Back again with another LPL Playoffs TL;DR. Again I want to thank the mighty Clement Chu for doing all the heavy stats lifting and I hope this helps people get a better understanding of the LPL teams as we get ever closer to the end of the split!
1st – Top Esports
– Knight in Shining Armor
Top Esports (TES) continued their dominance from their Mid Season Championship victory, winning 9 straight series at the start of the summer split. The concept of this team is incredibly simple, good ingredients make a good dish, gather arguably the three best carries in the league (369, Knight, and JackeyLove) and ensure a stellar laning phase with a solid support network (Karsa, Yuyanjia). But out of all the star studded players on this roster no one stands above Knight. Knight continues to be the single most dominant player in the league, with league high stats in kills per game(5.7) and a 7.5
The consistent game plan for TES has been to lean towards the top side of the map, as that is where the monsters 369 and Knight reside. All the while JackeyLove is left to farm up in bot lane to become the late game hyper carry. Commonly employing a split push component, or at the very least, a range advantage over their opposition to dangle JackeyLove as bait, TES look to lure teams in with an easy kill, then destroy everyone running into their trap. Most of the time their caliber of talent is simply overwhelming and cannot be matched.
However TES are coming into the playoffs looking mortal. The loss to IG seems to have shaken them. Having led in 80% of their early games before the IG series, they only led in 25% of the early games after the fact which is a “worrying trend” for TES fans. Karsa especially is being out-jungled consistently and seems to be unable to effectively maximise meta champions like Volibear. The JackeyLove and Yuyanjia combo has also seen better days, especially in the laning phase. It’s an old dog with the same tricks, but once again Knight will be expected to pick up the slack and carry his team to higher heights if they cannot change their current form. Although they have promised to brush up on their meta champions, this is not the TES we have come to know and love and will need big changes if they want to be crowned victorious.
2nd – JD Gaming
– 5Head Drafters
JD Gaming had a slow start to the split, hanging outside of playoff contention for most of the first month, but slowly ramped up, and are now once again looking like favorites to take it all. They haven't changed much from their spring split formula. They’re still the juggernauts that love to engage on you and again have the best Baron control rate in the league (68%).
But some small tweaks have been made. Generally speaking, JD Gaming has trended towards even slower early games with even more farming for Kanavi. Zoom has been shifted further into a tank and engage role, while the early game action has been mainly conducted through mid/jungle instead of top lane.
What’s been a stand out about JD Gaming is how painful it is to draft against them. They’re a team that’s loaded with “must bans” while still capable of eviscerating you with pocket picks. Even when you dodge their best champs or counters, they can simply transition into other comps entirely. Kanavi’s Nidalee is the single most banned champion in the LPL at 78% of drafts. Outside of Kanavi obviously being very good on the champion, the other reason is to avoid triple poke comps from JD Gaming. Yagao’s Zoe has a 100% win rate and 16.3 KDA, while LoKeN’s Ezreal is his most played with 90%+ Win rate. Then you have Yagao’s LeBlanc at a 49% ban rate which, if let through, will destroy teams with loose support synergy, and then his pocket Qiyana with 13.9 KDA, and LvMao’s Sett…I could go on but you get the idea, these guys are hard to ban out and can attack you with multiple strategies.
The most notable result from all this 5D chess drafting is that LokeN typically gets a preferential ADC matchup because there’s no bans left to limit counters, a huge advantage given the pinched nature of the position. Zoom also consistently has either Volibear/Ornn blind pick open or a counter pick, giving him the best options into a top focused split push game(Kayle/Gnar) or just a standard teamfight brawl.
JDG so far has been limited to a domestic sensation, in their first split as LPL champions MSI was unfortunately cancelled. For JDG, this post-season is their chance to be inducted into the pantheon of representatives for China, to finally become immortalized as a warrior. With glory at their fingertips, I think we’ll see the best of them yet.
3rd – Invictus Gaming
– Meet Mr. Serious Face
2018 IG are back. For the first time since spring 2019, IG has posted a kill death ratio surpassing 1.00. This shift in performance can be centred around Ning and his philosophy.
Previously known as the “greedy jungler” who used his lanes as cover to gain experience leads, Ning now spends far more time covering for his lanes to ensure a smooth laning phase for IG.Not only is he more attentive to his laners but Ning’s first blood participation has risen to 81.9% on the team, a 50% increase compared to last year’s spring.
The second surprise is the return of Baolan over Southwind. IG have not lost a single match with Baolan playing. While I wouldn’t say Baolan has broken through the mechanical disparity that existed between him and the rest of the team, it’s apparent that his readiness to roam and throw himself in to start fights fits better than the more defensive mentality from Southwind.
The chemical reaction with Baolan backing Ning in skirmishes is driving IG’s revival, and the spillover to the lanes is also apparent. Rookie is roaming with agency rather than putting out fires and it's much harder to tell if TheShy is bluffing or if he actually has back up (Fun Fact: TheShy is getting on average 2 extra turret plates with Baolan playing). And the results have been explosive!
While IG’s previous two splits have felt like a rebellious teenager testing the boundaries of their parents' safety net, this split’s IG is lucid, driven and ready to reclaim their glory.With four members of the Championship team back as starters, they now have something to prove: that they can win a championship with or without JackeyLove.
4th – Suning
-The Sophomore Album
For a second split in a row, Suning runs with an unchanged roster, and it sounds like they’re trying to keep the fan favourite smash hits along with dipping into a few too many new genres.
Huangfeng is part of 30% DMG club and is easily identifiable, to the naked eye, as a powerhouse of a late game teamfight carry. However, his support(SwordArt) and mid laner(Angel) are both tempo based and constantly leave him farming parts of the map alone. Then you have SofM, who much like he was on LNG(Snake), is a vision/map control master but provides little action early game and likes to go solo to farm a little too often. For top lane, you have a duelist monster in Bin, but he has not yet matured enough to split push, and he rarely utilises tanks.The end product is a pick oriented team that oftens suffers from slow starts, and relies heavily on hero plays to get back into the game.
This, as weird as it sounds, is also a large part of their charm. Everyone on this team takes turns to have their moment in the spotlight. SwordArt creates lots of unexpected plays on Bard, SofM can often get objective steals and “insecs” on Lee Sin, Bin is 3rd on the solo kills charts for his prevalence with champions like Jax and Camille, while Huangfeng somehow outruns a bunch of enemies till his team finally decides to recognise his existence.
On paper, the sheer amount of talent on this team is staggering, but with such an eclectic approach, it also means Suning themselves are often confused about what the plan is. Their games can drag on aimlessly, and they’re quite prone to throwing leads against teams that are adamant to teamfight. Although, if the beat comes back, don’t be surprised if Suning get the band back together for a tour at Worlds.
5th – Victory 5
– Of Gods and Men
From zero to hero in a single season, V5 are looking to make the most dramatic turn around in LPL League history. In a near complete rebuild, V5 added Biubiu, Weiwei, SamD from Suning, and PPgod (our lord and savior) from FPX, boosting the infamous 0-16 team in spring to winning 25 more games and gaining V5 their first franchise playoffs.
V5’s success as a newly formed team comes a lot from refining certain play patterns down to an exact science.They love drafting for strong 2v2’s in the mid/jungle and use this strength to divert kills towards the bot lane. Once they find an edge for PPgod’s Bard/Leona to slip out of lane, their bread and butter play is to 5 man collapse mid and attempt a tower dive. If that works out they can then capitalise on the play, with Shelly in tow, to take out both outer mid turrets sub 15 minutes.This mentality of going for the jugular has led to the 2nd fastest average win time, and the fewest towers given up per game in the LPL.
However for playoffs, V5 needs to look into adding a few more bells and whistles if they want to go toe to toe with the best LPL has to offer. They can be easily predictable and fizzle out quickly if their initial mid-push is stopped(not coincidentally they are the fastest losing team in the LPL).
That being said, it’s easier said than done to prevent a good start from V5. If given a strong jungler, Weiwei practically controls the game from start to finish by himself with a 13.9 KDA over 20 combined games on Graves and Nidalee, a historical achievement given the sample size. The only question left is: Are you a believer?
6th – Team WE
-Regression and Refinement
Team WE has had a rather intriguing split. Despite having kept the exact same roster and playstyle, WE has gained a slightly better standing than last split.
Morgan is the major point of concern on this team, while this young top laner posted +1K [email protected] in his brief first split, he’s now showing a disastrous laning phase and some head scratching teamfight performance.Teacherma, a.k.a Doinb turned to 11, perhaps predictably has also lost his shock value with off meta picks, and failed to develop a tempo champion threat like Zoe or Syndra to generate priority.
With the absence of reliable solo lanes, Jiumeng and Beishang have stepped up to carry the squad. Jiumeng has matured into a premier hyper carry in the LPL, dishing out 35% of the teams damage, and more importantly eliminating most of his positioning gaffes from previous LDL splits. With all this taken into account, Jiumeng is also taking home a well deserved rookie of the split.
Beishang is statistically the LPL’s 4th best jungler, but many rank him 1st with how far less help he’s getting from lanes. Lee Sin is his most important pick, as he’s a strong independent Ionian, who can stabilize lanes with dueling potential and engage quite reliably at Beishang’s level.
Team WE are patently flawed, but surprisingly tenacious. All their losses have gone to three games, except for LGD, which unfortunately they face first. WE are usually able to keep things close early, and then win explosive teamfights with well coordinated engagements. While it’s difficult to see them shaking up their side of the bracket, expect some close calls for higher seeds.
7th – LGD
-The Miracle Workers
LGD completed the most exciting off-season rebuild we saw this summer. Introducing veterans such as Peanut(JG), xiye(MID) and Langx(TOP) to the roster while also snagging Mark from the sinking ship of DMO. In terms of starters who’ve been to Worlds, this roster is currently the third most decorated in the LPL.
LGD has a decent early game plan, some misery in the middle, and a hail mary finisher. They can quite often snowball leads with Peanut on a strong jungler and xiye on Twisted Fate duty. It’s also worthy to note Langx has proven a good teleport user to follow up, leading to the second highest first tower rate in the LPL(60%). But what they gain is quickly lost come mid/late game. Langx and Mark have been comically bad at initiations, and they often rely on xiye faceplanting himself into the enemy team to get things going. Without a decent frontline, and carries like xiye and Peanut frequently being first to see gray, LGD are without a doubt the weakest teamfighters in playoffs which is never a good thing for any team when you’re in a league that is famous for it’s teamfights.
So how do they win games? Well LGD has base raced/backdoored or stolen eldar drake to win four in 6 of their last matches. If you aren’t consistent, you better be clutch.
WE is realistically the only matchup where they are favoured in the bracket, where xiye and Peanut’s aggression can completely shut down anything Teacherma has in store. Luckily for LGD, that’s exactly who they face. Do you believe in miracles?
8th – Fun Plus Phoenix
-Sometimes the Phoenix is just a Bird on Fire
For our reigning world champions, things may be looking a bit bleak. FPX tried Khan for most of the split, but after suffering a four match loss streak including a devastating sub-hour sweep from JDG, they quickly swapped back to Gimgoon. Gimgoon himself announced that they were going back to that sweet 2019 style, bringing back more bot focused champions including his beloved Gangplank. With Gimgoon up top FPX finally scraped into the playoffs in the last three days as VG/RNG lost crucial matches that would have leaped frog them over FPX.
FPX are self admittedly trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole by going back to something familiar, and while it has worked, it has lost most of its potency. The majority of engagements they took in S9 were in sidelines dives and skirmishes where getting priority mattered more, but these days they are sucked into full 10 man dragon fights, which simply aren’t FPX’s strong suit. They remain the only LPL team to not take an Eldar Dragon this split and even when playing their own game, FPX just isn’t as unique as they once were. Roaming mids have become a staple, and things like with Bard support being mainstream makes Crisp roams comparatively predictable.
Given their current status, FPX are perfectly positioned in the bracket. They avoid their kryptonite in JDG and an IG that would force them to play top side, while facing SN/V5/TES, all three which only rose to prominence in the last three months. They’re essentially a senior in a freshman drinking game, either their experience with a high flying college lifestyle will bear fruit, or their liver might just go out.
Playoffs kick off on Thursday the 13th 02:00 PST/11:00 CET/18:00 KST with FPX vs V5!
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