a League of Legends analysis blog
Something happened in course of just 3 days. KT and SKT met for two consecutive dates between Spring round one on 2nd and round two on 5th March. Sure SKT managed to inch out KT in one of the best series ever fought, but the work was not done. SKT knew certain things had to change in round 2 because Score’s jungle pathing and KT’s early game pressure was formidable. It was not enough to simply rely on playing the perfect mid to late game again.
In the post-series interview reported by Slingshot, SKT Coach Choi said, “We focused on the early game vision and movement, which is why we had a tough time against KT (last time).”
But what exactly does he mean by early game vision and movement? What did SKT change about the early game that propelled them convincingly to the #1 spot over KT?
Here are 3 adapted tactics SKT deployed from 0.00 to the 10-minute mark following their games vs. KT, JAG, KDM and AFs…and instances where they still got outplayed anyway:
Cheeky, cheeky! After being harassed by KT at their first meet at Raptors, SKT paid back the favour in full. Because Smeb was on Maokai who predictably throws saplings to help with the first jungle camp, Huni on Gangplank intentionally drew away all 3 kittens (they’re so cute!) to delay Score’s clear just before spawn.
When champion rosters change, SKT likewise adapts the extent of harassment accordingly. Huni’s Rumble was hoping to steal a baby raptor but did not get any vs. JAG. It was a coordinated effort nonetheless as we see Faker’s Jayce position to engage onto Kuzan’s Viktor, zoning him away to prevent a dangerous full-on collapse.
More funnily in game 2 vs. JAG, you wouldn’t think Syndra at level 1 would start with Force of Will would you? Well Faker did.
[W] achieves 1 baby raptor steal where
a) Faker gains that extra XP over his opponent in mid where he would level up 1 creep faster
b) Delay and pressure Graves’ clear by forcing him to lure the creeps away into the bush
c) Lure Kuzan away from mid so that Faker doesn’t actually lose out on any creeps/XP in his own in lane
The raptor steal however is just half the story. The best part of that play was Faker dropping a Trinket Ward at JAG’s red even before picking up any Raptors.
Firstly it shows that if anyone from JAG’s bot lane attempts a 3v1 during the invade (in which they didn’t). Fortunately for SKT, perhaps due to the pressure they already put on UmTi, they witnessed JAG’s jungler accidentally resetting Red buff, delaying his own clear further.
Peanut in response proceeds with a full clear:
Red -> Raptors -> Wolves -> Blue -> Gromp -> Scuttle -> then invade to steal JAG’s Krugs down at bot
Because of this iteration, he had 6 CS more than Graves and half a level advantage.
Every creep matters.
There are small victories in the jungle then there are slightly larger ones when it comes to buffs. Herein lies the difference between ROX and SKT Peanut. No more a battle ward, Peanut and Wolf set up a long con.
During SKT vs AFs game 2:
|Time (mins)||What’s happening|
|5.03||Peanut’s Lee Sin walks into AFs bot jungle. Because Spirit’s Rengar went back to fountain, SKT’s bot lane pushes hard and moves up the wave to crash into turret|
|Being in AFs jungle, Peanut double wards around blue buff to gain vision of camps|
|5.23||SKT spot out Rengar doing Wolves into Gromp.
Rengar tries for a gank bot but since SKT has full knowledge that he is on bot side + the wave is crashing into their turret, bot lane is safe
|7.04 – 7.11||Wolf re-wards doubly around the walls of blue buff since Peanut’s wards were about to time-out|
|7.32||SKT spot Rengar who propelled himself to blue using the plant. As this is the 2nd blue buff spawn and Kuro is playing Ryze mid, a blue buff transfer would be important for AF.
The moment SKT’s bot lane knows this is happening they push in and move towards AFs’ Blue. There was no ward in the bush that Spirit dragged the buff in, and yet Bang managed to time Ezreal’s True Shot Barrage perfectly for a beautiful steal preventing Ryze from wearing it.
As much as SKT Peanut now puts down more wards than he does battle, the way SKT exploited ROX Peanut’s predictable pathing is a solid way of muting his jungle pressure early. Interestingly it was team KDM who had a near perfect start against SKT in game 1.
KDM Punch’s Lee Sin on red side started Red Buff, crossed the map to SKT’s Red at bot side and stole it like a stroll in the park.
Why? Because Peanut went for a greedy clear:
Blue->Wolves->Raptors->(intended) Red instead of
Blue->Wolves->Red in which he would have spotted Lee Sin out
KDM solidly pushed the lead with more kills 7 to 3 at one point and a 3.9k gold lead at 22 minutes.
However due to a Baron call with mispositions, the game swung out of their favour as 3 members of SKT eliminated all but Shen who retained Baron buff.
Early game starts have certainly grown and developed these past Spring months. The challenge as always, is translating early leads to mid, late and closing games.