New Waves : Repercussions of the roster changes
Since it occurs in every off-season, it was no surprise to see many roster changes between the spring and summer splits. Switching up the players is often the solution that many teams rely on after disappointing results. Some may look back at such changes and regret not making it work the first time around, while others may look in the rear view mirror with a sense of relief for the decision to move on. Here's a closer look on the notable roster changes in the League of Legends scene.
A change of seasons
To begin, let's compare the players that have seen a new light right off the start of the summer split. A roster switch that was highly anticipated was the return of none other than Martin "Rekkles" Larsson in the Fnatic lineup. In wake of this announcement, Pierre "Steeelback" Medjaldi was let go by the organisation as he explored other ventures, eventually landing the AD carry role for Team Imagine in the NA Challenger Series. The big question is whether or not this change was beneficial for Fnatic. Here are the numbers :
|Steeelback's Spring Split||Rekkles's Summer Split|
|Gold Per Minute||409||423|
|Kill Participation (%)||67,3||67,9|
On paper, Rekkles's homecoming has brought somewhat minor changes when we look at the KDA, total kills, the GPM and the KP. While Rekkles does display superior mechanics in my opinion, what has evidently changed in the Fnatic squad though is the intangibles. Their impressive 18-game winning streak, completing a whole split without dropping a game, speaks for itself. What Rekkles brings to the table can be many things that I, as an author, can only deduct in watching the enlightening Life of Legends series or simple interviews can do the trick too. I can point out the connection between Rekkles and Bora "YellOwStaR" Kim which stems from their long partnership through the years but I can also point out the chemistry of the Fnatic squad as a whole in the same light. Ultimately, whether it's the manager, the coach or the 5 players of the European squad, the members share a special bond which makes them perform much more as a team with Rekkles. His return thus far has paid dividends.
Moving on, a team that certainly made moves in the off-season was Gravity with the switch from veteran Brandon "Saintvicious" DiMarco to newcomer Kang "Move" Min-su as well as the departure, as a player, of David "Cop" Roberson for the arrival of Johnny "Altec" Ru. Once again, here are the numbers :
|Saintvicious's Spring Split||Move's Summer Split|
|Kill Participation (%)||73,0||73,1|
|Wards Per Minute||0,81||1,01|
|Wards Cleared Per Minute||0,26||0,48|
What Move did to make Gravity a more successful team this spring split has been his incessantly mentioned vision control. As seen above or as seen in the numerous surprise victories that his team has pulled out this spring, Move provides wards for his lanes to work with confidence, having the information necessary to adapt to the enemy's whereabouts. Also, as the leader in the NA LCS for the average wards cleared per minute, Move puts his opponent in the dark more often than any other player of his region. Contributing to the flow of information in his team while denying information from the enemy team, Move's vision control has made the roster change fruitful so far.
|Cop's Spring Split||Altec's Summer Split|
|Kill Participation (%)||74,1||71,4|
|Gold Per Minute||415||420|
|CS Per Minute||9,2||9,5|
By observing the statistics, we can see that, just like the Steeelback for Rekkles swap, not much has changed. However, the roster switch has in no way hindered Gravity as a team. The big difference between these two players is that Altec employs a more frenetic pace than Cop, not afraid to make the flashy plays. Also, Altec works a lot harder than Cop in perfecting his craft, while Cop hardly practiced towards the end of his career as a player preferring to take a much more analytical approach to the game. Once again, it may very well come down to the intangibles. Relieving the American from his AD carry duties for him to pursue a coaching position while welcoming an AD carry like Johnny who's key definition is "potential" has yet to be perceived as a step in the wrong direction. While the progress has been somewhat minor on paper up until now, if we can slightly mitigate the slump that Gravity have gone through lately, the future does seem bright for this young gaming organisation.
Meet me halfway
Furthermore, some teams have decided to change a member of their lineups during a struggling season instead of waiting on the end result and proceed from there. In hopes of clinching a playoff berth in their respective region and then pushing for a strong World Championship performance, here's a breakdown of players that met halfway.
After an upset win over European titan Origen in week 3 of the EU LCS, Roccat surprisingly decided a roster change in the AD carry position would be beneficial in the long run of the team. Indeed, although he largely contributed to that specific victory, Pawel "Woolite" Pruski was released by Roccat and instead former MeetYourMakers player Rasmus "MrRalleZ" Skinneholm came in his stead.
|Woolite's Summer Split||MrRalleZ's Summer Split|
|Kill Participation (%)||68,7||67,2|
|CS Per Minute||8,0||8,4|
|Damage Per Minute||536,6||486,8|
Woolite usually played a great early game. However, his downfall was his positioning during team fights, drawing the nickname "Melee ADC" from the community. Therefore, unable to translate his early leads into victories, the Polish player was shifted to the EU Challenger Series, now playing for Denial eSports, polishing his craft. MrRalleZ's arrival into Roccat brought consistency. The Dane doesn't bring an all-star allure but he always delivers a performance that simply "does the job". While Erlend "Nukeduck" Våtevik Holm is the true carry for Roccat, MrRalleZ does dish out a decent amount of damage because of superior positioning to his predecessor, with an oddly lower DPM. Again, this roster change is a good one so far, bringing stability more than anything else to the European squad.
After an impressive 3-1 start with Team Dignitas, Andrew "Azingy" Zamarripa played his signature pick : Zac. Apparently, even with a strong performance on the Secret Weapon and a 3-1 start to the NA LCS, Dignitas felt that Helios was the missing piece to their underlying troubles.
|Azingy's Summer Split||Helios's Summer Split|
|Kill Participation (%)||76,0||63,1|
|Gold Per Minute||296,7||273,9|
|Damage Per Minute||205,6||195,5|
In Helios's defense, Azingy has played 4 games and those games don't include the coach's departure during the end of the split. In a recent interview, at the heart of their slump, Alan "KiWiKiD" Nguyen was very vocal about how that temporary departure greatly contributed to the team's drop of the ball at the end of the split. Yet, as seen in the team's spotlight video made by lolesports, KiWiKiD was contrastingly positive when Helios arrived in the team, mentioning the leadership, the veteran experience and the shotcalling ability of the Korean jungler. (again, intangibles !) Those assets, plus his competence to act as an intermediary between the Koreans members of the team and the non-Korean members, forge an accentuated team spirit rarely seen in the professional scene. Whenever Team Dignitas wins, you know it by their cheers and their screams of joy. Whether they can express that joy once again by defeating Team Impulse in the quarterfinals remains to be seen but what's certain is that Dignitas will have to get back their groove to do so. For that, they'll need a leader and Helios might be the one that can shine the most.
Most teams's decision to proceed with a roster change have proven to be constructive as we can see with these 5 examples, even though the statistics by themselves don't necessarily tell the whole story. For now, these teams can move on with no regrets and be happy with the adjustments they've made.
***Other interesting roster changes that could've landed on this list***
- P1noy for FORG1VEN (A change of seasons)
- UZI for North (Meet me halfway)
- Hai for Incarnati0n (A change of seasons)
- Meteos for Hai (Meet me halfway)
My name is Christopher "Wave" Phakjarung and, as always, I want to give you my sincerest gratitude for reading.