During the G2 Esports vs. Origen game today, Mitch "Krepo" Voorspoels uttered the phrase "lost in rotation" when AD carry Kim "Emperor" Jinhyun found himself caught out near dragon by four members of Origen. With visa troubles and mixed language rosters, quite a few commands in games can be "lost in translation," but the last three games in the European League of Legends Championship Series today highlighted the fact that teams don't have to speak disparate languages to struggle with communication.
Especially with a very confusing mid game phase in the meta at the moment, conveying proper lane assignments, coordination with invasions and dives, and objective priority has become paramount. Teams capable of sorting out a strong system rise to the top of a pile many analysts expected to be headed by Origen this spring.
Google Translate 1, Origen 0
Perhaps the best example of communications troubles not always stemming from language barriers is the game between G2 Esports and Origen. G2, a team reportedly reliant on Google Translate to discuss strategy outside the game, have looked more put together than Origen in terms of team work and communication.
Part of this comes from G2 having a very simple system: play around Luka "PerkZ" Perkovic. As I mentioned in the first week of the EU LCS, G2's success has come from the fact that they recognize their own strengths and now how to utilize them. One other asset for G2 is heavy warding by Kim "Trick" Gangyun. Trick places 1.19 wards per minute on average, putting him in fifth place among EU LCS players for wards placed per minute, beating out more than half of the league's support players.
Typically, heavy ward coverage on mixed language rosters provides more information for every member of the team. If each member of the team has enough experience and decision-making ability to look at the minimap and understand the next play based on complete information, a heavily lit map will result in more consensus plays. Today's game went awry temporarily for G2 when Origen diligently cleared out wards and limited G2's playmaking in the mid game. Yet as the game progressed, G2 got better control of the map and repopulated their wards.
Origen have repeatedly demonstrated their own communication fumbles. Many have suggested that the return of Enrique "xPeke" Cedeño Martínez could reacclimate Origen's communications, but xPeke reportedly spoke only limited amounts in games. During the regular season last summer, Origen would make similar split decisions, either creating problems in their early game by having a single player (lately it has been Maurice "Amazing" Stückenschneider) get caught out before an important objective or over-staying a fight out of greed for more rewards.
Last year, Origen weren't punished as severely for these small mistakes. Though they did throw games against strong teams like Fnatic who could capitalize well on mispositioning, these problems have become more severe this year as a result of steeper snowball effects and longer death timers. Origen can't keep playing like they used to, and they need to improve the flow of communication across the team to find success.
Unicorns' rotating jungler door
The Unicorns of Love have played with three different junglers in four weeks of the EU LCS. The Unicorns had the task of incorporating a third jungler into their lineup today while Team ROCCAT added a new AD carry to go with their relatively new support player.
Many junglers have stated that communication is perhaps more important for a jungler than for any other role. When Amazing gets caught out on Origen, it's likely a symptom of continuing poor communication. Rudy "Rudy" Beltran's ability to slide easily into the Unicorns' jungle position may result from a well-established system.
The Unicorns' playstyle relies heavily on group jungle invades. Any jungler for the Unicorns will have teammates accompanying his clears in the mid game, and the playmaking power of Zdravets "Hylissang" Galabov can set up any jungler well.
Rudy showed a lot of mechanical competence, but his early pathing was riddled with indecision and false starts. As the game progressed, members of UoL began roaming more with Rudy, and he seemed more decisive with support from his team. At the moment, the Unicorns' apparently improved communication seems like a dream environment for any jungler new to the LCS, but as they face more extreme competition in Vitality tomorrow, Rudy's resilience will be truly tested.
H2K's mid mismatch
In the first two weeks of the European League of Legends Championship Series this year, Yoo "Ryu" Sangook was in the running with PerkZ for the title of "best mid in the league." His visa vexations have put him on the bench for Marcin "SELFIE" Wolski who, despite the praises of his peers, has so far failed to completely fill Ryu's shoes.
One point against SELFIE seems to be his less established synergy with Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski. Despite bearing the same given name, SELFIE and Jankos have appeared detached in several plays during their now three-game LCS run together.
Today's early dive on Chres "Sencux" Laursen demonstrated a lack of communication between the mid laner and jungler. Just before to Jankos' dive, SELFIE bore the brunt of the poke from Sencux's Ahri. Jankos, also low on health, chose to dive between the mid lane Tier 1 and Tier 2 turrets. Perhaps, with 60-70 percent of his maximum health, SELFIE didn't feel comfortable with the dive and failed to properly communicate it, or perhaps Jankos was aware of SELFIE's low health, but assumed he would dive anyway, knowing Ryu's habits.
Following the games, H2K support Oskar "VandeR" Bogdan joined the EU LCS analyst desk and claimed that the team was still getting used to playing with SELFIE. Ryu, he said, was much more self-sufficient, while SELFIE required a bit more help in the laning phase.
While SELFIE may be mechanically competent, Ryu's self-sufficient pick style of play is fairly unique. Ryu often serves as the catalyst for a free objective when he finds a straggler on the map. He will also invade the jungle on his own and neutralize the target. This style allows the rest of the team to rotate to a free objective with less pressure from the opposition.
Very few mid laners have borne this responsibility in playstyle without help from the support or jungler. As a result, H2K have had to shift their dynamic. Jankos may still have a bit of what I like to call Erlend "Nukeduck" Våtevik Holm syndrome, or habitual camping of the mid lane at Nukeduck's demand, lingering from his time with Team ROCCAT. In following Jankos' pathing in the previous three weeks, I've found that, on average, 60 percent of his ganks in the first ten minutes of a game go to the mid lane, regardless of Ryu's presence.
Jankos' own habits and SELFIE's alleged reliance on team support relative to Ryu make it vital that the two of them establish better synergy going forward. SELFIE appeared more confident in today's game, and he'll have additional, easy practice against Elements tomorrow, which will give him and Jankos a head start in finding their groove should SELFIE's presence on H2K become long term.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.