The metagame report: Countering Ivern

Since his release, Ivern has been drifting more and more towards relevance, as his utility off of low resources is unmatched, able to secure his team’s health through the usage of items such as Redemption, Athene's Unholy Grail, Ardent Censer and Locket of the Iron Solari. His tempo in the jungle is also incredible, able to quickly move through the jungle and capitalize on weak, pushed in lanes earlier than anyone else. With all this comes a price however, as his quick pathing is offset by low health as he attempts to clear, and a pitiful amount of burst damage to contribute to ganks and skirmishes.

Ivern has surged into play at the latter half of the season alongside Lulu, with both champions leading the charge on a more passive “shield meta” meant to capitalize on enemy mistakes in hard engage and keep everyone healthy through initial bursts in order to win out on sustained damage. You see this often in competitive games, where failed sieges are reset through the constant use of Redemption, and fights are determined moreso by the focus on shield users rather than the damage dealers of a composition.

Ivern also has become a neutralizing presence in the jungle as the meta favours aggressive early jungling, as his swift invades leave enemy junglers buffless and gives your laners buffs during the middle and late parts of the lane phase. As such, teams have started to adapt to the classic ways in which Ivern can and will likely punish you in the current meta.

Countering Ivern the wrong way

In the above clip of the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split Finals, Cloud9 reacts in a very conventional way to the observance of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen invading their blue buff in an attempt for a steal. Juan “Contractz” Garcia understandably hopes to trade blue buffs by using this knowledge against Svenskeren and starting a process of horizontal jungling, which means both junglers clear across rather than up and down.

In doing so, he plays right into TSM’s trap. Ward notwithstanding, the ability to deduce the attempt at horizontal jungling makes it incredibly dangerous as he is met by pushing lane in the bottom and mid lanes in the early game. This means that their collapse for a guaranteed kill is not only likely given the circumstance, but a certainty as they don’t lose out on lane pressure or experience as a result.

Countering Ivern the right way

In the above MSI clip, Elise is using the pixel brush ward to realize that he has to jungle vertically, and knowing he doesn’t have the priority disadvantage in his lanes to get punished as Contractz. Talon and Gragas could have roamed, but so could Naut and LeBlanc as they wouldn’t lose much in terms of gold and experience. This would cause a favourable 3v2 for Supermassive.

Often, Ivern’s invades look toward the enemy blue buff, in order to secure Ivern his own mana regeneration early and also to completely avoid the enemy jungler who is likely to start on their red side jungle. However, as the Raptor camp has become a more high risk, high reward type of camp to clear, that risk is exacerbated by this potential invade. A slight alteration sees Lee Sin actually start his blue here to completely avoid the possibility of a blue buff steal, while threatening a red buff start given the lack of information by Ivern. This creates a situation where the optimal play for Ivern is to not invade, as he may encounter a missing blue buff or a Lee Sin with greater fight potential in early levels.

A fake leash is another way to throw off Ivern’s ability to properly discern whether it is safe and efficient to invade the enemy blue buff in an attempt to start the game with control over three of the four buffs. In this clip, Galio pretends to leash by using a very small amount of health and mana as well as his passive, once again casting doubt as to whether the enemy Lee Sin started on the blue buff or on the red buff. This once again makes the optimal situation a normal jungle path without an invade, considering the lack of information. In this situation, an Ivern invade can be met very quickly with the enemy jungler right in their face as they attempt to steal on fairly low health and mana.

These are just a few ways by which Ivern can be punished in the early game for doing blind invades. A lot of these are not as team-focused and can be done with only one teammate. As well, the ability to neutralize Ivern this early and set him behind, especially in solo queue, will give you greater free reign to invade and gank lanes as a more aggressive jungler such as Kha’Zix, Lee Sin or Elise.

Gabriel Zoltan-Johan is a News Editor at theScore esports and the head analyst for the University of Toronto League of Legends team. His (public) musings can be found on his Twitter.

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