a League of Legends analysis blog
Nothing stands out more than risk management when you pitch SKT against RNG. SKT appear downright conservative next to the Chinese in deciding when to fight, when not to fight, knowing exactly how much they can bite off at every engagement. ‘Conservative’ isn’t a word used to describe SKT nor is it used to describe any team in the LCK really, which makes it an interesting topic.
There’s a difference in LPL vs. LCK style; short of generalizations, the early aggression from RNG could be surmised as ‘high risk, high reward’. These type of plays are hardly seen in the LCK where games are slower and casualties lower because teams that act on imperfect information will get punished very hard. A winning teamfight across the map could cost key objectives on the other or leave an obvious opening for opponents to attack when key spells are on CD. LCK teams assess the investment, cost and rewards simultaneously and the team who makes the most effective in-game decisions in relation to their adversaries earns the greatest returns. It is by far, not easy. If SKT looks to bonds and securities, RNG would be Wall Street bankers.
A lot could be said about drafting, team fighting and jungle pathing this series. What I want to highlight is something silent, lacks drama but arguably the most important reason why SKT once again managed to defeat the no. 1 seed in the competition—Vision control.
The same trend occurs when we compare SKT vs RNG and SKT vs ROX in the LCK Spring finals. As a team SKT overall placed more wards than their opponents.
|Team/ No. of wards||Game 1
|Game 2||Game 3||Game 4|
Total no. of wards placed by each team
|Team/% of wards destroyed||Game 1
|Game 2||Game 3||Game 4|
|Result||RNG win||SKT win||SKT win||SKT win|
Percentage of wards destroyed vs. placed
Realistically RNG’s numbers aren’t that much lower. They’re almost matched every game, placing only 4 less wards than SKT in games 2 to 4. Things start to shake up however, when comparing the portion of wards destroyed. Sure you can lay down vision, but it doesn’t help if they are swept off the map while your opponent’s remain.
In their 3-game win streak SKT cleared at least 10% more wards than RNG. Even when they lost in Game 1, it was within a 6% margin which is significantly less than when RNG loses. In such a scenario where the total no. of wards placed are comparable, SKT’s global vision turns up superior. They managed to simultaneously deny RNG information while gaining more vision of their foes.
A key difference in wards per player is between junglers, same for the SKT vs ROX series.
|Jungler/No. of wards||Game 1||Game 2||Game 3||Game 4|
Total no. of wards placed by the junglers
Blank has been outwarding his opponent every game, even in losing ones, which is commendable because SKT’s strengths (among many) come from laning, and what bengi did for his team in vision control is expected of Blank as well. A point of criticism since making his debut, this has been an aspect of play under close scrutiny.
Wards are great and what makes them even better is where and when they were laid down and how they propel teams to accumulate advantages. As a support main, this makes me so excited to explore.
Deep vision is especially key for SKT’s formula: Each lane has equal (talent and) capacity to apply pressure, which in turn draws the attention of the opposing jungler, which in turn opens up opportunities to either counter gank that lane, gank another to burn Flash or push out the lane in favor of a teleport gank/dive, or open up the map to take objectives. I daresay this SKT formula was almost perfected at Worlds 2015. Early vision gives this team so much stride, especially since they are also able to execute at a micro level. Every inch, they take a mile…or more.
RNG had certainly put their best foot forward in the first game. In less than 5 minutes, Nidalee warded most effectively. That’s 7 to 2 wards, and all 7 are inside SKT’s jungle left and right. The one ward that allowed RNG to start keeping tabs on Blank was at SKT’s blue.
Blue = RNG, Red = SKT
Knowing where Blank was allowed LB to trade harder with Faker’s Fizz. Without any risk of a gank, she forced him to retreat and burn his teleport to give RNG a teleport advantage. With full knowledge of mid and the jungler, it gave way for RNG mlxg to counter-jungle and maintain deep vision in SKT’s.
The key ward at the junction of blue was re-laid post 5 minutes. Contrast this with SKT’s miserable 3 defensive wards. Slowly but surely, top was losing hard, LeBlanc roamed, while bot had no way of pushing the wave out safely and SKT found themselves stuck from the very start.
kkOma definitely had a word about that. Compare this with SKT’s early vision in their next 3 games.
Game 2 saw a lane swap and their vision setup was a little bit better at the 4 minute mark. Blank managed to place a ward a little bit beyond the river at the choke to mid which gave Faker some pushing power. Still, RNG’s opposite ward spotted Blank’s Elise and prevented any proactive ganking.
Even in the next layer of wards at 7 minutes, SKT still hadn’t gone beyond the choke. RNG’s 2 wards on both banks of the river already spotted Blank, and his deep warding mission at RNG’s blue was amputated as mlxg cleared it out quickly. Wards from both teams this game early on at least were equal, never really going past the river.
Because Duke was punished once again in a Poppy vs Ryze matchup and had to use teleport to get back to lane, RNG acted on their teleport advantage (as Faker’s Azir was running exhaust).
A smart play by RNG made it an easy first blood for xiaohu’s LeBlanc. But then Mata and Wuxx overstayed at top without any wards to detect SKT’s approach, which in turn led to an easy follow-up gank from Blank’s Elise, putting SKT up 2-1 in kills.
SKT’s early vision in Game 3 wasn’t that much more impressive either. Even after the first batch of wards expired and the second was laid, both teams cleared out each other’s attempt at deeper vision (circled in grey) while Blank’s invade ward at wolves (since Elise appeared bot) wasn’t useful.
Things heated up (ok not really, it’s just wards) when SKT begun setting up vision around dragon. Look at the amount of red to blue wards at the third layering! Now this is where SKT really shines when they ward with purpose, including Duke’s defensive wards up top to detect potential ganks while Blank solos dragon.
RNG appeared not to know that dragon was being taken until they saw Wolf’s Soraka leave lane. Elise counter jungled SKT’s top side jungle instead of attempting to gank Duke which would have been favourable because there weren’t any wards placed behind.
RNG appeared not to know that dragon was being taken until they saw Wolf’s Soraka leave lane. Elise counter-jungled SKT’s top side instead of attempting to gank Duke which would have been favourable because there weren’t any wards behind him. Lack of info = missed opportunities.
Fast-forward to Game 4, and SKT redefines what warding with a purpose means when they finally get deep vision down right from the beginning.
Since RNG wanted to deny lane swapping to prevent Bang’s blue Ez from freedom farming, they funneled SKT out of their top jungle and set up the standard 3 wards – 2 in the bushes, 1 at top lane. SKT responded astutely on the other side of the map. Wolf’s trinket ward wasn’t placed in the bush and neither was Blank’s at the choke to red.
Instead of starting at their blue, because of this setup Blank and Duke waited in the bush near river. The moment they saw Mata and Wuxx on their way bot, they went in for the red steal.
Everything went downhill from here because SKT had full knowledge since minions spawned. With knowledge comes power, leading to first blood, second, third and eventually the game.
A 3-buff start for Blank meant SKT could keep track of respawn timings. Something extra SKT did this game was place a pink at the choke (circled in green) at 6.24. Boldly, Blank went deeper to smite the wolf camp from mlxg and even though had to flash to get away, the dividends were well worth it.
Not only does RNG not realise the pink was there for a substantial amount of time, it also led to a series of fortunate events:
a) SKT witnessed the failed transfer of blue buff to Azir so Faker could turn on the pressure in mid instantly
b) With that side of the map covered, Blank wards RNG’s red and manages to escape the collapse because Kindred is mobile enough with Q despite flash still on CD
c) SKT had full knowledge of Graves’ whereabouts
d) When Graves showed himself mid, because Azir had no mana, Faker full comboed mlxg, sending both back to the fountain
e) Without threat, Faker simply clears the ward at SKT’s acclaimed pink bush
f) Wolf does his part to keep Mata’s movements in check by warding over dragon
g) Faker teleports to the pink for insurance and doesn’t even pay the price because RNG have no idea he burnt it so they do not risk a cross map response
h) Faker further lays down a deep ward at blue, keeping up the deep vision
Everyone on RNG is tracked from the onset. It wasn’t a perfect game by chance, it was a perfect game because of SKT’s decisive response to RNG’s early invade. After tailing SKT closely the last 5 months, I’d say they’ve never reached this level of play before. This is ROX’s level of gameplay, and not even when SKT defeated the Tigers did they play any game out this perfectly by being proactive. No breathing room was allowed, lane assignments, rotations were on time, all towers were still standing and SKT finally convinces the world that they’ve showed up at MSI.
Typical SKT perfect game
LCK is at the forefront of lane swapping. It’s been there all Spring and Game 4’s level 1 start wasn’t new—it was SKT taking advantage of RNG’s flaws.
A typical lane swap scenario involves teams opting into an opposite lane based on limited info. Here are 2 examples of SKT’s Spring games where the standard response to a lane swap plays out.
Example 1: SKT vs KT
KT on red side were the ones here looking for the lane swap, and their early trinket ward just outside the dragon spots Bang, so they send their bot lane top.
When the first wave of minions almost crash, Wolf and Bang ward Gromp to check what’s up. Since the lane swap occurred, Wolf stayed around to be a nuisance, managing to reset blue which slows down Score’s clear and Ssumday’s entrance to lane. Even if the swap didn’t happen, they would know that Score didn’t start at these camps and could have killed the 2 small blue companions for extra XP + denial.
Example 2: ROX vs SKT
This time, SKT on red side wanted the lane swap to free up farm for Bang’s blue Ezreal. SKT didn’t manage to put down any deep red wards at bot, but Wolf peeking out and Bang’s little harassment onto GorrillA was enough for SKT to send their bot lane top.
Again Wolf annoys but with Bang, SKT are more destructive—they send Peanut away, stalls his first buff, stalls his jungle clear plus ate the 2 sentinel babies.
Reverse example: SKT vs JAG
Now you also get the opposite scenario where SKT wanted to deny blue Ezreal from getting a free lane, which is exactly what RNG desired in Game 4. How to achieve this? Carry out an early 4-man invade at top to push out the enemy jungler, set down the 3 standard wards. Junglers won’t risk starting plainly in sight, and even if SKT wanted to force a lane swap they would be spotted and RNG would have enough time to react to the lane assignment. There’s too much risk now that one entire side of the jungle is warded, so everyone channels into standard lanes.
Compare SKT’s setup with RNG’s and spot the difference:
It’s funny how SKT even made Bang walk out of the way to loop around mid which RNG had warded, as if giving a shout-out ‘Hey, look! I’m going towards bot. I know you don’t want the lane swap so send your bot lane over.’
Wolf and Blank could safely delay their trinket wards because Faker stayed mid. Since RNG didn’t show up through mid lane, it was safe to delay. If RNG planned to defend their bot jungle they would have walked through mid lane like SKT did vs JAG but they didn’t; SKT knew they ported back. Spotting Mata and Wuxx walking from base towards bot merely reinforced what SKT made them play into.
Lesson learnt from LCK: If you want to deny a lane swap, please remember to walk through mid to defend your own jungle. Never leave your jungle open.
Of course, there’s also a risk in trying to enforce standard lanes even with 4 members. Here’s another bonus backfire clip for laughs courtesy of SKT vs SBENU:
Don’t invade at level 1 when the opponents bring Bard I guess? And Bard we might jolly well see today in the finals vs CLG.
Let’s go #SKTWin!