Pristine Play; Analysis of a Masterful Move by Samsung White
The following is an in-depth analysis of, what I consider to be, one of the smartest and most beautiful plays in League of Legends history including the buildup and the context of the play. At the top of the page is a VOD of this match, as the article progresses I suggest following along and skipping to the maker points mentioned.
The game is the second match between Samsung White and Edward Gaming in the first week of group stages at the 2014 World Championship tournament. Samsung White had won the previous game between these two Group A goliaths, but it had taken them long into the game to do so and Edward Gaming (EDG) looked completely capable of at least fighting back. The expected result of this game was definitely a Samsung victory despite that.
Picks were as follows
Looper - Maokai v. Koro - Ryze
Dandy - Jarvan IV v. ClearLove - Kha’ Zix
Pawn - Fizz v. U - Ziggs
Imp - Twitch v. Namei - Kog Maw
Mata - Janna v. Fzzf - Nami
The game begins with these two rosters locked in. In strange form there are no lane swaps coming out of either team. The standard matchups 1 - 1 - 2 in the lanes take shape. For the first nine minutes of the game each team plays a standard set of league of legends. Both junglers look to make plays around the map and the laners try to take and force small advantages. The matchups for this game though were extremely close and by nine minutes into the game, the gold is dead even with no significant advantage for any character or lane.
At this point skip to the nine minute marker in-game time in the vod. At this point the beginnings of, what I consider one of the greatest plays in League of Legends history, begins in the top lane. Looper on Maokai has shoved Koro on Ryze into tower starting a lane reset. Looper waits at the tip of the bush closest to EDG’s tower waiting for Koro to move up alongside his minion wave which should meet Looper’s in the middle of the lane. Koro eventually does this and looper jumps onto him, using all of his abilities to chunk Koro down considerably below half health and severely hurting the minion wave while keeping it near Koro’s tower. Koro returns the damage and brings Looper down below half health as well, giving him the encouragement to stay in lane. This decision will cost him dearly.
At around the same time Imp and Mata have pushed Namei and Fzzf into their tower as well. And are backing to the base to heal up and buy items. Dandy has asserted vision control around the dragon area during this time and has now also backed off and gone to base. While these three walk back into the game Namei and Fzzf push a large wave into Samsung’s tower and back as well. This could be seen as a game losing decision. While Namei and Fzzf are backing Pawn and Looper shove in their respective lanes straight into tower.
This is where the play becomes one of the greatest of all time. Dandy goes to wraith camp but Imp and Mata go to lane. They clear the wave hitting their tower and then leave the lane. EDG knows that they’ve left their lane. With no vision of Dandy or dragon this is a good sign they are moving towards dragon. Clearlove is at this time doing his own wraith camp on the wrong side of the map. U and he could certainly get there in time to contest except Pawn, having shoved in his lane, walks right past clearlove in EDG’s redside jungle and through a pink ward, roaming top to where Looper has a low health Koro stuck under his tower. This is how the game looked at that moment.
Can you see the genius of the play just from the setup? This instance of time at around 9:45 game time, has taken all of EDG’s decisions and all of Samsung’s plays for the past minute or so and turned them into one of the greatest pincer holds in the history of the game. Now Clearlove and U have only a moment to respond in the right manner. If they move topside to try and stop the dive they definitely lose dragon. If they move botside to stop dragon they almost certainly give up first blood and maybe even their top outer tower. Samsung put, not all of EDG, but Clearlove and U in a position to decide over all of a second what to give up, where to go, what is more valuable and what has the better likelihood of success. In this instance EDG’s communication and decision making fell apart. Clearlove walks top side after stuttering around indecisively for a moment and U walks middle to clear the wave and move towards dragon. The sum effect? Samsung white take an almost unbelievable advantage at 10 minutes game time, taking two of the most important early objectives at the same time and with absolutely no repercussion diving Koro in the top lane for first blood and securing dragon with no fight.
The smoothness and the genius of this play cannot be understated. Samsung White didn’t outsmart just any team, they completely and totally incapacitated the number one seeded team from China at World Championships. That would be a monumental feat if the play was even average in any way. However not only did they beat EDG in this moment they performed what could be the smartest single play, spanning all of a minute, in the history of the game. Samsung managed to, with no impressive feat of mechanics, acquire an almost immediate 1.5 Thousand gold advantage in a close game. They met with no teamfight, no resistance and barely any movement. Samsung White moved like specters around the map, in such control of themselves, of their team and of their opponents it would seem unreal to imagine anything putting up resistance to their path. Plays like this, that not only outdo the opponent but subdue them into inaction sheerly on strategic principle, are one in a million. In what seems like a simple play, Samsung White committed a high level movement which took advantage of every single factor on the map and action in the game to take a tremendous and shattering advantage. They would go on to win the game in the same specter-like fashion they made this play in and advance out of the group stage without a single lost game. Taking this remarkable and unstoppable style of play all the way through the tournament for a nearly clean win, destroying the competition and winning the grand prize and title of being World Champions.