The LPL Spring Finals will kick off
in about 12 hours. This will be an epic showdown between the defending World Champion in Invictus Gaming and the most unlikely finalist in JD Gaming, who started as the lowest (8th) seed in the playoffs.
Naturally, IG is widely considered the favorite by eastern and western fans alike. In terms of individual talent, IG is unmatched by any team in the world besides perhaps SKT, featuring some of the best laners that have ever played and a superstar in the jungle as well.
However, JDG is not without their own win conditions, either. Thanks to their long and grueling series over WE, RNG, and FPX, we are able to get a lot of data on what has made JDG so successful in the playoffs. In this post, I will touch on what I consider the three main win conditions for JDG.
JDG was already one of the better teams at vision control during the regular season, having ranked 7th in wards per minute. In the playoffs, they have further stepped up their vision game, achieving the second highest WPM out of all playoffs teams.
On the other hand, IG ranks dead last in wards per minute during the regular season (2.95 vs JDG's 3.44). In the past, this has not stopped IG from winning, but if JDG were to prevail, vision will be their key to victory.
To really appreciate JDG's mastery in vision control, we need to look no further than their game 5 comeback over FPX. In that game, FPX started with a 4-1 kill score and had a 1.5K gold lead before 5 minutes, which is about as good of a start to the game as one could hope for. However, JDG was able to stabilize and somehow wound up with a 2K gold lead at 15 minutes. How did it happen? It's all about vision.
Here I've made a time lapse GIF of the minimap from minute 5 to minute 15. Pay attention to the red side (JDG), and in particular to Elise (Flawless). As you can see, JDG completely dominated vision in the river and even managed to get some deep wards down in the enemy jungle despite being behind. As a result, JDG and Zoom in particular were able to push waves and pressure the opposing laners without dying to ganks (mostly), and FPX wasn't able to push their advantages.
In the playoffs, JDG has successfully executed all sorts of team compositions whether they are early-game-focused or late-game-scaling. This has been possible largely thanks to their players's insanely deep champion pool.
In particular, their support LvMao has shown an incredible ability to successfully execute off-meta supports. He was able to win on Fiddlesticks against WE (
), Leona/Gragas against RNG (
), and Bard against FPX (
In terms of solo lane, Zoom has excelled at early-game picks such as Jayce, but more importantly he was able to successfully execute late-game carries such as Kayle and Gangplank, scoring a 29.2% damage share on this team, the highest of any top laner. Yagao and Flawless have been able to play off-meta picks such as Malzahar and Kindred as well.
As an attribute, mental is very hard to quantify. However, I don't think anyone who has followed JDG's run in the playoffs would disagree with me that this team has displayed incredible resiliency so far. After all, they have had to come back from 1-2 match deficits in their series against both RNG and FPX. In fact, JDG would probably have been eliminated in game 4 against FPX if it wasn't for their decisive and heroic play around baron.
Now, IG is the World Champion, so they obviously have very strong mental as well. However, historically IG as a team has always displayed a high level of throwing tendencies (think back to TheShy suiciding on Fiora in game 3 against KT at worlds), while JDG has shown that they are better than any team at playing from behind. Therefore, even if JDG is behind in a game or even in the series against IG, there will be reason to believe that they might be able to come back.
While IG is no doubt the favorite coming into the finals, it would be mistaken to write JDG off. In fact, JDG has a very real chance to come out on top, thanks to their excellent vision control, deep champion pool, and mental resiliency. In any case, this finals will be a treat to any League of Legends fan, so don't forget to tune in!
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