The statistically most and least effective bans in the NA LCS
With five weeks of play so far in the spring split of the North American League Championship Series (NA LCS), there have been 60 unique champions banned. I decided to look at which bans most often result in wins for the teams banning them, as opposed to letting the other team pick that champion. For a champion to be considered here, they must have been banned at least seven different times. While there are certainly a lot of different factors when looking into this, I think there's a few important things to keep in mind.
- Banning a champion and then losing the game doesn't mean that the ban is bad or "wrong," just that the team simply didn't get the desired result out of it due to losing the game being the worst case scenario. This means if the team had banned a different champion, the result can't get worse because either way, a loss is a loss.
- While banning a champion doesn't mean a team is unwilling to play that pick in general, it does mean that they're banning it to prevent their opponents from using the champion in that game. As a result, I looked at the win rates of the champion the team is banning to see if it would statistically be better to just let the opposing team pick that champion.
- Finally, there is such a large amount of variables that teams consider when banning champions (their opponents, the team's own champion pools, which side they're on, etc.) that these are by no means the champions that teams should just begin to mindlessly ban. Rather than that, this is more so just some interesting information about the results that the bans actually delivered.
The following champions are ordered by the highest increase in win rate by banning the champion versus playing against it.
Ivern hasn't been quite as popular in the NA LCS as he has been in the EU LCS, but has seen a little bit of attention over the past few weeks. With a 50 percent win rate, it doesn't seem like teams have completely gotten the champion down. However, teams that have banned Ivern have won 75 percent of those games, making Ivern the most effective ban so far. However, if more of North America's junglers pick up this champion, we could definitely see these values changing up a bit.
Twisted Fate has gotten a fair bit of ban attention, primarily due to Henrik "Froggen" Hansen's proficiency on the champion. With only six games played, Twisted Fate holds a 67 percent win rate, but teams banning the champion have won 56 percent of those games, which is 23 percent more than if they played against it. We haven't seen too much attention given to Twisted Fate outside of Echo Fox, but the champion certainly remains on the radar for Froggen's opponents.
With tanks such as Maokai and Nautilus being so popular in the first few weeks of this split, Fiora was often the best bet to carry from the top lane. Teams going against Fiora have only won 37.5 percent of the games, but the teams that have banned the champion have won 60 percent of their games. The only team that hasn't had Fiora banned against them has been FlyQuest. This is likely due to An "BalIs" Van Le playing almost exclusively Maokai, Nautilus and Poppy, only straying from those in two of FlyQuest's losses. While Fiora has only been played in eight games, we'll likely see this ban continue to target carry players, such as Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho.
In a meta consisting primarily of mage supports, Thresh has managed to still find his way into some team comps due to how effectively he can rescue his carry from engages. Banning Thresh has resulted in a 69 percent win rate for the teams doing so, which is the second highest on this list. However, Thresh is sitting at the second lowest win rate on the list at 52 percent, showing him to not necessarily be the most dangerous champion for teams to play against.
The following champions are ordered by the highest decrease in win rate by banning the champion versus playing against it.
With a 27 percent win rate, Poppy is currently the second lowest win rate top laner (with over four games played) just above Jayce. Even lower than that, is the 20 percent win rate of the teams who have used a ban on Poppy. This results in a decrease of 50 percent in the win rate of teams banning Poppy instead of just playing into it. Poppy was on the receiving end of a lot of attention in the preseason, due to how well she was performing in solo queue. As a result, it seems teams may have overestimated how strong the pick is in competitive play, and will likely continue to shy away from her.
While Olaf has the same win rate as Poppy at 27 percent, it is actually the lowest for his role of the champions with more than one game played. While teams banning Olaf have a much better win rate at 55 percent, it's still a big decrease from the 73 percent win rate of playing against Olaf. With the jungle being so powerful currently, Riot has been actively looking at different ways to change both the jungle and the champions who are dominating it, so a lot of this could definitely change in the near future.
Orianna has the best win rate of this group at 45.5 percent, but teams banning the champion have ended up much worse off than playing against her, who have only won 36 percent of those games. Orianna has always been a reliable all-around mid laner. She's strong in most points of the game, has good utility and, to top it off, good playmaking potential. It's easy to see why teams would want to ban the champion due to it being quite the comfort pick for a lot of mid lane players, but perhaps those bans could be better used on something else.
Varus has been a pretty interesting pick, primarily due to teams often grabbing the champion on red side. With this season showing one of the larger discrepancies in side win rates, Varus is sitting at 35 percent over 80 games played. While teams who ban the champion win the majority of their games at 51 percent, the lack of wins this champion has taken part in makes it seem as if the bans are unnecessary. With Riot looking to bring crit AD carries back to a good spot, future changes could see a lot less priority being placed on this champion.
With all of this being said, I think it's important to reiterate that these results don't necessarily make the bans good or bad. Every draft phase that teams enter goes into a completely new game independent of previous results, and as such, what bans may work will always vary. However, it still is something for teams to consider when looking at what to ban, as with more information, the conclusions to draw can only grow stronger. With four more weeks of regular season play, it'll be interesting to see which of these champions can pick it up, and which will fall out of favor.