Griffin’s undefeated record has been ceased. They lost two straight games against teams that are struggling near the bottom of the standings in the league: Gen.G Esports and Afreeca Freecs. Against Gen.G, they were shut out 0-2, and against Afreeca, they lost 1-2. Although Griffin may have seemed undefeatable, they’re now on a 2-game losing streak.
Many people are analyzing the current situation of Griffin. Some say that they didn’t deal well with the Lissandra - Braum picks and some say that Griffin’s performance just declined. On the other hand, there were some unique opinions arguing that the prowess of LCK as a whole (besides Griffin) improved.
As much as League of Legends is a team game, many factors are combined to decide the team's victory. The cause of a loss could be from the poor performance of an individual, lack of teamwork, or even not being able to catch up with the flow of the meta. Among these things, today, we’ll be looking into Griffin’s top laner, Choi “Sword” Seong-won, who showed several regretful moments in recent matches.
Solo-killedStruggling after losing lane initiative.
Sword has always been the ‘shield’ of Griffin. His has outstanding comprehension of the tank champions like Sion or Urgot. With his high understanding, he had always been absorbing the enemies’ attacks at the vanguard. One of the main reasons that Griffin’s damage dealers, usually Chovy or Viper, were able to deal damage freely was because of the existence of a reliable tank: Sword.
However, the recent meta requires the top laner to play more aggressively than ever. Tank champions like Sion or Urgot have lost its spot in the pro scene; bruisers and even more extreme damage champions became top tier. The aggressiveness of a top laner and gaining lane initiative at top lane has become more important than ever.
Within this meta, Sword, who was the shield of Griffin, is struggling. His performance in recent matches hasn’t been very impressive. In the five games he played last week, he picked Ryze, Riven, and Urgot. Apart from the team’s loss, Sword’s individual performance was shaky. He gave up solo kills to both the top laners he faced.
Against Gen.G, Sword was solo killed by CuVee, and against Afreeca, it was Kiin. Even before Griffin’s losses, Sword had been solo killed rather often. Before the losing streak, he was solo killed by SANDBOX’s Summit and SKT’s Khan as well. Yes, the players that recorded a solo kill on Sword are recognized as top tier top laners of the league, but Sword has also been alongside those top tier players.
Being solo killed as a top laner could also mean losing lane initiative. Not only during the laning phase, being solo killed while split pushing could be the same. In that matter, Sword being solo killed is critical to not only himself but the team as well.
Not only solo kills, but Sword often wasn’t able to gain lane initiative in the recent meta. He was trailing in CS often, which partly represents lane initiative. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if a laner loses lane initiative, he’s not doing well, but if this happens repeatedly, evaluations change.
Struggling Aggro Ping-pongGriffin needs a proper tank?
Griffin seems to have lost a lot of strength with Sword struggling in the recent top lane meta. One of the main reasons that Griffin is struggling with is ‘aggro ping-pong’.
Griffin is a team that is especially known for its teamfights. The five players think and play as one, with very precise positioning. Their aggro ping-pong ability along with their preciseness earned them the reputation of the best teamfighting team. Through this ability, Griffin seldom gave up turnarounds and even when they were trailing, they often brought the game in their favor with their teamfights.
There may be various reasons that Griffin hasn’t been displaying their teamfight abilities as well as before. Among those reasons, the inexistence of a clear tank player seems to be quite big. This as well could be said to be the result of the changed meta in Sword’s position.
To work aggro ping-pong well, there should be a player that can absorb the opponent’s damage well and survive. Usually, that role is carried by a laner that picked a tank champion, in Griffin’s case, obviously, Sword. When Sword picked a champion that is ‘tanky’, Griffin seemed as if they would never lose in teamfights.
However, it’s hard to pick tank champions in top lane now. Due to the meta, Sword picked champions that go well with the meta, but not being able to get a hold on tanks, he wasn’t able to stand at the vanguard of the aggro ping-pong system anymore. Chovy has been helping out with Lissandra or Galio, but it wasn’t as good.
Growing PainsMaintain the same style or attempt to change?
Even when Griffin was considered as the strongest team that have no contestants, Sword didn’t receive that much spotlight being veiled by Tarzan, Chovy, or Viper. However, he’s always been doing what the team required him to do. The stability of the base laid by Sword when he played tanks was unmatchable. That stable Sword is going through growing pains right now.
Of course, it’s not completely Sword’s fault that the team fell two straight matches, but what’s definite is that Sword hasn’t been showing the performance he delivered before. Along with Sword’s so-called ‘slump’, one of Griffin’s main strengths is losing its power.
It is predicted that it would be hard to see tanks in top lane for a while. If that’s the case, Griffin and Sword would need to make a choice between maintaining the style Sword had before and supplement the weaknesses or riding the flow and changing to the most popular style the meta offers. To Griffin, Sword’s role is more important than ever, and the growing pains for Sword have to end, fast, whichever way it is.