This week for Riot’s Rotating Game Mode queue , Ascension, is up to bat! Ascension was first released in 2014 and was centered around the Shurima event from Azir’s initial release. It takes place on an altered version of the Crystal Scar map, which used to be the home for the - now rotating - game mode, Dominion.
Now the first thing that you may notice when you and your friends spawn in on the Crystal Scar, is that you have no way into the map itself. Well, the map size for Ascension is smaller than the full Crystal Scar, so like other game modes, your trinket has been replaced with a personal teleporter that can transport you to various port pads around the map.
The second thing that you will notice about Ascension is that there is a giant Xerath in the middle of the map. I would tell you not to be alarmed, but to be honest, it is fairly alarming. We will get to him in just a second.
At the top of the screen is a progress bar for each team. The first team to fill their bar, which is achieved by earning 200 points, is the victor. Points are earned in a variety of ways. Kills grant 1 point, and capturing any of the three relics placed around the Crystal Scar will grant you 3 points. Killing Xerath in the middle of the map will drop a token onto the ground, similar to killing the Rift Herald on Summoner’s Rift. After a brief delay, any player, regardless of which team killed Xerath, can then pick up the token to become Ascended.
When a player has become Ascended, they gain a massive amount of bonus stats and grow in physical size. All spells become free and they gain health, attack damage, ability power, armor penetration, magic penetration, and cooldown reduction. However, they receive reduced healing and regeneration and they are always visible on the map, including when they are in a brush. When Ascended players get kills, they grant 2 points instead of 1. This comes with the risk factor that when the Ascended player eventually falls, the other team will receive a whopping 5 points for taking them down.
In most games, the team focus should be capturing relics in the beginning. Xerath is rather difficult to take down at the start of the game and the stats that he offers are not worth the risk. However, as the game goes on and the stats grow, Xerath should be taken down as often as possible and the Ascendent buff should be maintained for as long as possible. Past 15 minutes, the Ascendent champion becomes very difficult to deal with and can rack up a lot of points before they inevitably go down.
As far as champion select goes, each team gets 3 bans before the lobby breaks into a blind pick free for all. In Ascension, you want to pick champions with burst/all in potential, poke, or heavy CC. Keeping this in mind during bans, may I suggest taking Teemo off of the board. His mushrooms can be extremely potent when positioned around the shrines. Gold comes quickly, so picking champions that take time to scale off of items is not the worst idea.
Ascension is mostly a skirmish based mode. Small battles and duels will occur around the map no matter what time the game clock reads. Picking a champion that can handle that is key to victory. Teamfights are less frequent, but a team who wants to control the Ascendant could find success late game as a roaming, team-based deathsquad.
This game mode is usually a fair bit of fun and pretty short. That being said, it has a momentum problem. It takes quite some time for the game to really feel like it’s moving and by the time that things get hectic, one team will skyrocket in points. There can be close games, but it seems more common in my experience for things to stay close in the beginning before 1 of the teams just takes over completely. As long as your team keeps their noses to the grindstone when it comes to shrines, and holds onto the Ascendant buff for as long as possible, you should be able to pull out quite a few wins this weekend.
*images courtesy of Riot Games and Surrenderat20.net