Monday, March 17, 2014

Strategic Analysis: League of Legends IEM- IG v. Fnatic

League of Legends is a very popular online video game that has deep strategic roots and an insane learning curve. I've been interested in the strategic underpinnings of it for a while, and finally feel somewhat comfortable enough to try and analyze the strategy behind it.

I decided to start by analyzing the team compositions of a recent match. You can find the match here.

I started by watching the Picks and Bans, and then proceeded to analyze each team composition's strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Then I tried to imagine how it might play out and how they might clash. I should note that everything I wrote here was from before I watched the actual match.

IG's team:

Top: Shyvanna
Jungle: Wukong
Mid: Yasuo
ADC: Vayne
Support: Thresh

Teamfights- IG's team composition is essentially a wombo-combo team. There are 4 people who can engage a teamfight that would be followed up with stacked CC. If Yasuo or Wukong manage to knock up 5 champions at once, Fnatic is almost guaranteed to lose a few members before they can even move again. This is definitely a strong suit for them, so 5v5 engages around Dragon, Baron, and Turrets favor them.

Skirmish/Catch ability- IG's team can use their ults to catch out champions in the jungle. However, using their ultimates will make them weaker in teamfights since it will take away a stacked CC. But Thresh has incredible catch potential.

Sieging- IG's team is not really a siege composition. They only have 1 real ranged champion who can pick at the turret. They are much more dependent on engaging once the enemy is hidden behind turret.

Turret Defence- IG sort of lacks safe waveclear, so they will have trouble keeping the enemy from picking at their tower every wave. However they have a chance to engage in those scenarios.

Pushing- IG has decent non-safe waveclear with Shyvanna and Wukong, and potentially Yasuo and Vayne if they get a static shiv. Its unlikely that they will try to engage in a splitpush though, given their teamfight strength, and weaker escapes.

In summary
IG is a very powerful teamfight composition. They will want to group up as 5 men and try to force engages at dragon and baron once they have their ultimates. They are not so strong at sieging, so their objective control comes after winning a teamfight or getting a kill. However, their strength lies in their coordination, if they get skirmished and waste their ults on 1 or 2 members, they are in trouble.

Fnatic's Team:

Top: Lulu
Jungle: Nocturne
Mid: Kassadin
ADC: Lucian
Support: Annie

Teamfight- Fnatic's teamfight consists of engages by Annie or Nocturne and a follow up by a Lulu ultimate. The team isn't very tanky and lacks hard CC though. They aren't so much a wombo combo team as they are a motley set of champions who all do different things.

Skirmish/Catch potential- The Kassadin and Nocturne make a very powerful gank and kill squad given their mobility and CC. The two of them have the potential to really catch an enemy by surprise, and delete them from the battlefield very quickly. Additionally, Annie adds for some solid back up CC.

Sieging- Fnatic's team is a good siege composition. Lulu and Lucian can poke down towers hard while keeping enemies at bay through powerful harass. The annie stun is a potential disengage, and the mobility of the rest of the team makes them capable of escaping if needed.

Siege Defence- A Lucian Q and a Lulu Q can essentially destroy a wave from a safe distance. Basically this teamcomp is very strong against sieges. The enemy team will have to choose to either fight under tower or splitpush against them.

Pushing- Fnatic's splitpushing is quite strong. Given the strength of the escapes from Kassadin and Lucian, they potentially have the ability to splitpush hard.

In Summary:
Fnatic is a very strong pick composition, as well as siege and siege defence composition. They will want Kassadin and Nocturne to make plays and control the game through catching people out. To do this, they will need to gain control of the map through wards- both pink and green. They might also need to get Kassadin ahead, and probably take midlane. This team thrives in a scenario where the enemy team is uncertain or confused. It punishes mistakes quickly and powerfully.

It's also has members who make great splitpushers given their ability to escape.

The Clash

This is all about how the team compositions will clash. Specifically, we will talk about what each team will try to make happen. IG will want to group and fight as 5- they are too strong not to. Fnatic does have an advantage on most lane match-ups:

  • Lulu can harass Shyvanna very hard 
  • Lucian and Annie can abuse Vayne's weak early game 
  • I'm not fully familiar with the Yasuo v. Kassadin match-up but Kassadin is notoriously weak early game.
  • Nocturne and Wukong are probably equal duelists early on, with Wukong having a bit less sustain. However in a fight, it comes down to who outplays the other- rather even

Fnatic will want to get Kassadin a few kills, and gain control of the map through warding. They can do this by taking advantage of their potential early game harass advantage- hopefully they will be able to harass their lane opponents back to base in order to take map pressure with towers and dragons. Fnatic's midgame with a roaming Kassadin and Nocturne is extremely strong, and they want to take as much of an advantage during the time that IG is not grouped as possible.

Additionally, against a 5 man group, Fnatic will be able to splitpush in order to dampen the ability for IG to take advantages. Fnatic should try to pressure multiple lanes at once, and basically beat IG at rotating between lanes given their stronger splitpush and sieging.

IG will want to avoid allowing Fnatic to get far ahead early game, and by mid game will want to group as five and contest Dragon- trying to force Fnatic in a 5v5 teamfight. They want to find a perfect engage, and should probably build tanky if they want to engage under turret. Unfortunately they don't have much in terms of siege potential -given their lack of poke and waveclear- so unless they choose to dive the turret, they won't be able to take turrets without a teamfight in advance.

In general their damage is pretty spread out- Shyvanna and Wukong deal a surprising amount of damage for being so tanky, and Yasuo and Vayne have incredibly high damage outputs. Its not a huge deal if they lose one champion against Fnatic, since they should still be able to find some in the rest of the team. That said, they are pretty dependant on getting their CC combo down- so their ults are important. They will want to use their ults at a precise time while Fnatic is grouped.

Fights in the jungle are good for them, and fights at Baron and Dragon are also good for them. If they build tanky enough, they could also potentially fight under tower.


After typing this up, I proceeded to watch the game and see how my analysis actually played out. Here's the follow-up article, and descriptions of how the game played out.

I wrote up a short follow-up article about how the game played out compared to how I expected it to. You can find the article here


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