SKT: Return of the kings

I’ve written so much about 2018 being the 12 months that skilled League of Legends modified. Apparently, although, no-one instructed SK Telecom or G2. To be clear, although, the overarching theme of this transformation was by no means actually Staff X is unhealthy now. What modified was the meta-game, and the truth that new groups rose to the highest (new areas, even) was as a result of this suited their playstyle. IG didn’t turn out to be the perfect crew on the planet in a single day – their aggressive playstyle simply grew to become the right approach to play the sport. The cautious, hesitant model that Korean groups had used to dominate worldwide competitors since season two appeared to have been defeated. The statistics bear this out. China, dwelling of world champions Invictus Gaming, has the best common kills per recreation of three major areas at 25. Europe, the opposite area that gained probably the most floor in 2018 is second with 23 kills per recreation whereas Korea sits again in third with simply 21. LCS, for the report, additionally sits on 21 The place this begins to get actually attention-grabbing is if you change to the identical stat for playoffs. Throughout the board, these video games had extra kills. The already kill-hungry LPL goes as much as 26 common kills per recreation and so they nonetheless have a few matches left of their playoffs. Right here in Europe, LEC really overtook even China throughout our playoffs, going as much as a whopping 27 common kills per recreation. Granted, our grand remaining was a hammering, with G2 selecting up 21 kills within the 18 and a half minutes of Sport three, however that merely underlines the purpose I’m getting at right here: aggression is sweet. Korea, traditionally the barometer for what is sweet League of Legends, helps this concept too. The area with the bottom common kills per recreation in its common season instantly shot as much as joint second place in playoffs. Korea as an entire would possibly nonetheless desire a methodical, risk-averse model, however like each Europe and China, its finest groups are completely happy to get their fingers soiled. This strains up properly with the meteoric rise of Griffin over the previous 18 months, regardless of their crash touchdown within the LCK playoffs final weekend. Griffin had been lauded for his or her thrilling play model and it paid off all the best way as much as the playoffs remaining. They topped the LCK simply, even beating SKT in each of their earlier matches whereas topping the charts for each kills per recreation, kill-death ratio and recreation time.
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Does Griffin’s loss, damningly one-sided because it was, imply that the previous model of Korean play is again in vogue? Will SKT rule the world with cautious, thought-about play (and the odd miraculous crew battle thrown in for good measure)? Nicely, that second half is feasible, however don’t confuse this SKT with earlier incarnations. This SKT likes kills nearly as a lot as Griffin. Certainly, the playoff remaining wasn’t simply SKT saying ‘no’ to Griffin’s aggression, they countered it and responded with their very own. Hecarim and Riven are usually not champions you decide for a vision-centric, map-control recreation. The LCK playoffs confirmed that SKT are properly and actually again, however, like all good groups, they've tailored to the sport. The correct approach to play has not modified, it’s simply that SKT has bought good at it. What of Griffin, then? On paper, this matched was a mouth-watering prospect: two fan favourites going head-to-head in a meta-game that extremely favours aggression and early recreation skirmishes. How did the crew that personified these traits greater than anybody else of their area fall so very far quick when it actually mattered? For starters, they bought too cute. Pantheon is a cute concept as a assist, particularly when paired with one other crowd control-heavy champion with quite a lot of burst like Taliyah. However Pantheon, even in jungle or prime lane the place he will get gold, falls off a cliff as the sport wears on. Placing him in a composition with Olaf was simply asking for bother if Griffin couldn’t completely dominate the early recreation of Sport 1. They performed extra straight-up in Sport 2, however Faker and Clid placed on a clinic. Faker of previous made a return for this recreation and Griffin may nearly contemplate it a write-off in quite a lot of methods. It’s just a little reductionist (and unfaithful) to say The Unkillable Demon gained one to 5, however typically nice gamers have a efficiency like this and there’s nothing you are able to do about it. Sport three was nearly a repeat of Sport 1, however the place the early recreation went even worse. Elise changed Olaf in Griffin’s jungle, however she has quite a lot of the identical points and SKT took full benefit of them. In the long run, SKT’s success is an indication not of the meta-game shifting again in the direction of the conservative play model of previous, however of SKT adjusting to the brand new model. The kings are again, not less than for now, however exile modified them – gave them a brand new perspective. A change is pretty much as good as a vacation, they are saying, and SKT have seemed refreshed and refreshing this 12 months.