The League of Legends World Championship is slowly coming to a close. This weekend, two Semifinals matches are going to be played, with the Grand Final set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Despite several Western teams making it into the Playoffs, none of them managed to get past the Quarterfinals barrier. Cloud9, Fnatic, and Misfits lost to their opponents, though they did put up a bit of a fight. Notably, Misfits brought the World Champions, SK Telecom T1 to five games, having even led the series 2-1 after three games. Cloud9 also had a bit of hope due to their Singed Top, which let them lead Team WE 2-1, before the Chinese started to ban the champion and won the series.
If the South Korean teams win their Semifinals matches against their Chinese opponents, we will have a repeat of the 2016 Worlds Grand Final, which went down in history as one of the greatest League of Legends series in the game’s history.
With that said, both SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy are likely to have a battle on their hands.
Let’s talk about Saturday’s matchup between SK Telecom T1 and Royal Never Give Up.
As we can see from the stats above, RNG’s Yan “LetMe” Jun Ze has a significantly higher KDA than his lane opponent, SKT’s Seung “Huni” Hoon Heo.
The KDA difference comes from Huni’s tendency to die more, averaging 2.5 deaths per game to LetMe’s 1.7.
That doesn’t mean that Huni is worse, however. In fact, his early game performance, shown in the CS difference at 10 minutes, is significantly better than LetMe’s, 8.5 to -1.1.
Huni also tends to deal much more of his team’s damage compared to LetMe, though his damage share is not free, as he also hogs more resources, represented in his gold share stat. This may also be due to the fact that SKT is more likely to put Huni on a damage dealing top laner than RNG is in regards to their own top.
Where LetMe has to be content with 7.2 CS per minute, Huni picks up 9.5. With his higher gold intake, Huni also participates more in teamfights. His kill participation has been hovering around 70% to LetMe’s 65%.
Overall, the top lane doesn’t seem like the vulnerable spot RNG could attack. Huni has better laning stats and gets access to more gold. He does have a tendency to tilt when focused excessively. With no Ui “Untara” Jin-Park to come to the rescue, this might be a viable strategy. With that said, the bot lane is too important in the current meta for top lane camping to be a go-to strategy.
The Jungle is a unique position on SKT in the 2017 World Championship because SK Telecom T1 routinely makes use of two junglers, Han “Peanut” Wang-ho and Kang “Blank” Sun-gu. On the other side of this matchup, Royal Never Give Up relies on their single jungler, Liu “mlxg” Shi Yu.
Looking at the players’ stats, mlxg seems to have a slight edge over his SKT opponents. While his KDA of 4.1 is lower than Peanut’s 4.3 and higher than Blank’s 3.8, he does pick up almost the same amount of kills on average while leading the three players in assists. On the other hand, he also dies 2.1 times every game, which is higher than Peanut’s 1.7.
In terms of damage done, Peanut and mlxg are neck and neck with Blank trailing behind the two. Mlxg’s 12.7% damage share is slightly higher than Peanut’s 11.8%, though he achieves it with the same share of his team’s overall gold, 15.7%. In all of this, Blank is trailing behind with 7.5% damage share for 13.7% of his team’s gold.
Kill participation between the three junglers is quite similar with Peanut coming out on top with 78.2% against 77% from mlxg and 76.4% from Blank, which translates to Peanut being more active in terms of ganks and staying with his team in the mid and late game. This is supported by mlxg’s higher CS per minute stat at 4.1 against Peanut’s 3.7 and Blank’s 3.0.
Vision control is also one of the important jungler duties. Blank is leading the pack there, though not by much. While he places 1.1 wards per minute and clears 0.5, Peanut and mlxg get 0.9 wards per minute and clear 0.4.
On the surface, Peanut seems like a better jungler than Blank, but there is a lot of hidden value in Blank coming in in the middle of a series. He has the luxury of watching a match from the sidelines and communicating with the coach, as well as resetting the team’s mentality after a loss.
On the whole, the junglers from the two teams are around equal. They shouldn’t be the reason why either team would lose the series.
The mid lane is where SK Telecom T1 has been historically strongest with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok leading the team to three World Championship titles out of the four that took place since the formation of the LCS system.
The Unkillable Demon King has been not so unkillable in the World Championship, however. If we looked at the KDAs of the two players, RNG’s Li “Xiaohu” Yuan Hao would dwarf Faker with his 14.8 KDA to the God’s 4.5.
The stark difference isn’t because of Xiaohu’s incredible kill or assist average, however. In fact, he has 2.2 kills per game to Faker’s 2.9, with 6.7 assists to Faker’s 4.9. No, the huge KDA difference comes from deaths. Where Xiaohu dies 0.6 times per game on average, Faker sees the grey screen 1.7 times. With KDA being calculated as (Kills + Assists) / Deaths, there is no wonder that the Chinese mid laner’s KDA is so high.
Why does Faker die so much? He draws pressure from his opponents just by being on the server. He’s learned to play around it a long time ago.
In fact, he still gets ahead by 1.3 CS at 10 minutes with the enemy team trying to shut him down and picks up 9.4 CS per minute, the same as Xiaohu, who gets ahead by 4.4 CS at 10 minutes, probably due to his team making more of an effort to get him ahead.
This is especially clear when you look at the gold difference at 10 minutes stat of the two players. While Faker is behind by 26 gold, Xiaohu is 107.9 gold ahead. With their CS per minute stat literally the same, this can only come from solo kills or ganks from the jungler. With Faker getting more kills on average, we can only conclude that Xiaohu is ganked for more by his jungler.
With their gold, both players do quite a lot. Faker does 25.9% of his team’s overall damage with 23.7% gold share, while Xiaohu deals 22.4% with 22.6% gold. Thus, Faker is better at using the resources he does get to project his will around the map.
With that said, Xiaohu has a slightly higher kill participation of 78.8% to Faker’s 78.2%.
Finally, we get to the most important position in the current meta, the AD Carry.
Where the star of SKT T1 is doubtlessly Faker, Jian “Uzi” Zi Hao has that honor on RNG.
This reflects in his stats much more than in Faker’s case.
Comparing Uzi to Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, the Chinese superstar comes out on top in almost every metric. His KDA is 11.3 to Bang’s 6.8, with 5.9 kills, 0.8 deaths, and 3.1 assists vs. Bang’s 3.5 kills, 1.1 deaths, and 3.9 assists.
Differently from the mid lane, where the difference mostly came from the vastly smaller divider, the death count, this time it’s because of the fact that Uzi simply does his job, killing people, better.
His damage share of 43.6% with 29.2% of the team’s overall gold also reflects this when compared to Bang’s 33.6% damage with 25% gold.
Uzi is also considerably better at getting CS. He averages 11.3 CS per minute to Bang’s 9.8, participating in 79.6% of his team’s kills to Bang’s 74.5%.
It’s not like either of the players particularly crush lane in the first 10 minutes. In fact, both of them find themselves behind at 10 minutes, with Uzi being 41 gold behind and Bang 154.3 on average. They still keep up in CS with their lane opponents, however, with Uzi being 2.7 CS ahead at 10 and bang 0.5 CS behind.
What does this mean? Both players see a lot of attention paid to them by the enemy team. The difference is that Uzi gets more side lane farm to catch back up. What gold he does get from his team he uses superbly, proving himself as the most valuable RNG player game after game.
Bot lane is the lane to focus in the series because of two reasons. First, it has RNG’s win condition, Uzi. If SKT doesn’t, RNG will, so Bang will need the help. Second, the power of the Ardent Censer is simply whack.
While stats are good for analyzing how players do in every other position, supports are a different beast altogether. Even the best ones can seem like shitters in the stat line for multiple reasons, like saving their AD Carry at the expense of their own life over and over again.
Nevertheless, let’s try to take a look.
Going by KDA, Shi “Ming” Sen Ming is supposed to be significantly better than Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan with 7.9 to the Korean’s 4.5. Both players rarely get kills like good supports, with Wolf having 0.3 kills per game and Ming 0.2. Wolf dies a bit more, 1.7 times to Ming’s 1.2, while the Chinese Support gets more assists, 7.9 to Wolf’s 4.5.
Honestly, this can be explained away by the fact that Ming spends the majority of his time shadowing Uzi, the best player on Royal Never Give Up. More often than not, when his Marksman gets a kill, Ming is there to share credit.
It seems like Ming roams more than Wolf as well. The difference between the kill participation of the ADC and support in RNG is 4.5%, while it’s only 3.7% on SKT. Support roams aren’t typically done with the AD Carry in tow, leading us to conclude that Ming is a little bit more likely to leave Uzi on his own to make something happen in the mid lane together with mlxg. This is further supported by our conclusion that Xiaohu gets more ganks than Faker.
One of the most important jobs done by supports is getting vision control. Ming is a little bit more active there, putting down 1.3 wards per minute to 1.2 by Wolf, though the Korean player does clear 0.3 wards per minute to Ming’s 0.2.
Royal Never Give Up pays a lot of attention to the mid and bot lane, leaving their top laner LetMe on an island, playing a tanky champion, judging by his damage share. Against Huni, who gets the biggest CS difference on SKT, this might leave RNG’s top laner significantly behind. When Huni gets gold, he uses it pretty well, shown by his damage share.
Royal Never Give Up is more than likely to continue with the ages old tradition of camping Faker, while also trying to get Uzi ahead as much as possible due to the dastardly effects of the Ardent Censer meta.
If SKT doesn’t make a move to counter this, Uzi will be a really big problem, unless Faker can be put on a champion geared towards blowing up the AD Carry. While this would solve the Uzi problem, another problem would also appear. How would Faker effectively focus Uzi without gold? Assassins aren’t known for being too useful without getting snowballed on.
If, however, SKT can get Uzi under control and get Wolf going, Faker should more than do his job even if he’s a little behind his lane opponent. All the SKT AD Carry would need in this case is a good frontline to hide behind while putting out tons of damage.