The Faker-Easyhoon Experiment
In 2015, Riot announced teams would be able to use substitutes throughout a series or in the season, allowing diverse strategies focused on a player’s strengths to foil the opponent’s preparation.
SK Telecom has been experimenting with subs in the Jungle, Support and Mid role throughout the Champions Spring split. Each role swap has brought diversity to the play style of the team, although the Mid lane has definitely been the most interesting and successful out of the three.
One of the reasons it has been so successful is the fact Faker and Easyhoon are worlds apart when it comes to play style. Faker is the type of player that looks to engage on Vladimir level one without vision of three of the enemy players while Easyhoon tends to play a more reserved style.
That aggression was countered by Junglers like Dandy and KaKAO in the Spring and Summer Champions tournaments; shutting down Faker early. Even though Chaser, Ambition and Lee are not on the same level as the two aforementioned, it is still a strategy used by many teams in a series against SKT.
Having Easyhoon allows SKT to counter strategies put in place by the opposing team, and Easyhoon has shown he is more than just an average Mid laner, with superb games on Cassiopeia, Xerath and Azir—the latter two champions Faker is having trouble playing in the professional scene.
Even though the opposing team can just wait until SKT field Faker and carry out the strategy, we have seen time and time again letting Easyhoon have a free lane is a bad idea—shown recently in the final against GE Tigers. As a series progresses we also see weird priority picks like Jinx in the LGD vs EDG final, or Lulu for SKT in the series against CJ Entus, forcing new decisions and play styles that might not mesh with pre-game plans to focus Faker.
People will continue to protest that Faker should play every single professional game, but it is clear that the SKT organisation realises the value of Easyhoon, both as a player and counter. He might not be the money maker Faker is, but Easyhoon is the reason SKT won against the GE Tigers and is starting to show impressive performances on non-passive champions.
SKT failed to win the Mid Season Invitational, but showed the promise of both players in diverse roles. The challenge for kkoma and SKT going into the summer split and Worlds is how to better utilise each player's individual talents, finding what champions and play styles work better for Faker and Easyhoon.
This article was originally published on Gosu-Tech.