My Hopes for the PGS 2016 Spring Split
With Worlds 2015 just recently concluding, we’ve seen how the drafting phase, shot calling, rotations, and strategy in general have become much more important in order to succeed. Chinese team LGD was blessed with very talented mechanical players, but they didn’t make it out of the group stage. Meanwhile, we were getting European specials a.k.a. great Baron calls courtesy of Origen, who made it all the way to the semi-finals. The first ever two-time World Champions SKT T1 also displayed beautiful macroplay and map control. The analytical aspects of League of Legends can no longer be ignored if a team wants to be the best in the world. Gone are the days when mid laners could solo carry their teams to victory *cough* Bjergsen* cough*.
Now how does the Pro Gaming Series, the Philippines’ League of Legends professional league, look compared to the leagues of other regions?
Not very good. I’ve been casting for the PGS for almost a year now, finishing my first season as both shoutcaster and color caster. I can say that there is a lot, A LOT, of room for improvement. In terms of mechanics, most of the players seem all right. They have their shining moments. However, when it comes to the analytical aspects of the game, we are way behind. Understanding the meta game, drafting phase, level 1 strategies, lane swaps, rotations, macroplay — the list could go on. Let’s take a look at what happened during the 2015 summer split.
Imperium Pro Team looked like the strongest team during the summer split group stage. They are one of the veteran teams of the PGS and have represented the Philippines for the Garena Premiere League a couple of times, together with Teams Wargods and Mineski. They lost only two games during the group stage, both of which were against Wargods. The rest, they won by pulling off one strategy. This strategy consisted of IPT H4T3 getting Vayne and placing him safely in top lane via lane swap to farm while the other 4 members did their thing elsewhere. With a weak understanding of lane swaps in the PGS, things were made easy for IPT. IPT H4T3 was allowed to play Vayne 9 times, 9 TIMES, and got an 89% win rate on her by the end of the group stage.
This is an example of a game where IPT gets away with the Vayne pick. Mineski is another veteran team and the only Philippine team to ever represent at Worlds during Season 3. However, they too lack in terms of strategy. Mineski’s mistakes in this game:
1) A team composition with no clear reliable win conditions
2) Mineski does not put down vision at top lane to spot the lane swap
3) Mineski does not anticipate the lane swap either. MSKI Tgee falls behind.
4) Mineski retains standard lanes, allowing IPT H4T3 to farm and kill MSKI Tgee a couple of times. Why not bring Exo and Kaigu up there? Sigh.
5) A dragon fight goes very very wrong, and H4T3 gets a Quadra Kill. GG.
Mineski and IPT were the top 2 teams of the previous season, so one can imagine how the bottom 6 teams must have performed.
All of the PH teams — Mineski, Wargods, and Imperium Pro Team — also ranked lowest in their respective groups during the Garena Premiere League 2015 Summer Split. The same mistakes showed for all 3 teams on the international stage. The video below will show you Mineski, once again, not playing the lane swap well.
While this all seems very pessimistic, I actually write all of this with the hope that all of our local teams will improve more on other aspects of the game besides mechanics. Enough of the “win lane, win game” play style — it’s time for better shot calling, drafting phases, rotations and macroplay, etc. I’ve heard that some of the teams coming into this season have been making greater efforts to improve at the game, and I can only hope that this effort will be consistent throughout the season. Preseason changes are coming up as well, so this will prove as a challenge to the PGS teams to adapt in the middle of the split. Which of the 8 teams can understand the coming changes best and apply that knowledge in game? Which team(s) will punish the others for underestimating the power of analysis? We can only find out once the Pro Gaming Series Summer Split starts on November 14. May Faker bless them.