LMS; Compared to the rest of the World
Being a fan of Southeast Asian League of Legends you get use to people thinking what you watch is third tier games, with teams that are clearly not as good as other Asian regions, and certainly not as good as the Western regions, and on some level these people are not wrong. Southeast Asia and GPL was a massive region, supporting 12-16 teams, with only 4-5 teams being on a level that I think can be respected on an international level. However with the break off to the LMS, I feel like this is a league that can compete and succeed on the world stage, and the overall quality of both the teams and the games has gone up significantly.
Having been a fan of the region since I was entranced by TPA winning the Season 2 World Championship, I've always felt that western analysis and fans have always dismissed Southeast Asia, or at least just said "well they are not as good as Koreans" which I think really sells short how good many of the players and teams that come out of the region are. Even now if you look at the Lolesports power rankings, 3 LMS teams have made their way on that list, and the western reaction is "wow good for them for even making it on the list". However they are at the bottom of the list, where a team like Team Liquid, having only played 2 games, are higher on the power ranking list, than the Taipei Assassins who haven't dropped a game going 7-0, and this being over the course of 3 weeks. I'm not trying to sound salty by any stretch, but this really feels like a sense of elitism, where Southeast Asian teams are looked at like they are lucky to be in the conversation, but a team we've only seen 2 games from we are prepared to champion them. Well here I'm going to try and make my case for the LMS teams, and why I think they are teams you should pay attention to.
I can already tell that people think that I'm going to try and make the argument that Garena is as good as Korea, but I'm being realistic, so no it's not, however I'm going to make the case that Garena teams are at the same level as teams from NA and EU. However before I really break it down and spit some game about this, let me show you how I view the rest of the world, with the thing everyone loves, a tier list.
- South Korea
For what I want to talk about, just assume everyone else is Tier 3, but because I'm not talking about everyone else, this is me acknowledging they exist, but I'm not going to list out how I view every region in this article, but now forward with my argument.
If you haven't seen any GPL before the LMS split, here is a quick run down of the last 3 or so years.
- Season 1 - 1st Place TPA
- 2013 Spring - 1st Place TPA
- 2013 Summer - 1st Place AHq- Esports
- 2013 GPL Championships - AHq- Esports
- 2014 Winter- 1st Place TPA
- 2014 Spring - 1st Place TPA
- 2014 Summer - 1st Place TPA
- 2014 Regional Finals - 1st Place AHq- Esports
So ok you get it, 2 teams have essentially been the entire region, something NA fans should know very well, but why am I presenting this? Look what teams are in the LMS after leaving the GPL, TPA and AHq - Esports. If I were to include second place finishes, the other big name you would see come up was what is now Logitech Snipers.
The point I'm making is that all of the best teams have been in the Taiwan, Hong Kong region, but they never had the best practice since I do think a lot of the GPL was muddled down with sub-par teams, not giving great practice and experience to the top teams. Most of the challenge these top teams faced, was only on the international stage, like worlds. LMS has provided these top teams a new league to join, where I believe the level of competition is much higher. What I'm saying in a very round about way is that the LMS/GPL split has created a league of the best teams in Southeast Asia that I think can really be looked at as a real threat on the world stage.
Here is now where I make my pitch for why you should both care about, and watch LMS, and what I think these teams do better than many of the other regions. The first thing I want to point out is this is a team fight region. This is a region that loves to skirmish and have large team fights, and they are very good at it. (skip to 41 minutes)
Here in this match against the Logitech Snipers and the Yoe Flash Wolves, you get a back to back team fight, one where the Snipers get a good pick at the mid turret, and turn for dragon, but you can see the Wolves re-initiate the fight and come out with a huge win.
As impressive as I think this is, I know many people will go "well so what? I can get good team fighting in most any region." and you are right, but here is what I think the two biggest things that the LMS teams do better than most of the world.
The first is that the LMS teams are some of the best at getting small advantages and snowballing the game out of control. They are not afraid to take big risks once they have a lead to get an even bigger lead. It's not uncommon for one team to have a 15+ kill and 5+ turret advantage by the end of the game. Here below is one of the most extreme examples with AHq vs Midnight Sun
Spoilers; This game ends 30-2 in kills, 9-1 in turrets, with AHq having a 21k gold lead by 25 minutes. And although I say this is extreme, I stress that this is not uncommon. Southeast Asian teams are very good at finding a pick or a good team fight and running away with an entire game.
However this same way of playing also leads to what I think the second best feature of this region is. The LMS teams have an uncanny ability to bring games back if they are at a loss. So many teams I see in both LCS's look like they just roll over and die when the game starts to get out of hand, and only the best teams know how to play from behind. However it really is only the top teams, but many games, especially those of TPA, start off with another team having the lead, but the "losing" team still winning through understanding how to stop a snowball, through knowing when their power spikes are, and also always looking for a pick, skirmish, or team fight they can maybe win. Although this isn't quite an LMS example, that gusto I think is on display here during the World Championships, the first match between Samsung White and AHq
I wont include a time stamp to watch, but you can see the ability to play from behind, and being unafraid to try and make a play to get back in the game. Obviously SSW were playing around a bit, and the game was a stomp from the start, but I think it's a great example of what you can expect from these teams, and how they have a "never say die" attitude when it comes to the game. Teams in this region are very intelligent in knowing how they can come back into a game with a deficit, and understanding how to make the play happen.
I understand that for most fans, following their home region, NA or EU, and maybe watching Korea because it's the best, is more than enough league for them. However for people who want something new to watch, or if you want to see where I believe some of the best teams are right now, LMS might be something you want to get into.
For my final note, if you are looking for an analytical conclusion, LMS is something teams and viewers should be at the very least looking at. It's in my opinion that come the mid season tournament, the thing that replaces All-Stars, you might be surprised at the level these teams are at, and how they preform compared to NA or EU teams. It might be hard watching something not in English I understand, but again, I think LMS is one of the top regions, with some of the top teams, with some of the top players in the world right now.