League of Legends MSI Champion Spotlight: Brand

by James Bates

(Photo: Riot Games)

It wouldn't be an international League of Legends event without some bizarre champion pick making it's way to the forefront, whether it be by teams weak or strong. Last year's Mid-Season Invitational was the first event that proved the strength of Aurelion Sol in competitive play thanks to the efforts of Huhi and Counter Logic Gaming, while Worlds 2016 had too many off the wall picks to count.

Well, the third annual Mid-Season Invitational has already proven that it'll be no difference. While support Brand was technically debuted at Worlds 2016, we only got to see it for a single game, and it was completely irrelevant after Albus Nox Luna was eliminated. Day Two of the 2017 Mid-Season Invitational, however, has already features a pair of support Brand picks. While the team that brought the pick to bear haven't exactly succeeded in winning the game, it's hard to argue that it was the fault of Brand in either case, and in both games the Brand demonstrated the power inherent in the pick.

So, what makes support Brand a reasonable pick? Well, his most relevant characteristic for solo queue play is his ability to dominate lane. He's something of a discount Karma that can push harder but doesn't have the ability to mitigate damage. While that trade probably doesn't make for a better laner, the reality is that most of Brand's flaws in the laning phase are pretty heavily mitigated by the fact that the enemy lane will be stuck solidly under the turret for all of laning phase. Now, his most obvious characteristic is the power that he brings in teamfighting. Pyroclasm, when combined with Brand's passive, offers a level of damage in teamfightst that can't be matched by any other support pick, even other off-meta picks like Lux. He may not scale harder with AP than other picks, but his damage output is strong even without them, which is a huge advantage in the support role.

These strengths don't come without weaknesses, though. Firstly, lanes with a Brand in them are very, very prone to getting ganked, as Brand brings no mobility to the table and tends to always push up. Considering many of the most popular ADCs in the current metagame are also completely immobile, this is a very real weakness that can lose you the game from the bottom lane alone. Secondly, he's not very good at dealing with compositions that don't aggressively engage fights. Brand's ranges are quite small on every skill save his Sear, and if the enemy team is looking to kite back then Brand is going to have a very real problem getting anything done.

Even still, Brand is a perfectly reasonable pick that can excel in the right circumstances. Give him a shot in your next solo queue game, and come let us know how it goes!

By James Bates

A wanna-be novelist turned coach turned journalist, James is living proof that you never know where you'll end up. He's in love with narrative-heavy games, which he proves by spending his days writing about a game with less lore than Doom. His greatest regret in life is not having his name in the credits of Life is Strange, and it's galvanized him to truly pursue developing games that don't begin in packed taverns and use D20s.