Here we take a look at a few assertions that could be made off the back of the IEM Katowice tournament.
Korea is still the best.
There hasn’t been a period in LoL history since Season 3 where Korea’s dominance has truly come into question. TSM’s triumph in the midst of an odd Koo Tigers performance at last years IEM championship is the first recent example of a time where the majority of the LoL community was wondering whether Korea was all it was supposed to be. Then people really began to ask hard questions following SKT’s defeat to EDG at the mid season invitational. However any hopes of a new regional hierarchy quickly faded, as we were treated to an all Korean final at worlds and coming into the new season, it appears nothing has changed.
SKT came into this IEM tournament as a middling team in Korea, struggling to utilize Duke consistently and suffering from a Bengi who’s form had again dropped off a cliff. Despite the issues experienced in their home region SKT did not miss a beat in sweeping this IEM competition without dropping a game, all whilst using substitute jungler Blank.
Of course many will be quick to point out that the best teams from NA and EU were not in attendance, as well as the LMS lacking any representation at all. Whilst these facts are true, the manner in which SKT dominated the field seems to reinforce the idea that in terms of strength in depth, Korea is still the region to beat in S6.
LCS seasons just don’t have enough games.
Many analysts have been emphasising exactly how much Fnatic’s deep run in this competition might mean for them coming back to the LCS; Fnatic played 13 games at IEM Katowice, 1 less game than the LCS season so far. In terms of valuable, high level practice, Fnatic will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition in the LCS.
This raises the question; are LCS seasons a good enough proving ground for NA and EU teams? The lack of games not only leaves us wondering exactly what a team might look like with more match practice, but also gives the league a lack of time to equalise; teams who hit hot streaks at the right times can place above teams who overall are better than them.
Looking at how well practiced SKT were in particular in a BoX scenario, EU and NA fans were left ruing what could be if their teams were given the same amount of games in that format. The LCS is changing to BoX for the next split, but it comes 6 seasons into the game and miles behind Korea. Maybe it is not so strange to see Koreans dominating with the superior environment their regional league gives them.
China is the weakest it has been in years.
China sent arguably the two strongest teams in the region to IEM Katowice, a far cry from the EU and NA representatives, and yet only one made it out of the groups and RNG fell to Fnatic in the semis. The fact that both of China’s teams were bested by Fnatic in a Bo3, Fnatic being significantly behind the leading pack in the EU LCS, does not bode well for the region looking toward the MSI. Macro play seems to be a real issue for Chinese teams (QG in particular), and memories of LGD’s infamous collapse at worlds are not far off in the memory when gauging exactly how strong China is as a region.
Most would probably peg China behind both EU and NA right now, and after IEM that only seems a fair estimation. There is enough individual talent in China to produce some world class teams, but language barriers and large roster moves every off season seem to be holding the region back from achieving it’s potential.
By: Arron “King Dempz” Dempsey – @arrondempers