Patch 7.9 brought a big balance update to league as part of the Midseason Update. Amidst the sea of changes were alterations to the least popular of the three Doran’s starting items, Doran’s Shield.
Previously, the item was only used by top laners (and a few select mid laners) to survive against consistent damage dealers. The 8 flat damage block against auto attacks or spells made it especially strong against the likes of Kennen, Quinn, Jayce or Kayle who constantly harass their opponents. It was too niche however and often times items such as Corrupting Potion or Doran’s Ring were preferable for more situations due to the superior mana and health sustain granted.
It’s a pretty heavy hit to the item’s base stats across the board and the slow being reduced from 40% to 20% for Single Target and AoE spells is bound to hurt quite some champions.
With the price reduction to 400, Doran’s Shield now allows for an extra potion as a starting item. In addition, the new passive kind of serves the same purpose as it did before, instead of blocking damage, it gives you extra regen over a period of time so one ends up negating part of the damage taken over a longer period of time.
The on hit damage only applies to minions, but it’s a welcomed change to help champions that are constantly pushed in to fight back as they farm under tower.
Doran’s Shield is a very hard item to measure in terms of its gold value. Aside from the health it grants health regeneration, but since it’s a flat amount it’s very hard to value how much it’s worth. The 5 on hit is definitely measurable but it obviously is only worth anything when hitting minions and not when trading with champions.
With that said, 80 health is worth 213 gold, 5 on hit when hitting minions is worth 125 gold, and the flat regen is worth quite a bit, especially early on.
To give an example, most ADCs start the game with 6 hp regen/5, so getting another 6hp regen/5 would mean 100% base health regen which is around 300 gold worth of regen. If the passive is active then their regen (not including base) would be 16 hp regen/5, which would be around 266% extra base health regen at level 1, that is worth 800 gold.
On champions like Shen or Darius the regen is worth less in gold because they already start off with higher values at level 1. As your champion levels up and your health regen goes up, the value on the Shield regen goes down (in terms of gold value).
Without wanting to focus on this topic much more, the conclusion is that the regen coming from Doran Shield's base stats and passive make it very attractive in the early stages of the game (think first back or levels 1-6) but since the regen is flat, the item starts to lose part of its value as the game progresses.
Who should use Doran’s Shield?
Strong against Damage over Time (DoT) abilities
Doran Shield's regen passive refreshes with every instance of damage you take, so as long as you're not constantly trading, you will get more out of the passive when playing against champions with damage over time skills.
If you have been paying attention to the EU Challenger Series Qualifier, or maybe even playing some games yourself, you might have noticed that a lot of AD Carries have been using Doran’s Shield as their starting item over the other two options of Doran’s Blade or Long Sword.
While Doran's Shield doesn't grant AD like the other two options, the 5 flat on hit is very useful to be able to try to match the push or farming under turret.
Doran’s Shield vs Long Sword
A few patches ago, ADC’s started to pick up Long Sword as a starting item. The reasoning behind this was to survive against poke lanes, where the extra 2 potions would be necessary to deal with content harass, thus being more useful than the flat health and limited lifesteal Doran’s Blade provided.
Doran’s Shield is essentially the replacement for this strategy. The extra regen is great in lanes where you have to deal with champions that outrange and can poke you down while the flat health still makes you sturdier against all ins or gank scenarios
Assuming the passive regen is always active you will match the healing of a normal health potion in 47 seconds, so you will quickly make up for the extra potion the Long Sword starts.
Naturally, the Long Sword option still has the advantage of reaching the first core item faster (whether it be Blade of the
Ruined King or Essence Reaver) and the 10 AD obviously does make a difference in trades, but the idea behind running Doran’s Shield is that you’re already in a losing match up so trades will be avoided and kept to a minimum and when they do happen they will be short trades.
In any case, most ADCs will have around 30 armor at level 1 (including seals) and at least 41 at level 6. This equals 23% and 29% damage reduction respectively. So the long sword start grants around 8 extra damage at level 1 and 7 at level 6. If the losing matchup keeps trades to a minimum and spaced out enough (2 autos taken or less, every 10 seconds) then Doran’s Shields passive regen offsets the potential damage Long Sword would grant.
Doran’s Shield vs Doran’s Blade
If it was easy for the Shield’s regen to offset the 10 AD from Long Sword, then it’s even easier for it to happen when in comparison with Doran’s Blade, given that the damage granted will only be around +6 per auto attack against an enemy carry.
And in terms of sustain? Shield start now has access to an extra potion, so that’s 150hp worth of regen right off the bat.
Doran’s Blade does have lifesteal, but given that it’s a small %, it takes time to scale and be relevant, once the AD Carry has more Attack Damage.
Let’s picture level 3 Varus. He will have 58.2 base AD + 8.5 from runes, so close to 67 AD. At this point he will be healing 2.01 health per auto attack when hitting minions and his attack speed will be 0.69, 0.85 if his passive is active after killing a minion.
Over a 5 second period this means between 3-4 auto attacks (let’s assume passive is always up so it’s 4) which means 8 health. On the other hand, over that same period, Shield granted 6 health. But in order for Doran’s Blade Varus to match Doran’s Shield he needs to be permanently auto attacking, which isn’t always what you want to do, given that you will start pushing the lane and open yourself up to ganks.
So even in the ideal scenario where you didn’t poke the opponent, Doran’s Blade BARELY beats Shield in terms of sustain. Naturally as levels go on and as you gain more AD the % lifesteal will become more relevant, but it’s going to be very hard for it to win versus Shield in terms of sustain (even at level 6 Blade will only grant around 8.5-9 health).
Poking the enemy ADC with shield will activate the Doran’s Shield passive, making it even more Shield favored in terms of sustain, and using a basic attack on an opponent also means not getting so much lifesteal, as the armor on the target and subsequent damage reduction will kick in.
TLDR: Doran’s Shield can easily beat out Blade’s lifesteal sustain in the early levels and Blade users need to be auto attacking constantly to be able to even match Doran’s Shield without its unique passive.
Who still wants Doran’s Blade in Bot Lane?
In the bot lane, you will still want to run Blade if you’re running a lane that has a big range advantage so you can force constant trades and really make use of the extra 8 AD. eg: Heavy harass lanes such as Caitlyn/Ashe/Varus (Mainly Caitlyn) versus lower range ADs (especially if their support isn’t ranged to punish your aggression.
Other than that, Doran’s Shield is possibly going to become the default on many champions, the meta has also swapped mainly to champions that rush Blade of the Ruined King, so the lifesteal from Doran’s Blade isn’t even that needed anymore (except on Caitlyn for example, as she doesn’t buy lifesteal until later on).
Up in the top lane Shen and Rumble are still good users of the item as they don’t rely on mana, so extra health regen helps them stay in lane against harder matchups. For Shen specifically, the extra on hit can help a lot as he gets pushed in early in a plethora of matchups, especially after the damage on Twilight Assault against minions was reduced.
In general, the item is more about the opponent you're facing than anything else. Champions that can overwhelm in the early stages such as Quinn, Kennen or Pantheon are good examples of matchups where Doran's Shield can be useful.
In general, it’s still a good item to take for defensive purposes when facing opponents that can overwhelm in early levels. It’s also an excellent option against Teemo, as similarly to Twitch, the poison will guarantee you get more seconds of regen if you get hit.
Most Mid laners will still take Doran’s Ring as their starting item, but on resourceless champions such as Katarina and Vladimir it can be very useful. Vladimir depends a lot on his health to be able to do trades. Katarina usually has more aggressive starting items with Dark Seal, but she can use Doran’s Shield if facing a matchup where she struggles more during the early levels.
Yasuo tends to have harder matchups in mid as well, so it’s a very good option for him (in both solo lanes).
Riot recently announced in a dev post a new upcoming feature called 'Missions'.
"Missions will offer players new challenges to solve on the Rift for rewards like unique skins, Summoner icons, and loot."
"Most of us have played dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of hours of League. To stay fun over such a long time frame, the game can’t become monotonous or stagnant. When it comes to moment to moment gameplay on the Rift, a lot of what we do helps add that necessary variety—new champions, frequent patches, deep mastery curves, etc. Outside of the Rift, we address this with long-term goals reflecting your growth as a player—ranked and champion mastery specifically.
These long-term goals are fun to work towards, but progress usually takes months (or years), and important milestones are fairly scarce. On a week-to-week or day-to-day level, there aren’t many different goals to pursue to bring variety and character to your individual play sessions."
The feature has no launch date yet, but it's already up on the Public Beta Environment (PBE) Server to be tested.
Currently, here's a list of mission types that will be tested out on the PBE:
- 2 chains of 3 Missions where you need to complete the last one to get the next
- 1 Mission that starts on Saturday and 1 Mission that starts on Sunday
- 1 Mission where the objective is an accumulation of completing other Missions
- 1 Mission where the objective is kills/assists
- 2 Missions where you need to play on a specific map
- 1 Mission becomes available if you have “banner of the serpent” ward skin
League of Legends can be a very grindy game, getting enough IP for runes and champions can feel like a chore at times and progress is quite slow, as IP gains, champion mastery and even climbing through Ranked take prolonged amounts of time.
Introducing Missions, which function similarly to quests in 'Hearthstone' or any MMORPG can help diversify the game, by having players explore the game more, playing new champions or trying to complete different objectives. Naturally, as this isn't an RPG, Missions should never be looked as a key feature, but rather an extra way to gain some loot.
Speaking of loot, there's a lot of rewards that Riot can include in these Missions, like granting IP boosts to speed up the process of IP gains for champions and runes or giving key fragments/hextech chests for extra skins for those playing enough games.
There's a lot that Riot can do with Missions. Tying rewards to esports is another interesting idea that might be used, such as showing support for your favorite team to unlock a special icon for example. Champion specific quests can also help speed up champion mastery or unlock new emotes — You get the idea.
The (Potentially) Bad
On the other hand, quests can lead players to playing differently or suboptimally to complete quests. Gold requirements will lead to players wanting to purposefully extend games, KDA quests might result in having players too focused on surviving to preserve KDA and the same applies for champion scores.
It's almost impossible for Riot to prevent SOME of this behaviour, being careful with how they dictate Mission objectives will be certainly a goal.
In addition, Missions should not be available for ranked matches. In the ranked ladder, nothing should interfere with the ultimate objective of the game, which is winning. All 10 players should be focused on that objective to maintain the integrity of the game.
Welcome to LPL's Post-Game Review: a detailed analysis of team compositions in League of Legends.
Today's episode is slightly different as 'DSM' looks at a game in the new Chinese Super Server. This new server is restricted access. Only players that are Diamond 1, Master or Challenger in another server can sign up to this one.
Once players are in, they are instantly leveled up to 30 with a ton of Influence Points to spend on Champions and Runes.
Players that made it challenger on that server also have the chance to participate at the demacia cup event, where they get matched with pro players and afterwards they have a chance to get a special "club passport" which lets them experience the professional player lives.
In the video below, 'DSM' has a look at how different a game can be when every single player is very high up in rankings.
Be sure to subscribe to LolKing's YouTube channel for upcoming stat videos, and other League of Legends coverage!
Most of us are familiar with this idea. If, for whatever reason, you are looking to go for late game, even trades are always to your benefit. If time plays to your advantage, they serve as a way to accelerate the game. Trades of this nature help diminish the relative gold lead, while accelerating the gold generation, forcing late game to come in sooner.
Aside from trading kills, the most common scenario in which we are presented with this rationale is turret trading. Often times, scaling teams will look to trade turrets with their opponent as a way to safely get themselves past the thirty-minute mark.
Usually, casters will explain how these trades are beneficial for the scaling composition.
Since we are talking about turret trading in the context of transitioning into late game, we will only be looking at outer and inner turret trades. In this case, destroying the same amount of turrets as your opponent is not necessarily an even trade.
These towers are not just a bag of gold waiting to be taken, and should never be thought of as such. A destroyed turret weakens a team’s control of the surrounding jungle and, in the case of sidelane towers, allows for bigger creep waves to be built as a pressure mechanism.
Both these additional considerations are to the advantage of whichever team stronger at any given time. In other words, early turret trading forfeits these advantages to whichever team has the stronger early and mid game.
Once a team has control over the map, they can build a slow push that accounts for several waves once it reaches a place where the scaling composition can safely clear it. On top of that, superior vision control in the jungle allows them to more efficiently rotate between lanes.
By trading objectives, a late game composition can accelerate the game, but pay the price of giving their opponents stronger tools to snowball with. To understand if the trade is always worth it, we must first understand the trade itself.
Outer turrets provide the opposing team with a total of 800 gold, while inner towers grant 750 gold. Since passive gold generation for a team is 104 gold per ten seconds, tied to creep kills and jungle camps, it is fair to assume that gold given by a turret is equivalent to gold gained in 40 second intervals.
Basically, this means that your composition will overcome your opponent’s 40 seconds sooner per turret traded. This is a little generous, as turret killing provides no experience, but it's close enough to give us a rough idea.
As valuable as 40 seconds are, it seems hard to justify giving your opponent all the aforementioned tools for this acceleration. Since the first tower is taken down, scaling compositions can take anywhere between 15 to 25 minutes to come online.
However, we still haven’t addressed what happens if you do not partake on such trades. Despite the fact that trading turrets gives stronger tools to snowball with, early game compositions are usually strong enough to take the turrets anyway. It just takes longer to do so.
When trading objectives, a team secures an amount of gold for themselves that they might never get if they choose to turtle. Even if they hold onto a turret for longer, once it falls, they are denied the gold, and the advantage for the opposing team grows both in relative and absolute value.
What this means is that, although the early game team was given fewer tools to snowball with initially, they now have even more than they would in a trading scenario. They get the same amount of jungle control and wave pressure, with a bigger gold advantage. This opens up stronger baron baits, sieges, dives and quicker objective kills. Not good at all.
For these reasons, it is rarely the case that a turret trade is a bad idea with a scaling composition. We need to dig deeper into the subject to understand when a turret trade can be bad for a scaling composition.
Easily defendable turrets protecting a relevant part of the jungle are the most susceptible to being wrongfully traded. In this context, it is reasonable to look at top and mid inner turrets as the most likely to be featured in this scenario.
The value of this turrets comes from the jungle they protect. When destroyed, diving nearby towers becomes much more effective. Furthermore, the higher AD and lower distance between inner turrets makes them that much easier to defend than outers.
The most important factor, however, is protecting Baron Nashor. This neutral objective reigns supreme above every other win condition for early game teams, and is the sole reason why bot lane inner is not as key. A team looking to stall a game can’t afford to forfeit absolute control of the Nashor pit if they plan on winning the game.
To better understand this, we will look at the first playoff game between G2 and Fnatic.With Fnatic playing their famous early game aggression, G2 are looking for lategame to secure a victory.
At the eighteen-minute mark, both teams engage in a trade of side lane turrets. With full vision of Fnatic’s members, G2 know Zven to be safe on the bot side, yet choose to rotate Karma and Graves for an additional turret trade. This means that they voluntarily chose to forfeit their top inner, as they had plenty of time to recall and defend it.
At the twenty-minute mark, sOAZ’s strong push in the botlane needs to be answered, granting Fnatic strong control over the bot lane jungle. This, combined with how easily Fnatic can secure top side vision because of the top inner turret being down for G2, makes that their mid turret is as good as dead. Especially because of how strong Fnatic’s dives are.
The need for jungle control is what makes Zven overextend. If Fnatic's push reaches the top inhibitor turret, G2's mid outer will be impossible to protect. Against a composition with strong dives, losing jungle vision control around a tower often translates into losing it.
Because of G2’s hubris in this overall play, they end up losing a mid lane tower, more kills and Baron Nashor. It would be unreasonable to blame the whole result on G2’s previous trade, as their poor positioning and understanding of the situation is why it turns into a complete disaster.
Nevertheless, it is clear that G2 have absolutely no play to protect their mid lane turret. At the very least, Fnatic would have secured it with no casualties. Because their top inner was also down, in this situation, they would have very little vision control over the Nashor, and Fnatic could have grinded their vision out and force them to facecheck into a Zyra and Twitch combo.
Even though a top lane inner turret it’s far from enough to avoid the aforementioned strategy, it is undeniable that the vision claim it would have guaranteed for G2 is of great value in this situation. This is true not only for river control, but also for midlane turtling and dive protecting, easily granting G2 40 seconds worth of combined value.
With their earlier choice, G2 are effectively giving Fnatic their win condition on a silver platter. We can see here how a much better scaling composition have shot themselves in the foot by taking a turret trade.
In conclusion, not every turret trade will be good for a scaling composition, even if they don’t involve top and mid inner towers. The opposite is also true. A trade involving the turrets mentioned above can still be good for a scaling composition in the right scenario. These trades must be judged on individual merits. Most are good, and some are bad, but few are even.
Article Written by Manuel 'Cabramaravilla' Martínez
You can check him out on Twitter by clicking here
Starting on Patch 7.11 (Which should be live around the 31st of May), all Summoner’s Rift games with draft mode (so Ranked Flex, Ranked Solo and Normal Draft) will feature five bans per team.
This has been highly anticipated ever since Riot announced the introduction of the 10 ban system in professional play, a system that was very welcomed by the professional community, as it increased a layer of strategy to the draft phase.
However, the system is nothing like the one you would see at LCS or the currently ongoing Midseason Invitational. Let’s have a look.
After the pick intent phase where you hover the champion you want to play there’s now a new ban phase. Every player bans a champion, but all players ban at the same time. Similarly to the pick intent phase, you can ‘hover’ bans so you can make sure you’re showing your team what you intend to ban.
As it was with the old system, you need to pick your ban, else you will naturally get dodge penalties. So far Riot has also confirmed that you don’t need to lock it in. You have 35 seconds to hover and lock your ban. You can also select the option ‘No Ban’ and lock that in too.
Once you lock in a ban, it no longer becomes selectable for your team to ban, if both players lock in at the same time and in the last second, the second player’s lock will default to ‘no ban’ to avoid queue dodges
Once the timer is over and everyone locks their bans you get to see what the other team has banned (a bit like blind pick normal games but with bans). Bans can be duplicated across teams, so don’t be surprised if you see more than one Yasuo ban in each match.
“Giving visibility into the enemy bans before time runs out causes the strongest strategy to be waiting until the closing moments to bait-and-switch bans with your opponent, which sounds unfun. This also reduces the chance of certain meta champions being banned across every game. Y’all know who we mean.”
Why is the system different from the one in professional play?
A very valid question, as the system currently implemented in professional play does bring another layer of strategy to the game. Riot explained:
“It pretty much comes down to the needs of a team of organized players being very different from individual players placed on a matchmade team. In organized play, having some knowledge of your opponents’ strategy means you can pivot your pick and ban phases to specifically target weaker players or home in on a small champion pool.”
Using that same system on a solo queue game could also result in heavy target bans, which could be unfun as players usually have more limited champion pools than professionals.
Simultaneous bans also cut the time in champion select to get you into game faster.
However, Riot has mentioned that they are working in implementing the snake draft to organized team modes.
“We do realize there is now a disconnect between regular play and professional play, so we are working on bringing the esports snake draft format to an organized team mode, but we’re not quite there yet. “
Sample video on how new draft will play out
I firmly believe half of the battle in solo queue is having a good attitude; if you have a positive mindset, this naturally transitions into your gameplay. It can be difficult to always have a good mentality – we are all prone to tilt or frustration – but there are some accessible and easy steps you can take to improve your attitude when playing League.
Avoiding conflict with your team
Toxic – the adjective that plagues the League of Legends community. It is incredibly easy to get frustrated at League of Legends: we all care about it deeply, and when something doesn’t go your way, this passion can translate into anger. Whilst raging in chat and yelling at your teammates may well be the easy option, it does not help. All it does is increase you and your team’s frustration levels, detracting focus and attention from the game, and ensuring the enemy team have an easy victory.
Instead of blaming your teammates, forget about it and move on – any mistake can be rectified, but if you choose to focus all your efforts on arguing with your teammates, you have no chance of coming back. You already have 5 enemies to face on the Rift – don’t fight against another 4.
"Players with a positive attitude win 10% more games than the average joe. On the other hand, players with a negative attitude record lose up to 35% more games."
Don’t surrender a winnable game
We’ve all been there: there’s a 10/0 enemy Riven on the opposite team, your teammates are flaming each other, and a surrender vote is called as soon as the clock strikes 20. The easy option is to move on and surrender, and sometimes that’s the correct call – sometimes games are simply lost at the 20-minute mark.
But this isn’t always the case; a lot of the times, an early disadvantage can easily be turned around with defensive, strategic and smart play. Your team may be fantastic at scaling, or there may be a teammate with a few who kills who is playing well enough to carry the game, and no matter what, the enemy team can throw. Turning around games is possible, and can be some of the most satisfying and rewarding games to play - if you surrender at 20 minutes, you deny yourself that opportunity.
Recognising when you are tilted
This can be a tricky process, because we all experience tilt in different ways; whether that be subtly or overtly. Personally, I know I’m tilted when I start playing recklessly (considering I’m usually a defensive player), and when I’m determined to continue playing after a losing streak to reclaim my lost LP – at that point, I know I need to stop playing. Reflecting on your experiences of tilt and recognising any signs that you may be tilted can ensure you aren’t playing in a negative mindset – instead, have a break and come back refreshed and in a good mindset to play.
Prevent a mistake from escalating into tilt
It can be great to recognise when you’re tilted, but it’s even better to not be tilted in the first place. Personally, the second I make a stupid mistake capable of causing me to tilt, I mute everybody in the game – yes, I’m sacrificing the ability to communicate with my team, but that can be done through pings; importantly, I ensure a mistake doesn’t escalate into me being tilted through my team flaming me or the enemy team mocking me with “?” spam.
You can prevent stupid mistakes from escalating into tilt, whether that be by laughing about it, realising it happens to everyone, or shaking it off by realising it’s a long game and you have plenty of opportunities to compensate for your mistake.
Treat League as a single player experience
This can be a difficult lesson to learn, but you are the only variable you can control in every single game you play – your progression and rank is a result of your ability at this game. Focus on your game and your game alone, and don’t rely on your teammates. League is fantastic because it can be won through good teamwork, but also through individual prowess. You can carry and win every game, and you should be looking and making opportunities to do so.
Be proud of your progression
It can be so easy in League to forget about how much you’ve progressed, because we’re constantly focused on the future and climbing to the next rank. Ambition is great, but remember to reflect on how much you’ve improved, and use that pride to propel you further.
Reading and applying this advice are two very different things; sometimes, you have to experience being in a terrible mindset to appreciate and value a good one. Just remember to respect and value the importance of your attitude when playing League, because your mental game is just as important as your physical one.
Rilea is a Diamond 1 Support Player and a Psychology student, you can follow him on twitter by clicking here
The Greatness of SKT
SK Telecom T1 is the undisputed greatest team in League of Legends history. With three World Championships in the last four years and six Korean titles (combining OGN and LCK) between their multiple teams and roster iterations.
There is not a team in the world that has achieved nearly the prolonged dominance of SKT. Being such a consistent titan is not an easy task, especially in the world’s strong, so what makes SKT so incredible? I’ll do my best to answer this question, though any answer I give is likely highly oversimplifying the question.
The first thing that contributes to SKT’s greatness is simple, every successful SKT roster has had some of the best players in the world at the time in each position. Be it Impact, Marin, Duke or Huni in the top lane, Bengi, Blank, or Peanut in the jungle, Bang or Piglet at AD carry, Wolf, or Poohmandu on support, and of course Faker or Easyhoon in mid, all of these players were or are considered some of the very best in the world at the height of their prowess.
The consistent talent of their players speaks to both SKT’s ability as an organization to spot and acquire top level talent, as well as their ability to develop those with great potential, such as Huni, into truly world class players.
Of course, you also cannot talk about the dominance of SKT without also discussing the dominance of Faker in particular. He has been the best player the world from almost the moment he burst onto the scene and solo killed Ambition, who at the time was in the running for best player in the world, Faker’s dominance and mastery of the game, much like SKT’s, is simply unrivaled.
It’s hard to sum up exactly why this is. Faker does almost everything right. He is perhaps best skill shot aimer and dodger in the world, his understanding of how to play his lane is immaculate. His decisions and timings on when, where and how to roam often break games open, and his team fighting often single handedly turns fights and games around for SKT. Whenever a challenger comes close to unseating Faker as the best in the world, such as Smeb during last year’s worlds, he is swiftly brushed aside as the 'Unkillable Demon King' remained atop his throne.
Having such a consistent player, both with an extremely high performance floor and ceiling, in perhaps the most influential role in a competitive game, has been a massive boon for SKT throughout their period of dominance.
The third and perhaps most important factor in SKT’s dominance has been their mastery of the macro game and the surrounding decision making. Throughout their time on top of Korean and worldwide League of Legends, SKT has shown not only the ability to outplay every single team on an individual level, but even more so on a team wide macro level. SKT makes the right decisions, so frequently, and even if they fall behind from mechanical misplays, enemy outplays, or the rare mistake from them, their ability to constantly make the right decisions makes it hard to close against them.
They rarely ever get caught, they are amazing at maintaining vision wherever they can when at a deficit and as such will make teams scratch and claw for every single advantage they can get when trying to extend their lead. This makes SKT’s opponents feel the need to overreach and causes them to be prone to making mistakes, or simply allows them to stall until they have even up the game or their composition has out scaled the enemies.
A perfect example of this is game 3 of SKT’s week 6, day 5 match against KT Rolster. In this match SKT finds themselves down almost 3k gold at 20 minutes because of good rotations and a well-played Ziggs pick from KT as well as some missteps from Bang and Wolf early on. Yet, KT repeatedly find themselves unable to press their advantage. Faker’s Zilean constantly holds off and even pressures Pawn’s Talon in the side lane, SKT skillfully dodge the poke from Jayce and Ziggs.
They do that all while maintaining enough vision to ensure than KT cannot catch them out or gain too much of an advantageous position on the map. This can be seen in this gif from the match where SKT have manage gain a decent vision line around baron, despite still being at around a 2k deficit.
This vision, combined with their smart rotations and the strong wave clear of their team comp, allows SKT’s Zilean, Lulu, Ezreal comp, which both heavily outscales and counters KT’s target assassin and burst heavy comp of Talon, Rengar, Jayce and Ziggs, to outscale KT’s comp.
This dominance of the macro game is even more brutal when ahead. SKT’s ability to slowly choke enemies out is unparalleled. With near perfect rotations, vision control, baron calls, sieges, and minion wave management, make them nearly impossible to come back against.
Their mastery of these aspects makes it so they do not have to take the risks that many other teams take to close out games, things like 50/50 Barons, dangerous towers dives, or risky split pushing.
It also allows them to not be as reliant on the big-ticket abilities such as teleport or high cooldown ultimate’s that make up most of a champion's kit. Instead, SKT prefers compositions that can go in and punish team’s mistakes or capitalize on their own advantages at any given moment, rather than having to wait for an important ability or two.
How to Beat Them
The combination of these factors, among many other smaller ones, makes taking down SKT a daunting task for any team, but as their opponents in Korea, as well occasional international teams, have shown, it is not an impossible one. So, put yourself in the shoes of an opposing coach. Now, If you were one, I think that this would be your game plan.
Step 1: Beat them early in more places than you lose to them
Now this may seem obvious, but there are ways to concede most lanes in the early game and win matches with safe, scaling comps. That said, you cannot do this versus SKT. You can have Kog’Maw, Lulu, and Karma, the perfect late game protect the ADC comp and you will never be able to scale. If you pick a composition like this, SKT will choke you out of the game little by little and build up such a sizeable lead that will never allow you to get into the game.
Because of this slow choke, you must pick a composition that can have pressure early game. Now this is easier said than done, given that SKT arguably has a top 5 in the entire world in every role. This means the most important thing in establishing an early advantage vs SKT, is jungle priority.
Get a good matchup for your jungler so that they can help your lanes overcome the possible skill deficit that you might be facing. The next step is fairly obvious, get good matchups for your strongest laners. Prioritize getting them counter picks or power picks that can be played into a plethora of matchups. This combined with jungle pressure in at least two lanes, gives your team a chance to escape the early game with the small lead that is often the minimum requirement for beating SKT in the mid and late game.
A composition like this one, that Samsung Galaxy ran versus SKT in their week 9 victory over SKT is a good example. Here they have two pushing, winning lanes, Nautilus vs Shen and Syndra vs Ahri, with good gank setup. This is complimented by their early pressure jungler, Elise who has both a favorable matchup vs Peanut’s Kha’zix and a one with perfect follow up burst for Syndra and Nautilus’ gank setup.
Step 2: Win the vision battle
As I mentioned earlier, SKT thrives off of denying vision and forcing you into a game where the enemy teams (as well often them too) has to make decisions on low information. This is why building an early lead is so important. This is how they choke teams out. They win the vision war, and as such have more vision than their opponents.
They then use this information gap to make the proper decisions, whereas the other team is often forced into a mistake due to their having lesser or even just outright zero vision. If you build up a slight lead early versus them, you can contest their vision. From there, you can deny them the information gap they rely on to do their patented slow kill of the enemy team.
This is of course easier said than done as SKT is often far better than their opponents at this sort of vision game allowing them to win it, even at a deficit. As opponents often make mistakes when trying to establish this kind of advantage or outright neglect to do it, in favor of trying to snowball their lead in ways that SKT can easily resist and counter.
Step 3: Force them to make an aggressive move where they otherwise should not
After gaining the upper hand on vision, you cannot sit back and wait for SKT to make a mistake. You need to force one. You need to force them into the shoes that their opponents frequently find themselves in. Otherwise they are patient enough and good enough to just sit back without giving anything meaningful up, until your small advantage mean nothing. This can mean forcing a baron, spreading them out with a split push, or relying on heavy 5v5 engage composition to exploit even the smallest of positional mistakes.
In doing these, you force SKT to do the one thing they are not comfortable with, make moves without enough information. This is where SKT falters, when they are forced to rely on minimal information and make blind plays. You can see this happen here in their match versus Flash Wolves.
Step 4: Close out clinically
The final step to SKT is again, another obvious one, but one that many teams fail at. Versus SKT you have got to close the game clinically. This involves several different things. It involves creating pressure in multiple lanes with proper minion wave management as well as a split pusher if your team has one. It requires proper rotations between those lanes timed well with the minion waves, stretching SKT thin so they cannot stall you out until you make a mistake. It also involves the continuation of steps 2 and 3.
You must continue winning the vision battle and you must continue to attempt to force them into aggressive moves in addition to pulling them apart as if you do not do this, closing out against a team that makes as few unforced errors as SKT becomes quite difficult.
Can a Team take down SKT at MSI?
So, given almost an entire week to game plan for them, and having already taken them down once in the group stage can Flash Wolves, or possible finals challengers Team WE, who has also already beaten SKT in BO1, or G2 Esports beat SKT? Probably not. In one game or even two, maybe, but to take three games in a best of five against SKT has been something that has become the greatest challenge in League of Legends, even for other elite Korean teams.
Even with a proper game plan, beating SKT takes a team that is playing at their highest level and possibly, in the case of teams from other regions, playing well above what their previous ceiling had been. Execution of a game plan good enough to beat SKT requires extreme discipline and near perfect macro play from SKT’s opponent, as well the ability to to match SKT on an individual level.
Few teams can do one of these things and almost none can do both, let alone at the same time. This is the mountain that you must climb to beat SKT and it’s hard to see any team, be they from Taiwan, Europe, or China, scaling it three times in one day.