There are only 3 weeks left to go in the LCK Spring Split regular season, and the storylines for playoffs are starting to take shape. But it’s not too late for a twist ending, and there’s a few real possibilities. Here’s the current standings:
Some surprises in Week 7 led to the swapping-around of a few mid-tier teams. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of it.
The Good: Afreeca Freecs
Not too long after sitting solidly in 7th place, Afreeca has turned their fortune around quite nicely after losing 4 games in Week 5. Over the past two weeks, the Freecs have landed top 3 in gold differential per minute and K:D ratio while going 4-0 in that stretch, with very crucial wins over Samsung and MVP this week.
As of the midway point of the split, there were five teams all in close contention for every spot below third. As the dust has settled a bit, Afreeca has come out on the right end of this. Beating its two closest contenders this week shows that, when locked in, this squad could make a case for third place or more when it comes down to it (they are SKT’s only loss so far). It simply comes down to which Afreeca shows up, as the inconsistency in decision-making proves to be their most needed repair.
The Bad: Longzhu Gaming
Longzhu sits in sixth currently, but would rank dead last in team momentum as their strong start came to a screeching halt. This is widely attributed to the departure of coach Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo in late February. Longzhu has gone 1-3 (2-7) over the same stretch mentioned above, looking shaky throughout, and were able to grab only six turrets, three dragons, and an abysmal 0.38 K:D in a week where they should have gone 1-1 (3-2), dropping them to sixth place.
It’s been speculated that a sponsor catastrophe could be looming and adding to the bad morale. The team has tried nearly everything it seems in the past two weeks (short of letting Gwak “BDD” Bo-seong actually play), and though this squad will likely just shuffle around among the relegation-safe spots with BBQ and ROX, it’s a bit worrisome that they can drop games to teams that are headed for the promotion tournament so easily.
What-ifs: ROX Tigers & BBQ Olivers
The split has not been easy for these teams, but it’s not unfathomable that, with the spiraling of Longzhu, one of these teams could maybe squeak into the playoffs. ROX has looked stronger recently, and while BBQ has fallen off a bit from its promising start, neither of these teams have particularly terrifying upcoming schedules. Pending the continuation of the Longzhu’s skid, fifth place could be usurped with a late sprint.
Spotlight: Theory vs. Execution feat. BBQ Olivers
MVP beat the BBQ Olivers pretty handily last week. But game 1 served as a bit of a learning opportunity for how important it is to identify what your team composition is good at, but also execute it. The teams comps for the game were as follows:
BBQ had a clear win condition in this, really: Don’t die early, simply survive MVP’s mid-game power spike, and win teamfights late with a hefty frontline, falling back on a 1-3-1 split if necessary. They arguably had a better ability to control of objectives than MVP. And yet it was a decisive loss for them. Here are a few reasons why.
- BBQ gives up three Mountain Drakes (and a Baron later on). It’s easy to blame the loss on the random generation of three Mountain Drakes instead of a Cloud or Ocean Drake. But part of executing your win condition is blocking the enemy’s win condition. It was imperative that BBQ contest these objectives to starve MVP from them.
Yet on the first dragon take, while two members of BBQ fail a gank top-lane, the bot lane is recalling to base, and Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu is still clearing waves in mid lane because his team has no vision of the pit (Baron was given up the exact same way). The very next Drake sees BBQ finally setting up for it, but blowing it attempting to steal blue buff when the more important dragon is twenty seconds away. The lapses in focus and preparation led to the dragon disaster that took place.
- MVP rotated much quicker than BBQ upon any given opportunity, which helped more in taking turrets around the map than it did even in taking dragons. This is likely the result of having more vision in these skirmishing hotspots, though not through increased warding. BBQ actually out-warded MVP by one in the game, but MVP eliminated 53% more vision than BBQ. The ability to deny vision is something I see underutilized in low-level pro games, and in solo queue games (I’m a big offender myself).
- A combination of the above factors led to BBQ’s inability to spread the map out and fall back on the aforementioned 1-3-1 split, because they could not do so safely for even a minute. This is where credit is deserved on MVP’s part: they were relentless in rotating and denying vision to take away the options BBQ had to get back in the game. And there’s no doubt this was intentional. Often the easiest way to win is to put yourself in your opponents’ shoes, so you can think like them and be a step ahead.
TL;DR: Know what you need to do to win. Know what your opponents need to do to win. Abuse your sweepers, control wards, and scrying plants to strangle enemy vision. And have vision on key objectives before you leave the area to do something else.
Tune in here starting Tuesday at 1 a.m. PST to catch Week 8 live, or anytime to catch the VOD!
Photos and video provided by Riot Games.