The 2018 LCK Spring Split went into a one-week break starting from February 12th (KST) due to Lunar New Year. Each team still has another game to play in round 1, but since 8 of the 9 matches were played, half of the season has essentially passed. When the season resumes on the 20th, the game client will be based on the 8.3 update, so changes to the meta or team compositions can be expected.
The front end of this spring split has had many unexpected events and stories. The fight at the top of the leaderboard is quite fierce. Kingzone DragonX is on a 7-game winning streak, having only taken a loss at the opening match; close behind them, both Afreeca Freecs and kt Rolster are determined to make it to Worlds this year. Meanwhile, after a long 5-game losing streak, SKT T1 is aiming for a revival with their rookie jungler, Blossom.
In this spring, there were many unusual matches and several elements that have not been present in the other seasons. Here, we take a look at the unusual records of this spring split.
■ League of Stopwatch: Match time increased, kills decreased.
The phrase that describes the front end of this season is ‘long matches’. The match between SKT t1 and Jin Air Green Wings renewed the record of longest official game ever, clocking in at 94 minutes. While that game was a record breaker, the games for this split in general have been quite lengthy, with 36 of the 95 games played being longer than 40 minutes. Compared to last year’s spring split time of 37 minutes 7 seconds and the summer split’s 36 minutes 22 seconds, the average game time of this spring split was 39 minutes 31 seconds. About 3 minutes of game time was added.
The biggest changes that led to this longer game time are the Stopwatch and the new runes. The Stopwatch item helps laners survive the ganks that usually come when champions reach level 6, so first blood has become quite delayed. Furthermore, even when multiple players attempt to gank the top or mid lane, many supports who select Unsealed Spellbook are able to fly over with teleport to balance the fight. As a result, gaining a lead by getting early kills has become very difficult.
Naturally, assassin champions who are designed to snowball with early kills have nearly disappeared from the rift, instead being replaced by late game champions, even if said champions are weak to ganks. Overall, teams have begun aiming for late game compositions.
Some teams still take command on the early laning phase and end the game early, like Kingzone has done, but Kingzone also benefits from their strong macro and objective control, so they don’t have to get that many kills in games. In the last summer split, there was an average of 20.9 kills per game, but in this spring, the average decreased to 17.9; considering the longer game time, more than 20% has decreased in average kills.
There are many that say the game has become boring because there are less fights, but as the new meta has seemingly settled, the number of fast-paced games are increasing. With the 8.3 update, the games may become a lot more fast-paced.
■ The Drake Jinx
In this season, there were many games where the team who had more objectives lost. There were games where one team killed 4 drakes and yet couldn’t manage to gain the upper hand in teamfights. In some games, teams that had both Baron and Elder buffs were not able to penetrate their opponent’s defenses, such as in the 94 minute game.
Looking at the stats for objectives, most of the teams that killed Baron went on to claim victory, proving that the Hand of Baron is still a game-changing buff within the Rift. However, there were 27 games where teams that killed more drakes lost the game. With the Rift Herald, the win/loss ratio was 43-34, which does not have an overwhelming difference; this spring split seems to favor champions that are adept at pushing lanes, so the Herald’s impact has not been as significant.
There were 18 games where one team took at least 4 more drakes than their opponent, and 7 of those games (39%) were lost by the drake-buffed team. The losing rate for teams who had more drakes in general is 31%, so it seems like taking more drakes does not guarantee a greater chance of victory.
However, in the PBE update, the Elder Dragon's efficiency is a lot better; the buffs beyond the first has stronger effects. If this is updated to the current competition, it is predicted to be as good as the Baron buff. Also, because of the strengthened effects of the Elder Dragon, more fights to will occur on taking Drakes which could lead to more kills.
■ 10 CS per Minute is Average for Top-Class Players.
One change found in the LCK, and in all leagues as well, is an increase in CS per minute. Just up to last season, if a player took 10 CS per minute, people said that he was excellent at getting CS. If the rate was over 12, it meant that that game went really well.
However, around Worlds, there were several players that got over 10 CS per minute and at the spring split, carry lanes taking more than an average of 10 per minute became the norm. In the LCK, there are two players that have more than 15 CS per minute; the standard has gone through the ceiling.
This may be because of the 7.22 update, where the starting time became 10 seconds earlier, but that isn’t the main factor. The chief cause would be the change in the meta and the change in the play style of most players.
With the earlier mentioned Stopwatch, assassin champions have no ground, and with the long game meta, players focus on the scaling potential of the champions. Levels matter, but the longer the game goes, the more important the items become.
As a result, players tended to choose champions that are good for clearing minions, in order to stack up on CS. Others have been choosing the Minion Dematerializer if they play champions with less pushing power. Since it became difficult to get kills even if they roam to another lane, many choose to collect CS in their own lanes.
Gangplank and Ezreal take full advantage of Kleptomancy, but for the champions that have trouble using Kleptomancy, the Unsealed Spellbook has been a fair choice. The reduced Summoner Spell time of the Unsealed Spellbook allows champions to return to their lanes immediately following a revival, so the loss of CS is reduced.
Since most players take more CS, getting more global gold or narrowing the difference in disadvantageous situations became more difficult. This affected SKT the most; they used to get a lot more CS than their opponents even if they had less command over the objectives, and this was one of the reasons for their long slump.
If the meta continues to emphasize scaling through CS, the ability to take more than 10 CS per minute will be essential. There will be changes in the 8.3 update on runes and champions. Fans and players alike are curious to see how the game will shift.
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