LEC Soup – The Battle for First in Europe
There’s a logjam at the top of the LEC standings–a soup, to borrow the recent LCS terminology–and with only four weeks of regular season play remaining, opportunity is available to break free and claim a coveted top-2 seed for the playoffs.
G2 Esports, Fnatic, and Origen were the preseason favourites. They sit in a first-place tie with the surprising Misfits, and Rogue and MAD Lions are nipping at the heels of the leading group, only one game back. Is there anything in these teams’ advanced statistics that might suggest who is going to come out ahead in the coming month?
Let’s look at a selection of advanced team metrics to compare the teams’ strengths and weaknesses.
Here are the numbers from the first five weeks of the Spring 2020 regular season, for the six teams currently in a playoff position, courtesy of OraclesElixir.com.
LEC Standings and Advanced Team Stats
LEC Spring 2020 regular season, weeks 1 to 5
- GPR: Gold percent rating. Measures the average percent of the game’s total gold held by the team, relative to 50%.
- EGR: Early-game rating. Measures the average probability of winning as of the 15:00 mark of the team’s games.
- MLR: Mid/late rating. Measures the difference between a team’s actual win rate and their expected win rate based on their EGR.
- JNG%: Jungle control. The percentage of all neutral monsters killed that are taken by this team.
- DRG%: Dragon control. The percentage of all elemental drakes killed that are taken by this team.
- BN%: Baron control. The percentage of all Barons killed that are taken by this team.
G2 Esports: Still the kings?
With three losses in their last four games, G2 are reeling. But even though the sky is falling, G2 are still tied for 1st in the LEC, and their advanced metrics are still very positive.
G2 sit third in GPR and first in jungle control: they are still controlling games pretty decisively and playing from ahead most of the time. Add 64% elemental drake control to this list and you get a good sense of this team’s ability to own the map.
The biggest problem area for G2, statistically, is their EGR: they are hitting 15:00 with an average win probability of just 53.5%, much lower than we would anticipate from a team that dominated the LEC in 2019 so comprehensively. For comparison, G2’s EGR in the 2019 Summer regular season was 69.9. Interestingly, their 2019 Spring regular season EGR was just 57.1, pretty comparable to what we’ve seen this split.
Baron control has also been an issue: G2 have only taken 38% of Barons in their games, and 56% of first Barons. On the surface, that may be their most troubling statistical category. But low Baron control is usually a symptom of either poor map control overall, or straight-up throwing. Given G2’s good control metrics in aggregate, we’re looking more at late-game throws. It’s much easier to address and fix throws than it is to fix poor map control: throws come from specific individual mistakes, while poor control is systemic.
Clearly G2 can still close out games when they’re ahead, and they have more than enough skill to bring up their EGR before the season ends. They have had some very bad lapses in play in the last two weeks, but with their numbers being pretty closely comparable to last Spring, I’m willing to chalk this up to early-year lack of focus (after all, the LEC Spring split is worth almost nothing with the 2020 format changes). Their numbers are fine, and their mistakes have been shallow and should be easy to fix.
Fnatic: Where’s the sandpaper?
The “old kings” have a pretty balanced statistical profile, landing above-average in each of the highlighted categories. Their least impressive stat is their GPR, which is the lowest of the top five teams in the standings. Given their strong EGR and jungle control, along with the highest lane control in the league (lane CS relative to opposing teams’ lane CS), you’d certainly expect to see Fnatic increasing their leads in the mid game, driving up their GPR, but it hasn’t been happening.
If Fnatic are winning the early game and outfarming their opponents in the lanes and the jungle, there are only a few ways their GPR could be suppressed. One possible cause is that they are failing to kill towers at the expected rate. Another possibility is poor champion combat. Fnatic’s overall kill-to-death ratio is 1.21, good for fourth in the league, and it is paired with a combined kills per minute (CKPM) of 0.87, second-highest in the league. It appears we’ve found our culprit: Fnatic are fighting a lot, and they aren’t coming out ahead often enough, or decisively enough. Hylissang’s 36 deaths (30.5% of Fnatic’s deaths) have been an obvious factor.
Fnatic are setting themselves up for success fairly well, but they need to take out some sandpaper and smooth off their rough edges if they want to create any separation between themselves and the rest of the top-tier contenders.
Origen: We’re scaling!
Origen have not been impressive in the early game, despite being led by one of the best junglers in the league in Xerxe. Their 44.4 EGR is south of respectable, and their 20% First Dragon rate and 40% First Tower rate are not what you’d expect from a team with so much talent. Alphari and Xerxe are getting valuable leads–they have a combined +950 gold+experience difference at 10 minutes–but their carries, Nukeduck and Upset, are falling behind early, and Origen are losing drake control and playing from a deficit as a result.
The mid/late-game has been so good to Origen, though, that their early-game inconsistencies have hardly mattered. Origen lead the league in GPR and MLR, and they consolidate their late-game advantages with 77% Baron control.
With the second-lowest CKPM in the LEC but the highest kill-to-death ratio, Origen have clearly established themselves as the most careful, conservative team among this group. They don’t pick fights unless they’re sure to win, instead focusing on minimizing their risk, controlling key objectives, and waiting out enemy mistakes.
When Origen play the other top LEC contenders, the clash in styles can be incredibly interesting. If a team like Fnatic or Misfits can attack Origen well enough early, there is certainly a vulnerability to exploit, but if Origen can reach the mid game on steady ground, they don’t usually let the victory slip away from them.
Notes on Misfits, Rogue, and MAD Lions
Misfits have the same record as the previous three teams, and their success is being driven mostly by their EGR and Baron control. If they can sustain their strong lane phases and continue to pick up Barons to help them close, they might be able to stay on pace, but I’m skeptical of high Baron rates that aren’t paired with equally high MLRs. Misfits haven’t convinced me quite yet.
Rogue are a game back, but they lead the league in EGR and sit second in GPR as a consequence of their early leads. The challenge for Rogue will be shoring up their mid/late play: they are the only team in a playoff position with a negative MLR. From one perspective, they are the opposite case of Misfits: I’d expect their Baron control to be higher, and one or two successful Barons could have seen them in 1st place at this point in the split.
MAD Lions have impressively high MLR and Baron control, but the weakest EGR and GPR on the list. That suggests they are overperforming. A course correction may be coming soon. Then again, maybe this young roster will continue to defy the odds as they grow in confidence. Given the evidence, skepticism is warranted, but they’re going to be exciting to watch down the stretch!