One of the most oft-sounded criticisms of Western teams is their inability to innovate, it’s an issue not shared by Vietnam’s Gigabyte Marines.
Many Western fans berate their representatives for copying Korean teams, instead of creating their own unique style.
Whether this is a legitimate reason for the West’s many failures, it is certainly a valid criticism of LoL Esports as a whole: as the game itself evolves, metas come and go, but the core structure of the game remains relatively the same. At least, that’s what people thought, until the Gigabyte Marines arrived on the scene.
The Gigabyte Marines scoff at the standard and undermine the accepted. They forge their own meta, regardless of what teams have established over many years.
In the eyes of GAM, the best strategy is the one that works, even if it goes against the conventional wisdom of the past seven years.
In their first two games at Worlds, GAM has done away with the traditional concept of lanes, playing a new style that trashes the standard 1-1-2 we have seen for so long now. The Vietnamese strategies are unlike anything previously seen on the international stage, requiring a level of confidence that few can muster.
First, against Fnatic, the Gigabyte Marines reinvented the lane swap. After dominating the meta of Spring 2016, lane swaps fell out of favor with a slew of meta changes during MSI of that year.
Since then, few teams have bothered to use the archaic strategy, sticking to the standard setup so often witnessed nowadays. In their first game however, GAM took advantage of this lack of practice to crush their opposition with an old tactic.
Right from the start, the Marines controlled the pace of the game. The Vietnamese team sent AD carry Nguyễn “NoWay” Vũ Long into the top lane, meanwhile sending their top and jungle bot side.
This gave their Tristana the opportunity to use her immense sieging power to obtain the first turret and secure a lead. From there on out, the tempo was entirely in the hands of GAM.
Welcome to #Worlds2017, Levi:
He's 3/1/0 after a quick Double Kill in bot lane! pic.twitter.com/qrZ4PxtJxQ
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 5, 2017
It seemed that Fnatic was always on the backfoot, trying to catch up with a play their opponents had already made. Even when the European team found a small victory, Tristana would be on the other side of the map to tip it back in GAM’s favor.
The whole game was an entertaining clinic on how to play outside of the box. By the end, GAM had a fed AD carry, a terrifying Nocturne and significantly more map control, allowing them to take the game.
Against tournament favourites Longzhu Gaming, the Gigabyte Marines went even more extreme. They kicked their unconventional play to a whole new level, disregarding roles as a whole.
To start the game, they sent both of their AD carries into solo lanes, leaving their Mordekaiser to farm bot. The idea was to create pushing pressure in the solo lanes, and getting their carries ahead.
Simultaneously, Mordekaiser would set up for the dragon, and create a frightening mid push prospect. However, the result was not so perfectly executed.
In the bot lane, Mordekaiser was camped so hard that he virtually threw his lane within the first 3 minutes of the game.
In the meantime, Lucian failed to push the top lane turret, and died himself several times early in the game. Overall, GIGABYTE Marines’ strategy against Longzhu was a total disaster.
Ingenuity does not necessarily breed success; with the unrivalled innovation of GAM, comes additional risk. Not every strategy will work, especially against arguably the best team in the world, but that shouldn’t rule out the Vietnamese squad from the knockout stages.
After their blowout loss to Longzhu, some critics have already lost faith in the Gigabyte Marines, yet it is impossible to count the squad out simply because of their unpredictability.
There is a certain volatility to the Marines that makes them so dangerous in a professional setting. The Gigabyte Marines are not finished yet, who knows what they will unveil in the three remaining group stages matches.