Using gold distribution to understand team dynamic: EU, LCK, and LMS

by theScore Staff Jun 25 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of Robert Paul / theScore eSports

Continued from Part 1

European LCS "Winners" and "Losers"

So far I've covered the North American LCS and the LoL Pro League, but the most surprising thing is how little gold distributions in the European LCS resemble the LPL when they've been supposedly trending in that direction.

Role Lowest Value Highest Value
Top Copenhagen Wolves 20% Gambit Gaming 23.6%
Jungle Gambit Gaming 15.5% ROCCAT 19.1%
Mid Gambit Gaming 23.2% Giants 28.5%
ADC Elements 23.8% Gambit Gaming 29%
Support Gambit Gaming 8.6% H2K 12.9%

The first thing to notice is that Youngbuck, who's often criticized for his poor performances on the Copenhagen Wolves, has the lowest proportion of team gold for his role. Similarly, their support, Unlimited, has the second lowest proportion of team gold for supports at 8.9%.

This raises a question of whether or not they receive so little gold because they're poor players or because they're making sacrifices for Freeze, one of the biggest proportional gold earners in the five major leagues, who earns 28.4% of his team's gold.

If CW receives criticism for poor vision and their support has no gold, especially when laning alongside Freeze, that's a valid consideration. Of course, given that he is laning alongside Freeze, he has ample opportunity to accumulate assist streak bonuses. He just doesn't.

On the other hand, Youngbuck is known for more item-dependent champions like Vladimir and he's recently played Ryze. In this case, he could be wrongly approaching the top lane given his limited resources. If he isn't set up to carry, he shouldn't play carry champions. With this in mind, his performance could improve.

The Copenhagen Wolves are a less extreme Gambit. Forg1ven and Cabochard receive the highest percentage of team gold in their roles, and Forg1ven receives the highest percentage of team gold of any player in the five major leagues at 29%. The team places high expectations on these two as carry threats.

This is especially true when one considers that Diamond, Betsy, and Edward all receive the lowest percentage of team gold of any players in their roles in the European LCS. For the most part, Forg1ven's CSing ability gives him his massive gold income, and the constant threat of Diamond and Betsy's pressure sets Cabochard ahead.

Gambit's style of play is extremely threat-oriented, as it always has been in the past. Diamond's high deaths this split could be symptomatic of his usually aggressive style and lack of resources. Perhaps allowing to have more kills in ganks could boost Gambit's performances.

Speaking of selfish junglers, ROCCAT's Jankos has looked to take matters into his own hands. With ROCCAT flagging, Jankos has gone with a Spirit-esque approach as the jungler with the highest percentage of team gold in the west, but so far it hasn't paid off.

As usual, the Giants have gone all-in on PePiiNeRo. He's earned 28.5% of his team's gold, making him the second biggest proportional gold earner in the five major leagues. Their approach seemingly hasn't changed drastically.

Elements' Tabzz has received less of his team's gold than any other AD carry in the league at 23.8%. Given in the past he served as Alliance's bridge through the early and mid game, putting less gold on him and focusing him less in ganks could be part of Elements' struggles.

Finally, with tales of the Kasing effect permeating the broadcast, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Kasing is the support who earns the highest proportion of his team's gold for any support in the five major leagues. Kasing's roaming pick style gets him an absurd amount of assists and even kills and is a major part of H2K's success.

Fnatic's top-heavy style is unsurprising. YellOwStaR is just behind Kasing in percentage of team gold at 11.6%, and Huni is the second highest proportional top lane gold earner at 21.7% of team gold.

Reignover might seem like a big surprise, but with so few games played in Europe and North America, the Olaf game had a big impact on his gold values.

Relative to other mid laners and AD carries in Europe, Rekkles and Febiven seem to have taken a backseat so far. This means two different things.

YellOwStaR's roams often leave Rekkles to contend with the lane on his own, and he's by-and-large favored utility-based picks like Ashe and Sivir. Febiven's low proportion of team gold in a region like Europe simply means Fnatic has other options. Their advantage over other teams with strong mid laners is their top laner, Huni.

Huni's carry potential has him sitting a cut above other top laners, and his synergy with Reignover and YellOwStaR's engagement sense are really what makes Fnatic excel.

Champions Korea "Winners" and "Losers"

Note: These data run through Week 5 of Champions Korea and do not take into consideration the Week 6 games that have already occurred.

Role Lowest Value Highest Value
Top Jin Air 20.1% SK Telecom T1 23.8%
Jungle NaJin e-mFire 16.2% Jin Air 19.7%
Mid KT Rolster 24% SBENU 28.4%
ADC SK Telecom T1 23.6% Incredible Miracle 27.6%
Support Incredible Miracle 8.5% KOO Tigers 10.5%

The biggest top lane proportional gold earners are KT's Ssumday, Samsung's CuVee, and SK Telecom T1's, MaRin. SK Telecom T1's mid lane only earns the third highest proportion of team gold for Korean mid laners. This could be an old holdover on the days of SK Telecom T1 S where MaRin was pitted as the primary carry and received most of the team's attention. At the moment, he's filled a role in which he needs to get ahead to have a positive impact.

Jin Air's TrAce receives the lowest proportion of team gold of top laners in Korea, as most of the team's attention is in the bottom lane. Pilot, a rising AD carry star in Korea, and Cpt Jack receive the second highest proportion of team gold for AD carries at 27.15% and pull most of Chaser's attention.

Chaser himself is the highest proportional gold earner of Korean junglers with 19.7% of his team's gold. Widely regarded as the strongest carry jungler remaining in Korea and an avid Nidalee player, it makes sense for many of Jin Air's resources to be diverted his direction.

NaJin e-mFire's Watch is often not proactive in his ganks and devotes his time to laying vision. As a result, he's not involved in a lot of the kills the team gets. This also causes his team fighting to suffer in some instances. The question is whether some of his struggles can be attributed to his low gold earnings relative to other junglers or if his decaying mechanics are the cause.

Most of KT's resources are funneled into Ssumday, who performs well with a gold lead, but not otherwise. He receives 23.4% of KT Rolster's gold resources. KT has done best with Sivir compositions that rely on the utility coming from the low income Arrow at 24.9% of team gold. Nagne has also taken second fiddle to Ssumday as the lowest proportional mid lane gold earner in Korea.

The highest proportional gold earner in Korea is SBENU Sonicboom's mid lane. In games where SaSin has played, he's dealt a whopping 40.9% of his team's damage. A problem with SBENU could be in their lack of carry diversity and flexibility in style, as they remain at the bottom of the table.

Despite strong carry performances toward the ends of Champions Spring, Bang has returned to more of a utility role, playing Trinity Force AD carries like Ezreal and Corki. He earns the lowest percentage of team gold of any AD carry in LCK, whereas Incredible Miracle's Roar is at the top with 27.1% of team gold.

KOO Tigers' support, GorillA, widely regarded as the strongest support in LCK, receives the highest proportion of team gold in a region where supports are often starved of gold. It's no wonder his overall game impact seems significantly higher than that of other supports in the region.

A trend with the bottom tier teams in Korea seems to be in over-focusing one carry threat, while other teams tend to be much more well-rounded in gold distribution. Among top, mid, and ADC roles, the Korean region tends to go for a more well-rounded approach than any other region.

This is exemplified by SK Telecom T1. Their team is structured such that their AD carry occupies a more utility-oriented role, but Bang's carry potential is known despite much of the gold resources going to top and mid.

LMS "Winners" and "Losers"

It's difficult for me to draw conclusions about LMS teams as someone who doesn't follow the region avidly, but it's worth noting that the top team in the region is driven by jungle and support. Despite much of Westdoor's attention, many resources are given to Mountain and Albis to succeed.

Mountain and Albis have the highest percentage of team gold relative to their roles of any other jungle and support in the region at 19.3% and 10.7%. This might be a result of a roam strategy, which would give AHQ a boon in a laning phase focused meta.

Role Lowest Value Highest Value
Top Flash Wolves 19.8% Midnight Sun 23%
Jungle Taipei Assassins 15.6% AHQ 19.3%
Mid Midnight Sun 23.8% Machi eSports 27.8%
ADC Machi eSports 23.9% Flash Wolves 26.6%
Support Logitech Snipers 9% Machi eSports 11%

On the whole, the LMS seems to be laning phase driven, and a lot of emphasis is put on jungle and mid lane synergy, hence a high gold distribution to mid and jungle relative to regional average. Teams also are seen itemizing for the lane. Part of this is that certain matchups between top and bottom teams are fairly one-sided.

Another thing that stood out in particular was that Flash Wolves' NL receives the highest percentage of team gold of an AD carry in the league. Given the amount of misplays I've seen from him, this could be a misallocation of resources considering Maple is often regarded as a strong mid laner in the region. Maple receives a below-average distribution of gold resources for mid laners at 24.3%.

Ample support

Having done a deeper investigation focusing on individual teams and players internationally, it's hard to draw definitive conclusions. One thing to note is that the top team in every region has above average gold distribution in the support role. There are two possible explanations:

1) The first is that a powerful support is extremely important in the current meta game. Roaming supports grant more vision and early snowball leads. Supports also bring important engagement tools, so keeping them safe in many instances is powerful.

2) Teams that win more games get more kills, so their supports get more assist streak rewards.

Both have some bearing. YellOwStaR, Meiko, Aphromoo, Wolf (on certain champions), and even Albis are considered strong supports within their regions. YellOwStaR and Aphromoo in particular are in contention for best in their regions.

It's probably a mix of both 1) and 2).

The more important conclusion to draw is that gold is a limited resource, and roles that receive less of this resource will require a different kind of player from those that receive a larger proportion of team gold. Consider the context of a player's team and the amount of resources he gets before passing judgment on an individual's performance.

If a player like Dyrus, who receives very low jungle attention and low proportions of his team gold, goes head-to-head against Hauntzer, it's likely he'll struggle. If he doesn't, then that's a powerful statement in his favor.

By the same factor, teams with high gold allocation to a single role fully expect those player to carry. If they don't, it's time to consider the team dynamic more fully.

Some players are good at playing with fewer resources, while others excel at maximizing their advantages. Only very rare individuals are actually powerful in both capacities.

One can't create a super team with players who convert leads into a carry performance on each role. Teams require players like Bang, Dyrus, Ryu, or Koro1 who can have impressive performances even with low proportions of team gold relative to their roles. They might not carry every game, but they aren't expected to do so.

If a strong player who is often given carry resources is placed on a team with an existing carry and is expected to play a more consistent and serviceable style, he's more likely to look bad. The type of player for each role must be considered.

The most recent example of this kind of experiment gone awry is China's OMG. In the past, the team had a pretty even split of resources between top, jungle, mid, and AD carry, meaning San had a below average proportion of team gold, but Loveling and Gogoing both received above average resources.

Once Uzi joined OMG, the team became more bottom lane focused, and Gogoing and Loveling — who were used to playing with leads and pressuring them — had a rough time forcing an old playstyle. The transition wasn't seamless.

Cloud9's Incarnati0n has been placed on a team that historically has granted its mid laner below average gold resources and focused more on top and bottom lane. Balls now receives the lowest proportion of team gold of any top laner in North America and spends some games scrambling to impact the game.

A move like Rekkles to Fnatic reflects an understanding of what kind of player Rekkles is and what kind of player they need to occupy the role. Rekkles isn't a player that demands resources and seeks to carry, but he's perhaps the best safe AD carry in Europe who is capable of cleaning up at the end of a fight.

If I made a super team in any region, I'd choose the best carry player who utilizes a lead and build a team around him. I wouldn't place Ssumday, Faker, and Ohq on the same team. I wouldn't place Flame, Rookie, and Uzi on the same team. I would avoid placing Huni, PowerOfEvil, and Forg1ven together. I'd consider the best players that fill low gold resource roles to accompany a primary carry.

From this study, you get a better idea as to what dynamics are currently working and which ones aren't. A roster change isn't always necessary to fix a problem, but an apparent "downgrade" is always on the table if your team already has a traditional carry.

Special thanks to for non-LPL statistics used in this article. All LPL data are manually collected from VODs or taken weekly form

Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.