League of Legends Esports Early Overreactions
The League of Legends esports season has just begun, but it’s never too early to start overreacting to what’s happened so far. Sample size? Variance? Silly things like that don’t matter when you can form hot takes for instant gratification. We look at some of the overreactions fans might have early on in 2021.
TEDDY HAS STARTED HIS LAST GAME FOR T1
In 12 games to start the League of Legends esports season, T1 have started the same ADC in all 12. That starter has not been Park “Teddy” Jin-seong, but instead rookie phenom Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong. We got a taste for how ready T1 thought Gumayusi was when they started him in the 2020 Regional Finals tournament, but has Teddy already started his last game for T1?
The small sample size says it’s possible, but it’s way too early to say for sure. Gumayusi looks like a legit star already, but he’s also getting to play alongside Ryu “Keria” Min-seok. The last time we saw Teddy, he was playing with Lee “Effort” Sang-ho. That isn’t really a fair comparison. Keria is a much better player, hence why T1 signed him this offseason.
We can also look back at how T1 used their players in 2020. T1 gave both Moon “Cuzz” Woo-chan and Choi “Ellim” El-lim extended matches in a row last year. Additionally, we saw Lee “Clozer” Ju-hyeon take over for 13 straight games in the middle of the Summer Split. T1 then handed the reins back to Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok to close the season.
Gumayusi and Teddy are both signed through 2022, so it’s not like T1 is invested in preparing one or the other to take over the role down the road. T1’s scouting and organizational depth has allowed them to create this “problem” of having too many LCK-quality players.
This is still an overreaction because Teddy will probably get another chance at the starting lineup this year. However, all signs are pointing toward Gumayusi as the new ace ADC.
NERF PANTHEON ASAP
As of this writing, Pantheon has the following pick/ban presence across the major League of Legends esports regions: 75.6% in the LCK, 84.8% in the LPL, and 100% in the LCS and LEC. Even though he doesn’t reach 100% everywhere, Pantheon is still seeing many more bans than picks. In the 20 games Pantheon has actually made it through in the LPL, Pantheon has an 77.3% win rate (17-5).
Pro players have primarily viewed Pantheon as a jungler. His high base damage mixed with the changes to Aegis Assault allow him to become very tanky, very early on in the game. Add that to a kit that already has a point-and-click stun and a semi-global ultimate, and you can see why he’s a problem in competitive play.
The problems don’t just end in the jungle, though. Pros can viably play Pantheon top, mid, and support as well. So, not only are you picking a strong champion early in your pick rotation, you’re also choosing a flex that doesn’t commit itself to one role. Pro teams highly value draft flexibility, and Pantheon is a champion that can offer that.
Considering that teams are becoming more and more hesitant to leave Pantheon open, it seems likely that Pantheon will see some nerfs soon. It’s not an overreaction to say he’s too impactful in the current pro meta.
THE OLD GUARD IS BACK IN THE LPL
Move aside Top Esports, JD Gaming, and Invictus Gaming. The time has come for the old guard to reestablish themselves atop the LPL. At the moment, Team WE (5-0), Royal Never Give Up (3-0), and EDward Gaming (5-0) are the top three teams in the league, just like we all predicted.
It’s obviously not an overreaction to say they’re killing the start of the season, but are we sure they’ll stay there? Strength of schedule is something that is helping EDG and RNG in the early going. Both teams have beaten OMG (0-4) and ThunderTalk Gaming (0-4) to secure easy wins.
We can be more hopeful for EDG, who did upgrade their lineup in the offseason with Li “Flandre” Xuan-Jun and Park “Viper” Do-hyeon, but we’ll need to see them against better competition. Ditto for RNG. Aside from swapping Li “Xiaohu” Yuan-Hao to top lane, they are basically the same team from last year.
Team WE, though, could be a team that’s already proven they belong in the LPL elite. They’ve already beaten Invictus Gaming and Victory Five, two of the five or six best teams in the league. Their new solo laners Chen “Breathe” Chen and Cui “Shanks” Xiao-Jun have also given them good results. With better solo laners around the already strong bot and jungle, Team WE could just be a more powerful version of last year’s team that made the playoffs twice.
SOLIGO’S YONE > PERKZ’ YONE
Cloud9 and Dignitas treated us to Yone performances in back-to-back games on day one of the LCS Lock In tournament. Luka “Perkz” Perković, playing in his NA debut, had all the hype but little of the substance. Perkz finished a tame 4/7/2 in an upset loss to Evil Geniuses. Meanwhile, Max “Soligo” Soong — who once struggled so hard in the LCS that it forced 100 Thieves to push Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho down to their academy team — was the star of Dignitas’ opening win by going 5/0/4 on Yone.
That leads to the logical conclusion: Soligo’s Yone > Perkz’ Yone.
Ignoring the sample size of next to nothing, we also got to see Soligo pick Yone again, struggling to an 0/5/3 score in a loss to Immortals. With a now three game sample size, we are finally left to conclude that Soligo’s Yone > Perkz’ Yone > Soligo’s Yone.
Perhaps the bigger takeaway here is that Yone is often a reflection of the team. When the team is doing well, Yone is in the fights dealing damage and picking up kills. However, once the fight starts, Yone doesn’t have many tools to get himself back out. You can’t really gracefully lose a 25 kill to 3 game but go 0/0/2 on Yone like you could on Ezreal.
Hopefully, we’ll get to see much more of both players on Yone. Because really, the LCS probably has more in common with a “best Yone NA” tournament than a major League of Legends esports region.