MPL-MY/SG S5: Why is Jawhead so popular?
Taking a closer look at the league’s most picked hero.
Meta Matters is a series where we take a deeper look into the esports metagame. We’ll explore strategies used by the best teams and supplement that with our own research and statistics. Esports isn’t just a random group of people playing video games – the meta truly matters!
It is almost time for the MPL-MY/SG Season 5 Regular Season to resume on 10 April. Before that however, we’d like to shed some light on the league’s most picked hero so far - Jawhead. The Fighter class hero presently champions a 67.86% pick rate and a 52.63% win rate in the league, having played in a total of 38 out of 56 games.
What’s the deal with Jawhead?
To that we say, the hero has an interesting tool kit, having to a certain extent the ability to “make or break” a team. For those unfamiliar with this hero, Jawhead is basically a no-nonsense hero that has the Ejector skill that allows it to run really fast and throw people around the map. Oh, it also has a neat Unstoppable Force ultimate skill that allows Jawhead to charge straight at a nearby enemy hero and briefly stuns it(!), while dealing 400 (+100% Total Physical ATK) physical damage to the initial target and to the units surrounding them(!!) It even has a high damage potential Smart Missiles barrage skill that fires randomly to any targets nearby Jawhead (all of them will especially ONLY hit a single target if there is only ONE enemy near Jawhead).
Its skills have pretty low cooldowns too (5 seconds for Smart Missiles, 12 seconds for Ejector and 35 seconds for Unstoppable Force respectively).
Why do teams look to the one-eyed robot?
Jawhead works best as an initiator of sorts. Its skill set emphasises closing the gap on an opponent and punishes them for being out of position. Jawhead players who can initiate and pick off key targets before team fights even take place tend to cause massive disruptions to a team’s flow of play. Consequently, teams naturally fall back attempting to cut their losses, allowing Jawhead to shine even further. His tool kit enables him to chase down fleeing foes and further press the advantage. This in the long run can result in the earlier mentioned snowball effect - where each small advantage builds up to a team just bulldozing their opponents.
What’s the catch?
Everything sounds great on paper, but like any other hero in the game, the hero does have its own pitfalls. Namely, its greatest strength being its greatest weakness: most of the hero’s skills are considered for the most part, single target based, making the hero a not-so-ideal teamfight orientated pick. This especially backfires during the mid-to-late game scenarios where most teams tend to play safe and group up for the remainder of the match.
It also goes without saying that while sometimes a strong initiation is well executed by a Jawhead, it may all be for naught when there is no corresponding follow up by the team. In fact, the hero practically becomes somewhat worthless if the team is instead, initiated on. This is especially true if heroes that have strong crowd control (CC) skills initiate on the team - pretty much tossing a wrench into Jawhead’s cogs. Needless to say, if a Jawhead can’t initiate first, teams will more likely than not face difficulties recuperating in a teamfight.
The going also tends to get tough if the entire team is behind. Playing on the backfoot does not favour Jawhead as it does not scale that well into the late game. This makes securing the early game pretty important for Jawhead, to ensure that a strong momentum is set in place not only for the hero, but collectively for the team as well.
It is also worth noting that playing Jawhead will require the player to have good decision making skills. In order to get the most of the hero, a player’s decisiveness and calculativeness comes into play, requiring them to choose their battles wisely. Any misclicks or mistakes to commit to an initiation may just be the very undoing of the team’s victory at any given time.
So how do teams actually play the hero?
Teams tend to play Jawhead as a hyper aggressive ganker or leave it aside on one part of the map as a split pusher and farm alone in lanes. It goes without saying that the former tended to work out better compared to the latter.
Looking back at EVOS SG’s Game 1 against Todak during Week 1 Day 1, JPL’s Jawhead had a strong presence right out of the gates. The hero when paired with Flicker, brought great utility in terms of offensive and defensive options to the team.
Needless to say, JPL had a huge game presence and often ganked each lane whenever he could. This allowed him to put pressure on lanes even when his hero was missing on the map. All of this culminated in a snowball victory, with JPL being one of the key factors in contributing to the team’s bulldozing outing.
In Game 2, Todak lost despite picking Jawhead. It could be observed that Todak decided to utilise Jawhead differently, with Todak choosing to put Xrayyyyyy in a corner of the map to get some early farm instead of ganking and putting pressure on other lanes.
During Game 2 of Team SMG vs Team Bosskurr on Week 2 Day 1, Tacuz’s Jawhead could only watch his ally being ganked upon near their own tower during the mid game. His ally could be seen being sandwiched between four other enemies (again highlighting that the hero does not shine well if the team is initiated on first). Tacuz also managed to punish a Ling that was out of position towards the end of the game - a very nice move considering the enemy had plans to burst the squisher Team SMG backline.
Having Jawhead at that moment allowed Team SMG to capitalize on this mistake, which eventually gave them significant breathing room to catch up. However, Team Bosskurr’s advantage was a little too much for Team SMG, when both teams bunched up and took the last team fight, it ended with Team Bosskurr’s victory (highlighting again that Jawhead can’t contribute as much during the late game and tends to perform poorly when on the backfoot).
When it came to Game 3, Team SMG were ahead for the most part of the match. Tacuz did not have to do much, serving more as a nuclear deterrent so to speak. When any engagements or team fights broke out, the opposing team did not have enough firepower to finish the job. This led to them fleeing, facilitating an ideal environment for Tacuz to clean up and chase the leftovers.
How did teams itemise this popular pick?
A great utility item that everyone in a team can pick up. It sets yourself up for a good match every time.
For boots, the teams tend to vary between these three choices. It was pretty straightforward when it came to either a pair of Tough Boots or Warrior Boots: in which area did they want to prioritise staving damage? With regards to Rapid Boots however, some teams opted for empowering their Jawhead with higher movement speed when not in combat. This allowed Jawhead to really move around and gank aggressively throughout the map.
In terms of defensive options, it is worth noting that most teams chose to itemise Jawhead as a pseudo-tank. Immortality and Athena’s Shield were staple picks, with the deciding factor depending on the need to stave off magical or physical damage for the team. For some teams, their Jawheads picked up both items to ensure that they would be covered on both ends of the spectrum. It is worth pointing out that Queen’s Wings was occasionally picked up by some players as well - more likely as an additional means to double down as a pseudo-tank. A wise choice considering that a Jawhead would most of the time be the one tanking a fair bit of damage during the initiation process. Having the 10% CD reduction is also a nice touch, enabling Jawhead to continue running around and getting into opponent’s faces.
It only came down to really two really commonly used items when it comes to Jawhead. When comparing the two, more teams went with Endless Battle as their bread and butter DPS item. This could be due to how Blade of Despair contains a risk factor of sorts - as teams require to deal a fair amount of damage in order to leverage its full potential. This is especially relevant in the late game, where Jawheads who are on the backfoot may not have enough team support and firepower to fully leverage this item.
On the other hand, Endless Battle appears to be a better all-rounded choice as it provides a significantly wider spread of benefits as opposed to Blade of Despair’s mere raw damage increase. The teams would have seen that these benefits allowed Jawhead to remain relevant at all stages of a fight and the overall game.
All in all, Jawhead would serve as a strong pick for any team. Sure it is not an “auto-win” pick, but it most certainly pulls its weight in a team composition, especially when played as a hyper-aggressive ganker. Despite it not having a high win rate, a Jawhead pick will most certainly look to make things hard for the opposing team to get a win outright through its prominent early to mid game presence. It is no wonder that teams tend to fall back on Jawhead as one of the go-to Fighter picks this season so far.
MPL-MY/SG is organised by eGG Network.