League of Legends

LPL Spring Playoffs – Team Previews

LeagueofLegends1 - LPL Spring Playoffs - Team Previews
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The 2021 LPL Spring Playoffs are just around the corner! Here’s a quick preview of the teams for those who might be out of the loop. Teams are ordered based on their seeding.


#10 LNG Esports

A team for which many had few expectations, LNG has far outshone the light predicted of them at the beginning of the split. They most notably took one of the bigger offseason risks by bringing in former Griffin jungler Tarzan, who has most certainly paid dividends for the organization.

Strengths:

  • Calculated, methodical gameplay
  • Good vision control

Weaknesses:

  • Lack raw mechanical power or experience to match up in lane
  • Struggle against higher ranked teams
  • Lack aggression in their method of gameplay

Key indicative stats:

  • LNG’s wards per minute (3.5) is topped only by Suning and RNG
  • None of LNG’s players rank top 3 in lane/role leads (GD15/XPD15)
  • LNG have zero victories against top 8 teams (0-16)

Keys to winning:

If LNG wants to advance past the opening rounds of the playoffs, they need to mix things up and find a surprise strategy. Their calculated playstyle works very well in dismantling lower tier opposition, but has struggled against the top of the table. Mixing in some aggression and being more willing to skill check their opponents might be a risk, but one which may very well be necessary.


#9 Invictus Gaming

After falling just short in the final stretches of their playoff run last year, IG missed worlds. This year they look to remedy that setback with a promotion of one of the most anticipated prospects in the jungler XUN, alongside a more balanced/resurgent TheShy.

Strengths:

  • Ability to generate leads in solo lanes
  • High mechanical peak
  • Incredible snowball
  • Very high dragon control

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of team cohesion
  • Frequent overextensions, very confident playstyle

Key indicative stats:

  • IG have the second lowest average game time in the LPL(28:58), indicating that they either roll over their opposition, or likewise get rolled over.
  • The IG solo lanes still consistently generate leads, with TheShy/Rookie having a GD15/XPD15 of 235/210(TS) | 238/200(R).
  • TheShy still snowballs like no other, currently holding the split record for most impressive gap: a whopping 60CSD before 10 minutes. (Game 2, IG vs LGD). He likewise holds the 2nd highest deaths/game for starting tops(3.1 D/G).
  • Despite finishing 9-7, iG have the second highest drake control in the LPL (64%).

Keys to winning:

Few doubt that IG has the potential to be a great team, but that potential’s utilization is something that has always been incredibly unstable. For Invictus to make a deep run this playoffs, they have to find the key to effectively showcasing the individual talent of the players, whatever it may be. With a solid foundation based around XUN and Lucas’s map control, if Rookie and TheShy find their forms IG would be unstoppable.


#8 Rare Atom

Coming into the split with low expectations, Rare Atom have gone above and beyond. Despite stumbling towards the end of the season, both RA’s doubters and believers should be curious as to just how far this team’s potential reaches.

Strengths:

  • Strong map control
  • Strong mid-jungle duo

Weaknesses:

  • Indecisiveness, slow gameplay and low risks

Key Indicative Stats:

  • The midlaner FoFo has the highest dmg% of any LPL mid(29.3%), they lean on him heavily
  • RA have the 3rd highest WPM(3.5) and highest WClearedPM(1.79)
  • Longest LPL avg. game duration(33:01)

Keys to Winning:

If Rare Atom wants to stack up against top teams, they need to be able to capitalize heavily on their opponent’s mistakes. As a team they play a style which leans heavily around controlling the map and choking teams out – something that is much more difficult against top competition which will not allow such a process to happen. Rare Atom must be decisive in their actions, and if they are – they become a dangerous player in the playoff game.


#7 Suning

Last year, Suning was unexpectedly propelled to greatness. This year they looked to coast off that success, but ultimately would fall short of many’s expectations. They have a chance now to once again put themselves into the limelight, as they grapple for an LPL title and spot at MSI.

Strengths:

  • Elite vision control
  • Willingness to innovate

Weaknesses:

  • Slower, less aggressive game style which chokes out lower teams but has struggled against higher tier ones

Key Indicative Stats:

  • Have the second longest average game times(32:15)
  • Highest WPM(3.8) and second highest WClearedPM(1.76)

Keys to Winning:

Suning was always a team that had the attention directed towards their quirky and innovative jungler, SofM, and their star botlane carry, huanfeng. This year is no different. Their success has largely come off the back of the ever reliable strength in the AD Carry role, and what will make or break their playoff run is the performance of the ever fluctuating toplaner bin and madman SofM.


#6 Team WE

After a mediocre performance last year, Team WE came into this split with a vengeance. With the long-expected super rookie Shanks finally in the lineup alongside a star in Beishang, many were expecting a revitalized roster to make a run into the elite of the LPL, and in the early part of the season they delivered. Although they have cooled down since then, they remain an ever-present threat that certainly has potential to contest for the title.

Strengths:

  • MVP-caliber jungler
  • Good snowball ability

Weaknesses:

  • Very young team
  • Heavy reliance on Jiumeng as a damage source

Key Indicative Stats:

  • Good herald control (58.3%)
  • 3rd highest GD15 (+994)
  • Average LPL career length on the team is below 2 years
  • Jiumeng has the highest damage share for ADC in the LPL (29.1%)

Meanwhile, his teammates: Breathe(21.8%/14th), Beishang(16%/15th), Shanks(23.9%/16th)

Keys to Winning:

Team WE’s biggest pillar in the year has certainly been Beishang, who has been unparalleled in his ability to control the map and set up his team for success. However, the team needs to find a way to either take the brunt of the “carry” role off of just Jiumeng, or work around him better – as more coordinated teams who can shut him down in fights have been deadly to the young squad.

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#5 Funplus Phoenix

After just missing last year’s World Championships, FPX had much hope coming into this one. Now that a wild split full of jungle uncertainty has concluded, they look to take that next step to hopefully return to international competition.

Strengths:

  • End games very quickly, and very bloodily (hard snowballs)
  • Don’t back down when challenged to skill checks
  • High herald/nashor control

Weaknesses:

  • Jungle role uncertainties
  • Poor vision control

Key Indicative Stats:

  • Fastest game time(28:56) and highest GPM(1960) in LPL
  • Highest K+D/G (28.7)
  • 2nd/3rd highest Herald/Baron control(60%/70.5%)
  • Some of the lowest WPM/WClearedPM(3.2/1.42)

Keys to Winning:

FPX still has all the tools that have made them a successful team in the past, they just need to find a way to properly utilize them. With their unbridled aggression, unique champ picks/strategies, and mechanical strength, the only thing that can truly stand in the way of this team is their coordination. They must find a way to properly function as a unit with Nuguri and Beichuan/Tian, to reach that maximum potential.


#4 JD Gaming

Coming into the split, expectations for JD Gaming were all over the place. They had dropped their head coach and their starting lineup was uncertain. However, after a full split, they have certainly solidified their place among the playoff elite.

Strengths:

  • The JD Gaming topside of Zoom and Kanavi remains oppressively dominant.

Weaknesses:

  • Willingness to risk the sacrifice of botlane for presence elsewhere.
  • Surprisingly low herald/baron control (48.4%/53.8%)

Key indicative stats:

  • Zoom and Kanavi’s GD15/XPD15 (377/449 | 248/447) are among the highest in the LPL, while LokeN’s is the lowest of any contending AD (-59/-131).

For context: JKL(929/526), LWX(491/391), GALA(84/131), Puff(-32/198).

Keys to winning:

JD Gaming still lean heavily on the performance of the upper portion of the map, and if LvMao can successfully balance the sacking of the botlane and the facilitation of the topside, they become one of the scariest squads in the league. LokeN, of course, must also be able to play the role of their insurance on a much lower power budget than afforded to other AD Carries.


#3 Top Esports

After being dealt a tough loss at the 2020 World Championship, a resurgent TES squad is looking to prove that last year’s defeat was simply a fluke, and reestablish themselves as a globally feared squad. If they want make that kind of mark, it all begins with bringing themselves back to international competition at MSI – here’s how that might happen:

Strengths:

  • Unparalleled mechanical ability
  • Hyper-aggressive and unforgiving when given a lead
  • Elite topside objective control

Weaknesses:

  • Can have aggression backfire

Key Indicative Stats:

Next highest [email protected] are +1628(FPX) and +994(Team WE)

  • First place in Herald control (67.6%) and second in Baron control (71.7%)
  • Have the highest average Kills/G in the LPL (16.7)
  • Jackeylove individually has a historically high [email protected] of +929, while Knight also has an astounding +707.

The next highest for the roles are LWX(+491) and Doinb(+328)

Keys to Winning:

TES remains a team that can generate huge leads through lane dominance on the entire map, and plows through opponents before giving them a chance to collect their senses. If they can keep their current form, especially toplaner 369, then they are not only contenders for the LPL title, but possibly even favorites. There is no team in the LPL that pound for pound in raw talent can stack up to this Top Esports unit, and it all depends if everyone on the team shows up each day.


#2 Edward Gaming

One of the storied titans of the LPL, the organization looked to turn around their woes they faced in recent years, making exciting pickups in Flandre and Viper. Now, they find themselves locked into the top 2 of the LPL and one of the top contenders in the MSI race.

Strengths:

  • High dragon control
  • On-form Scout and Viper
  • Careful, very low deaths – yet decisive

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of success against other top contenders

Key Indicative Stats:

  • Have the lowest average deaths/game in LPL (8.8)
  • Have the highest dragon control (64.3%)
  • Were defeated by both Top Esports and RNG in the season
  • Highest FB% of a playoff team(61.1%)

Keys to Winning:

EDG have all the pieces they need to take themselves to the next level, all they need now is to prove it. They will most likely be able to get their rematch against either RNG or TES, and this time they will have to be more decisive – it is much harder to slowly choke out an explosive high level team.


#1 RNG

Probably the most prestigious of all the LPL legacy teams, RNG like EDG is also looking to rebound from a low point in their organization’s history. With some experimentation in the roster, such as the swapping of Xiaohu from mid to top, they have found themselves finishing first place in the LPL regular season – and emerging as the frontrunner in the beginning of the LPL MSI race.

Strengths:

  • Strong map control
  • High baron percentage
  • Outstanding team coordination

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of true explosive qualities

Key Indicative Stats:

  • Rank in the top 3 in WPM(3.7) and WClearedPM(1.75)
  • First place in Baron control (72.4%)
  • Xiaohu has been well integrated into the team, having the highest toplane KP% (66.4%)

Keys to Winning:

When one watches RNG, they don’t seem incredibly dominant from the outside. They do not generate massive lane leads or squash their opponents quickly, and that is what makes them scary. They have found something else, a combination of map control, incredible teamfighting, and the ability to play hard around their strong points while minimizing their weaknesses – which together have created a formula that has left the competition without answers. If RNG can stay at the top of the totem pole of fundamentals, then none can question the threat that this squad poses.

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