The Group stages of the World Championship may have ended, but with Quarterfinals around the corner, the real action is only just beginning.
Let’s take a step back and focus on Group C.
The Group of Death was predicted, as the name would suggest, to be a hotly contested Group — And it lived up to the name. Samsung Blue (SSB) came out on top, but perhaps not with the ease some expected from the #1 Korean seed.
OMG’s emergence to second was brutally fought. All teams in this Group showed considerable weaknesses at times but found strengths and ways to win in spite of them. Let’s talk about these play styles!
To start, we will look at the percentage gold leads of all the games from Group C. Before we begin, here’s some notes and trivia:
- Games are listed in chronological order
- Steeper slopes correspond to greater relative gains/losses
- The gold lead is significant at roughly 10%
- Ballpark numbers for a 10% lead: 1k at 10 minutes, 2.5k at 20 minutes, and 4k at 30 minutes
- SSB played their first 3 games on Blue side
- Fnatic only won on purple side
- LMQ went 2-0, then 0-4
- OMG has the shortest average game time (0:34:36), but only if you exclude their 71-minute game vs Fnatic
Samsung Galaxy Blue (5-1)
When we talk about Blue’s attributes, the first thing that comes to mind may be their reputation for a weak early game. Blue lost the laning phase several times in their OGN Champions final against KT Arrows. The KT Arrows’ players have a particular breed of aggression though; how did Blue fare here against international teams?
The results are complicated.
On the whole, Blue won their laning phases and never had a deficit at ten minutes. That is a positive sign for them, but not the most important thing here.
The best conclusion can be drawn from noticing the consistent action and large range; Blue is playing a risky early game in spite of their historical weakness. In fact, it’s reasonable to say that they’re probably taking the most risks of any team in their Group before ten minutes, evidenced by the large spread in gold lead within this time frame.
That’s not to say that these risks aren’t calculated, but it is surprising that Blue makes the two essentially Chinese teams in their Group look conservative (at least in the early game).
The only team that successfully curbed Blue’s early-game antics was Fnatic, who were also the only team to take a game off of Blue. A leading reason for this was allegedly a victory in the lane swap; Rekkles managed to gain a large experience advantage without much cost. Lane swaps alone do not stymie Blue though, as every game they played in the Group Stage featured a lane swap. In their rematch against Fnatic, Deft overcame a similar early-game deficit.
The question, then: Is Blue uncomfortable in a slow early game? The numbers don’t prove it beyond a doubt, but the suggestion should be considered.
Regardless, the point where Blue really takes off is after 15 minutes, where they can utilize their strength in the macro game and team fighting. That leads us to a second question.
Was Fnatic a bad match-up for Blue? They slowed down the early game and then took an advantage between 10-15 minutes, which appears to be a dead zone for Blue. Is aggression in this time frame a consistent attribute of Fnatic?
OMG is a team with many faces. A revolving door for the support position has been the subject of much curiosity, but the statement is figuratively true as well. There is the OMG of Season 3 yore that tower dives with remarkable precision and there is also an OMG that gets lost in the laning phase and never really finds their way out. Which one showed up to Worlds?
If we start with the early game, it’s pretty clear that OMG had the worst laning phase of their Group. In only one game did they have a major lead at the ten minute mark. The easy scapegoat is support player Dada77 (widely considered the worst player on the team), but other players on the team have struggled as well, the only rock being Gogoing.
Against Blue in particular, OMG’s early game was a huge liability — One of these games featured a deficit greater than 10% at ten minutes. Keep an eye out for when we compare OMG’s early game to Fnatic’s later on.
OMG’s strength in Group C was their ability to survive and win mid-game fights from a neutral position or small deficit. When they successfully did this and acquired a gold lead by 15 minutes, they won (albeit with difficulty). Even in the games they didn’t win, OMG consistently improved their position after 10 minutes be it through fighting or good decision making.
The window between 10-15 minutes is OMG’s strongest point in the game.
In one of these games, they ran Irelia/Kog’Maw (Trinity Force champions), but in their other two wins, they still had upswings while playing champions that use Rod of Ages — The opposite of a power spike.
What’s special about this 10-15 minute window? The answer has to do with vision, and OMG’s struggle with it (ahem Dada77). Every game is different, but generally speaking, the first real team fights in a game don’t break out until after the 10-minute mark. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that OMG has an easier time finding team fights in this window because fighting for the Dragon or a Tier 1 turret doesn’t necessarily require the best planning or vision control.
As stated earlier, the average game time for OMG without the outlier 71-minute game is actually 0:34:36, but that’s not completely fair with so few games. Still though, we can see that OMG has no negative plateaus, and thus turtles the least out of any of their compatriots — For better or worse.
Fnatic is a team with history, but the old kings of Europe were a question mark for many coming in. Before we begin, I want to call attention to two earlier observations. Fnatic was the only team to beat Blue, and did so in part through aggression in the 10-15 minute zone. The team that beat Fnatic twice, OMG, is very strong in that area.
Fnatic’s games were almost all decided between 10-15 minutes. The conclusion that these data suggest is that Fnatic’s scrappiness between 10-15 minutes both won them a game off Blue and cost them games against OMG. If that’s the case, why didn’t OMG beat Blue?
It’s not all straight lines and roses, but Fnatic has the most even early game.
They never had a lead at 10 minutes, but only once were they substantially behind. This is consistent with our observation that Fnatic slowed down the early game against Blue.
On the other hand, OMG’s early-game weakness prevented them from beating Blue mid game. No European team made it out of Groups, but is the conservative European early game better than it gets credit for?
Even if we take away the game against OMG, Fnatic still has a significantly higher average game time at 0:39:23. Fnatic has a lot of losses, but are also good at not losing. They can hold and fight back even from significant (10-20%) deficits.
Fnatic overall displays a slower game when compared to their rivals, but their recklessness in the mid game is a quirky bit of self-contradiction.
In a surprising irony, LMQ plays a more ‘stereotypically Chinese’ game than the actual Chinese team, OMG.
The popular story was that LMQ had become ‘Americanized’ — Not just as people, but in game as well. This is both true and not true. OMG has decisive losses, but drawn-out wins, while LMQ both wins and loses quickly. LMQ has the aggressive early game one would expect, but their most interesting attribute is actually in the late game.
LMQ consistently draws First Blood or first objective – look at all those spikes! – but drop the ball right after. In only one game did they have a gold lead at ten minutes, and they never had a lead at 15 minutes or 20 minutes.
Then how do they win? LMQ is strangely adept at taking objectives mid game at around the 20-minute mark.
Even in all their losses, at the 20-minute mark, LMQ makes a slight nudge back towards increased gold income. LMQ slowly loses this lead in their losses, but even so, it’s a unique trait in this Group.
This late-game strength may be the real dividends of LMQ’s journey to NA.
Their objective game is more decisive then OMG’s. While the game time is similar between an OMG win and a LMQ win, LMQ ends the game much more quickly after getting a lead.
However, LMQ does not have OMG’s mid-game consistency. As previously observed, they actually do pretty poorly there. It’s easy to miss in the heat of chaotic team fights, but the two Chinese teams in this Group actually have very little in common.
Blue is the early-game bully of the Group, but their mid game is questionable. Fnatic and OMG both wanted to scrap with Blue after ten minutes, but only Fnatic had the early game to pull it off. LMQ is at their best before five minutes and after 20 minutes, and no more similar to OMG than any other team.
Group C provided numerous games that were intense and exciting to watch. The victors Samsung Galaxy Blue and OMG are set to face Cloud9 and Najin White Shield, respectively. Here are the questions to ask while watching:
- Will Blue get early action against Cloud9, or will Lemon’s pre-game planning prevent it?
- Cloud9 has a reputation for strong Dragon fights — Is this their window against Blue?
- Shield often has a conservative early game, outside of Watch. Does that bode well for OMG?
- OMG does not have the late-game reputation of Shield. Should they go for Tri-Force champions?