I have watched professional League of Legends players fight against each another on Summoner’s Rift for years now and as the seasons have passed, the level of strategy has gradually increased. Early in the history of the LoL eSports, strategy was not the main aspect of the game. Most of the time, teams were just winning by outplaying their opponents mechanically; but eventually, people had to start thinking about strategy in order to beat better opponents.
Lane swaps started to become popular in early 2012 and was one of the first aspect of strategic League of Legends to be implemented on a larger scale. One of the first teams to have used the lane swap was Chinese team World Elite; they would send their AD carry and support to the top lane against the enemy solo laner and dive him under the tower with the help of their jungler. This resulted in the dominance of WE at several domestic and international events during the majority of season 2. Here is a great video done by Burrito of Doom about the basics of lane swapping:
Of course, a lane swap is not as simple as it sounds and it does not affect just 3 members of each team. The jungler’s role is essential to the success of the strategy. At the same time, he has to make sure that his solo laner will not die to a gank and keep the other team from getting an objective advantage.
Overall, these kinds of plays involving the majority of the team moving together on opposite sides of the map are called macro plays. Today, a team with good players lacking macro strategy cannot succeed as it has become the most important aspect of the game. Players have to know how to play the map to their advantage, as mechanics have less and less influence in the result of matches.
Origen was a very successful team last year. Although they were favorites in most of their matches in Europe, while being a new team, they far exceeded expectations by making it to the semi-finals of the 2015 World Championship. This was thanks to great individual plays and a high level of synergy between the players. As the new season started, Origen looked like the shadow of its former self, losing often to bad decision making or players not being on the same page. Of course, with Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage being added to the roster, the team had to adapt to a different style of play and shot calling. Although he played very well individually, we could observe his struggles to have an influence during the team’s first few matches. The team and PowerOfEvil needed time for him to be able to fill Enrique “xPeke” Cedeño Martinez’s shoes in terms of shot calling and team play.
Source: Riot eSports Flickr
Time was not the only factor in Origen recent success. Hard work from the players as well as new head coach Nicholas “NicoThePico” Korsgård led a better looking team during the last few weeks of the regular season as well as in the playoffs quarter finals against the Unicorns of Love. Origen‘s macro strategy looked a lot better, the players knew what to do and where to aim and the communication problems seemed to have been greatly reduced. Actually, since the new coach has been integrated in the team, we have lost only one competitive game.
The players on the roster have been working hard to get back to their World Championship level of play. This means improving champion selects, adapting to PowerOfEvil‘s improving shot calling, and keeping in mind every game’s winning conditions. During a game on stage, the players have to aim towards these conditions; meaning that they have to plan their plays several minutes ahead and rotate on the map in order to succeed.
When talking to Nico about the changes he has seen in the team in the last couple of weeks he says:
“I believe the team’s macro-game is on point and at the moment, I believe we are one of the few teams who are on top of the meta. Having 2 midlaners with different champion pools makes us develop more strategies in-game, and I am confident to pull out both players.”
Winning a professional game of League of Legends is not only about your team’s plays, you also have to adapt to what the other team is throwing at you. When you are thrown off your game plan, you have to find ways to modify your strategy in order to stay on course and all your team has to be on the same page. This is done through a clear system of communication and creative thinking from the shot callers. This is something that Origen struggled with early in the season and that NicoThePico has tried to improve. Thanks to a lot of planning, he was able to help the players adapt to new strategies executed by the top teams of Europe.
Source: Riot eSports Flickr
Origen had a certain history regarding its coaching staff – many people believed they are ‘uncoachable’ since all of them are veterans and could not find someone who could fit within the team. However, Nico has proven as a positive influence and it was shown during the last few weeks. When talking about his responsibilities as coach and how he delivers criticism he says:
“As a coach, I have to make sure we prepare for most matches and get into good mental mindset. If the mindset is bad and the player is already tilted, then I need to be careful on the approach. It’s obviously different from team to team. It’s about the approach and knowing the people you work with. I can be pretty vocal and make myself heard and I believe I am able to adapt to any kind of environment and melt into the person they need.”
When talking about the playoffs, the coach is confident that OG will have a better development in the Summer Split:
“Before the semifinals, I would’ve rather played against G2, but obviously, Fnatic had a bad showing against them. From my point of view, having experienced players is an important factor and we are more experienced in a best of 5.“
NicoThePico‘s influence was very important in the playoffs. He will have to make sure that the team drafts to its strengths in champion select and that the players all keep a solid mentality for the Summer Split.
You can follow and ask Nico questions on his Twitter @NicoThePico.
Cover picture by: Josh Rigg