Why Does TSM Keep Putting Bjergsen on Galio Despite being 1-3 With the Pick?

Hint: It’s not the Galio’s fault.  To find out why Bjergsen and TSM seem to love Galio mid, we look to China who have been playing with it since his rework was released back in spring of 2017.

In game 1 of the finals between Team WE and Royal Never Give Up (RNG), RNG Xiaohu picks Galio into Leblanc, one of the strongest midlane champions at the time being among the must ban red side bans with Camille and rengar earlier in the split and still taking priority in the second phase of bans in many of the major regions, especially NA.  The team that RNG drafted in this game is specifically built around having Galio mid.  RNG even drafted Jarvan as their jungler to compliment the Galio, a champion who has been seldom seen even in top lane (his usual role in the summer split) in China that split.  The reason that this drafting choice is so important is because Galio needs a diving buddy, someone to ult on top of and follow up engage since with the rework Galio became more of a secondary engage for teamfights.  His flash taunt can work wonders for smaller skirmishes because of the large radius and the damage reduction he gets from casting it but in full teamfights it is easily telegraphed and dodged by a competent enemy team which WE surely are.  So on paper the draft looks good, AP damage from the rumble top, Galio and Jarvan are diving into the backline, hyper scaling adc in Caitlyn in the bot lane and Thresh support to peel or engage depending on the situation.  A huge teamfighting comp built against the pick comp of team WE.  In game RNG plays the comp out initially quite sloppily.  The whole point of the teamfighting comp of RNG is to make it to late game without dying too much early to the Elise ganks.  However, around 14 minutes into the game RNG attempts to use Rumble ultimate to engage in the botlane after Caitlyn, RNG’s Uzi, has already been dove and killed, trading her life for the enemy Braum, WE Ben’s choice of support. RNG expends several flashes and Rumble’s teleport chasing the play ultimately to no avail.   When Elise, WE’s jungler Condi, realizes that RNG want to take the botlane tower since they expended so many resources countering the dive, she wraps around with Leblanc to kill the rest of RNG despite a Galio ultimate giving extra resistances to a dying Rumble, the fight was lost and Galio the lone survivor limps away. Miscommunication seems to plague RNG throughout the rest of the early/mid-game. Jarvan who is supposed to be the primary engage for RNG feints many engages using his E-Q combo which Galio promptly ults on top of mistaking it for a true engage essentially wasting the cooldown.  Though the ultimate does protect the second-tier tower bottom from a WE pressure play and allows RNG to continue scaling into the late game like their comp wants to.  Galio and Jarvan finally get it together when Jarvan and Thresh catch both Elise and Braum, Galio ults on top of them layering further crowd control.  This fight was scrappy but eventually went the way of RNG 4 for 2.  Next, the Jarvan traps 3 people in his Cataclysm (ultimate), for Galio to layer further crowd control onto.  Though RNG lose this fight they are able to take the outer tower mid, a large prize for the scaling team brining the gold closer to even.  The final two Galio ultimates tell a similar story to the first, Galio arrives too late and is not able to make a significant impact on the fight with WE attacking from too many angles, refusing to play the front to back teamfight that RNG need to win the game.  With this dissatisfying performance in spring it is hard to see why teams would continue to use the pick, however it picked up in all major regions as a mid pick coming into 2017 Summer.

Faker lost to a Syndra in the first week of LCK this split.  However, KurO and Kuzan both had victorious games against other control mages, Orianna and Cassiopeia in particular.  Galio continued to dominate the top lane as a very stable tank in other regions like NA and EU but remained popular in Korea giving PawN and KurO more wins in the coming weeks.  Galio would not see play in the mid lane in a western region until Bjergsen dissatisfying losses to a surprisingly strong team in Immortals.  Let’s look at these games and the idea behind them and how execution is at fault not the draft.

TSM wanted to use Olaf as a delivery system for the Galio in later game teamfights.  Moreover, Haunter can use the damage reduction and easy help if he gets collapsed on by multiple members of the enemy team as he is splitpushing with the Fiora that was picked for him.  The only thing necessary for this game to be a win for this TSM team composition is for Hauntzer to respect jungle ganks when Svenskeren’s Olaf is not near him which he does not and dies before the 3-minute mark of the game.  Further, Sven continues to play around the mid lane despite the win condition of the team being Fiora getting ahead of the Shen in the topside.  Immortals continues to attack Hauntzer with their jungle Lee Sin and then uses the now free Shen to target the source of the global playmaking in the Galio midlane, killing Bjersen in a 4v1 midlane gank with the help of the bottom lane who roamed up using Bard’s magical journey. Overall, this game was lost due to poor execution in the topside of the map by Hauntzer and Svenskeren, not the draft.

In Game 2 against Immortals TSM has a similar draft to RNG when they ran Galio mid against WE in the Spring.  TSM drafted a strong AP top laner in Rumble to make up for the lack of AP damage from the midlane.  They also drafted an early pressure jungler in Lee Sin who can also be used as a target for Galio’s ultimate.  Finally, the bottom lane Caitlyn and lulu are a safe duo with hyper carry potential.  Importantly, TSM now does not need to get ahead in the 1v1 top lane, they just need to scale and let the Caitlyn and Rumble take over mid/late game teamfights. Again, the plan is coherent and solid, the execution is again where they falter. The main issue this game was Bjergsen’s ultimates were rarely useful because they were neither protecting Doublelift’s Caitlyn or securing kills by layering crowd control.  Moreover, TSM would continually expend too many resources to get just a kill and then Immortals would get more pressure on objectives, combined with their superior macro movements throughout the game would eventually giving them the game win.

The Galio pick can work, even for TSM who showcased it to victory against a frankly struggling Team Liquid.  However, this game does showcase the strengths of the Galio.  With strong engage from the top lane and support positions Galio is able to shine.  TSM will likely continue to play Galio mid because it is a strong pick in certain compositions, but as with everything it League of Legends, it comes down to execution so don’t be mad at Parth.

Tyler “TattooPotato” Elliott writes League of Legends related articles looking at strategy and macroplay in the professional scene while giving tips for SoloQ.