A new League software tool seeks to unlock the mystery of LCS scrims

But whether the new tool from Shadow will make NA LCS teams better remains to be seen.

Photo via Riot Games

When League of Legends statistician Tim Sevenhuysen created Shadow, an analysis tool for professional teams, one of the first aspects of the game he took aim at was the way teams practice. 

It’s not hard to tell why. The way teams have historically scrimmed is totally nonsensical—they play out a full game while analysts furiously try to type down what happened. Now, Shadow finally has a product that will help coaches, analysts, and players get smart about practice.

Practice is important, but only if done correctly—instead of focusing on wins and losses, players need to learn from their scrims, from what they say to how they position in teamfights. But for years, the way that coaches would teach players was by keeping track of events manually in Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

The beauty of Excel is that it’s simple, reliable, and easily understandable. But it isn’t a tool built to unlock the data behind scrims. That’s where Shadow comes in. Its newest feature is an automated scrim data collection tool that uses computer vision technology to track everything that’s happening on screen. It basically takes a video recording of a scrim game and turns it into code that can then be mined for data.

“Teams can take their video and upload it,” Sevenhuysen told Dotesports. “Then we can read the data and attach it to the scrim and feed it into our analytical tools to get stats that no team had any data on.”

The reason this tool is needed in the first place is because Riot has always locked down the Tournament Realm so that nobody could get data out of it. Originally, this was done to protect team privacy. But as technology has developed, Riot has resisted making changes to the Tournament Realm—several coaches and analysts have expressed to Dot Esports how it’s simply not a priority for Riot right now.

Related: Pros should be able to do more with the Tournament Realm.

Rather than wait for Riot, Sevenhuysen decided to create a tool himself. The hardest part wasn’t actually figuring out how to read the video or code the data. It was creating an experience that mimics Excel’s reliability.

“The hardest part of building this is putting the infrastructure in place,” Sevenhuysen said. “Having a stable and secure system where teams can record and upload videos and know that it will work and nobody else will be able to see it. Adding features is less difficult than building the infrastructure in the first place.”

Shadow worked closely with LCS teams, Echo Fox in particular, to make sure that the software lives up to their expectations. Because the market is so small—there are only so many professional League franchises—it was important to get this right.

And if Shadow does deliver on expectations? Maybe it will finally open the eyes of LCS teams to how the game should really be played.