LoL: Kennen officially announced

Kennen bg.Curse got an exclusive announcement from Riot earlier today. It looks like we’ll be seeing Kennen, the next in the supposed trinity of ninja champions, very soon.

Kennen appears to be the caster of ninja trio, bringing an array of nukes with which to dispatch his opponents. From the description of his skills it seems he has a skill shot, a short range AOE nuke, a charge that includes a damage component, and a larger AOE nuke as his ult. His passive also grants a stun for every third ability hit on enemy targets. It does sound like he could potentially stun an entire team at once. Take a look at the ability list:

Thundering Shuriken: Kennen throws a lightning shuriken to a target location, dealing damage and adding a Mark of the Storm debuff to the first enemy it hits.

Electrical Surge: Passive: Kennen’s weapon becomes charged every few attacks, dealing extra damage and adding a Mark of the Storm debuff on his next attack.

Active: Kennen deals damage and adds another Mark of the Storm to all nearby enemies who currently have a Mark of the Storm debuff on them.

Lightning Rush: Kennen turns into a pulsating ball of lightning for several seconds, moving incredibly fast and gaining the ability to pass through units. Any enemy unit he touches in this form is dealt damage and receives a Mark of the Storm.

Slicing Maelstrom (ultimate): Kennen creates a storm of shurikens and lightning around himself, summoning down a powerful energy bolt to a nearby enemy champion every half of a second, dealing damage and adding a Mark of the Storm with each strike.

Mark of the Storm (passive): Kennen’s abilities add a Mark of the Storm debuff to enemies. Upon reaching 3 stacks of the Mark of the Storm debuff, the enemy is stunned and Kennen receives an energy boost.

Charge champions are obviously popular on Twisted Treeline and will likely continue to be because of mobility. Ignoring walls is just too sweet to pass up. I’ll be interested to see how the stun mechanic plays out. More news when he hits the TR.

LoL: Should TT have a separate ELO system?

Twisted Treeline.I’ve spent all of my game time over the past two days getting to know Twisted Treeline. It’s a very different playstyle, different enough that I don’t feel like I’m even close to mastering it. I’ve been playing with the same friends I played with on Summoner’s Rift, and while some of them have been successful, others have struggled to learn the map and the new game.

A red post on the forums answered the question most people have been asking: will Treeline have a separate ELO? The answer is no. The two maps will share the same ranking system. For now, I can’t say this makes sense. I’m not saying we should start back at ground zero – the first few months would be a total mess. Instead, why not take the current 5v5 ELO and apply it to Treeline and let it update independently of the 5v5 system.

From what I’ve seen, some people will pick up Treeline very quickly. Others are going to take a very long time. I’ve seen so many ridiculous comps it makes me wonder how we’re at the same ELO. Granted, I solo queue a ton, but I’m more than 60 games above .500. The best explanation I see is that the game is completely different in a 3v3 setting. People who quickly migrate between those systems shouldn’t be matched against players that think Fiddle/Gang/Anivia is a strong comp.

LoL: 3v3 impressions

Twisted Treeline action.I haven’t had a ton of time to spend on Twisted Treeline so I’m just going to give you my initial impressions. Treeline is a very different experience from Summoner’s Rift. It’s much faster, much more combative, and for me, a lot more fun. It does have its setbacks, though. The list of potentially successful champions is pretty short and certain team comps just don’t stand a chance.

For now, the strategy on TT seems to be buff control at the two major buff locations, lizard and dragon. The buffs provide large amounts of gold to the controlling team and some welcome DPS boosts for all of the early game ganking. When building your composition, be sure you have the ability to rip down those neutrals fairly quickly. I played a game today against an Annie/Kayle/Ryze comp. They struggled, to say the least.

Other than that you need your basic CC along with early killing power. Mundo does extremely well, especially if he gets enough regen. Sion is another great choice, as is Ryze, Shaco, Jax, and Gragas. Early game burst is key to your gold generation and helps you free up the map for pushing. Towers have much lower health in TT so they’re easily pushed. You need to be aware of a team’s pushing potential and try to defend. Leaving your inhibitor turrets undefended for even a short period of time can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Really, TT is all about teamwork. That Annie/Kayle/Ryze comp was brutal at level 6. We’d open up on a target, Kayle would ult, and we would almost always die instantly. As the game progressed, though, we had enough MR to withstand the initial burst and they didn’t have much left. It was just a matter of time before we aced them repeatedly and pushed straight to the nexus.

LoL: 3v3 Matchmaking goes live!

Twisted Treeline.I got a nice surprise when I logged in for a quick game over lunch – 3v3 matchmaking is LIVE! Yes, the long awaited Twisted Treeline has finally entered live play. It’s going to be a strange new world in the tiny map. This really does change the dynamic of the game in a big way.

If you haven’t played on Treeline, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. Melee toons do very well, to the point that most think Mundo and Mordekaiser are severely OP. It’s really a matter of selecting a team that’s durable enough to withstand some damage and still dish out enough to wipe three people.

3v3 is where you’ll find me for the next couple weeks, testing out different characters and comps. First project – Heimerdinger.

Xbox 360 flash drives are still crazy expensive

Xbox 360 hard drive money.There was a lot of noise a few weeks back about the coming support for USB hard drives for the Xbox 360. It’s definitely great news, despite the artificial size limits, but it doesn’t mean Microsoft is ready to get out of the storage business. Quite the opposite, in fact. According to a few items listed at GameStop, Redmond is just getting started in the gaming storage business.

GameStop recently listed two different flash drives for use with the 360 – 8GB and 16GB. As is the case with most Microsoft storage, these drives are ridiculously expensive – $40 and $70, respectively. That’s basically double what you’d normally pay for a flash drive of those capacities.

Granted, there’s no official announcement from Microsoft for the peripherals, so this could be fabrication. I’m willing to bet it’s real, though. There’s nothing Microsoft loves quite like banking off over priced periphs.

LoL: The push strat

Heimer doing some jungling.It can get a little boring running the same teamfight strategy over and over, so I like to switch things up. Lately I’ve been running a heavy push strat with a couple friends, and though we’ve been taking our time learning it’s still been a lot of fun. Here’s a quick run down of a few of your options.

When you’re going for a push strat you want to have at least one tower down under the five minute mark, but preferably a second if you can manage it. Your team comp focuses on early game durability and push. When four people surprise push a lane it’s very hard to counter without a lot of ports or quick action. Alistar is a must for keeping creep waves healed and his ability to rip up a turret. You should also take Sivir along for obvious reasons. Personally, we’ve been rolling with a Heimerdinger as well to keep up the push. He is great at mowing down minion waves to set things up. From there it’s pretty much your pick. Janna is great for AOE crowd control on your opponent and her AOE heal can grant you some extra push time. You can take Warwick then for his global attack speed buff or Taric for heals/aura and Radiance for pushing.

I’ve not tried a game with Taric yet, but the Warwick game does seem to work well. I’m planning to try Taric at some point this evening and I’ll drop some comments when I know a little more.

As for summoner spells, you need to have a few rally flags for the early game push. It keeps everyone healed up and gives you the extra damage you need to push. Taking Clarity and Heal can also keep a push alive. Basically you want your mid toon, in this case Heimer, to push the opponent back to turret. At level three you rush four people middle to take the first turret and the second if you have the health. Then it’s back to lane for farming and leveling until you have a minion wave prepped to take another turret.

If you can get an inhibitor down in 15 minutes you’ve done your job. The super minions are extremely difficult to manage at low levels which forces the other team to clear them, giving you the time to push at will. In the end it’s all about coordination. If you communicate well and move as a team you should be able to give your opponent a painful game.

LoL: The state of Heimerdinger

Heimerdinger.I had a nine-game winning streak going just the other day. Nine games. It was great to look at my summoner profile and see so much green. Unfortunately the tenth game I drew a 20-minute 0-6 Taric. You can imagine how things went from there. I decided to end my quest for the elusive ten-game streak and go on a Heimerdinger bender. Here’s what I found out.

As great as Heimer used to be in mid, he was always easily shut down. The old turret system required too much time to be effective and was easy to counter. You were also dead if you left those turrets for any reason. Now things are different. The ability to drop red turrets at will gives you great DPS if you’re in a pinch and allows you to set up lanes much more quickly.

I like to start off mid by alternating turrets and rockets. I’ve had a little trouble with some of the ranged DPS, but once you get to level four you can push minions back easily and place turrets as you will. I tend to bury mine in creeps to make them a little harder to target and keep them close enough to attack as many enemy creeps as possible. By level five you should be pressing your opponent to his tower with little trouble. Start watching for ganks – they’ll be coming if the other team is intelligent.

From there you’re just trying to burn down that mid turret. I can easily take a turret before the ten minute mark. If your opponent leaves you alone, keep pushing. Encourage your teammates to join you if you can. I recently had a game in which I had aegis by the eight minute mark. We were knocking down the nexus before 19. It was insane.

For teamfights you should be trying to stay out of the mix. You want to be dropping as many turrets as possible for both the damage and the MR/AR reduction and the potential slow. Whatever you do, do not underestimate that slow. It will save your ass. It will save your team. It will get you kills.

As it stands, Heimer is an excellent pusher. I think he’s a great candidate for heavy AP builds, but I really prefer to run around blowing up turrets at level 5. If you were a Heimer fan in the past, give the new version a shot. I’d be shocked if you didn’t like it.

LoL: The state of Shen

Shen's Scorpion skin.A couple days before the latest patch went live I gave an overview of the ninja champ, Shen. At first glance he seemed as though he might suffer from confused design, and that his energy system wouldn’t scale well. I was reluctant to unlock him at first, but after seeing the way he changes a team fight, I decided to give him ago.

First, I think Shen is among the more balanced champions in the game, even though he dramatically changes the dynamic of any game he’s in. His ultimate gives him the ability to prevent ganks and sometimes turn them for a kill. It’s a unique skill, despite similar abilities in someone like Pantheon or TF because Shen shields his target, actually for quite a lot. At rank one, Shen’s ult is a 450 damage shield, more than enough to soak damage output of two heroes at level 6. Shen also shields himself for half that amount, giving you a serious advantage, particularly in what used to be an even fight.

Unfortunately that’s about it. Yes, his taunt can mess things up, but it’s short enough that it doesn’t drastically alter the course of a fight unless you’re near a tower. The rest of his skills are actually pretty boring, and that’s Shen’s biggest drawback. He’s boring. His ultimate has a fairly long cooldown – two minutes or more. The rest of the game seems to be a lot of running around waiting for a chance to use that ult.

Part of the problem is that his CC, the taunt, is so expensive. It takes most of your energy pool to cast, which is why I recommend building him with a Rylai’s. Vorpal Blade becomes a spammable slow, basically guaranteeing no one will get away from you. The chase is long because you do so little damage, but you’re durable enough that you should almost always get the kill.

I’ll be curious to see if he gets any changes in the next patch. The Ezreal buff surprised me, and though Shen hasn’t seen the same overwhleming negative outcry, I also haven’t seen many people singing his praises.

LoL: Urf the Manatee sneak peek

Urf the Manatee.It seems a little early for April Fool’s jokes, so we’re going to pretend this is serious. By pretend I of course mean hope. I hope this is real. It’s a joke that’s been running around the official forums for a little while now, including the fish and spatula weapons. Without further ado, I give you Urf the Manatee.

Now, we’ve been releasing some pretty revolutionary champions lately with some pretty radical mechanics. If you thought that Ezreal, Mordekaiser, or Shen were edgy you’re in for a treat, because this next champion is borderline shocking. He really rocks the boat! Now, history teaches us that even the most peaceful and lethargic of creatures can be inspired to feats of great valor under the proper set of circumstances, and this courageous sea cow is just such a beast. Mightily armed with fish and spatula, Urf the Manatee stands ready to represent his fellow ocean borne herbivores in honorable combat on the Field of Justice.

Even if this is just a spoof toon to be released on April Fool’s Day I’ll be happy. Who doesn’t want to be a manatee? I’m actually inclined to think this is real, if only because it doesn’t make sense for Riot to pollute the announcement forums with a bunch of joke posts.

LoL: Facebook Tristana is here

Pink Tristana.The long wait is finally over. Facebook Tristana is now available for free to anyone willing to become a fan of League of Legends on Facebook. It’s a completely painless process for what is actually a pretty cool skin.

Here’s the official post from the Riot forums:

It is my privilege to announce to all of you that, as of today, not being a fan of League of Legends on Facebook will constitute a tactical error! And do you know why that is? Because if you’re not a fan on Facebook, you’re going to be stricken with envy when you see all of your friends playing with their brand new Riot Girl Tristana skin!

That’s right, Runeterrans! You’ve waited patiently, and now your long wait is over! And all you need to do to get your very own gun slinging, rapid firing, rocket jumping yordle lady all punked out with a pink dye job is follow this link! Click here to become a League of Legends Fan and claim your very own Tristana Champion and Riot Girl Tristana skin!

That’s really all you have to do. And yeah, the skin rocks.

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