We've been through a week and a day of the LCS and across both regions one thing is clear: experience is everything. Each region's top 4 teams (Curse, CLG, TSM, Dignitas for North America and EG, GG, Fnatic, and SK for Europe) are taking care of business and seem poised to swat away the bottom 4 teams like gnats.
11 games have been played by teams in North America and Europe by teams looking to make a real upset. Of those 11 games, only Giants managed an upset by beating Gambit Gaming. Teams have taken leads against the old guard, particularly in North America, but can't secure victories. Upsets shouldn't happen every single game, but if these other teams want to compete with somewhat regularity, they need to change their approach.
Innovation over Stagnation
Let's face facts. If you are a team like Complexity or Dragonborns, not much is expected out of you in the LCS. Newer team's don't have the cohesion or experience to compete consistently with the top teams in the scene. Going into matches against teams they aren't expected to and likely won't beat, a question starts to arise. Why are they playing into Goliath's hands? The LCS is 4 best-of-1's and in order for these other teams to win they need to start trying out new things.
The element of surprise is always going to be a key factor in scoring an upset in competitive LoL. Teams can win against better teams playing standard, but it is far less likely than if they pull a strategy or a champion combination that puts the "better" team on their heels. In the one upset we have seen so far in the LCS, Giants played AD Kennen against GG to extreme success and wasn't afraid to try it again in another almost win.
So what does innovating mean exactly? It can mean going something like duo mid or 5 teleport that CLG use to run every now and then. It can mean playing double bruiser in an off-lane or double jungle. The point is that playing standard gains already puts you at a disadvantage if you are one of those teams because you aren't better than the other team at playing standard. This doesn't have to be something you do every game, but it should absolutely be in every single of these team's bag of tricks. They should show these strategies early because all they have to lose is a game they likely would have lost anyway.
If nothing else, showing that you are willing to innovate early on in the LCS will help give the other teams something to think about when the play you. Absorbing an extra ban here or forcing team to buy extra wards early there can be some of the small advantages they need in order to win. When you are a team that is expected to go 14-14 or so at best in the LCS, you have to start stirring the pot somehow to try and avoid being one of those bottom 2 teams and face relegation.
This should be self-evident. The longer a game goes the more likely the better team is to win. In best-of-3's the better team will win the majority of the time, but this applies to even single games. League of Legends is a game of opportunities, and the longer you give a team that is more experienced and some cases more skilled to beat you they'll do just that. It's happened in both regions to teams like GGU and Wolves where they had sizable leads that slipped away from them as the game went on.
Every minute over 30-35 makes an upset that much less likely. In the late game, one team maybe two teamfights decide the game and the team's that have been together the longest and have had the most success know if the games to into this phase they will win. A great quote from the show The Wire comes to mind in this type of situation, "If you come at the king, you best not miss." Better teams will make you play for any mistake you make large or small and the longer the game goes the more likely it is you will make one.
Knowing this, these teams need to try and force the game to come to a head early, and pick around teams that shine in the early game while doing their best to deny the other team the ability to stall. Take away large wave clears you know the team is likely and try to split push them to death, play a team that can dive towers early on to secure kills (and then objectives). The strategy needs to be win to win fights or map control early and often and end it as quickly as possible once you have that lead.
The worst thing a team can do with a lead, particularly a substantial one is stand idly by. A 5k gold lead at 20 minutes or before is monumental where a 5k gold lead at 30 minutes is an advantage and a 5k gold lead at 40 minutes is almost nothing. Get ahead early and keep your foot on the gas or you'll find yourself staring at the defeat screen and another loss yet again.
What do you think RoG'ers? What do teams need to do score upsets? Should they be trying new things more often? Will we see more upsets soon in the LCS? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section and stay tuned to Reign of Gaming for all your LoL-related needs!
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