LoL: G2 vs. PSG - The problem with ego-drafting

Betting is a fools game.

However, this Sunday was the exception.

G2 Esports faced PSG Talon in the Rumble Stage of this years Mid-Season Invitational and there was no doubt in any analysts mind that the LEC super-star team were the solid favourites.

That was until the drafting phase. I did not like the G2 draft. I tweeted my thoughts, then bet against the favourites with odds of 5:1.

27 minutes later I was £100 richer, yet thoroughly disappointed in my regions representatives.

The question is, why did the draft suck?

Here’s a reminder of the Pick & Ban, in order.

G2 vs PSG

Thematically, I could describe it in one word: ego.

Each of the G2 lanes has a high level of “Snowballatility” (which I wrote an introduction on in a previous article). They are designed to get ahead and steamroll the game. The issue is that, in most cases, the Champions that are designed like this tend to be pretty useless from behind or even, even.

Let’s be more specific.

Kalista has always been the worst of the ADCs when behind in Gold. From our most recent data, when Kalista is notably behind (we use “bottom 33% of ADC Gold values @ 12 minutes”, see the other article for more detail!) she only wins 20% of her games.

The reason you would be OK with this is because she also manages to be around 500–600 Gold richer at 12 minutes than the average ADC, and so you accept the following trade-off: “Yes, she sucks when she’s behind but she rarely goes behind and is usually ahead”.

Well, that is unless she’s against Tristana. Who, apart from Xayah, was the Champion who knocked the most off of Kalista’s average Gold @ 12 stat. The G2 win chance plummets in these two picks alone.

Then, they do it again! Blind pick LeBlanc, needs to get ahead, now faces a straight-up lane counter in Lissandra.

They even took a pretty stale match-up themselves by taking Aatrox (needs to get ahead) into Ornn (goodluck).

There are only two situations in which you can recover from lanes like this:

  • You pick a hyper, hyper aggressive early game Jungler who by sheer force gives at least one of the lanes the lead.
  • or, the skill-gap is so unbelievably large that you’re going to take the lead regardless.

Clearly, by taking the Viego you opt out of the first option. That leads me to one conclusion: G2 Esports felt that, regardless of match-up, they could outplay the early-game with pure talent alone.

The question is, why ever pick these high risk Champions in the first place? Some provide great utility even when behind, why risk it with a Kalista or Draven?

Because League of Legends is designed to be competitive. Each team should have their strengths and their weaknesses. It’s a coaches job to determine exactly what these are and how to best play to those. In some cases, playing the hyper-aggressive all-or-nothing Champion is exactly the right play.

For example, imagine you were playing Clash with some friends. You’re Platinum and they’re all Silver. Your opponents are all in Gold. Using those facts alone, we can roughly assume that you will get ahead in the lane and the rest of your team will fall behind. That means you need to really do something special with that lead in order to make the difference. You can’t lock-in the safe “scale for late” Champion, the game will end before you buy your 3rd item. You need to get ahead and stay ahead then convert your lead into the dub. Kalista becomes a lot more appealing.

However, G2 Esports did not have this issue. They have five incredibly talented players who all, on paper, should get ahead. They can blind-pick reliable lanes (like Ornn) and then when given a chance to counter, pick someone who can do something with a lead. What you don’t do, is pick 3 lanes who need to get ahead and no obvious game-plan to achieve it, outside of sheer confidence!

Regardless, I remain hopeful that the recent defeats will force both the players and the staff to take a good look at their drafting decisions and return stronger for the T1 series on Saturday.