MSI Preview: the 5 Stages of Edward Gaming

by Kelsey Moser May 4 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of LPL / CGA.CN

What can we expect from Edward Gaming at the Mid Season Invitational? After 44 regular season LPL games, 15 Demacia Cup games, and 13 playoff games, it’s hard to decide what parts of their history are relevant, so I've boiled down their development as a team to five important games.

Week 2 Game 1: Snake vs Edward Gaming - the problem with Deft and pawN

In one of the most shocking moments of the 2015 LPL Spring Split, Snake pulled off a 2-0 win against Edward Gaming. It would stand out as the only complete loss EDG faced in 22 Bo2s and it exposed a lot of Edward Gaming’s weaknesses. They dealt with most of them, but the vestiges remained and cost them against LGD Gaming in the playoff finals.

The biggest problem in this set was integrating Deft and pawN. Clearlove’s low jungle pressure style from the previous split  didn't work here for two reasons:

  1. Deft was targeted extremely hard by Snake and ended the first game with a 1/6/4 score. Every time Deft was left to push a lane in the lane swap with Sivir, he would over-extend and give up a kill. Another big problem here originated from the low amount of vision control supplied by support Mouse around Deft’s lanes.

  2. In the past, Edward Gaming relied on U’s team fighting prowess on area of effect mages when NaMei would get targeted in fights. This style of play didn't come naturally to pawN and, despite their solid comeback plays with Baron, his late game Azir left EDG wanting.

It was clear that EDG would have to adapt to the Korean players on their roster, as Deft and pawN weren't plug-and-play replacements for NaMei and U. Deft would require a higher degree of vision control and jungle pressure to survive lane-swaps and the late game team fighting style wouldn't suit pawN.

The support would ultimately be replaced, Clearlove would undergo a massive metamorphosis in his playstyle and Koro1’s roaming would become more frequent.

One flaw that Edward Gaming displayed throughout this series that they've yet to correct is their poor dragon control, but that's a discussion for later.

Week 2 Game 2: LGD vs Edward Gaming - Integrating Deft

A lot of Edward Gaming’s adjustments literally happened overnight. In the second game of Edward Gaming vs. LGD Gaming from Week 2, members of Edward Gaming made several early visits to Deft’s lane in the lane swap. Koro1, Clearlove, and pawN all made an appearance. 

Mouse used Thresh to continue to pressure the advantage in a way similar to how Meiko would later on. Clearlove also played a much more active role on the map, trading in Nunu for Lee Sin, the champion that would become his hallmark pick for most of the split.

Gaps in EDG’s vision remained and PawN existed as something of an afterthought. He had an effective roaming presence as Kassadin, but less so in the first game. He stagnated against We1less’ Cassiopeia as it snowballed ahead. 

This is likely where the rivalry between pawN and We1less began, as both players would undergo shifts in styles throughout the course of the season. Here, We1less stayed in lane and mowed through towers while pawN tried to find picks to mixed success and ended up cleaning team fights in a more janitorial capacity later on.

Speaking of We1less, one of the first plays by the roaming Chinese hit squad came when Koro1, Clearlove, and Mouse cornered We1less over-extending. These three-man ganks would become more integral to EDG’s style over time.

Week 4 Game 1: EDG vs Team WE - Integrating pawN

Explaining pawN’s integration into Edward Gaming is incredibly difficult, as EDG spent the better part of his split defining his role on the team. For the most part, his style is to sit in lane with a few exceptions:

  1. Roaming on Kassadin
  2. Harassing the jungler

PawN’s main purpose is not to add to the map pressure of Edward Gaming, which is usually handled by their Chinese roaming squad, but to detract from the opposing team’s pressure. He has a variety of methods of doing this. 

I chose this video because it combines the two. By choosing a strange champion with less mobility, the enemy team is more likely to focus him. In this case, that didn't happen, but whenever Spirit would walk toward’s Deft’s lane, pawN would invade the jungle and harass or assassinate him.

Other honorable mention games include Edward Gaming vs. Gamtee Game 2 of Week 9, where pawN picked Lux and got camped and Edward Gaming vs. Master3 Game 2 from Week 9, where pawN insistently chased Dade across the map. One of the big games where he pressured lane simply by getting kills on the enemy laner and playing a counterpick matchup quite well was against OMG in Week 6, where he played Nidalee against Cool’s Twisted Fate and Lulu against Leblanc.  

When it gets down to it, Edward Gaming took a bait-and-switch approach with pawN. By convincing the enemy team in draft that pawN is either an easy target or a massive threat, the enemy team focuses him. If that fails, he’ll be a nuisance for the enemy jungler or position himself in attention-grabbing places. Ultimately, pawN plays the role for Edward Gaming that Darien did for Moscow5 in order to protect Deft as a carry force and allow the rest of EDG to play a proactive role on other parts of the map.

In instances of a strong matchup, EDG does put a lot of focus onto getting pawN ahead. For example, Rookie is Invictus Gaming's main carry, so EDG will often gank for pawN more proactively against iG. By and large, however, pawN is mostly a distraction that allows EDG to accomplish their objectives around Deft.

Week 8 Game 2:  LGD vs EDG - Demon Clearlove and the Chinese hit squad

This is one of Edward Gaming’s most dominant games of the split and the key to their success is having Clearlove lead the roaming squad which consists of Koro1 and Meiko. They make their presence known in three lanes in five minutes, continue to dive and decimate the map, pick off the towers, and close out the game.

The dominant Edward Gaming that pressures the map and counterganks with two or three members of the team showed up here and in the Demacia Cup. At their strongest, EDG tore through LGD and Invictus Gaming, the first and second place LPL teams, with ease. The strengths of this Edward Gaming were in snowballing a game off fast movements.

In this case, they could use Maokai effectively to get early picks rather than leaving Koro1 in lane for the lane swap against imp, whose Caitlyn could have easily zoned him. Other examples of this kind of play were in the Demacia Cup Finals against Invictus where Clearlove and Meiko effectively camped the mid-lane. 

This was Edward Gaming at their peak before the jungle patch changes slowed them down.

Week 11 Game 2: EDG vs VG  - EDG on the patch

While the LGD vs. Edward Gaming series in the playoff finals highlights the same thing, Edward Gaming’s Week 11 Bo2 against Vici Gaming showed that EDG had some of the same problems as soon as Patch 5.6 rolled out in the LPL (China skipped Patch 5.5) as they did after pawN's illness hit. EDG gave up a lot more early objectives to VG’s superior rotations and dragon control and were unable to get a single dragon until 40 minutes into the game.

Since the patch change, Edward Gaming have gone back to where their primary shotcaller and captain are most comfortable — the late game. Clearlove, Koro1, and Deft have grown in terms of their ability to impact the early game all split, but with the Cinderhulk meta taking over, there’s even more benefit to stalling and playing EDG's 2014 team fight style.

PawN is even more out of place in this meta than before, and still only looks like himself on more of the early game playmaking champions. Even so, if he plays a less mobile scaling champion, he still draws attention as an easy target and is able to lower the scope of enemy map pressure.

EDG’s focus on Deft, building items like Face of the Mountain on top-lane tanks, allows him to position more aggressively than he did on Samsung Blue as well. Meiko’s engage instincts allow him to easily fit into Fzzf’s shoes. Outside pawN, EDG looks a lot like they did last year.

But as EDG plays more and more of a stall-and-comeback style, they begin to rely more on Clearlove. Something very unique that’s worth noting about Edward Gaming is that, relative to total team gold, each of Edward Gaming’s laners receives less of the team wealth than any other laner in LPL.

Since these statistics span 44 regular season games per team and the playoffs, most gold share values normalize across teams. pawN, Deft, and Koro1 don’t receive significantly less gold than the average for their position (96.03 percent, 95.56 percent, and 95.89 percent respectively). 

Even so, they receive proportionally less of their team’s gold than any other laners. Combined, Meiko and Mouse received slightly more than the average support, but Clearlove receives 15 percent more of his team’s gold than the average jungler. He nearly gets the same amount of gold as pawN at 21.62 percent to pawN’s 21.67 percent*.

Player Role %Team Gold Avg. %Team Gold %Team Gold/Avg
Koro1 Top 19.84 20.69 .9589
Clearlove Jungle 21.62 18.84 1.147
pawN Mid 21.68 22.58 .9603
Deft ADC 22.95 24.02 .9556
Meiko Support 13.91 13.87 1.002

*Note: Values for pawN include six games U played, and values for Clearlove include two games Blackl0li played. You can find the data here.

Clearlove tends to get a significant portion of Edward Gaming’s kills and lately has been farming more in the early game. With Edward Gaming investing nearly as much gold on their jungler as they do on their mid laner, they go all-in on his team fighting. 

Clearlove has a chance to be the real difference-maker in EDG's victory prospects against tough opponents like SK Telecom T1 and Team SoloMid. The way Edward Gaming has structured their team, they will play for the late game, and they’ll have a massive front line coming out of Koro1 and Clearlove. This sets up Deft for success and allows them to excel at Baron control late game.

Once Edward Gaming gets a Baron, they fearlessly pressure their opponent's base — they design their compositions to allow them to smash down towers. Their 25 minute Baron acquisitions are a necessity in a race to finish the game before the enemy team can get five dragons. EDG has adapted to their early game weaknesses by foregoing all dragons but one and building compositions that fight well around Baron and abuse its pushing potential.

PawN will still free up map pressure in the early game by accepting the burden of focus. It’s then up to Clearlove and Meiko to rescue the mid game with turns and counter ganks. But in the end, EDG can’t escape their 2014 shadow. It’s still all about Baron, and it still all rests on Deft to carry.

Deft is likely the best AD Carry in the world, and If EDG wants to win MSI there are worse players to all-in on in the late game.

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for the Score eSports. She looks forward to watching Edward Gaming's struggles and triumphs at MSI. You can follow her on Twitter