Minions Have Spawned

a League of Legends analysis blog

Perfect No More: How to Convincingly beat King-zone DragonX

Last year Faker sat on a throne in the playoffs against KT Rolster in Spring 2017. This year, a new lineage of kings have arrived. With the transfer of Peanut, King-zone DragonX soared to the top of the LCK and is still holding the number 1 spot.

LCK Ranking Spring 2018

LCK-Ranking-Spring-2018

It hasn’t been a bed of roses though. After a 14-game win streak, the most unexpected team fried their perfect 2-0 record: bbq Olivers.

Kingzone DragonX LCK Spring

King-zone DragonX LCK Spring 2018: Week 4 record

Prior to this the only squad to defeat KZ is KSV. Due to Khan’s suspension, Rascal started that series. While Khan was indeed a key factor in all their subsequent victories, he was also a reason for their loss in game 1 against bbq. Due to unfavourable physical conditions, Rascal stepped in after.

Afreeca Freecs also took KZ to 3 games, but fell in the last set.

LCK Spring 2018 Team Ranking

LCK Spring 2018 Team Ranking as of 28 Feb 2018 (Credit: Games of Legends)

KZ is the team with the highest gold differential per minute at a whopping 346, which is 3x more than second place Afreeca Freecs. They’ve been described as ‘strangling their opponents’ – win lane, win game. They’re also known for having the shortest game times.

To figure out exactly how to beat the Kings, we first need to understand them. Their style is markedly different from the Longzhu Gaming they once were with Cuzz starting in the jungle. This year they not only revolve around Khan, but also Peanut who is more experienced and aggressive.

While Khan can play tanks, it’s obvious that he excels in carries who can play aggressively up their lane. When the tank vs. tank matchup doesn’t work, he defaults to Jayce. Having the chance to speak to Cuzz at Worlds last year, he confessed that when Khan starts over Rascal, he finds it pressurizing due to the attention demanded at top.

Kingzone DragonX Khan-Champion

KZ Khan’s champions played, LCK Spring 2018 (Credit: Games of Legends)

Peanut on the other hand, would welcome the pressure mounted at top. He went from untamed ‘battle ward’ on ROX, to ‘unable to conform’ to SKT’s playstyle, to settling in comfortably on KZ. Known for counter-jungling, which translates to XP and higher levels above his opponent, this was something he wasn’t able to do freely on SKT. Now on KZ with Khan’s constant top pressure paralleled with Bdd’s stable management in mid lane, it opens up space for Peanut lay down vision on their strong side of the map.

The thing is, these principal strengths of KZ are also a double-edge sword. While they can pull off multiple playstyles (think: Bdd on Galio or an assassin or control mage) and rotate flexibly, they are defined individually.

Kingzone-DragonX-Peanut-Champions

KZ Peanut champions played, LCK Spring 2018 (Credit: Games of Legends)

When starter top laner plays carries and your jungler’s most played champion is Kha’xiz, who else can be responsible for intiating picks and fights? When it came down to match point in game 3 against bbq, KZ’s draft was criticized for lacking initiation. They prioritized Orianna very early in the draft, and picked Kha’zix over J4.

BBQ-KZ-LCK Spring 2018

BBQ vs. KZ game 3 picks and bans, LCK Spring 2018

Despite KZ’s sometimes loose drafts, none of the victories by KSV, bbq and AFs were clean. These games however, do highlight 3 ways in which triumph can be replicated:

  1. Draft pushing (if you’re lucky, winning) lanes

Bbq saw the opportunity to play into the early Orianna pick and nabbed Corki. Recognizing KZ’s late-game scaling draft, they gained leads early into mid-game and secured objectives with Kalista. The following series, Afreeca recognized they needed lane control against Ryze and went for Syndra.

Kingzone DragonX Afreeca Freecs LCK Spring 2018

KZ vs. AFs picks and bans,, game 1 LCK Spring 2018

As it may be difficult to counter-pick top (most teams end up in a tank vs. anything-Khan-pulls-out matchup), mid tells a different story. Like bot lane, mid-tier teams have found equal footing in these lanes that in turn, open up opportunities through the jungle.

  1. Early game river vision

When you know KZ’s most active member is going to be Peanut crossing the river to poke his head into the enemy jungle, having a mid lane that’s pushed is incrementally advantageous. Coupled with the expected top-side pressure depending on draft (eg. Exception of Khan on GP), teams invest in defensive vision along top side river.

The one thing KSV, bbq and Afreeca had in common was their priority on Scuttle Crab at top.

Match

Time jungler took Scuttle Crab camp

Side of Scuttle

Scuttle-Crab

 

KZ vs KSV game 2 (blue)

2.37

Top

6.02

Top

7.12

Bottom

9.16

Top


bbq vs KZ game 1 (blue)

3.01 Top

6.42

Top

7.40

Bottom

11.09

Bottom

Bbq vs KZ game 3 (blue)
3.10

Top

6.35

Bottom

12.17

Top


KZ vs AFs (red)
3.08

Bottom

4.24

Top

7.49

Top

Time and location of Scuttle Crabs taken by opponents of KZ before 10mins

Out of the 14 crabs eaten, 9 were at top side with a 64.2% priority. Opposing junglers are taking it while Peanut isn’t. Coupled with early trinket wards by top, jungle and mid laners, this grants full top river vision. Opposing teams will be able to spot a gank top/mid and sniff out counter-jungle moves by Peanut.

BBQ Kingzone DragonX River Vision

BBQ vs. KZ game 3: Top river vision

As linear vision protects top side, it opens up possibilities cross map. It’s not every day you see veterans PraY and GorillA unable to absorb pressure of a 3v2 (think SKT 2017 vs. Longzhu), but a well-thought last pick Thresh gave bbq just what they needed at bot. From there on out bbq warded up KZ’s bot quadrant and translated their leads into dragon control.

  1. Predictive Counter-plays

When opponents make it riskier for Peanut to invade, opportunities like the one above open up. Bbq punished Peanut’s Kha’xiz bold invade, drawing first blood. As Trick challenged a subsequent camp in KZ’s jungle, a teleport from Rakan with the faster roam gave bbq even more edge.

BBQ vs. KZ game 3: First blood to BBQ as they counter Peanut’s aggression

BBQ vs. KZ game 3: Second blood to BBQ with an unexpected teleport

All this early game work is significant because late-game-playing-from-behind KZ is not the same as snowball KZ. JAG after all, did almost beat KZ at their Nexus. On the other hand, getting snowballed by KZ is almost a guaranteed loss.

As the patches run, it remains to be seen if Khan’s ‘carries-only’ top lane will be affected. Rascal could always sub in to tank, while Cuzz can jump into the jungle. So far he has a 100% win rate in the 4 games he’s played.

For a team that gives flexibility to their drafts with lane priorities for Khan and making Peanut comfortable, sometimes that means they end up with sub-optimal team compositions. Finding leeway in p/b like what bbq and AFs did drafting pushing solo lanes can be extended to gold leads and pressure cross map.

Yet it’s all easier said than done, really. Above all this, opponents cannot afford to make major mistakes because King-zone DragonX will be sure to swiftly punish and run away with another victory.

(Cover photo credit: King-zone DragonX Twitter) 

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This entry was posted on March 1, 2018 by in Champion pool, jungle, lck, Picks & Bans and tagged , , , .
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