So few hours after the last day of MSI group stage, LCK commentator CloudTemplar gave his brief thoughts during a livestream on the MSI meta and SKT, as well as his thoughts on the narrative that 'LCK is falling behind the times' among other things, before flying out for Taipei for the Knockout stage. The video is the edited version of the stream posted on his YouTube channel, and I thought I'd translate and summarise it as much as possible for you guys:
Obviously things have changed for LCK since last Worlds. We are no longer champions looking down on the other leagues, but challengers who have to look up and learn what we need to learn from the other leagues. I don't think that we're the 'fourth-best league' as people have said and joked before, nor that everything we're doing is wrong or how we're ridiculously behind the times, although obviously LCK does have problems that it needs to fix. Generally it seems like right now is a confusing time for all involved with LCK as we try to figure things out and have different opinions about what to do.
I think that this last season was when all of us, including the commentators, analysts and teams have studied and tried to learn from the teams from other leagues the most. Obviously we have talked about other leagues as well and their trends before this season, but I think we definitely did it the most this season. So I was really upset every time I heard people say "LCK is super behind and is doing nothing to change", since I could really feel that the teams were really trying hard to change and improve. But obviously with how shocking the last Worlds was, I can understand why people say it anyways. The conclusion from last Worlds was that we basically couldn't adapt to the meta fast enough, right? But this year, I really think that things have changed for the better, and SKT is the result of that change, which is probably why there are such high expectations on them. I still don't know how things will end right now, but regardless, SKT has had struggles, like the infamous 1557 game that we try not to speak of, that they had to work out and try to fix, the results of which we could see in the IG game today. So I was really impressed and also kind of touched watching that game. And I think that even if we end up losing, the fact that SKT showed that they were changing proves that LCK has changed since last Worlds. After all, we're now the second best league, right? That's already an improvement from fourth-best.
I'm suddenly wondering, what happens if Team Liquid beats IG? I mean, there's still a possibility, no matter how low it is. If it actually happens… that would be pretty amazing. And also, you guys who watched LoL for a long time now would know this, but NA has historically has had a good record against China. Obviously recently this hasn't been the case, but who knows whether history will repeat itself?
Everyone's talking and discussing the 'meta' right now, and why SKT lost to G2 and IG, right? I think you can define this 'meta' as basically the direction and trend the game's taking. The term's super general, so people have so many different definitions of the word, but I think that the word 'meta' encompasses anything that has to do with the direction and trend the game's taking, and what's hot right now. If poking comps are good right now, then it's poking meta. If Ardent Censer is good right now, then it's Ardent Censer meta. It's not like the word is super detailed or anything.
So if we focus on the meta last Worlds, and how LCK couldn't follow the meta, we're basically talking about how LCK teams couldn't play champions like Leblanc that are super aggressive and fast. This is super simplified, and we can go into more depth, but basically, that was the general problem. The meta was focusing on more faster and sharper gameplay, and more frequent skirmishes, but we couldn't play that style and focused on macro, on split-pushing, on mid-late game. All these problems summarised into one sentence is that 'we couldn't follow the meta'.
I do think that things are different this MSI. I disagree with the sentiment that LCK and SKT aren't able to keep up with the meta right now. This flows on what I've said before, but this was the season when every team tried their hardest to change, with the best of them being SKT. And when they lost to IG and G2 and people were screaming that it's because they couldn't follow the meta, I was pretty upset. I mean, obviously everyone is super result oriented, and if you lose, you're just trash, you didn't try hard enough, and you couldn't follow the meta. If you look at the games they lost, I think the main reason was because the pace of the game was even faster than what they were expecting, which definitely threw them off. Simply put, they had a general idea of what the meta was, but things were even faster than what they thought. G2 and IG would be setting up high-risk plays again and again when SKT would've taken time to reset, which basically resulted in them being hit again and again until the game was over. But even though they were thrown off at the beginning, I do think they're quickly learning and changing, which we could see today.
You know what's funny? The same think could be said for Team Liquid. They also have a similar style to us, and I could also see them try to change their style to be faster, like SKT. And when it comes to doing this, the most important I think is the champions, the picks and bans. Obviously you can't pick a champion like Ornn or Kassadin and play fast. You have to pick champions like Leblanc and Ryze that are faster, more proactive and more aggressive to change your style. And in this respect, I think that as we moved further into the group stage, both SKT and TL definitely put more focus into this.
And for G2, I think they're a very interesting team, and that they're super dependent on their picks and bans. If they manage to get a good composition that's super creative, they're the scariest team by far, but if their composition is kind of awkward and meh, they become much weaker. In this respect, I do think that IG is the strongest team because they're not as reliant on their composition. They're not a super high-risk team either since they're good at coming back from behind… they're just good, period, no matter the picks/bans or the game state. They're definitely the number one team right now, and a team that we have to beat.
Man, I'm realising now how far I've strayed from my original point. I guess this is what teachers went through when they were standing in front of us and teaching. Anyways, in summary, LCK did definitely put themselves in the shoes of a challenger and tried to change and adapt and learn from other leagues. And the reason why SKT struggled early in the MSI despite this is that the other teams were even faster and tighter than what they expected, and were caught off by it. Despite this, they still managed to improve and learn during MSI, and are still growing, so we can safely put our faith into them to win the whole thing. This is the basic message I want to get across today…. wait, is it? I don't know, I talked for so long that I'm starting to forget my original point.
(Chat asked "What was the reason IG couldn't do much this game?") You can think of it like this. We can see that, in this MSI, we have more games than ever where the gold difference is reaching 10k, 15k and 20k. This is symbolic of how the current flow of LoL right now favours very fast snowballing. Once you get an early lead and step on it, you can easily reach super high gold leads. And this is same for any team. Once they get the game into a position they like, any team can step on it and widen their lead. We could see this in games like the 1st IG-SKT game, as unfortunate as that game was. Obviously IG played really well, and SKT's attempts to try to turn things around ended up speeding up their loss, but games like this are possible because of how LoL is right now. There are also other examples, like the PVB-G2 20k gold lead game. What I want to say is, just because SKT beat IG in a very one-sided game, does that mean SKT is that much better than IG? Just because IG beat SKT in the 1557 game, does that mean IG is that much better than SKT? No, of course not. Just because PVB crushed G2 with a 20k gold lead, does that mean PVB is that much better than G2? No. LoL right now is really easy for a team that gets an early lead to close out their game super quickly without giving their opponent much of a chance to do anything.
And obviously what follows on from this is that just waiting until late game doesn't work. I don't think that it has worked since last Worlds. And just look at this Spring season, was there any team that succeeded by just laying over and trying to hold on until late-game? No. Only teams that were proactive and tried to get an early lead and snowball that did well. (Chat says "Didn't KZ play that style?") Saying KZ played for late game… you really can't say that. I think the team that G2 is closest to in LCK is KZ right now. Obviously a team like G2 doesn't actually exist in LCK, but if I had to pick one that was the closest, it's probably KZ.
(Chat asked "Why is SKT stronger in Bo5s?) I think the reason why SKT is stronger in Bo5s also can apply to the LCK in general, which is that their picks and bans in super important moments is fantastic. Whether it be banning champions at fantastic timings, or showing their hidden picks at the perfect times, they've been really good at that. And the second reason why SKT especially is good in Bo5s is Faker. I think Faker has a passive that makes him stronger during the most important matches.
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