Roster Moves Analyzed: Matt... for Smoothie for Xpecial?
About a month ago I wrote an article for GoldPer10 entitled “Roster Moves Analyzed: Smoothie for Xpecial.” It was the first of two “Roster Moves Analyzed” articles I wrote before the LCS 2016 Spring Split. For both articles I arbitrarily picked two roster moves. My only criteria was that whatever player I picked to write an article about had to be one of the only players swapped out on his team over the offseason. The reasoning behind it is that teams that swap out more players undergo a large change of identity. One player being swapped out is a team looking for an improvement in a particular area. An entire team being swapped out is a team looking to fix a plethora of problems. This policy is why I excluded moves like TSM adding Hauntzer to replace the retired Dyrus and Fnatic looking to Gamsu to fill Huni’s role.
Instead I choose to write on how Team Liquid swapped out Xpecial for Smoothie and how Renegades swapped out maplestreet8 for Freeze. In the case of Renegades that was the only move they had made to edit the roster they had deployed for the Challenger Series. For Team Liquid the only other move they made was to replace Quas. I felt comfortable that enough statistics existed for all the players being swapped in and out and that each team had an established enough identity that I could write articles on the moves.
I summed up my article on the Smoothie/Xpecial swap by saying that “Only time can tell” whether Smoothie will be better than Xpecial. Time wasn’t given though. Smoothie only played one game with Team Liquid before being swapped out for starting Team Liquid Academy support, Matt. Now Smoothie, the subject of my original article, is playing alongside the man he replaced in the Challenger Series.
A total of 15 players have played a game as Support thus far during the 2016 NA Spring Split. Of those 15 only 4 have played all possible 9 games thus far, while 6 have played 5 games or less. I have difficulty excluding players from this analysis because some “starting” supports have played minimal games. An example of this would be Hakuho, the new support for Renegades. He’s only played 3 games, but he’s a starting support. On one hand I want to include him in this analysis because he does currently start on support, however I struggle to bring myself to do that because he doesn’t have enough games to make me trust his statistics. The sample size is too small. The same logic applies to Bunny FuFuu. I’d like to include Bunny FuFuu in this because I think he’s still an integral part of Cloud9’s team and their future plans, however I can’t justify including him because he only has played 2 games this split. Therefore I’m including the following 9 supports in this, not counting Matt or Smoothie: Adrian, Aphromoo, KiWiKiD, Yellowstar, KwonKown, Big, Hai, Remi, Gate. In my evaluation those are the starting supports for each LCS team for the majority of the split.
First Blood Percentage
Wards Placed a Minute
Wards Cleared a Minute
Just by looking at these statistics who would you rather have on your team?
Players A and D are Xpecial. A is him on Team Liquid during the 2015 Summer Split. D is him on Xpex during the 2016 Challenger Series.
Players B and E are Smoothie. B is him on Team Dragon Knights during the 2015 Summer Split. D is him on Team Liquid Academy during the 2016 Challenger Series
Player C is Matt on Team Liquid during the 2016 Spring Split.
There are a few immediate things you notice when you begin to compare these stats. The first is that during the 2015 Summer Split, Xpecial bested Smoothie in basically every category. In my original article I broke down how Smoothie had been forced to play with a revolving door of ADCs while on Team Dragon Knights and that some of his statistical problems may be anomalies that fix themselves when he gets on a more experienced team with a more experienced ADC.
His statistics don’t seem to be improving in the Challenger Series, however. Although he still isn’t playing with the most talented ADCs, he’s playing against overall weaker competition. Against that weaker competition his KDA has only improved 0.5, making him the 8th best Challenger Series support among the 10 players who have played a game in the Challenger Series on support this season. His KDA is almost a full point below Westrice’s, a player who has made a rollswap from the top lane to play Support for Ember.
Xpecial doesn’t seem to be faring much better in the Challenger Series. His KDA has dropped a full point (1.1) while on Apex Gaming. Two of the players he is behind the KDA rankings though are Biofrost and Big, two players who have only played 2 games in the Challenger Series in comparison to Xpecial’s 4.
In terms of KDA though, Matt is posting an abysmal 2.8, giving him the 4th worst KDA among starting NA LCS Supports. He’s performing in the bottom half of the LCS with an ADC in Piglet who many consider to be a top talent. That failure to capitalize off his strong lane partner is most evident in his 25% First Blood Percentage, placing him at 5th in the LCS, and worst overall when compared to the both Xpecial’s and Smoothie’s stats from their time in the LCS.
Xpecial, who is known for his high First Blood Percentage, is posting an amazing 75% in the Challenger Series, good for first among the Supports. His overall Kill Participation is also high, a staggering 77.1%, or third best in the Challenger Series. Matt has a comparatively high Kill Participation in the LCS, however Smoothie is struggling with his 73.5% in the Challenger Series.
The area where there is the largest discrepancy between Smoothie and the other Supports is in the warding statistics. Xpecial has improved his warding this season, from 1.15 placed a minute last season to 1.30 during the current season. Smoothie’s ward placing has only declined, dropping from 1.18 last season to 1.12 this season. Matt is placing the most wards out of all three though, posting a 1.31 mark, only .01 ahead of Xpecial.
What all of these statistics tell me is that, although Smoothie wasn’t really given the time in the LCS, Team Liquid made a very smart swap with him for Matt, who has shown flashes of brilliance this season. His warding statistics and Kill Participation showcase bounty of potential, while Smoothie’s struggles in the Challenger Series this season show a lack of high tier ability.
I still feel that Xpecial provides the best option in the present. His statistics are still near or above his marks for last season and he provides veteran experience that neither Smoothie or Matt can really offer, however if Team Liquid is looking for the best option for their team in the future, the player that will develop the most in the long run, they seem to have found him in Matt.