When Luck and Bravery Unite

Eventually, the Riot Rumble season will be over and I’ll switch my focus to a broader audience. For now, I’m heads-down focused on this crazy, company-wide League of Legends tournament. Thank you for your forbearance.

After a week off (and lots of terrific Twisted Treeline themes… thanks to everyone who made comments to last week’s post), my Riot Rumble team, the Golden Ganks, trotted back into the tournament. Recall that in our first match we were utterly obliterated, and that we had won only one practice game out of seven. It looked to be a long, long Rumble season.

On Monday, the Definitely Not Competitive (DNC) e-mail went out to the Rumble teams across Riot Games. Our format for this week was… Ultimate Bravery!

Get it?!? Ultimate! Bravery!

No, I didn’t get it either. Honestly, when I first read the e-mail and rules of the format, I was completely bewildered. It’s a fan-made format, and sort of cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Here’s the deal on Ultimate Bravery… It’s a normal, five-on-five Summoner’s Rift game with blind pick (meaning each person can pick whatever Champion he or she wants without seeing what the other team is picking). Then, well, it gets weird… You show up to this site, plug in your Champion, and it spits out a random build. When I say “random,” I am speaking literally. The site tells you:

  • What Champion ability you must max out first
  • Your Summoner Spells
  • What number of Offensive, Defensive, and Utility Masteries to create
  • What Items to build, in the exact order you must build them

In other words, you get a randomized “recipe” for a Champion that is likely bizarre and unlike anything you would make in a normal game. Sometimes you’ll get a build that’s pretty good for your Champion, but most of the time you just get plain ‘ol weird.

One more rule: It’s also a game with absolutely no wards or trinkets. Wandering through the jungle means wandering blind. And since very few people get Smite as a Summoner Spell, jungling happens rarely and with a fair amount of risk.

Personally, that feeling of doom that had crept into my gut saw no reason to leave after understanding the rules. But that morning, as we were going over the format again, my teammate Brian said, “So this means we have a chance!” Ah, you have to love optimism. The truth is, Ultimate Bravery seems to be a format designed entirely to level the playing field (in addition to breaking apart “professional” builds of Champions). It’s silly, insane fun, like Han Solo fleeing the Empire into an asteroid field. So yeah, I guess we did have a chance, after all.

Tuesday evening rolled around and I was the last person to arrive for our game against Oppa Poro Style, a team of Riot engineers who I hadn’t met. We all clarified the rules, and also reiterated that Ultimate Bravery works on the honor system. We would paste our builds into the chat screen for all to see, but it was up to us to follow that recipe.

We stuck to our regular Champions. I played Fizz mid-lane. Bob grabbed Warwick and hoped to grab Smite for jungling. Jim played Darius top-lane. Eric and Todd filled up the bottom lane with Master Yi and Caitlyn (Brian, our eternal optimist, offered to sit this one out since we had six players). Our opponents would end up playing Urgot and Nami bottom lane, Volibear and Vladimir top lane, and I was matched up against Katarina mid. Looking at Oppa Poro Style’s stats was incredibly intimidating; Each player had a ton of wins, including one with a whopping 797 wins in Summoner’s Rift. That’s borderline obscene. Sigh. I guessed maybe we didn’t have a chance, after all.

The Ganks found their way to the Ultimate Bravery site and rolled up their random builds. Most everyone groaned. Jim was our only Champion with Smite, but had never jungled. That meant he and Bob would double up on top lane. The groans eventually turned to nervous laughter. This was going to be another long night.

Quietly, though, my heart was racing. The site called my build “Lucky Fizz.” I think “lucky” in this case means “not awful.” Tristan, a really good League player and our resident compensation expert on the Talent team, whistled appreciatively over my shoulder. I was to level up “Playful / Trickster” first, which is my preferred ability to max first anyway. My Summoner Spells were Cleanse, which I never knew existed and stinks, and Clarity, which is actually great for Fizz. I was supposed to build 16 Offensive, 4 Defensive, and 10 Utility Masteries, which Tristan helped me quickly assemble. And my Items: Berserker Greaves (Captain), Banner of Command, Archangel’s Staff, Void Staff, Rabadon’s Deathcap, and some item I can’t remember but never had a chance to build. For those who don’t play League of Legends, the above information will make no sense. But for those who know Item sets… Not bad, right? I’d never used Archangel’s Staff, but it was terrific with mana-hungry Fizz. And Banner of Command turned out to be SUPER fun when I started producing ultra-big-and-powerful-minions.

Because we had no wards and no junglers, the first part of the game had us exclusively staying in our lanes. Our Darius died first, then Warwick fell. Uh oh. But then the Ganks top-laners struck back, each killing Volibear once and evening up the game. I took down Katarina after a lot of shucking and jiving with Fizz, and eventually she came back and got me. And for the first fifteen minutes that’s how it went—back and forth with neither team really getting an advantage.

But then… then we got a couple of their towers. Then the Dragon. Then we started to knock them out at a faster rate than they were knocking us out. At the twenty-third minute we made a big push up the middle lane and took down an Inhibitor. Then we took Dragon again while they were dealing with the super-minions. We eventually took another Inhibitor and another Dragon. Then we Aced them (meaning we knocked out all five of their Champions)… twice.

And when the dust settled, at just under thirty-five minutes, the Golden Ganks… won. I had gone 10-2-9 in the game (meaning ten kills, two deaths, and nine assists).

Whoah.

We cheered, and high-fived, and on a total adrenaline high jumped into a game of ARAM…

…where we were decimated, and it wasn’t even close. Whatever. Forget the ARAM game. Let’s just revel in our (possibly only) golden moment with the Golden Ganks.

Ultimate Bravery FTW!

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