Riot implements hotfix, eliminates “0 CS top” lane strategy

Zilean. League of Legends.
Zilean. League of Legends. /

A new strategy has emerged in pro play and high-elo soloQ where a player takes the Kleptomancy keystone and Spellthief’s Edge, doesn’t CS, and is able to keep with his lane opponent in gold. Now Riot is eliminating the infamous “0 cs top” strategy.

On Saturday in the LCS, Clutch top laner Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon locked in a curious pick: Zilean top. After some initial curiosity and excitement, spectators learned that this wasn’t some crazy counter pick or pocket pick, but a new strategy.

You see, at the 8-minute mark, Huni’s opponent – Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho playing Urgot – had 58 CS. Huni’s CS? One.

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That’s right, for the first eight minutes of this game, Huni farmed one creep. Yet at the 15-minute mark, despite being 0/1/0 to Ssumday’s 2/0/0 scoreline and still being over 60 CS behind, Huni found himself only 500 gold down. By not farming for eight minutes, Huni kept even in gold with his enemy laner.

This “0 CS top” strategy quickly caught fire, as more and more higher elo players began to recognize the power that the strategy brought. It opened up the lane to more supportive picks – very useful now that AD Carries have become more important than ever – and basically gives these champions a free lane.

While there are plenty of more detailed explanations of the strategy you can find elsewhere, the basic premise of the strategy is this: by taking Kleptomancy and Spellthief’s Edge on a supportive champion top (Zilean and Karma most often), the player will actually keep up with his opponent as long as he doesn’t farm but instead harasses. This last point is critically important, as farming will delay the Spellthief’s proc, which is a primary way this strategy generates income. So, in short, you don’t farm, but you harass constantly.

Other than those benefits listed above, this strategy will inevitably force your opponent to push his lane into yours (he’s doing more damage to creeps by last hitting, you’re drawing his creeps’ aggro by harassing), gives your team a second sightstone (once you upgrade Spellthief’s), and denies your opponent. This also works to decrease the likelihood that you will get a bounty on your team by dragging down the average CS numbers (and also increasing the odds that an enemy can get a bounty by farming well).

After this strategy crashed into prominence, Riot decided enough was enough. On Monday, Riot announced that they would be shipping a hotfix, to hit on Tuesday, to eliminate this “0 CS top” strategy.

So, unless you’re running a duo top or the jungler is just constantly hovering around you, this new strategy appears dead. A lot of pro players and analysts have already commented that the strategy is too effective for minimal risk, and Riot’s own announcement of the hotfix seems to acknowledge that.

Personally, I agree with this decision. Much like the oft-maligned funnel concept, this strategy just exploits the game’s mechanics to optimize gold generation in a very uninteractive way. While the real culprit here is the CS bounty system (in my opinion, Riot should explore a way to make it tuned to the pure gold discrepancy, rather than trying to find the fine line between CS gold and kill gold).

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What do you all think? Are you sad to see the “0 CS top” strategy go? Let us know in the comments!