a League of Legends analysis blog
“A cycle of events in an order or sequence of how you play out the game based on map conditions, objectives and team composition.” –Monte Cristo (2014, All-Stars Paris)
Once upon a time, legend says there was a Korean LoL team that even if you get a gold lead above them, you may still lose. No extent of advantages guarantees victory. In fact if you’ve ever played on the KR server, the first thing you’ll notice is how everyone is playing for objectives. Rotate to a wrong lane? Question mark, question mark, question mark. You may not understand Korean, but be sure that when pings go down for an objective, you follow.
In game one of the MSI2017 finals, G2 did everything right—at first.
Five minutes into the game, Jayce is at a level advantage because he pushes faster so he jumps on Cass. Ivern joins in for the kill, burning Faker’s summoner spells.
The start of First Blood
Taking advantage of an immobile mage without SS, Ivern wraps around SKT’s vision and return ganks for a second kill.
Faker’s third death was due to his tendency to move up the lane to harass opponents even when behind. SKT knew Ivern was in their jungle and had just stolen raptors. All he did was wait in the unwarded side bush. The moment Cass reaches out just a little bit more to get a tick off Jayce, G2 make their move.
That final cut that skinned the snake saw Rumble from top and Tahm Kench rotate mid. There was ample opportunity for Cass to flash over the wall, but a knock-up from Daisy into Equalizer resulted in quick extermination.
Opportunity to flash over the wall
Despite Jayce being fed, why did G2’s gold lead never exceed 2k? Why did the red line plateau?
Obvious answer: SKT responded with objectives (highlighted in green), namely 2 fire drakes, 2 towers and Rift Herald which prevented the gold lead from growing. The interesting part is how. How did SKT play from behind? How did they create pressure around the map while G2 did not?
Team Gold Advantage graph
Underlying answer: Rotations
Monte’s definition highlights 3 key factors that go into deciding how teams should rotate:
1) Team composition—the tools the team has to work with eg. Pick-composition, team-fighting composition which in turns determines positioning on the map
2) Current map conditions—where are the minion waves pushing?
3) Objectives—what’s taken and what’s still up for grabs
A fed Jayce with Cait meant that it became a whole lot easier for G2 to down turrets. With no hard CC and two supports including Ivern who has Daisy and an Equalizer for zoning, G2 were set up to siege. They also had enough tools to disengage with acceleration barrier, Equalizer and Tahm Kench.
Conversely SKT’s team comp was all about creating picks into team fighting. Ashe’s Enchanted Crystal Arrow into chain-CC from any team mate would result in death. Lane wise, an Ashe-Zyra vs. Cait-TK also meant that SKT will be pushing much harder at bot.
Post-Faker’s-4-deaths at 14 minutes, the gears started shifting. Both teams’ macro at this point determined who would be victorious. Due to SKT’s hard-pushing bot lane, G2’s tower is down to 1/3 health. Faker’s Cass and Peanut’s Lee Sin move down to threaten a dive.
However G2 dissuades when Ivern uses Redemption to heal up bot. Fed Jayce follows Cass down the river too, which forces SKT to take the long way back to mid lane wrapping around the Dragon pit. G2 then pull a quick rotation with Tahm Kench transporting Cait to mid, nabbing the tower and the extra 400g. SKT trades with bot tower a little less favorably.
At this point the map conditions reset. Both teams head back to fountain to spend their gold and decide new lane assignments.
From SKT’s perspective, they already utilized the pushing power of Ashe-Zyra to down bot. Mid is not an option because their outer turret is gone and it is unsafe for anyone to push that far up. Hence they rotate their duo top to exert the same pressure they did at bot with the goal of getting the outer top turret.
The problem for G2 is that they did not anticipate this. They send Rumble back to top again for no good reason while their duo heads mid. Cait-Tahm do not have kill potential on Cass who is casually wave clearing and catching up in farm.
With that, Rumble perished thanks to Ashe, Zyra and Lee Sin’s combo. G2 forces bot tower with Jayce and Ivern who then take Cloud drake in response to SKT taking top tower and Rift Herald. Meanwhile, mid remains idle which is detrimental for G2 as their gold lead is not growing.
|Consider the alternate universe:
G2 could have matched SKT’s rotation and pressure easily, especially since their top laner had TP up. While Rumble wouldn’t have an outer turret behind him at bot, downing mid opened up the map for G2 made it too risky for SKT to invade their bot side jungle for any backstabbing to occur.
Neither were they playing to their team composition’s strengths. Cait mid isn’t even poking the 2nd inner turret because Cass’s wave clear with tear-stacking removes waves before they hit any structures, so G2 could have also:
Jayce is fed enough to one shot wave clear compared to Ashe-Zyra. He puts even more pressure with Daisy and constant double buffs. With mid tower down G2 can also extend vision into SKT’s top side jungle. Should SKT decide to collapse top, Rumble’s ultimate running from mid would be faster than a teleporting Galio and exceed Cass’s damage. If Galio commits, G2 with deep vision, poke from Jayce and backup turret with Abyssal voyage is sufficient to fend SKT off, and SKT would be giving up bot pressure.
None of that happened, and the map resets again. SKT’s choice is apparent. Cass still needs to catch up, and farms safely at top by their turret. The only opposing outer turret left is mid so that’s where they put their duo.
With mid and bot towers down, G2 gains more control of the bottom quadrant. True enough just as Huni Galio’s overextends bot within the red zone, G2 collapse for a kill but nothing more. At this point SKT stick to their lane assignments, rotating Peanut’s Lee Sin in between mid and top whilst putting down wards.
Conversely, G2 do not. They start reacting to waves in all lanes. One moment Jayce is mid, Cait is top, then they switch.
With Galio’s death and an important infernal drake coming up, SKT reassign their lanes accordingly. The top laner with TP goes back to top, while the rest stay in proximity to dragon, clearing/laying out vision. Leveraging on their pick potential, Bang starts the SKT snowball rolling.
In a game of chess on steroids, the other half of micro is sound macro. Consistently evaluating vision, wave management, objective availability, enemy positionings and finally deciding how to rotate is incredibly challenging. SKT certainly did not prepare for a feeding Faker in mid, and it takes a lot of collective decision making with experience as a team to respond to these ever-changing conditions.
Read more about Tania Mae’s discussion on SKT T1’s victory at MSI2017 and the exclusive interview with Team Razer and Game Is Hard.