a League of Legends analysis blog
The best moment of Worlds thus far has to be when ANX defeated ROX at the start of the 2nd week of Groups. The crowd went wild. The Internet broke (ok, maybe only some parts of it). What an incredible moment; a win that no doubt spurred ANX to the quarterfinals.
For a team like ROX that loses so little—going 15-3 in the LCK Summer 2016 regular season plus taking home the cup—it becomes very interesting when they do.
Take a step back. Think about what makes the Tigers such monsters? Notwithstanding any meta, what comes to mind when you think of the ROX?
In short, they maul opponents to death. They take one bite and never stop. It is because of this that commentators have pointed out that they also have a tendency to fall apart when playing significantly from behind, with the keyword being significantly.
Day 1 of Worlds and already ANX had set a defining tone on how teams needed to open against ROX: Early aggression. High intensity early aggression.
A jungle invade and steal from Peanut started off well and even though PvPStejos’ Graves ended up at the better end of the trade, notice how much faster Kuro and Smeb arrive to save Peanut from death. Their presence plus Rumble’s damage onto a chunked out Graves could very well have deterred ANX from going back into their own top side of the jungle.
Nope. Instead, ANX counters with forward flashes, going back in with their own 3-man collapse. Glad to say, ANX’s early brutality did not stop there as they increased their gold lead.
All throughout this match PvPStejos’ played Graves like a master, knowing so well the limits of his champion. Up in kills with a slight gold lead, it all seemed to be going well. However this play at bot was a clear indication of ANX biting off more than they could chew—a characteristic of how teams who have an initial lead against ROX end up tranquilizing themselves in return.
There’s a fine line between aggression and over extension. It’s not about just making plays; it’s about making plays with the least resources that eventually puts the winner on top. Korean squads are so good because they keep track of how much is invested into each play. A summoner spell or ult burnt is simply an opportunity for the future and a series of mistakes made easily turns into a buffet for ROX.
ANX lost their small gold lead, and eventually the game
Fast forward to week 2’s rematch and what do you get? ANX ramping up a much more significant gold lead that they held onto long enough to clinch victory against their formidable foes. They took risks and kept hitting ROX back where opponents would cower.
ANX holds on to their gold lead until late game in their rematch vs ROX
Instead of simply making good counter-plays, the Russians took the first stomp forward. PvpStejos’ early raptor steal from Peanut not only denies XP/gold but also forces his Lee Sin to recall, slowing down his jungle route which equates to curbing ROX’s favoured fast-pace game. Strikingly, these invasive moves had nothing but ‘Peanut’ written all over it.
Other teams had the same idea and knew what they needed to do in the early game. G2’s Trick out-jungled and out-ganked Peanut perfectly on Day 3. He truly was in the right place, at the right time, capitalizing on every summoner spell burnt which G2 kept track of so well.
CLG, the only other team besides ANX to take a game off ROX in Groups, was also the only one who exhibited a creative level 1 strat that blew us away.
Simple and highly effective, Sol cleared the wave, ghosted down the river to bot lane to perfectly synergize with Alistar’s Pulverize and Caitlyn’s cupcake. Cheeky!
That said, fights aren’t always won by teams assaulting each other until a winner emerges. PvPStejos and Trick also demonstrated that smarter jungle pathing is needed against the likes of ROX—and we can trust SKT to take this through.
All year spotlights were focused on the Tigers and their rise to dominance, leaving SKT in the shadow of the media. During LCK Spring Playoffs it was SKT who needed to fight their way up to challenge the Kings for the throne, and they did so with solid drafting, vision control to keep track of Peanut and precise execution. All that’s been said about how SKT managed to win in a matchup where ROX was heavily favoured continues to apply to the semifinals.
Will it all really come down to the jungle matchup? Not entirely. SKT knows better than to try to pitch bengi/Blank vs Peanut alone. The team’s combination of deep wards means that they will set their GPS to always track Peanut.
This Worlds has shown that to even have a chance of beating ROX, opponents need to be that much smarter, faster and quicker on their jungle routes against the Tigers. ANX, G2 and CLG taught us that sometimes we need to stand up to adversaries and roar louder than they do. At other times, there is greater value in tracking them down, knowing their whereabouts then striking at the right moment.
ROX vs G2 highlight moment: Expect’s Gnar 3-man stun into the wall
It’s LCK Spring Playoffs 2016 all over again – on the Worlds stage. After all the things teams have thrown at ROX, SKT will need to bring their S game on in order to win. I know who I’m rooting for. Do you?