Monday, March 28, 2016

LoL Analysis: A few thoughts on Chinese teams at IEM Katowice

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting article at PC Gamer detailing the failings of the Chinese teams at Katowice, the first time we've seen international LAN competition. I think he hits it on the head: but resorting to mass imports of Korean talent, Chinese teams are bereft of communication and synergy and the skirmish-heavy style prevalent in the LPL simply does not hold against competition focused on taking towers. You should read the article here. But I think there are a few more items to consider, namely the fact that instead of importing Koreans (or even Taiwanese), Chinese teams need more new blood from the LSPL. And they need teams in that lower tier to try new, crazy things without the fear of failure.

James has the gist of it right but misses on a few details. QG are among the many worldwide teams that have fallen prey to Jhin - many ADCs simply failed to practice him, leaving their teams vulnerable when he became a priority pick. And CLG's non-Darshan carries were exposed, sure, but the main reason they didn't make it to semis was because they mysteriously abandoned the split push in game after game in favor of late-game teamfights their comp would not allow them to win.

But crucially, James hits it on the head when he writes that almost all Chinese teams play the same style: pick-oriented comps that just fight all the time. You see a bit of that in NA (C9, for instance), but there are teams like IMT and CLG that focus on different strategies. Sure, IMT games can feel like solo queue at times, but a quick look at the map indicates they have the waves pushing before the fights begin. The Season 6 meta places a heavy emphasis on taking turrets after fights, a crucial difference from past incarnations.

While I don't think removing the international component from Chinese teams will fix things overnight, I do agree that they need to be aware of communication when bringing in Korean imports. But I think the greater emphasis is working on these strategies at the grassroots level. Bringing Uzi (one of my all-time favorite players) back is emblematic of the Chinese' unwillingness to trust new players/ideas and instead rely on tired strategies and comfort picks. That's the real reason why they lost to Jhin. Chinese teams would rather lose playing a familiar style rather than suffer the humiliation of losing trying something new. That's a cultural reaction and it needs to stop.

Every time an LSPL or LPL team is scorned for losing in a split push, the whole region loses. Every Korean they bring over is someone form the LSPL that doesn't make it, setting the LPL a step further back. Really, it's a microcosm of the nation's history as a whole: after decades (centuries) of isolation and unwillingness to change, they threw open their doors and found the new world would be more challenging than they realized.

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