League of Legends

Profile of TES’s Playstyle

LeagueofLegends1 - Profile of TES's Playstyle

Foreword: TES has honestly been incredibly difficult to break down and explain for me. Inherently what they play is a highly accelerated version of traditional League of Legends but to call that an over-simplification doesn't even cover half of it. Hopefully, I did a serviceable job.
G2 tomorrow.

For the other teams in Semis that I have already covered:

SN – https://www.reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends/comments/jfn9hm/profile_of_sunings_playstyle/

DWG – https://www.reddit.com/r/leagueoflegends/comments/jeuns8/profile_of_damwons_playstyle/

Disclaimers (same a last time):

  1. I do not do this professionally so keep in mind that my opinion is just that – my opinion. I'm likely going to be making claims about how I think the game should be played and these might not align with your views.
  2. The region I watch the most of is Korea. As prep work for this writeup, I have watched all of TES's games from LPL Playoffs as well as rewatching all of their matches in Groups and Worlds Quarterfinals. Bear in mind that my limited perspective is off of these recent few matches
  3. I will qualify the above – that recency bias is more useful either way if you want an analysis of how a team is performing at Worlds. For example – we aren't going to look at C9's VoDs from Spring to analyze how they would do at this World's – different metas, different playstyles.

TES is actually one of the most unique teams I have looked at thus far. Though I haven't watched much LEC, TES plays a lot like what I would imagine G2 plays like from what people have been telling me – though I'll find out that for myself tomorrow when I go watch all of G2's recent games. Also this one's going to be a mouthful because TES plays a pretty complex style that's hard to summarize neatly.

Anyways, here goes:

TES plays a highly frenetic style of League of Legends that focuses on movement, fighting, and skirmishing the moment lane phase ends. Their early games seek to accelerate any of their three strong lanes through opportunistic ganks from Karsa and they like to use these leads to force fights. Unlike the other two teams I have analyzed thus far – SN and DWG – TES plays with much higher freedom in their fight selection and movement. They don't necessarily fight to secure objectives but to secure territory and to accelerate the pace of their game. They care very little about Dragon in most of their games and seek to end games off Baron.


Okay, let's deconstruct that.

  • Unlike Canyon or SofM, Karsa lets the flow of the game dictate how he plays around the map. He is as willing to gank for Knight as he is for 369 or JackeyLove. The key question is simply which side of the map presents opportunities. In this way, Karsa leans more towards a traditional playstyle for his team – one that mostly centers around enabling his lanes. Part of this has to do with his champion pool. Karsa is much more willing to play picks like Lee Sin or Gragas
  • Part of TES's lack of priority on the Dragon is centered on the fact that Karsa almost always attempts to solo the first dragon if there is an opportunity to do so to alleviate the clock his team's playstyle can put them on if they cannot secure the other dragons
  • When lane states begin to dissolve, TES jams their foot down on the accelerator. The key thing to understand is that TES often does not fight to secure objectives. They fight to expand territory and to accelerate their carries to the point where the enemy can no longer contest them. They put much less priority on Dragons themselves – preferring the fights that Dragons can create. If Damwon's low-risk safe map macro is "Lawful", TES is "Chaotic" to the max.
  • Another further example of this is that TES is more than willing to just start 5v5 Barons as a means of initiation
  • At their core, TES is a very tempo-driven team that wins brutally when their conditions to accelerate are met. When TES gains control over the flow of the game, they are incredibly exhausting to play against – not because you are being suffocated out of the map – but because they are one of the most decisive teams when it comes to making your team have to fight.
    • This style of play is made even more difficult to navigate against due to the incredible star power their roster has. They tend to make plays that most other teams would never make due to what some would call arrogance, what others would call confidence. Sometimes, these play calls simply end up working out because of the raw talent within the roster. This, however, can be a double-edged sword that I will cover in their weakness.
  • A nuance that I want to point out is that even though TES is not a team that puts huge priority on Dragon, they are obviously a team that can effectively play around Dragon Soul as a win condition. They have done so in a few games, TES vs JDG Game 5 (

    ) TES vs SN Game 3 (

    ) and TES vs DRX Groups Day 8 (

    ) for example.

If I had to try to describe it in brief to someone, I'd basically just say that TES plays the most chaotic version of a traditional League playstyle.

TES's Weaknesses

  • Greater freedom in fight selection isn't always a good thing. Sometimes TES plays with what you might call too much hubris.
  • TES is a team that suffers immensely when the enemy team does not get caught up in their pace or is the team dictating.
    • In Fnatic's two wins over TES, Fnatic was usually fighting within their own territory on their own terms rather than meeting TES in neutral territory.
  • Against coordinated teams, denying Karsa the ability to solo first Dragon stifles their ability to force fights immensely. A TES that can freely force fights around Soul Point or Soul is significantly more dangerous than a TES that is on the play

On a note from my personal opinion, after watching all of TES's VoDs and hearing about G2 plays, Fnatic being able to drag TES to 5 games makes more sense to me. Based on how people describe G2's style to me, the two teams actually seem to play relatively similarly which might suggest that FNC is probably used to having to play against this kind of frenetic, high-energy, skirmish and fight-based playstyle. Though I'll know for sure tomorrow after I actually watch through all of G2's VoDs

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