This was the 12 months. If there was a time a Western staff might win the League of Legends World Championship, 2021 was it. Ten years have handed since Fnatic gained the primary version of the event. Meaning it’s been 10 years for the reason that final European champion, whereas American organizations are nonetheless pursuing that elusive title.
Then, unexpectedly, a boon got here when Worlds was suddenly moved from Chinese to European soil. And this 12 months’s Western representatives boasted a number of the finest expertise we’ve ever seen—perennial superteams like G2 Esports and TSM did not even make it out of their areas.
As an alternative, this 12 months was the worst Worlds ever for the West. Solely two groups—the LCS’ Cloud9 and the LEC’s MAD Lions—made the quarterfinals. Even that outcome required some luck and gutsy play within the second half of the group stage when C9 got here again from a 0-3 file to in some way advance with a shedding file. However within the quarters, neither staff mustered a single recreation win in opposition to superior competitors from Korea.
Afterward, there appeared to be a sense of resignation from the neighborhood over the hard-stuck LCS and LEC groups. C9 coach Mithy talked about how his team’s inability to practice in opposition to Chinese language and Korean competitors set his gamers again. Total, the sentiment has shifted from “if we repair this, we will succeed” to “the system is damaged, we’re doomed.”
That could be the case, however not essentially for the explanations Mithy described.
You’re what you eat
In the course of the group stage, former LCS coach Zaboutine tweeted the information of every area together with a degree: “You’re solely nearly as good as your ladder is.” The numbers—the LPL at 10-2 and the LCK at 8-4—weren’t shocking. Going into Worlds, everybody anticipated these areas to dominate. However the half about every area’s solo queue ladder forming the inspiration for his or her groups’ efficiency was attention-grabbing.
Solo queue is a controversial a part of the League ecosystem. It’s nice for aggressive players, however it may be a irritating expertise attributable to excessive ping, lengthy queue occasions, dodges, mismatched Match Making Ranking (MMR), toxicity, and quite a few different points. However it’s additionally a vital apply instrument for execs, who typically practice as a lot on their very own climbing the ladder every day as they do in organized scrims with their groups.
The checklist of solo queue frustrations isn’t shared by every area equally. Due to inhabitants density, geography, and infrastructure funding, South Korea has an especially low ping setting. And a long time of constructing gaming and esports in that nation has led to an enormous variety of gamers competing on the solo queue ladder. China makes up for its shortcomings in ping and geography with the sport’s largest participant base. 4 years in the past, Riot Video games even began an elite-players-only server as a result of there have been so many gamers ranked Diamond or greater.
In NA particularly, the highest of the ladder isn’t nearly competitors. Lots of the area’s finest gamers are streamers for whom successful and grinding LP isn’t their focus. They’re expert—many are former professional gamers—however as content material creators, they don’t at all times have the aggressive mentality or consistency to push the gameplay greater within the area. That merely isn’t their job anymore. And the dimensions of each the European and North American servers is dwarfed by League’s Chinese language participant base. When you’ve extra gamers within the pool, it takes extra expertise and energy to make it to the very high.
That’s one purpose why a typical answer—importing expertise from different areas—hasn’t labored. You possibly can carry them over, however you possibly can’t carry their ladder.
You study what you possibly can see
The poor high quality of the ladder doesn’t simply impair the gamers, it impacts the flexibility of coaches and analysts to organize their groups. When requested how a lot the standard of the ladder impacted the standard of North American groups, one veteran LCS and Academy coach informed Dot Esports “so much.”
When the solo queue setting isn’t difficult, numerous the very best gamers decide on the identical champions and ways. Issues like high lane Jayce—a staple in Korea—and Ziggs as a solution to poke bot lanes aren’t performed as a lot by Western groups. They aren’t studying or innovating. Playing more games would help, however it wouldn’t totally repair that drawback. In numerous instances, these groups depend on Professional View, in-house apply, and different information instruments to study. That comes with its personal set of challenges: Gamers can use Professional View to see how their friends in different areas play sure matchups, however they will’t get firsthand perception by making an attempt them out for themselves. And whereas information instruments may give them perception into the preparation that led to these matchups being revealed on stage, they will’t ever study what it was like to truly analysis these interactions.
A number of coaches and analysts pointed to in-house play as a manner for the West to catch up. However the system has generated a good quantity of, effectively, discord over the past two years. This isn’t to say that in-houses aren’t a possible answer, simply that they’re nonetheless in an early stage of growth the place schedules are inconsistent and queue occasions are lengthy. And provided that in-houses are nonetheless contained apply inside the similar area, one coach pointed to Professional View as a superior instrument anyway.
That’s why merely boot tenting in Korea or China, as Mithy indicated, isn’t the total reply. Teaching and scrimming are essential, however numerous growth occurs when execs go in opposition to gifted amateurs in unstructured solo queue apply. It’s not a fast train—in reality, it might take years earlier than outcomes manifest.
The proof is within the rosters
The issue of ladder high quality and a scarcity of beginner growth is extra distinct in North America than it’s in Europe. In any case, this 12 months’s European squads notably lacked a single LPL or LCK import. And European groups are usually effective at Worlds—we’re simply two years faraway from two straight Worlds finals that includes an EU staff. It’d simply be a blip of dangerous luck, however it’s not encouraging that with Worlds in Europe and having pre-tournament scrims occur on house turf, European squads nonetheless couldn’t stand in opposition to the years of coaching their Asian counterparts loved practising in opposition to stiff solo queue competitors.
One other nice instance is the historic efficiency of VCS groups at Worlds. It’s unlucky that they’ve missed the final two tournaments as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, however Vietnamese gamers would typically hook up with the Korean server, even at enormously excessive ping, to grind in opposition to the very best LCK and LPL execs. And it looks like each event, they’d carry with them some shocking cheese technique to show issues on their head.
However the very best case for a way a ladder can form a champion might be seen in the very best staff of all time, one which returned within the semifinals of Worlds: T1.
Regardless of being the winningest staff within the historical past of each the LCK and Worlds, T1 has by no means been afraid to shake up its roster. Maybe that comes from trusting a bespectacled teenager in 2013 to be the face of the franchise. Regardless of the genesis, 12 months after 12 months, T1 makes daring, sudden strikes to reshape its roster. And the gamers it’s changing aren’t even dangerous—the semifinals have been peppered with former T1 acolytes, from Gen.G jungler Clid to DWG KIA high laner Khan and EDG mid laner Scout. You may most likely win Worlds with a roster of solely gamers T1 has kicked.
Within the locations of these revered execs, T1 fielded a Worlds roster with a bevy of latest faces. Canna was signed as a teen to switch Khan. Oner nonetheless is a teen, one who virtually took down Canyon, the then reigning jungle champ, within the semifinals. However neither is perhaps nearly as good as Gumayusi, who pressured his staff to take a seat Teddy, a legendary participant himself. Some say that Gumayusi is a part of the best bot lane in the world.
True or not, T1 virtually went all the best way with Gumayusi leading the charge, falling in 5 breathtaking video games to DWG KIA within the semifinals. It’s a possibility they by no means would have had if not for the energy of the Korean ladder.
Ensure that to comply with us on YouTube for extra esports information and evaluation.
https://dotesports.com/league-of-legends/information/solo-queue-is-why-western-teams-failed-at-worlds | Solo queue is why Western groups failed at Worlds