a League of Legends analysis blog
“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” ―Arthur Conan Doyle, The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
The ROX Tigers were so hyped up this year, not just because of their vibrant personalities or flashy plays, but also because they were so swift to find advantages on the map to snowball into victory. The change from last year’s roster adding Peanut in the jungle amped up their playstyle to one that’s much more fitting for a team called ‘Tigers’.
Yet when it comes down to the most important games of their lives, SKT beats them every time.
It is important to acknowledge in a lane focused meta, a baseline is set when comparing top tier teams because they tend to go head to head and emerge almost equal after laning phase. CS advantages are not drastic and solo kills in lane are rare. Even in games 1, 4 and 5 which SKT won, the gold difference at 14 minutes were never significant, and ROX could definitely still gain traction:
SKT’s gold advantages vs. ROX in Game 1, 4 and 5
So how does SKT beat ROX more often than any other team?
Credit needs to be given to SKT’s individual mechanics and micro. Not only was their execution solid, Faker and Duke alone got away from 3-man, even 4-man Tiger collapses. On the same side of the coin, creative drafting gave ROX an edge with Miss Fortune support to out-poke Zyra, setting themselves up 2-1 against SKT.
While the reasons why SKT emerge victorious against ROX ranges from picks and bans, drafts, to individual laning ability to team fight proficiency, I want to highlight something small, unspoken and immaculate—Warding.
Let’s first take a look at ROX’s ideal scenario. What is their core win condition? Peanut. Peanut slipping through vision cracks to explode with surprise over and over again. Peanut buying sorc shoes first before completing his jungle core. Peanut doing tons of damage early as a carry junlger to set the stage for his team to snowball and shine. This is ROX’s zone and they could not have asked for a better start to the tie-breaker game 5.
Game 5: Peanut’s Elise getting 1st blood on bengi’s Lee Sin after SKT reveals a blue buff handover
Game 5: Peanut getting 2nd blood on Wolf’s Nami at bot lane due to a vision setup
Game 1 was the epitome of a perfect early game vision setup any team could have versus the ROX Tigers—everywhere Peanut went, a trinket ward by a member of SKT spotted him out, completely muting his intended early aggression.
|Game Time||SKT’s Ward placement|
|2.15||Bang drops a ward in river at bot side|
|2.27||bengi places defensive ward at SKT’s jungle entrance by the raptors because Peanut’s Elise has a penchant to invade at this camp at level 3. It’s especially important because Olaf clears his jungle at low HP, making him vulnerable.
|2.39||Level 3 prep ward placement begins: Faker pushes the wave in and wards ROX’s jungle by their raptors in which Peanut ended up skipping.
|2.45||Duke wards top bush at river|
|3.04||After clearing his second buff at red, Peanut cleverly repels over to dragon to avoid potential tribrush wards.
However Bang’s earlier 2.15 ward in the middle of the river spots him out.
|3.41||Since SKT gained info on Peanut’s location on the map at bot side, bengi moved into his jungle on the opposite side of the map to counter-jungle—but not without placing a ward over the wall at blue to spot a potential jungle + mid collapse.
Peanut, knowing his presence at bot opens the top side camps to counter-jungling, likewise smartly smites Wolf camp to gain info.
Bengi escapes with ghost.
|The cherry on top? Bang on Ashe, where Hawkshot provides additional vision coverage into ROX’s jungle.|
Even on a fast-clear, high damage output jungler like Nidalee in Game 4, bengi made calculated decisions. Working with Faker to provide CC in lane, they return gank mid when Viktor’s flash was on CD—but not before keeping track of where Peanut’s Olaf is.
Bengi’s ward at gromp spots Peanut out and they waited for a few things to happen before making this play:
a) Faker to push the wave in, crashing at Kuro’s tower
b) Which in turn gives SKT vision & info should Olaf walk across mid lane
c) Trinket ward at the small side brush gave a small but quick indication that Peanut started wolves when he pulled out the camp
d) Zilean’s slow gives almost a guaranteed stun bomb onto Viktor (who was also low on mana) which combined with ROX having no minions, gives Nid a clear spear hit into a kill.
In all, Peanut on a walking Olaf would not have had enough time nor the toolkit to respond especially when both Faker and bengi had flash up.
This sweet spot of bengi’s brings back memories from Worlds 2015 where he deviously hid out of BKT’s sight.
Contrast bengi’s caution and consideration with Blank’s pathing and setup for ganks…or the lack of it.
Game 2: Blank shows up mid, then paths straight up top into a trap
Trinket was available but he did not use it. He had no information on where Peanut was, and broke SKT’s no.1 rule when playing against ROX. This is unlike Bengi who is always one step ahead. Each time he counter-jungles it is an informed decision. Each time he goes into the enemy jungle, a ward is placed, no matter the champion he’s on.
Game 4: bengi counter jungles but not before placing a ward at the small brush by blue
The way he played versus Peanut is exactly the same way he did in LCK Summer 2016 regular season. On Rek’sai, he outmaneuvered and stole camps from Peanut with a risk-free exit strategy. Blank on the other hand sometimes gets lucky, sometimes not as he consistently blows flash/ghost when trying to invade, and doesn’t necessarily take the right steps across the map even with the information SKT has.
Bengi is brilliant. His jungling makes me cry in awe just because of how smart he is, knowing what to do and when. His playstyle shows that he is profoundly aware that his presence and absence at any part of the map at any point in time can set in motion a string of events for his team and their opponents—the Bengifly Effect.
All throughout LCK this year he has been put down for being unable to perform on carry junglers like Graves and Nidalee, in which Nid he had not even played professionally before Game 4 of Worlds QF. Monte never failed to question why some teams (like C9) bothered banning her against SKT when bengi is drafted. To be able to perform on this champion he is not known for in a critical game 3 which would have made or break SKT, is absolutely commendable.
In the jungle, the way SKT approaches Samsung would be similar. Ambition is no Peanut, but his ability to punish opponent’s mistakes and make counter-plays should not be ignored. Overall though, if SKT lets bengi start and do his thing, they will be set to play out their objective-oriented macro game comfortably.