The mid-split break has rolled around as ROX Tigers and Kongdoo Monster represent Korea at IEM Katowice, and that can only mean the 2017 Spring Split is halfway through. Here are the standings as of the hiatus:
Some themes are starting to develop as we move through the split that will have an impact as we approach playoffs.
Picks & Bans
Nerfs to two of the big three have transformed the red side draft from a rinse-and-repeat script to an ever-changing art. This is due to a small handful of champions rising to an uncommon power level that lies between being not necessary to be banned all the time, but too good to pass up, which results in securing two top-tier picks most of the time in exchange for losing one option first. In LCK, this first pick is usually Varus or Jayce, and the result is choosing from a pool of Rengar, Kha’zix, Maokai, Camille, Jhin, and many more.
Granted, Korea doesn’t have quite the champion diversity that the LCS has, but the level of strategy that has evolved from the most recent meta change and the new five-ban system is unrivaled. Start factoring in pocket picks from around the league like Sion, Aurelion Sol, and Azir, and the real fun begins.
So it goes without saying that SKT and KT Rolster are the teams to beat. But the real action, at least at the break, is in the middle-tier of teams. In case you didn’t see above, there’s a three way tie for third place (Samsung Galaxy, Longzhu, and a surprise MVP). BBQ Olivers are right behind them and looking pretty solid. Even Afreeca’s 3-5 record is somewhat deceiving when you consider how strong the individual members are. It’s extremely likely these teams could be somewhat evenly matched by the time playoffs come around, and if the standings stay similar to the way they are now, only two of these teams won’t make the cut, making for a very exciting series.
Side Note: The Most Overlooked Champion at Every Role
Segueing from my earlier thought on diversity, here are five champions who, by a totally objective account, should be played more often in this meta:
Played a whopping five times, Gangplank does a lot of things very well. He splitpushes (a concept rarely known nowadays), he teamfights (the only thing we know nowadays), he ganks from anywhere. Most top-laners in Korea can play him moderately well. All it’s going to take is one guy to keep at it, and it’ll poke a hole in the tanks-only philosophy.
Ivern’s a pocket-pick to be sure. But anyone that can master him, which is a daunting task, has access to the least predictable jungler in the game. And he meets today’s requirements of having strong teamfighting as well. What a deal!
Mid: Aurelion Sol
Pocket picks are such for a reason: not everyone can play them well. But Aurelion Sol is to the mid lane what Ivern is to the jungle. Think the mobility of Ryze with the zoning of Orianna isn’t good enough? Think again.
I’m not gonna lie, this is a copout. I don’t think there are any ADC’s currently being overlooked without it being somewhat deserved. But to go with something, Lucian is in an okay spot right now, and with the low-ranged Sivir coming back, Lucian could throw a wrench in the meta.
Nami isn’t really unpopular, but that doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be played more. Being able to nullify a poke lane (most lanes) is a handy feature, and having crowd control for engage/disengage is just icing on the cake.
LCK picks back up next Tuesday at midnight PST. Tune in here to catch the action!