April 3, 2021, 7:34 PM

Why do pro players value Thresh?

Valuable support...in the right hands
Why do pro players value Thresh?
Artwork of Thresh from Riot Games.
By Carver Fisher
Thresh is one of the most prolific support champions in League’s history. He’s very versatile, with the ability to play frontline and backline depending on what the situation requires. However, this versatility comes with the caveat that Thresh is very hard to execute. Whether or not someone is playing him properly can be subjective, but there are some players who are getting more out of picking Thresh than others.
However, every region sees something in Thresh. His overall stats for the season vary, but his overall presence has been high. In the LEC, Thresh had an 88.9% presence throughout the Spring split, as well as a 100% presence during the LEC playoffs. This stat carries into Caedrel’s recent article on meta regional differences, with Thresh’s presence being second highest through all of Europe’s matches, second only to Twisted Fate.

Other regions are a different story. Thresh’s presence in the LCK is around 60% overall, but his pick/ban rate in the last two weeks has been 100%. The LCK’s recent Thresh priority is made even more interesting by the fact that Korea is the only major region with a positive win rate on Thresh. Caedrel’s recent article supports Korea’s recent love for Thresh, as they’re a region that values mechanics and a “skirmish-heavy, win-lane style.”
We’ve seen Thresh the least in the LCS, with his presence in both Spring split and playoffs up to this point sitting around 50%. However, Thresh’s win rate in the LEC and LCS is abysmal considering how highly valued Thresh is, especially in recent games. He’s 1 for 3 in LEC playoffs, and 1 for 5 in LCS playoffs.
What do pro players see in this champion?

Lighting the way

Thresh is normally prioritized for two reasons.
One, Thresh’s pressure in the early game is very high. He counters most of the prominent heavy engage supports that are prominent in the current meta (especially Rell), and his ability to find early skirmishes is near unrivaled by any champion in the role.
Two, Thresh enables immobile ADCs to dominate matches. Thresh’s high peel and ability to reposition allies makes life so much easier for carries like Aphelios, Jhin, and Jinx to dominate games by making up for their distinct lack of mobility and setting up for their damage.
This clip from Game 3 of GenG vs. Damwon KIA shows how effective Thresh can be in a teamfight. Life finds the hook onto ShowMaker and then immediately drops his ultimate to keep Damwon KIA from accessing their backline. Khan uses Sion ult to try and get to Ruler, but this is where Thresh’s greatest strength shows.
Great positioning from Gen.G puts Khan in an impossible situation. If he continues chasing Jinx, she’s just going to grab the lantern and beat him into the fight. If he walks toward the teamfight (which is what he opts to do), Jinx just harasses him. On top of that, Thresh is still able to be present in the teamfight due to the fact that the range on lantern’s pull is fairly long. Any other support would have to choose between defending Jinx or committing to helping the rest of their team, whereas the Thresh pick allows Life to do both without skipping a beat.
Thresh was an essential part of Gen.G taking down the best team in Korea, and this set was a perfect display of why Thresh is such a valuable champion.

Keep in mind, however, this is Thresh in an ideal situation. Gen.G knew exactly how to draft and play around the champion, and Korea tends to make that happen more often than other regions. It’s the only place where Thresh’s win rate is positive, currently sitting at 56.8%. Why do other regions have such a hard time making Thresh work?

Soul Searching

Thresh’s mechanical complexity in comparison to other supports can make players crack under pressure. This teamfight from Game 4 of Rogue vs. Mad Lions on March 28 displays how important it is for Thresh players to be consistent. Trymbi, unfortunately, wasn’t able to make this teamfight happen for Rogue.
The start of the teamfight doesn’t look too bad. Trymbi lands the hook onto Elyoya and helps take the enemy jungler out of the fight. However, the fight takes a distinct downturn when Humanoid finds the flank with Twisted Fate. MAD saw an opportunity and decided to take it.
This screenshot captures the moment things went wrong. Hans sama gets stunned by Humanoid and is forced to use both Summoner’s shortly after this moment. Trymbi used his lantern for the shield in the short term, but, since it’s already on the ground, he can’t use it to pull either Hans sama or Larssen out of danger.
Hans sama dies separated from his team where a well-placed lantern would have saved his life. In addition, Trymbi missed both his hook and his flay, CC abilities that could have made a huge difference and allowed this teamfight to come out favorably for Rogue. Rogue still came out with a slight advantage, but MAD taking a near-even fight from such a massive deficit was what they needed to claw their way back into this game. Trymbi didn’t play poorly for most of this game, but he didn’t play well enough to win. Dropping a few crucial teamfights cost Rogue the game and the set.
Dignitas is another team that decided to run Thresh with little success this weekend. Aphromoo has had some teamfights where he was in the zone. He was flashing through minions and finding big hooks, manipulating the teamfight, and bending the enemy to his will.
Sometimes, he looked like this. Neo committed Kalista ult to get Aphromoo in, only for him to miss the hook and die shortly thereafter. Make no mistake, Aphromoo played the early game well, but this blunder was when the game on March 28 started to shift in 100 Thieves' favor. This begs the question of whether or not Thresh was the best pick here. Drafting a support with harder and more consistent engage that can easily get into teamfights would have been much better in this instance. That way, Neo could have used the Kalista ult defensively to get Aphromoo out rather than having to fully commit to a fight. Even in this draft, other picks may have worked better.

Enabling the Carry

Ultimately, Thresh has a high ban rate due to his potential and what he allows teams to draft early on. Aphelios/Thresh is a tried and true combo that’s been strong since Aphelios’ release in 2018, and going against the 200 years experience is never fun if Aphelios has a lead.
Jinx has a similar correlation with Thresh, although her rise to prominence was a result of Thresh’s capabilities combined with some recent buffs. These buffs, however, are strong enough that Jinx has been getting picked separately from Thresh in recent matches with marginally good results. Even in losses, Jinx has comparably high player damage and good KDAs with and without Thresh, meaning that pairing Jinx with Thresh doesn’t seem like a must.
So why is Thresh banned so often? Are teams that scared of the Aphelios combo? Is Thresh’s payoff that much larger than that of Rell, Alistar, Nautilus, Leona, and other engage supports that, granted, have to commit much harder than Thresh, but also require much less mechanical consistency and execution to swing a fight?
With how valuable those first six bans can be for a team, banning Thresh so often when his win rate is less than stellar seems like it’s more reflexive from teams than planned and thought through. The champion is strong, sure, but only in the hands of a seasoned Thresh player. Plus, the fact that Thresh has been banned so often in major regions means that most supports are likely less practiced on him than other mainstay tanks in support.
Putting your team’s main engage in the hands of a support champion that gets crushed if he fumbles a single ability in a teamfight is a risky proposition, and the champion’s priority in draft doesn’t reflect his overall record and performance. For now, it’s likely Thresh will remain a high priority for teams to pick and ban. However, until we see every support get to the level of Life’s near-flawless execution, Thresh will be a wildly unpredictable pick if teams opt to draft around him.

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