Hey everyone! Quick turnaround time from end of split to playoffs but myself and Clemnt Chu (mainly Clement as he did most of the fact checking and structure <3) decided to do another LPL Playoff TL;DR to get everyone up to speed on the region as we hit the business end of the tournament!
The LPL Playoffs kick off at 02:00 PST/10:00 CEST/18:00 KST on Twitch and YouTube!
Invictus Gaming is still the most talented team in the league, and likely the world. After the departure of JackeyLove, the bot lane has been left to Puff and Southwind to look after and the duo have done exceptionally well at keeping the “Lane Kingdom” marquee intact for Invictus. Puff especially has really stepped up as being the main carry for the team, and is one of, if not the best Aphelios in the LPL. For Top side, TheShy’s fallen in love with taking ADCs to the solo lane and crushing juggernauts, so look out for plenty of Kalista/Lucian bans. Overall, if they’re on their game, expect iG to win lanes and skirmish their way to wins.
The big question for iG is, can they actually suit up for Playoffs? Despite their record, IG has played an incredibly, shall we say, “happy” split this spring. They’ve never seen a fight they don’t like (bloodiest team among all major regions), and it doesn’t always end well for them. TheShy has the most deaths per game in the LPL, and the team overall has a very uninspiring kill death ratio overall. It’s time to see if all that limit testing will yield results, or if a repeat of summer 2019 is on the cards.
The Phoenix has done well for itself in the offseason, retaining all of their championship members and also adding Khan from T1 into it’s arsenal definitely made them look like off-season winners to say the least. FPX have kept the same game plan of capitalizing off the emanating pressure from Doinb’s mid lane bruisers to end games fast and early. Champions like Kled, Renekton, and Rumble can bully their lanes and join sidelane tower dives to devastating effect.
However, FPX has also experienced some failures to launch. Incorporating Khan has brought Camille and Fiora split pushing as potential options for the team, but the growing pains still linger for FPX. We’ve seen them revert back to Gimgoon as the main starter in the top lane as the losses were starting to become too frequent for the teams liking. Not only that but we’ve also experienced a large drop in Tian, particularly in his early game dominance. However, throughout the inconsistencies Super Carry Doinb is somehow shining even brighter than before, carrying an even greater load of the damage for his team at 29.8%.
The main questions for FPX are still centered on Khan in the postseason. Gimgoon historically hasn’t had the best of times vs. TheShy/Zoom, and the brackets may set them up to run through both. If they can incorporate a counter pick strategy for top lane with Khan, FPX will be much less vulnerable to simply having Doinb focused down early.
JD Gaming are the team in best form heading towards the postseason. The squad hasn’t dropped a single game when they were able to field Zoom(quarantined for most of the split), and Kanavi has shaped up to be a MVP caliber player.
In terms of their playstyle, they are the embodiment of the Juggernaut. They love bruisers and their comps are stocked full of engagement to help them reach the mayhem. From Zoom’s Sett, Kanavi’s Sylas jungle, LoKen’s Kalista to LvMao’s disgustingly good Bard, this team is built to smash into you sooner rather than later. What sets them apart from being just blood thirsty, is the fact JDG has truly perfected the art of knowing when to hold them and more importantly when to fold them. They are master Baron dancers with a 73.8% Baron control rate, and will use that knowledge to mercilessly draw opponents to them.
At this point, JDG can confidently outfight anyone in the bracket (evident in their manhandling of eStars and teamfighting win vs IG), but they have to be careful for teams that can draw strong set plays such as EDG & FPX. JDG gambles a lot on picks, which makes them easy prey to “angler fish” tactics where carries are dangled in front of them. If they can avoid rushes of blood to the head though, don’t be surprised if a new champion is crowned in the LPL.
eStars are the kings of the Drake fight in the LPL. Cobbled together at the last minute with RNG substitutes in
The biggest challenge for eStars is going to be the lack of a good jungle pick for Wei. In the past 13 games he’s had Jarvan banned against him, and the team has sorely missed their teamfight setter who can also deliver early game presence. If they can find another ignition to this team fighting machine though, eStars’ disciplined approach to objectives will make them the bane of many a team in the bracket.
Top Esports have the deadliest early game in the LPL. Their three carries of 369, Knight and now JackeyLove(joined three series before playoffs) are all within the top 3 for gold difference among their roles (limited scope for JKL but we'll take it!). Add an early game gank specialist like Karsa to the mix, it’s no surprise that they lead the league in 15 minute gold leads. Unfortunately, that’s where the music ends for the TES throughout most of the split. TES likely had the most visible shotcalling issues of any top team, and they often relied on Knight 1v9 hero plays to bail them out of shoddy teamfighting.
Top Esports have a reputation for being playoff duds due to the lack of cohesion beyond laning phase, and that’s where JackeyLove comes in. Leaving a World Championship team in IG to join the squad, he (in the fixes many of the teamfighting issues of previous ADCs, and is also expected to harness the other talents here through his shotcalling as he did on Invictus. So far, he’s done a brilliant job propelling the team to a 6 game win streak, including a 2-0 win over FPX to close the season. With the Exodia of Knight, Karsa, and JackeyLove now assembled, Top Esports may be looking for the biggest 180° turn in a single split.
EDG are coming in as a bit of an enigma. They were one of the hardest hit rosters during the pandemic, with multiple players and coaches in quarantine, they’ve only managed to field their starters in 6 series out of a possible 16. The reason they’re still in the playoffs: Hope. Hope as a late game minded marksman is noted for his patience and positioning. In stark contrast to his predecessor in iBoy, he has the lowest deaths per game of any ADC, while pumping out 29.3% of the team's damage. An educated guess would say that EDG will reshape their identity from pick oriented to peeling for Hope. A good example would be their recent series with OMG, where Jinoo is put on Maokai, and Scout on control mages like Azir, setting layers of barriers for Hope to dish out the pain.
Royal Never Give Up
RNG have endured an Uzi-less spring and instead of developing traits beyond playing around their megastar, they now look utterly lost. Despite having the easiest remaining schedule facing 5 non-playoff teams, RNG managed to drop four of them and barely made the playoffs. Langx has again failed to develop sideline split pushing and RNG run headfirst into teamfights without much rhyme or reason. RNG’s players aside from new jungler XLB are all accomplished veterans, so when given enough of a lead they can auto-pilot themselves to victory. Expect them to stick with early snowball comps, especially likes of Zoe/Rek’sai.
The big question is of course will Uzi be able play in the postseason. While technically able to from a ruling standpoint, Uzi suffered a moving accident that has continued to sideline him. In his stead, Betty has had the best performance out of the team, but he’ll still need more members to wake up for this squad to advance.
Team WE is built on the philosophy of being the first one’s to group in a teamfight. They generate the highest assist per kill in the LPL (2.53), and are constantly looking for potential picks to kick things off. The lynchpin of this style is mid laner Teacherma, who in some senses is an extreme version of Doinb. He loves leaving lane and will give up large amounts of farm to do so, frequently playing champions with globals like Aurelion Sol, Pantheon, and Nocturne. Morgan, who is likely the best player on the team, also adheres to this style, playing more Ornn than any other top in the league. Together the solo laners fold into their bot lane in Jiumeng and Missing, propping them up to take turret plates across the map. WE really shine with their coordination, and can often punish enemy teams by intercepting their rotations.
There is a steep price to pay for leaving passive lane gold and hedging on team fights though. If the play fails WE often find themselves so far behind in tempo that it's impossible to recover. Indeed, Team WE hasn’t won a single game when holding a deficit u/15 minutes. In a playoff setting where surprises are harder to pull-off, Team WE must walk the tight-rope of harnessing their edge in coordination, while avoiding their riskier teamfight setups.
Hope this helps people get a bit more insight into the LPL and make watching it more fun!
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