in a way that Evelynn isn’t, Renekton is a far more effective meat shield and he still outputs great amounts of damage. Gambit rightly came to the conclusion that they needed to be able to survive the initial burst damage better and therefore Renekton was a great choice. And even though Kassadin provides less utility than Kayle, he makes up for it with better AOE lockdown and a higher burst. Kassadin works better against this composition because he can use his low cooldown utlimate to dodge Unstoppable Force or Blitzcrank’s hook.

I chose because Karma because I think it’s…one of the best support junglers…you’re always helping your team. You’ve got a lot of cc, a lot of utility. You are good at pushing, counter-pushing, at ganks.

Diamondprox on why he chose Karma and what she brought to the team comp.

Early game

Gambit warding

Gambit’s wards covered far more of the map this game

Right from the start you could tell that Gambit’s communication was much better; Voidle was told where to place the wards with pings and Alex Ich placed a ward in the bottom tri-brush. Though the most obvious invade path wasn’t covered until slightly later (with a ward), Diamond had made it perfectly clear that he knew something was coming as he continually used his q to check for enemies in the curved river brush. Gambit were fully prepared for an invasion this time.

It meant that when Jree pulled the blue buff towards the curved brush, Gambit were already beginning to run towards Alternate’s own blue. Diamond managed to secure the blue just seconds after his own had been stolen. Alex Ich was actually first blooded very shortly after, due to not flashing quickly enough; it was a silly mistake but it did not have much impact on the game.

Gambit's poke

Conversely, Diamond chose to do the exact opposite of what he chose last game. Instead of helping Darien clear the waves under his tower, he acted aggressively to try and bring down the top tower as quickly as possible. The immense poke of Varus’ Piercing Arrow, Sona’s Hymn of Valor and Karma’s Inner Flame meant that both Kerp (Malphite) and Araneae (Vi) had to recall very early. Even though Kerp did teleport straight back top, it had little effect; by this stage Darien had over triple Malphite’s creep score though most of Malphite’s had been hoovered up by Araneae.

Sneaky dragon

The first major play of the game came from Araneae who began dragon at 06:42 and it was quickly taken down with some help from the rest of his team; it was traded for top lanes tower. By 08:50 in the previous case study, Gambit were 3.6K gold behind. In this game, they were only 500g behind. Gambit did fall foul to another teleport gank though when Kerp locked down Genja despite not using Unstoppable Force. It became 2:0 in terms of total kills and the gold lead was slowly extending for Alternate and they managed to pop the bottom tower too. I’d also like to point out that Genja finally stopped buying Tear on Varus! Of course it’s said light heartedly, but it really did help skyrocket Gambit’s damage.

Chunky poke

Chunky poke

At 12:30 there was a foreshadowing of things to come. Although nothing came from the crowd control that Gambit used onto Vi, the sheer amount of damage Araneae took must have scared him. This was then followed up a few seconds later with a Piercing Arrow and Inner Flame which took off over 50% of ForellenLord’s health! As well as it looked to be going for Gambit, a beautiful hook by Jree onto Diamond resulted in Diamond’s death which extended Alternate’s gold advantage to almost 2K. This was further advanced when Alternate took down the mid tower and dragon for the second time.

Mid game

FL HP

Cull the Meek indeed.

That was Alternate trying to setup the gank and it backfired horribly.

Deman.

ForellenLord initiated onto Darien with his Glacial Path but the exceptionally high burst from Karma combined with her slow and Renekton’s stun shredded Lissandra’s health. It showed the strengths of Karma’s utility as it allowed Darien to play aggressively without the fear of kitting.

On the other side of the map a crazy Araneae Assault and Battery flew towards Alex Ich and it concluded in Alex’s death; it led to a very messy fight with Sona being grabbed by Blitzcrank and Darien trying to 1 v 4. Honestly, it showed how strong Darien was at this point because he still managed to kill Jree. It ended as a 3:1 trade in favour of Alternate.

Interestingly enough, Alternate made the same mistake as they did before when they thought Darien was out of position. Of course, Diamond was waiting a brush and a replica of a couple of minutes before occurred once again as ForellenLord died.

Dragon fight

At 20:49, Gambit’s team fighting proved impeccable again. A lovely Crescendo mixed with Chain of Corruption kept Alternate locked up for so long that both Assault and Battery and Unstoppable Force were ineffective due to Alternate’s hp. Diamond’s shields were just enough to keep Genja alive through the fight and his snare really helped him kite ForellenLord. It ended in a 2:1 in favour of Gambit. That said, Alternate managed to take their third dragon of the game but Gambit did take the mid turret. Despite Gambit seemingly coming out on top of some of these trades it never really netted them anything as Alternate constantly secured the dragons and towers. Gambit found themselves 3.3K behind at this stage.

Darien being a boss

Darien split Alternate’s focus onto him which won Gambit the fight.

The next major fight starred Darien as the fearless crocodile. Darien was so far ahead compared to Kerp that he could play very aggressively. When Blitzcrank pulled Diamond in, Darien took his opportunity and initiated onto 4 members of Alternate. Araneae tried the same manoeuvre onto Gambit but Darien was far more effective. Also, Gambit could kite backwards more efficiently because of the Karma slows and snares along with Sona’s own speedup. Voidle’s Crescendo nullified the Unstoppable Force and Alternate lost the engagement 4:0.

It was the first time Gambit managed to win a fight and secure something meaningful (Baron) and it marked the beginning of a superb resurgence from Gambit, something which they never managed to quite do in the game before. It also marked the first time that Gambit had the gold lead.

Late Game

[Alternate] went aggressive against a team that just picked up Baron! Why would you do that in open battle?

Deman.

Deman’s thoughts perfectly summed up the next, smaller fight. Malphite and Vi both ulted the same target which nullified they’re own effectiveness. Only Kerp died for Alternate but they did lose the second inner tower and Gambit picked up their first dragon of the game.

Unfortunately for Alternate, Gambit’s composition was so strong in team fights that the game was pretty much over as long as Gambit didn’t throw by relinquishing map control. The exquisite kitting produced by Gambit meant that Alternate’s hard engage didn’t amount to anything after they threw their gold lead. It would be stupid to say that the game was over in champion select and Alternate most certainly did throw their 4K gold lead; whether it was ForellenLord not using Frozen Tomb in the pre-baron fight or Malphite and Vi ulting the same target, Alternate’s team fights suddenly became very sluggish.

Alex Ich outplay

Alex outplaying ForellenLord’s Frozen Tomb

Other than Gambit beginning a slow, yet methodical push towards Alternate’s base there were few notable moments such as the one above. Essentially every team fight, Alex would get initiated upon by Alternate but Voidle would save “save” him with a great Crescendo allowing Alex the room to either get out and get some sustain from Sona or to go even further in and assassinate someone. Voidle’s Crescendo’s were on point all game and he consistently hit 3 or more people with them.

Sona Varus

The Varus Sona lock down.

At the start of this fight Alex Ich assassinated WhiteKnight with the help of Darien and an incredible Chain of Corruption over the wall. This was mixed with a Crescendo to completely lock down Alternate who were in the process of fleeing. By 33:30 Gambit had an approximate 9K gold lead. It was such a huge swing. When Gambit’s composition gets ahead it’s very tough to fight back because it’s so good at spreading out and selecting targets to kill. There were a couple of substantial team fights but they didn’t show anything that hadn’t been so before and it was not long before Gambit managed to secure the game.

Final thoughts

Gambit Gaming Tweet

Gambit venting their obvious frustration. Source.

Soaz on Karma. Source.

Soaz on Karma after game 1. Source.

It’s possible to argue that, although the first game wasn’t lost because of Karma, the second wasn’t won because of Karma either. That is a semi-valid interpretation of events. In the first game I’ve already documented extensively how Gambit played from the back foot the whole game and how they actually started to win fights towards the end (only to get caught again). In the second game, both Darien and Voidle played superbly. But in both compositions, Karma was the kingpin holding the threads of the team fights together.

As Krepo said:

Karma fitted [Gambit's] high mobility playstyle…the shields and heals allowed Kassadin and Renekton to just be really influential in all the fights.

Krepo.

Her speedy shields which – when empowered – become area of effect proved crucial in some of the key fights in the second game. It allowed Alex and Genja to both kite safely back with the help of Sona. I think that because Alternate’s initiation was so hard, Diamond had to play someone such as Karma to help out manoeuvre Alternate. And remember, Alternate knew Karma was coming; they went out of their way to prepare against it and they still lost because Gambit managed to iron out some of the major mistakes they made in the first game.

Jungle Karma does appear to be quite strong but I have no idea whether it will catch on in a few weeks either in the European LCS or around the world. I’ll leave you with one final quote.

Diamond is by far the most innovative jungler in the world in terms of introducing new champions or optimising them in some way.

MonteCristo on Gambit Gaming. Source.

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  • tobiaswilson

    Sorry for any minor grammatical errors you might find. Our editor is on holiday!nnI’m feeling pretty ill after writing this so I’ll read any criticisms in the morning.

    • Retsiem

      It was a great read, I really appreciate the time you took to write this and I really like Karma and hope “Jungle Karma” becomes more popular and I can’t wait to try it out for myself.

  • Eric Cahoon

    I’d like say that this is a very well-presented analysis of a new strategy that may make its way into the competitive scene. It is very useful to have such a solid explanation of the advantages the pick brings and which compositions to use it with. The research on runes and masteries are also greatly appreciated. Excellent post, Tobias!

  • Julian Ontiveros

    This is a great article, one of the best! Keep up the great work :)

  • Momentum

    Very well written, highly appreciated read…. Keep them coming. Wish u a fast recovery

  • AP Yi

    Diamond’s Karma would have been a much stronger force again if he’d’ve landed a few more skillshots! Missing Qs all over the place!

    • Punxsu

      I wish to see you land your skillshots on challenger players.

  • Alexander_holt

    Great article! Very well researched and well commentated.

  • Volken

    God, what an excellent article. Cheers mate hope to see more.

  • Nathan

    Great to have thoughtful, well-edited articles like this to browse at work. Thank you.

  • JustPassBy

    god, i loved both games, diamond can inprove some things, there was moments where using R+E would be better than R+Q, but this is just starting, GO KARMA GO

  • Tent

    “Yes, I know, Mantra is her ultimate but my point is that she gets it a level 1 instead of 6 like Jayce or Elise.”nnnThat’s not right. Jayce and Elise both have their ults at level one like Karma. Nidalee is the form changer who has to wait until 6

    • Ryan

      The wording is a bit awkward but he means that she is similar to them in that way, because like Jayce and Elise, she gets it at level 1, I had to re-read it a couple times as well.

  • Bryan Baldwin

    Very insightful, thanks for taking the time to put this together.

  • rusalka9

    Excellent article! Diamond’s ability to reveal the strengths of unpopular, supposedly weak champions is astounding, and unrivaled across the globe. I wouldn’t call him the strongest jungler in the world (I think he loses to some other junglers in terms of mechanics and tactics), but he is certainly the most innovative. If Gambit makes it to Worlds, it will be very interesting to see how other regions respond to Diamond’s out-of-the-box style.

  • bronzeIVandproud
  • zachpeer

    An engaging read and very well written! First time visitor…I’ll definitely be checking in often. TY