Lessons from LCK: Spring Week 2

After an odd Week 2/Week 3 cycle thanks to the Lunar New Year, we’ll be back to a normal schedule for LCK. We’re starting to get a bit of a sample size by which we can analyze each team’s trajectory. If you’re here without having had the energy to stay up for the games, or the time to watch them later, here’s the current standing:

There are a few surprises in how the teams having shaken out, as well as a lot of non-surprises:

The Great

SKT, KT

You can place these two teams in the aforementioned “non-surprise” box. These two teams were expected to maintain or rise to legendary status, respectively, coming into the season, and they’ve not disappointed. Anyone who’s even remotely paying attention could write pages about SKT, applying only the most intricate of scientific methods to figure out just what the most impressive part of this squad is. Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s 12.0 KDA makes a strong bid, as does their 527 gold difference per minute. That’s over twice that of the next best team, which is KT Rolster. They’ve finally lost a game, but it didn’t seem to matter. Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu’s own 9.0 KDA is nearly as impressive as their macro play. It’s merely a race to March 2 it seems, when these two face off in their first match, and then rematch later that same week.

The Good

BBQ, SSG

I try not to jump too much on the BBQ hype train, but man, is it hard. Disregarding the wonderful logo, there’s seemingly a lot to be excited about: Kang “Tempt” Myung-gu owns the league’s sole pentakill, and the third-highest kill participation (76%), while Kim “Crazy” Jae-hee touts the 6th highest KDA. These things have led them to a great 3-1 start. Similarly, Samsung Galaxy have gotten off on the right foot (mostly), in a manner much like KT Rolster: with few flashy individual stats, but great team play and map control that transcends the box score, particularly with early game pressure (they have snagged first blood 83% of the time, usually revolving around Lee “Crown” Min-ho. The thing about these teams is that they’ve been relatively untested. 3-1 is great, but BBQ got absolutely demolished by KT Rolster in Week 1, and SSG’s lone loss has come to a lackluster Afreeca Freecs group (see below). The next few weeks will tell a lot about what these teams are really capable of.

The Disappointing

LZ, AF, KDM

It’s worth noting that the other three teams not mentioned — ROX Tigers, Jin Air Green Wings, and MVP — are all about where we’d expect them to be right now: mediocre to okay. But for me, these other three are where we really wonder what went wrong. Longzhu looked fantastic on paper, and many (including myself) had high hopes for them. And I’ll admit, losses to KT and SSG are forgivable. But even in their wins, LZ have looked shaky at points, even at times in just trying to close out games. Playing well under immense pressure won’t help much come playoff time if teamplay is shaky with minimal pressure. All the same can be said of Afreeca, who managed to pick up their lone win against SSG, and take a game off of KT, but still sit at 1-3. The strategy against AF seems to be the same usually: put early pressure on Jang “MaRin” Gyeong-Hwan, then do it a few more times so long as they keep letting you do it. Then comes Kongdoo Monster. They actually looked pretty good at IEM Gyeonggi, but maybe this was the result of the competition. This relatively inexperienced squad honestly probably just needs time, and it seems cruel to call them a disappointment, but it’s only natural after a solid international showing. Maybe LCK is tougher competition than Worlds after all.

With the consistent schedule from here on out, the focus begins to shift from teams figuring out exactly what they can and can’t do to them learning how to use it or play around it. This means we should start to see fewer draft mistakes, growing champion pools, and better League of Legends from the world’s premier scene. Tune in here to catch the games live, or to watch the entire cast in VOD form.

Photos provided by Riot Games and Inven Global.

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Mr Fidori

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