Low Economy, First Class: Jin Air's TrAce

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13.5.

That is the current highest KDA in Korea’s OGN Champions Spring 2016 after two weeks of play. Fresh off of his 15.8 overall KDA performances, the best of all regular starters at the 2015 League of Legends World Championship, SK Telecom T1 AD carry Bae “Bang” Junsik is an obvious candidate, yet he currently sits in second place to Mister 13.5, with an 11.0 showing across six games.

One would further assume a KDA this high is that of an AD carry or mid laner, as they are typically afforded the lion’s share of team gold, yet it belongs to a top laner. With former SK Telecom T1’s Jang “MaRin” Gyeonghwan left Korea, natural guesses fall to KT Rolster’s Kim “Ssumday” Chanho, ROX Tigers’ Song “Smeb” Kyungho, or even MaRin’s replacement, former NaJin e-mFire top Lee “Duke” Hoseong. All of these aforementioned tops had breakout years in 2015, particularly Smeb and Ssumday; however, Mister 13.5 is none of the above.

The owner of the aforementioned statistic, on the precipice of his own breakout year, is none other than the Jin Air Green Wings’ generally apathetic-looking top laner, Yeon “TrAce” Changdong.

Naturally, KDA isn’t everything – in fact, many League statisticians would argue that it means next to nothing beyond a flashy number – and more remarkable are TrAce’s other Spring 2016 statistics. His average creep score differential at 10 minutes is 10.8, third best in Champions Spring to AD carry Bang (14.2) and Longzhu top laner Koo “Expession” Bontaek (15.2). In eight games, he’s only died four times and has an impressive 71.1 percent kill participation, second-best of all top laners outdone only by SBENU Sonicboom’s Lee “SoaR” Gangpyo with 71.4 percent.

What’s more interesting is how TrAce is achieving these numbers, eschewing the monikers of “low economy” and the more derogatory “washed up,” that were ascribed to him throughout the majority of both Champions 2015 seasons.

Last year’s Jin Air Green Wings roster was centered around mid laner Lee “GBM” Changseok. A shoo-in for Korea’s most-improved player had Smeb not existed, GBM showed up to 2015 Champions with a more diversified champion pool than in years past. This was coupled with a newfound ability to not only hold his own in lane, but steadily accrue advantages on his opponents until late where he boasted monstrous performances on the likes of Xerath, Ahri, and Viktor. GBM was complemented by the Green Wings’ bot lanes, where the team swapped between their two AD carries, veteran Kang “Cpt Jack” Hyungwoo and up-and-comer Na “Pilot” Woohyung, and two supports, Lee “Sweet” Eunteak and Choi “Chei” Sunho. The entire team was brought together under the constant guidance of jungler Lee “Chaser” Sanghyun, who controlled the map and orchestrated the Green Wings’ early game. While Chaser, and the entire 2015 Jin Air team, often faltered in the mid game, they showed cool heads under pressure, often winning due to their resiliency come late game.

TrAce was a crucial part of this game plan, but an oft-forgotten component of the Jin Air Green Wings. He rarely stood out, living up to his low economy label by receiving the least amount of relative gold of any starting top laner in the regular season at 20.2 percent. For reference, SK Telecom T1’s MaRin received 23.8 percent – the highest of all Korean top laners in Summer – while KT Rolster’s Ssumday was given 23.4 percent of his team’s gold. Jin Air hardly needed another carry, with GBM in mid, the Pilot or Cpt Jack rotation at AD carry, and Chaser receiving more relative gold than any other jungler in Champions Summer 2015. What they needed was someone who would not be a detriment to the team with a minimal amount of resources. TrAce fit himself into this role perfectly.

Of his 42 games in Champions Summer 2015, TrAce spent 17 of them on Rumble and 13 on Maokai for a combined 71 percent of his games on those two champions. While his top lane compatriots MaRin and Smeb also played these two for the majority of their Summer, their performances were supplemented by a larger quantity of resources – be that the previously-noted gold discrepancy or more jungle attention top – and a few more carry performances on the likes of Fizz, Riven, and Hecarim. TrAce stuck to those champions that Jin Air required him to play and still managed respectable numbers, finishing with a fifth-best KDA of Summer 2015 tops, and a strong 68.5 percent kill participation for his team, fourth-best for Korean top laners in Summer.

When it was announced this past offseason that teammates Cpt Jack and Chaser along with TrAce were simultaneously leaving the Jin Air Green Wings, most Jin Air fans mourned the loss of Chaser – one of the best junglers in the region alongside SK Telecom T1’s Bae “bengi” Seongwoong. There was also additional melancholy at Cpt Jack’s departure. Having built a longstanding fanbase since his Maximum Impact Gaming days, it was thought that he would likely retire from competitive gaming and attend university.

TrAce was all but forgotten, and attention quickly turned to the new Jin Air top, Kim “SoHwan” Junyeong. Formerly of Korean Challenger team Pathos, SoHwan was known as an aggressive Riven main, the perceived opposite of the low-economy and boring TrAce. Unfortunately, SoHwan’s recklessness and champion pool issues became immediately apparent during his appearances in both the KeSPA Cup and IEM San Jose. Much of his struggle was attributed to the lack of jungle presence, as Chaser’s prior substitute and now starter, Park “Winged” Taejin, also failed to make much of an impact on the map for SoHwan or the Green Wings.

About two-and-a-half weeks after his departure, TrAce re-signed with the Green Wings on Dec. 18, 2015, and it was thought that he would split top lane duties with SoHwan, presumably mentoring the rookie. In their first series of Champions Spring 2016, Jin Air still appeared undecided as to who they wanted to start top, swapping from SoHwan in Game 1 to TrAce in Game 2, both resulting in losses to Longzhu. However, against SK Telecom T1, the Jin Air Green Wings pulled out a two compositions that revolved around TrAce’s top lane Graves, a pocket pick for the versatile top. In a surprising 2-0 sweep of the reigning world champions

While many may point to the fact that Game 1 saw SK Telecom T1 start mid lane substitute Lee “Scout” Yechan and jungle substitute Kang “Blank” Sungu, this hardly takes away from TrAce’s monstrous 18 KDA across the two games, along with a 69.2 percent kill participation. Teams have subsequently banned or picked Graves away from TrAce in all but one of their following matches. These Graves performances were only the beginning of TrAce’s renaissance as a carry top, as he more recently boasted a 3/0/3 Quinn demolishing of e-mFire top laner Suk “Hipo” Hyunjun. TrAce also returned to top lane Morgana – another pocket pick – for a 1/1/13 showing against the Afreeca Freecs, in which his all-important Dark Bindings precipitated Jin Air teamfight wins and successful turret sieges.

TrAce’s recent carry performances mark a bit of a return to form for TrAce, whose initial 2013 Champions debut was accompanied by a reputation for odd, somewhat off-meta picks on which he could carry his team like Cho’gath or Rengar. On his first Champions team, AHQ Korea, in 2013 Spring, TrAce drew consistent top lane Rengar bans that carried over into Champions Summer 2013 and his ensuing time on the Jin Air Green Wings Stealths.

The 2014 Stealths are where TrAce first began to mold into a more utility top for his team, particularly when the resource-hungry Cpt Jack joined in late Jan. 2014, and Chaser was swapped over from the Falcons that May. In a somewhat shocking turn of events, the Stealths eked into the Champions Summer 2014 playoffs where they were promptly dispatched by Samsung Galaxy Blue in three games.

Even in the waning moments of the Summer 2014 group stages, the more talked-about Jin Air top was the talented Falcons’ Kim “Rock” Huichan, who retired shortly after the season to the disappointment of many. TrAce stuck with Jin Air when the Stealths and Falcons merged, fading into the aforementioned background with the rise of GBM and Chaser.

Now, in 2016, TrAce looks to reinvent his career once more, bursting back onto the scene as the quirky top he was previously for ahq Korea in 2013, before adapting to what his successive Jin Air squads required of him. Now, Jin Air has room for a more of a hard carry top laner, and while most looked him over for the Riven-main in SoHwan, TrAce has thus far proved that he can carry with the best in his region. TrAce may have been low economy for the past few seasons, but he’s always been world class.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. Her love for the 2013 KT Rolster Bullets will never die. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Jin Air TrAce issued warning for "unsportsmanlike" early disconnect

by 1d ago

According to an Inven article published Friday, Jin Air Green Wings top laner Yeo "TrAce" Chang-dong has received a warning for unsportsmanlike conduct due to his actions in Game 2 against MVP on June 20.

TrAce was found to have disconnected purposefully from Jin Air's loss to MVP as their Nexus was being destroyed. Citing rules 9.1.1 (Unfair Play) and 9.1.1.8 (Intentional Disconnection or Deliberate Leaving of Game), Riot Games issued a warning to Jin Air Green Wings over TrAce's conduct. Should Jin Air receive another warning, they will be penalized with point deductions, affecting their standing in the LoL Champions Korea Summer Season.

Jin Air was the first team to defeat SK Telecom T1 in Week 4 of the split, but have since gone on a two-series losing streak, dropping matches to MVP and the ROX Tigers. TrAce has struggled in the new carry top meta and currently has the lowest KDA of any Korean top laner this season at 2.0.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Our Insomnia Picks: LCK/LPL Week 5

by 6d ago

Like SK Telecom T1 in Korea, EDward Gaming have risen above their Chinese brethren in the LoL Pro League, claiming the number one spot after beating Royal Never Give Up last week. However, this week's matchups are less about finding a challenger for the LPL's and LCK's thrones, respectively held by EDG and SKT, but about better gauging the differences between mid-tier and bottom-tier teams.

We thought last week in Korea would be full of one-sided affairs, but instead we saw SKT fall, as well as some of the best series of the split so far. More proof you never really know what will happen in League. Anyway, here are the matches we think will be worth losing sleep over this week.

LCK: Jin Air Green Wings vs. ROX Tigers

It shouldn't shock anyone that Jin Air Green Wings were the first team to not only take a game off of SK Telecom T1, but best them 2-1 in a series. Through the years, Jin Air have earned a dubious reputation as Korea's "Robin Hood," stealing wins from the best only to fall to far worse teams. Their first test this week is MVP, a team at the bottom of the standings and the perfect pitfall for Jin Air.

Next up for the Green Wings are the ROX Tigers, who've struggled this split, in contrast to their dominant spring season. Han "Peanut" Wang-ho has largely failed to apply the early jungle pressure that defined Tigers games in the previous split, and support Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyeon has come under fire for a perceived dip in performance. It also looks like the Tigers have committed to new mid laner Hae "Cry" Sung-min in an attempt to overcome Lee "KurO" Seo-haeng's struggles on Azir in professional matches. Both of them will have a tough matchup in Jin Air's Lee "Kuzan" Seong-hyeok, who is rising through the season MVP standings, and is currently tied for second with SKT's Lee "Duke" Ho-seong.

As it often is with the Tigers, other members of the team have stepped up. Kim "PraY" Jong-in put on an impressive Ashe show against Longzhu Gaming, and the top lane meta is perfect for Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho, who has recently returned to favorites like Rumble. Putting Smeb back on carries marks a welcome shift away from the odd Swain/Vladimir compositions that the Tigers were so fond of earlier in the split.

It's always difficult to gauge the strength of Jin Air, with their diligent and patient play. In order for the Green Wings to become one of Korea's elite teams, they'll need stronger performances from AD carry Na "Pilot" Woo-hyung, and they'll need to build on the dash of aggression shown by both Kuzan and jungler Park "Winged" Tae-jin against SKT. This matchup marks a good test for both teams who, despite SKT's loss to Jin Air last week, are still fighting over second place.

LPL: Invictus Gaming vs. Team WE

This week's League of Legends Pro League lacks clashes between goliaths, so it's best to default to the matchup with the teams most likely to throw a curveball. Invictus Gaming has been experimenting with Taliyah compositions (though they've yet to find a win with one), and Team WE has shown us the most diverse collection of strategies in recent memory.

Neither team plays the conventional 5v5 playstyle, with WE opting for a more side-wave pressure approach, and Invictus Gaming still ironing out the kinks in their 1-3-1. While this game may not provide the highest quality the LPL has to offer, it is most likely to entertain.

After going 0-2 in Week 4, both teams will be hungry for a victory. If all else fails, a good old-fashioned showdown between Song "RooKie" Euijin and rising mid laner Su "xiye" Hanwei may entertain, even if the rest of the match has nothing else to offer.

Honorable Mention: Samsung Galaxy vs. KT Rolster

Despite dropping series to both SKT and Longzhu Gaming, Samsung Galaxy are still one of the best teamfighting teams in Korea. Jungler Kang "Ambition" Chan-yong has shown more early proactivity as of late and AD carry Park "Ruler" Jae-hyuk continues to be a bright spot on the team, exceeding expectations. All eyes will be on Lee "CuVee" Seong-jin in the top lane who will have to face KT Rolster's Kim "Ssumday" Chan-ho in a meta that increasingly favors carry tops. KT love their dive-heavy compositions, but often lose track of themselves in the mid game. Meanwhile, Samsung want to teamfight, accruing early advantages and forcing larger-scale engagements as the game wears on. This could be a very explosive matchup with a lot of skirmishes and 5v5 teamfights depending on which team gets ahead first.

Kelsey Moser and Emily Rand are staff writers for theScore esports. Neither of them are fans of sleep. You can follow Kelsey and Emily on Twitter.

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Emily Rand's LCK Weekly: The Flight of the Gladplane

by 5d ago

Similar to the ROX Tigers’ fall to Samsung Galaxy last split, when an undefeated team finally falls, it’s always the top story. This past week, the headlines were dominated by SKT’s fall to the Jin Air Green Wings amidst the most competitive week of series that Korea has had this summer thus far.

SK Telecom T1 Falls to the Jin Air Green Wings

Previously in Week 3, Jin Air were up to their old tricks of exceptionally long games — only this past week did they cede their longest average game time to the Afreeca Freecs and Longzhu Gaming — and overly-cautious play. In their series with Samsung Galaxy, Jin Air gave their opponents a bit too much breathing room, allowing Samsung to do what they do best: teamfight in the late game. Top laner Yeo “TrAce” Chang-dong was often slightly ahead or behind his team in both Teleports and teamfight initiations, and the Green Wings ended up dropping both games to Samsung.

If any team was expected to take out SKT, it was Samsung, who held their own but still failed last week. Although Jin Air have made a name for themselves as Korea’s “Robin Hood” team, beating top-tier teams and inexplicably falling to bottom tier opponents, their play in the past year has always seemed somewhat capped by their individual talent and plodding playstyle. While they’ve shown flashes of trying to change things up — TrAce’s top lane carry performances early last split are a prime example — Jin Air all too often returns to a slow and steady method that doesn’t take enough advantage of their opponents’ weaknesses. They can only go so far with this playstyle. More important than the simple fact that they beat SKT this past week is how Jin Air went about it, with smart and slightly more aggressive play that made use of SKT’s tendencies to overextend in Game 1, and Game 3.

Game 3 in particular showcased strong jungle pathing from Park “Winged” Tae-jin, who took advantage of SKT Bae “bengi” Seong-woong’s attention to the bottom lane rather than SKT top laner Lee “Duke” Ho-seong on Fiora, a snowball-style carry who benefits greatly from early jungle attention. Winged capitalized on mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok’s overextension in the mid lane to free up Jin Air’s Lee “Kuzan” Seong-hyeok on Lissandra to roam top for kills. Duke fell behind early, and without any jungle pressure to help, could not stand up to TrAce’s Trundle. Faker’s LeBlanc was also set behind due to repeated ganks from Winged. With both top lane and mid lane stymied come mid game, Jin Air was able to eventually overwhelm SKT in fights, handing SKT their first loss of LCK Summer 2016.

Despite the victory, Jin Air will need to continue this trend in order to be considered anywhere near the level of SKT. Na “Pilot” Woo-hyung still mispositions in teamfights often, and isn’t a reliable primary carry. This leaves the carry duties to the Jin Air mid laner, where Kuzan has stepped up, recently surpassing Samsung Galaxy’s Lee “Crown” Min-ho as the mid laner who does the largest percentage of his team’s total damage at 32.8 percent. By contrast, Pilot does 24.6 percent of Jin Air’s total damage, making him the third-lowest of any Korean ADC. This will become a problem, especially since Jin Air has relied on TrAce as their tanky initiator rather than a larger carry threat. Jin Air has always been capable of taking games, or even series, from the best. Going forward, they now resume their hunt for continuity, which has eluded the team for the past three splits. Based on their first match of Week 5, a loss to MVP, the search continues.

The Middle and Bottom of the Pack

With CJ Entus’ series against Samsung Galaxy and the ROX Tigers this past week, along with Longzhu Gaming’s win over Samsung and the Tigers’ subsequent victory over Samsung, the bottom tier of LCK Summer 2016 is starting to bleed into the mid-tier. Almost all Korean teams — save the Afreeca Freecs — showed signs of life and improvement in Week 4, making a week that had previously seemed full of one-sided matchups an interesting slate of strong games.

CJ was perhaps the most intriguing team to watch in Week 4, despite dropping both of their series to the Tigers and Samsung. Prior to this week, CJ had continued to put all of their focus on AD carry Ha “Kkramer” Jong-hun who has struggled to carry CJ like he used to in the spring. CJ’s Kkramer-centric strategy was presumably born of not having another carry on the team. Up until the second round robin, rising mid laner Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong was still too young to play and Kim “Sky” Ha-neul was an inadequate placeholder. With top laner Park “Untara” Ui-jin on tanks, CJ developed a bot-lane focused strategy that heavily relied on veteran support Hong “MadLife” Min-gi’s direction since Sky could not be relied to hold the mid lane and jungler Park “Bubbling” Jun-hyeong was all-too-often a liability.

Jungler Kang “Haru” Min-seung hasn’t been stellar, but he also rarely makes the same costly mistakes that plagued Bubbling throughout LCK Spring 2016. Week 4 showcased an interesting jungle Hecarim and top lane Shen combination from Haru and Untara that stopped the Tigers’ dives while shifting some focus away from the bottom lane. Against Samsung, they again showed a bit more willingness to play more around Bdd and Haru rather than solely relying on Kkramer carrying them late. Kkramer still receives the highest percentage of his team’s gold share past 15 minutes of any player in the LCK at 32.8 percent, exemplifying just how much of CJ’s resources he requires to be successful. This past week, CJ showed glimpses of moving forward with a bit more focus on their talented younger pickups, and hopefully they’ll continue with this direction for their team.

Meanwhile, the Tigers looked more like their LCK Spring 2016 selves this past week with top laner Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho back on one of his favorite champions, Rumble, and Han “Peanut” Wang-ho applying a bit more early jungle pressure. That being said, support Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon continues to look lost without his signature Alistar pick, sometimes overestimating his own tankiness on the likes of Bard.

With top lane carries back in meta, it’s the perfect time for the Tigers to make a case that they are still one of the best teams in Korea. Smeb taking over primary carry duties frees up Kim “PraY” Jong-in to support the team on utility-oriented picks like his Ashe. The questions remaining for the Tigers are of which mid laner they’ll choose to play — between Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng or Hae “Cry” Sung-min — and whether Peanut can return to applying more map presence as he did in the previous split.

Longzhu Gaming also finally showed off a well-coordinated side to them, built around teamfighting and AD carry Lee “Fury” Jin-yong. Since Fury’s return to the team against ESC Ever in Week 3, Longzhu’s teamfight synergy has visibly improved and the team is 4-2 in total games with series won against ESC and Samsung, but a loss to the Tigers towards the end of Week 4. Longzhu have never lacked for talent, it’s their synergy and movement on the Rift that has been suspect. Longzhu have steadily grown stronger since Fury’s return. They could be an interesting wrench thrown into the LCK Summer 2016 standings if they continue with the more organized style that they showed against Samsung this past week, despite languishing at the bottom of the standings throughout the first three weeks of play.

Last season, the Afreeca Freecs rose up through the ranks to surprisingly best Samsung Galaxy in the standings for the final LCK Spring 2016 playoff spot. This summer, even the last-place CJ Entus seemingly has a chance as the region has once again improved as a whole. Yet, the fact that even the two newcomers to the league in ESC and MVP are far stronger than their Spring 2016 counterparts, SBENU Sonicboom and Kongdoo Monster, will make it that much more difficult to rise, especially with the current records of the bottom four teams: Afreeca and Longzhu tied at 2-5, MVP at 1-4 (2-5 following their Week 5 victory over Jin Air) and finally CJ at 1-6.

Series to Watch:

Jin Air Green Wings vs. SK Telecom T1

This three-game series shows off what just a bit of aggression can do when added to the typical Jin Air formula. They take advantage of SKT’s tendencies to overextend in both Games 1 and 3, with SKT turning in a strong performance of their own in Game 2. It’s a very close series overall, and one of the best of the split.

ROX Tigers vs. CJ Entus

This series features a much-improved CJ Entus — despite the series loss — and their Game 1 jungle Hecarim, top lane Shen combination. Smeb returns to his Rumble and puts on a show both times he gets his hand on the champion, even in the Game 1 loss.

Samsung Galaxy vs. Longzhu Gaming

This series comes with the caveat that Game 1 is nearly 70 minutes long. However, it’s also a back and forth affair with some of the best teamfighting seen in Korea all year. This also showcases just how strong Longzhu can be if they manage to coordinate as a team, rather than looking like a loose group of solo queue players. One of Samsung’s major weaknesses is that they often aggress without fully respecting how much their opponent can push back in a fight, and Longzhu takes full advantage of this in order to win the game.

If You Just Love Ssumday’s Fiora: ESC Ever vs. KT Rolster Game 1

Sometimes, you just want to watch a strong player take over an entire game on one of their best champions. In this first match against ESC Ever, KT Rolster’s Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho dominates the game on Fiora, rolling to a 10/1/3 scoreline and carrying his team to victory.

Player of the Week

Jin Air Green Wings Lee “Kuzan” Seong-hyeok

In their first series of LCK Summer 2016 against Longzhu Gaming, the team’s starting mid laner, Kuzan, was replaced by Jin “Blanc” Seong-min who at the time was lighting up the solo queue ladder. Since Kuzan’s return midway through Jin Air’s 2-0 loss to Samsung Galaxy, the Green Wings have won their following three series against CJ, Afreeca and SKT.

Kuzan has been on a tear, and his Lissandra play in Game 3 against SKT secured Jin Air their series victory over the previously-undefeated reigning champions. Of all mid laners in LCK SUmmer 2016, Kuzan deals the largest percentage of his team’s total damage at 32.8 percent, and has the highest KDA of any mid at 7.3, due to his penchant for rarely dying. His noticeable teamfight mispositioning that sometimes cropped up in LCK Spring 2016 has thus far been non-existent, and he’s had a strong kill participation of 76.3 percent — fourth-best of all Korean mids currently — making a better habit of appearing in Jin Air’s side waves to apply pressure along with Winged.

Emily Rand is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.

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Glimpsing the Void: The statistical value of the Rift Herald in pro play

Tim "Magic" Sevenhuysen 3d ago

How valuable is the Rift Herald in the 2016 summer meta?

In some pro leagues, teams place high priority on Rift Herald, including in North America, where many players feel that in the right situation, the Herald is worth as much as a dragon or tower. Other regions, however, still seem unconvinced, or have needed time to warm up to the idea of the Herald’s value.

For anyone who remains unconvinced about the Rift Herald — I’m looking at you, LoL Master Series teams — it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Statistical analysis, including multivariate modelling, conclusively shows just how big the Rift Herald’s impact really is. A close observer will recognize, too, the influence the Herald has had over the entire LoL meta game.

The Rift Herald’s New Face

Heading into summer 2016, Riot gave the Rift Herald a complete redesign, making it nearly impossible to kill solo and replacing its temporary minion aura buff with a 20-minute persistent buff called “Glimpse of the Void” that provides damage reduction and bonus on-hit damage when no allied champions are nearby. Securing the new Herald takes a significant investment of time and resources, requiring multiple team members and the same kind of minion wave management and protective vision that is usually committed to setting up dragons.

As with any sizeable change to the game, it has taken pro teams a little bit of time to figure out the actual value of the new Rift Herald, and how much to prioritize it. On patch 6.10, the Rift Herald was killed in 55 percent of LCS/LCK/LMS games. That includes a kill rate of just 20 percent in Week 1 of the EU LCS.

It only took a week or two, though, for most teams to bump the Herald up a notch on their priority list. The EU LCS jumped on board, killing the Herald in 50 percent of games in Week 2 and 80 percent of games in Week 3. On patch 6.11, the Herald kill rate has climbed to 66 percent.

Rift Herald Kill Rates by League

League  Rift Herald Kill Rate (by either team)
NA LCS  76%
EU LCS  50%
LCK  69%
LMS  17%

Curiously, the LMS is lagging far behind the rest of the world: in the second week of the LMS, not a single Herald was killed in 12 games. Given what’s happening in the other major regions, it’s likely the LMS will pick up on the trend soon.

What’s the Big Deal?

Why are Rift Herald rates rising? Just check the numbers:

Across the NA LCS, EU LCS, LCK, and LMS, the team that takes the Rift Herald has won 72 percent of the time.

This number doesn’t tell the whole story, though. A simple win rate doesn’t reveal how much of a role the Herald itself played in securing the victory. It’s important to bear in mind that the team that takes the Herald is often already in the lead.

Game Time  Gold Lead of Team That Took Rift Herald
10 Minutes  +437
15 Minutes  +1184
20 Minutes  +1637

While the Rift Herald is clearly contributing to that 72 percent win rate, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Breaking down the specific value of the Herald, in context with gold and dragons, requires a more sophisticated approach.

The Model

To mathematically determine the value of the Rift Herald, I produced a logistic regression (or “logit”) model.

You can read about the logistic regression model in detail here, along with some other interesting numbers about which top lane champions have received Rift Herald the most.

But, if you’re not a statistician, there’s no need to worry about all of those numbers. Boiled down, what they’re revealing is that the overall model and the individual components are statistically significant, and that the model explains a good, though not exceptional, amount of the variance in win rates. The remaining variance will mostly be due to things like team/player skill and performance, or champion selections.

Here’s the takeaway:

All else being equal, if your team holds the Rift Herald buff at the 20 minute mark, your probability of winning is 61.7 percent.

Of course, since the team that gets the Rift Herald often already has a lead, the numbers get even better. Combine your Rift Herald buff with a lead of 1,000 gold and one dragon, and you’re looking at an 82.2 percent win probability. Bump it up to having Rift Herald, +2,000 gold, and +1 dragon, and you’re a 90.2 percent favorite.

Looking from a different angle, what is the Rift Herald worth trading for? Based on the statistical model, the win probability of holding the Herald buff at 20 minutes is equivalent to roughly a 700 gold lead,which is nearly as much as the 800 gold granted by killing a tower.

If you trade a Rift Herald for a dragon, you’re mathematically coming out ahead: Rift Herald increases your win probability to 61.7 percent at the 20-minute mark, while being up by one dragon only increases it to 59.0 percent. Bear in mind, though, that this model doesn’t account for the varying usefulness of the different Elemental Dragon types, so you may want to think twice about which dragon you’re about to trade that Herald for.

Shaping the Meta

Mathematically, there is no question: securing the Rift Herald has clear, measurable value in helping professional teams win games. As with any valuable objective, though, the Rift Herald isn’t given away for free. In spring, it was incredibly rare to see fights in the upper half of the river during the first 20 minutes, but the more teams have come to prioritize the buff, the more common it has become to see skirmishes, or even full-on team fights, break out in the Rift Herald area. Here are a few examples.

As teams have become much more intentional about defending that part of the map, it has become important to learn new ways of setting up a safe zone of control to take the Herald. That means a new type of map awareness, including high mobility from both AD carries and supports, who have to be ready to quickly respond to emerging fights. Cross-map response used to be squarely in the realm of top and mid laners, who have the luxury of using Teleport, but since ADCs and supports can’t afford to bring TP, we’ve seen frequent appearances from champions like Ashe, Ezreal and Sivir, who can affect cross-map plays with either global-range ultimates or speed boosts, and supports like Bard and Karma, who can also facilitate their team’s mobility.

Obviously, the Rift Herald’s power has helped shape the top lane meta as well, and is part of the reason — along with itemization changes and other factors — why the top lane is heavily skewed towards split pushing and duelist champions like Trundle and Irelia.

From map movements to champion choices, the Rift Herald is stamping itself onto the meta game, and continuing to rise in value and priority, making it one of this season’s most influential elements of Summoner’s Rift.

Tim "Magic" Sevenhuysen runs OraclesElixir.com, the premier source for League of Legends esports statistics. You can find him on Twitter, unless he’s busy giving one of his three sons a shoulder ride.

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2016 League of Legends All-Star event to take place in Barcelona

by 1d ago

The 2016 League of Legends All-Star event will take place in Barcelona at the Palau Sant Jordi between Dec. 8-11, Riot Games announced Friday.

The format of invites to this year’s All-Star event will be similar to last year’s, with teams from each region eligible to be voted into the event by fans, then separated into two teams, Team Fire or Team Ice, depending on how they performed at either the 2016 World Championships or 2016 MSI.

Last year’s All-Star event took place between Dec.r 10-13 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Shockingly, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok lost to Henrik “Froggen” Hansen in the first round of the 1v1 bracket. Froggen only made it to the event after Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martinez dropped out in late November. The overall winners of the 2015 event were Team Fire, who were made up of All-Stars from the LCK, LMS and NA LCS regions.

Annabelle "Abelle" Fischer is a writer for theScore esports with a love for Dota 2, birds and cheese. You can follow her on Twitter.

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