Sixty-seven million monthly players. Twenty-seven million daily active users. Nearly eight million peak concurrent players. One champion.
Sunday will decide which team walks away with the title of “best League of Legends team on the planet” and the $1 million top prize at the Riot World Championships, the culmination of a year’s worth of competition.
Samsung Galaxy White, a team filled with Koreans superstars, players lauded as the best at their positions worldwide, will face a challenge from Chinese upstarts Star Horn Royal Club. The Royal Club faced Korea in last year’s final and lost.
The Samsung team, who has only dropped a single map all tournament, look like heavy favorites against China’s second seeded team. But the scrappy Royal Club, lead by marksman Jian “Uzi” Zihao, the first player to ever reach two finals at Worlds, should put up quite a fight.
We dove into the stats surrounding the matchup, looking at the teams themselves and each individual lane.
Keep in mind the stats are, in some ways, hard to analyze. Winning teams in League of Legends naturally put up bigger numbers than losers—winning players score about four times higher KDAs than losers and earn about 25 percent more gold. Samsung Galaxy White is 12-1 so far while Star Horn Royal Club holds an 11-5 record, so keep in mind the Korean’s numbers should be a bit higher on average simply due to that fact. But of course, there’s also a reason they’re winning more games.
Jang “Looper” Hyeong-seok might be the breakout player of the tournament. Long hailed for his steady play combined with perfectly timed teleports, backing up his aggressive teammates, Jang has had an explosive tournament. Instead of playing just tanky top laners like Maokai, who he has excelled with at this event, he’s shown an expanded champion pool with threats like Akali.
Jang has a whopping 12.94 KDA, the tops in the tournament, with a 56/16/151 KDA line. He’s posted 415.27 DPM, a large tally for a top laner.
His foe, Jiang “Cola” Nan, has not fared nearly as well. Jiang was probably the weakest top laner player left in the bracket stage of the tournament, statistically. He’s only posted a 3.4 KDA and 332.17 GPM while dealing 343.67 DPM, despite favoring carry champions like Ryze.
Even more troubling: In lane, Jiang has not just struggled. He’s posted the worst CS deficits of any player to advance out of the group stage at the entire tournament, in any lane.
Samsung Galaxy White will likely have a field day in the top lane. Jang should have his way with Jiang, giving him the freedom to exert pressure across the map with teleport. Star Horn Royal Club will need to figure out how to keep Jiang in the game if they want to survive the finals.
Samsung Galaxy White boasts the best jungler in the world—Choi “DanDy” In-kyu. Star Horn Royal Club’s Choi “inSec” In-seok is no slouch either, a legendary player at the position who has whole moves named after him.
Last year, the two players met twice in the knockout stage of events. DanDy won both. At OGN Club Masters, DanDy’s MVP beat inSec’s KT Rolster Bullets 3-2. At Champions Spring, the result was similar: MVP won 3-1. Will history repeat itself? The numbers say yes.
DanDy’s 7.68 KDA nearly doubles the other junglers at the tournament. He’s done so while posting 380.16 GPM, by far the most for any jungler, and 389.76 damage per minute, again tops at the position. Part of that’s due to him favoring damage-heavy champions like Rengar and Kha’Zix, but the same can be said for inSec.
The Star Horn Royal Club man’s numbers pale in comparison. InSec spends much more time dead, in large part due to stylistic differences: he’s much more likely to be found in a lane in battle than anywhere else on the map.
The coutnerjungler numbers show this. DanDy takes 28 percent of his foe’s jungle, an elite number, while inSec only manages 14.84 percent. That’s the lowest in the tournament through the group stage, even lower than safer players like William “Meteos” Hartman, who spent more time in losing games backed into his base. Star Horn Royal Club clearly doesn’t care about limiting enemy jungle farm—they’d rather push for kills in lane.
That could be a key to the match. Shutting down DanDy often is the only way to stop Samsung Galaxy White from snowballing around the map. Can Royal Club afford to let him farm freely in his own jungle by applying so much lane pressure with inSec’s aggressive antics?
It will be interesting to watch, especially considering the two players have actually met before in important tournament matches. Midway through 2013 was a long time ago, but both players were capable of earning tournament MVP honors back then. It will take such a performance from inSec.
Star Horn Royal Club’s mid laner Lei “corn” Wen had a lackluster tournament until the semifinals, where he showed just how effective he can be. But he’ll have an even tougher challenge this weekend: he’s up against the man playing like the tournament MVP so far. Heo “PawN” Won-seok often takes a backseat to the other mid lane talent in Korea, despite his inexplicable ability to solo kill Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok in lane. But Worlds was his coming out party.
Heo’s line looks ridiculous compared to his peers at the event, with 86/16/105 KDA, or 11.94 KDA. He’s died less than any mid laner who made it to the bracket stage, even ones who played fewer games. His 446.15 GPM leads all players at the tournament, and his ridiculous 617.78 DPM is over 100 points higher than the next best tally from bracket stage players (Hai Lam’s 516.73 DPM ranks second).
In lane, Heo was laughably good, racking up massive CS leads through every phase of the game.
This is the monster that Lei must contain to give Star Horn Royal Club a chance. Unlike most of the other mid laners in the tournament, tabbed in more carry roles, Lei favors safe mid laners Royal Club can use to protect their star marksman, Jian “Uzi” Zihao. Lei has eight games on Orianna, and four more on Lulu and Zilean through the tournament. He’s only played an assassin style mid twice in Fizz. That style should allow him to play safe against a monster like Heo, but it hasn’t exactly been dominant for Lei.
The Chinese mid laner’s 4.9 KDA is actually second best at the tournament, a good sign that he just might be able to hold up in lane. But he’s also posted the lowest damage of any mid laner in the bracket stage, at 405.12 DPM. That shows Lei’s style—play it safe.
That may be an impossible task against a player playing as well as Heo.
“You are the best ADC in the world.”
Those are the words Gu “Imp” Seung-bin had for Jian “Uzi” Zihao during the group stage at the start of the World Championships. At the time, it came as a surprise. The seemingly arrogant Gu, complimenting a foreign foe? But those words have proven prophetic with Jian’s play through the tournament, and now they also serve as a personal challenge for Gu.
The man famous for making SK Telecom T1 K marksman Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin cry did the same to Samsung Galaxy Blue’s Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu in the semifinals. Those were two stepping stones on the way to claiming the title of “best in the world” for himself. Now, he’s finally face-to-face with Jian.
What do the numbers say? That we’re going to have an interesting matchup on our hands.
On the surface, the two look similar. Gu leads in KDA and GPM, but Jian has a slight lead in DPM. But those numbers ignore the differences in how the two got there.
Jian’s had to carry his team, while Gu actually takes a lighter load than any marksman at the tournament. Jian’s 34.11 percent damage share rates just behind Samsung Blue’s Deft. Gu’s 28.66 percent is the lowest at the tournament for his position. So while the two dealt damage at a similar rate, that damage was not created equal: it took Jian 3674.76 damage per kill, while Gu only needed 2676.4 damage.
That underscores Star Horn Royal Club’s seemingly only chance to win: getting carried on the back of Jian. But to get him to a place where he can impact the game on that level, he has to survive lane against Gu. That won’t be easy.
The Chinese star has absolutely dominated his lane through the tournament. He has a whopping 5.94 CS differential at 5 minutes, more than twice the next best player, and he maintains a huge lead through the laning phase. But Gu has similar numbers—at the 10, 15, and 20 minute marks, he has leads almost identical to Jian.
But again, those numbers are not created equal.
Jian picked Lucian, the most dominant laning marksman, in 5 games, and Tristana, an average laner farm-wise, in 4 games. Those account for the bulk of his matches. His foe picked Twitch in 7 of 11 games, and while the plague rat may be a late-game monster capable of mowing down entire teams in seconds, he’s anything but in lane. During the Summer Split of the LCS, Twitch was down 2.63 CS at 10 minutes, 5.49 at 15, and 11.04 at 20 minutes. That context makes Gu’s numbers all the more impressive.
Both players have a penchant for laning and aggressive trades. Both players are capable of scoring early kills with insane outplays. Jian, though, probably needs them to win the game.
Of course, making the comparison between the two bottom laners is ignoring a very important part of the lane: the support.
Cho “Mata” Se-hyoung is the third player in the game globally lauded as the best player at his position in League of Legends. His presence is part of what makes Gu so dangerous in lane—at any moment Cho can pull off a play that turns a losing situation into a huge win.
The stats don’t show much to differentiate the supports. Both players look seemingly solid in lane—they do above average damage compared to their peers on their favored champions, like Janna, who will likely be a contested pick in the finals. Cho placed 1.59 wards per minute compared to 1.34 for Yoon “Zero” Kyung-sub, but the two spent nearly identical percentages of their gold on wards, so much of that difference is due to Cho’s team winning games. The quality of those wards is another matter, but one impossible to analyze with the available data.
Whatever the case, the bottom lane matchup should be incredibly explosive. Both teams love to contest as many creep kills as possible, love to trade damage, and love to score early kills. Royal Club probably needs Jian to do so to win games. Will that keep Gu restrained, considering he can probably win if he sits back and lets the rest of his team do the dirty work? Or will his aggression come out in a maniacal bid to seize the title of best ADC on the planet from the player he gave that title?
Samsung Galaxy White looks like the better team on paper and in the server—and the stats back that up. Star Horn Royal Club lacks the dominant superstar talent to stand up to the dazzling array of talent.
But games are also won and lost in the server, not on paper, no matter what the stats say. Royal Club has players capable of winning championships: inSec and Uz, players who can can carry a game if cards fall their way.
We may be in store for another year of Korean dominance, but Royal Club at least has the tools to put up a fight.