Lessons from LCK: Spring Week 1

The first week of the 2017 LCK Spring Split is in the books, and the first week had just about everything we could have hoped for: great champion diversity, whimsical off-meta picks, some stomps, some throws, and some high-quality League of Legends. In case you haven’t followed closely, the standings are as follows:

SKT and KT Rolster atop the standings are no surprise, but there were a few surprises, such as Afreeca Freecs looking solid against Samsung Galaxy, yet dropping the series against MVP. Or the clown fiesta that was Longzhu vs. Jin Air, in which both teams had a variety of opportunities to close out the series decisively.

The Good: KT’s assembled super team

I know, I know, they’ve only played two matches. And yes, they were the drastic favorites in both matches. But this KT roster looked pretty solid, which is saying something in the LCK, even against easier competition. And netting a league-second 1.5 team K:D ratio is one way of doing it in style. Their games weren’t complete snowballs, as their long average game time suggests, but a slower, more methodical win is always just as good in my book. KT’s next couple of games against Longzhu and Afreeca will begin to really shine the light on how this squad will progress.

The Bad: Lee Sin

“People don’t like Lee Sin” is generally a true statement. He has consistent mobility, but also high damage, but also no mana, and is usually strong at all phases of the game. It can get especially annoying to see him every other game in solo queue. The pros may not like him anymore either, but for a different reason. Lee Sin was picked ten times in Korea last week, but never won. Sporting a 13-32 record across the largest four regions to start the season suggests a rare dip in his popularity. He’s still a great champion, but maybe for organized team play, there are much stronger options in the jungle (see Rengar, Kha’zix, Graves, and Olaf).

The Ugly: MVP’s 2nd game draft against the Olivers

In pro play, games are often won or lost in the pick/ban phase. If this is true, MVP had no chance of winning this game. Take a look at the picks and bans, in order of picking:

See anything wrong? You should. Huge red flag number one is MVP not banning LeBlanc from the red side. This has been consistent among other teams, and they were even gifted the Rengar ban from BBQ, and still managed to let Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu get his hands on the Deceiver. Second, they picked rough early lanes for themselves, knowing their lane opponent, at top, mid, and support. This can be okay, as we all know there are benefits to scaling team composition. But knowing what you’ve picked for yourself, you can’t go and do things like this:

Shotcalling has never been so easy: ping Leblanc to come collect free kills, send her back to force her opponent out of lane, repeat. If there was ever an easy game to analyze, it’s this one. And it should serve as a shining (or not so much) example of how important it is to know your power spikes and what you’re capable of.

Spotlight

It’s time to shine a light on what I consider to be one of the week’s best performers, Samsung Galaxy’s Park “Haru” Min-seung. Even though Samsung went on to lose this series against Afreeca, Haru played fantastically in game 2, and all week really. With Rengar off the board, Samsung decided to match Afreeca’s jungle bans in the second phase to take a whopping five junglers out of play and force Lee “Spirit” Da-yoon onto Rek’sai. But Haru wasn’t afraid to dig deep into the champ pool to bring Graves back to the jungle, and in a perfect counterexample to to MVP above, Haru was able to take advantage of his early strength, with a little gifting from Spirit.

Back-to-back ganks on the carry top laner, knowing the enemy jungle is down and behind? Haru knew exactly what this pick was about. And it may seem obvious to be discussing this hindsight, but in the heat of the moment, many players don’t have this thought process, even at higher levels of play. It highlights just how important it is to consider your options and always know what your optimal course of action is in given scenarios, because that’s exactly how Haru was able to put Samsung on his back for this game. If you’re struggling to know how to make an impact on the map and create an advantage, channel your inner Haru and learn from this example.

It’s a short week this week in LCK, but the action starts back up Tuesday with SKT vs. ROX. Tune in here, if you’re so inclined, at midnight PST!

Videos and photos provided by Riot Games.

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Mr Fidori

Obsesses over League of Legends a little too much. Writes for Break the Game. In that order.