a League of Legends analysis blog
26 matches played and only 8 teams remain. By now the grains of sand have settled and the Worlds meta brought to light.
At first, Elise was everywhere in picks and bans. Jayce showed up, didn’t put up a great performance, but is now being considered a top pick again with the right team comp. Graves was picked 3x on Day 1 with a 0% win rate, but came back in Group A 3x over with a 100% win rate. Rek’sai was initially left out due to her nerfs, yet teams have increasingly prioritized her above the spider queen. Then out of nowhere on Day 7, TSM bans Zyra against Samsung Galaxy.
This year’s Worlds has been delivering. Russian underdog team ANX made it out of groups, cementing their names in League of Legends history forever as the first Wildcard team to accomplish such a feat.
Groups had their moments of fun, stomps and comebacks. But more often than not, comebacks are rare. Snowballs only stop if the team makes mistakes and don’t roll as hard as they should. The meta remains as flat as the earth once was.
“It’s all ’bout the laning
It’s all ’bout the dum dum…….
And I don’t think It’s funny
to see towers chipped away
It’s all ’bout the laning
It’s all ’bout the dum dum…
and I think we got it all down anyway…”
-adaptation of All ‘Bout The Money lyrics by Meja
Words to describe it:
Win lane win game
What separates top teams from those below is their ability to close out matches, notably vision into objective control
Things teams need to draft:
Ranged support at bot
At least 1 tank (jg or top)
First key objective:
Unsurprisingly Korean teams have shown to be pretty good at this. ROX and SSG alone have had clean games where they consecutively destroy their opponent’s towers and all of theirs remained.
While H2K and EDG are both in the QFs as well, their building kills were not spotless. What separates better teams are their lane assignments, rotations and whether they can keep the pressure up across the map without giving their opponent room to breathe.
Unlike other teams who came into the 2nd week of groups, SKT looked crisp and well-prepared. One tendency you should be aware of is how they strategically draft for the next round to give their future opponents much to think about especially in Picks and Bans.
Ambitious? Yes. It didn’t work out for them in LCK Summer playoffs when they went for a scaling composition in Game 3 and lost all lanes.
This round in a snowball meta SKT did not make the same mistake. They showed the world 3 very different team compositions that required varying styles of execution and played them beautifully all in a single day:
a) Disengage comp
After Impact’s performance on Kennen in their 1h 10 minute game against the Flash Wolves, teams have banned him against C9—but not SKT. They let C9 pick him up in their second round with Olaf, together with a Ryze first pick and rounding it up with Alistar to completely ham it up.
One flash Pulverize from Alistar, flash Kennen Maelstrom, Ryze Rune Prison and the initiated target would be dead. Chain any of these CCs with a charging Olaf and an untouchable Ezreal DPSing from behind and you get a solid all-in team fighting comp.
SKT’s response? “Can’t touch this.”
C9 took off Karma, Elise and Nidalee while SKT on red side banned Sol, Syndra and Cait. They knew the power-picks left open C9. Yet SKT’s first two champions off the bat were Jhin and Zyra. Add Lee Sin, Jayce and Viktor and what do you get?
An array of disengage tools: Zyra’s Grasping Roots and Stranglethorns, Viktor’s Gravity Field, Lee Sin’s Dargon’s Rage and Jayce’s midrange Thundering Blow.
Make no mistake, these squishies will pop under C9’s hard engage and each do not have much mobility except for Lee Sin—but only if C9 can get on top of them. The longer the game, the more risky it was, and a single error from SKT could have cost them their gold lead, Baron and the entire game.
Given the low mobility at SKT’s end, Flash was a key cooldown C9 kept track off. They started off on the right foot as jungle and support had 100% kill participation for the team’s first 3 kills at bot, mid and top putting C9 in a gold lead. Alistar after all has tendency to burn flashes then strike hard once it is on CD.
“You must follow.”
Yet after laning phase, C9 could never quite layer their CC and AoE. It’s important to recognize that C9 also could not get more out of their comp because Duke’s Jayce at top and the double ranged full damage duo at bot won their lanes hard, were up in CS, towers and therefore gold.
Watch this dance where again C9 wanted to utilize Kennen’s teleport flank ult but he arrived already at half health thanks to Jayce’s harassment at top’s tier two turret. All game, SKT were always alert for the threat of flanks with Wolf’s Zyra keeping Alistar rooted in place.
Even when SKT were at bot in their last stand off with C9, Wolf’s Zyra again was on watch duty for Kennen’s teleport flank ult.
Those monstrous plants alone were enough to dissuade Kennen from entering the fight which gave SKT a 4v5 upper hand.
Jatt’s teamfight breakdown further showcases SKT’s prowess at one moment in the game where C9 realm warped to a favorable position and forced SKT to react to their all-in, even managing to turn it round at the end.
b) Poke comp
Executing squishy comps requires solid team work. SKT’s target selection has been crystal, and very much a reflection of the team’s smooth communication. One similarity between the disengage and poke comp stands out: Each time when a fight breaks out, SKT kites back and focuses on the melting the opponent’s frontline eg. Alistar, Olaf which mutes their enemy’s overall engage.
In their poke comp vs IM, they chipped down the enemy’s backline HPs before pressing for an objective to deter the collapse after Natuilus initiates. There’s so much poke damage coming out of SKT that Cass, a short ranged mage and Kha the skinny bug just cannot commit.
“My arrows always find their marks.”
Olaf made such a good addition too – he single-handedly tanked IM’s backline and separated them from SKT’s while Karma’s shields and speed boost facilitated SKT to kite back safely.
c) Pick comp
Turn 180 degrees and an hour later, you’re served by SKT in an engage comp. Now this is the classic LCK style with high pick potential as well as zone with Lissandra leading the charge.
I was immensely happy to finally see the double TP play straight out of Seoul. Because of this, SKT nabbed their second tower at bot’s tier two which blew open FW’s bot side jungle for deep vision.
Unlike poke, pressure on a tower here is created single-handedly by Lissandra’s presence. Bengi’s Olaf is tanky enough to charge in a straight line 3v1 for NL’s Caitlyn while Bang’s Ezreal destroys the last of the top turret before zooming in together with the team.
These 3 diverse comps SKT showed was impressive and I’m not just saying it because I’m a fan. Throughout the LCK regular seasons this year, they’ve drafted questionable comps in which buckled as opponents locked them up with hard CC.
To come to Worlds and finally play cohesively to their composition’s strength while limiting mistakes and seeing it through victoriously is growth for a team who can only get better.
One thing’s for sure – we sure ain’t seen nothing yet, not when Faker hasn’t even brought out his Broccoli Ryze.