Edward Gaming (EDG), the Chinese powerhouse that went undefeated in the LPL 2016 Summer Split and who sweeped RNG in the grand finals, clearly under-performed in the 2016 World Championship Group Stages. This is due to how they changed their play-style at Worlds, if we compare to their time in the LPL.
The Winning LPL Playstyle:
EDG had a bot-centric playstyle that they follow in order to boost their ADC Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu’s power level as soon as possible. He is the best player on the team, and currently the best ADC player in the world, thus he is usually the major carry in EDG. From observing EDG’s LPL 2016 Summer Playoffs games, their winning strategy was them following a 1-4 splitpush composition, where they designated the roll of the splitpusher to Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao.
Mouse was regarded by casters, analysts and other players as a relatively weak toplaner. This is due to the lack of his presence in team fights and tendency to camp the side lanes to push down turrets. Mouse’s most successful picks in the playoffs and in the worlds group stage were on Gnar, Ekko and Irelia. Gnar and Ekko were very successful champions for Mouse as they get very tanky, push waves hard, and are extremely effective at splitting. Mouse was successful on Irelia with the caveat that he builds her with all tank items after a Trinity Force. This emphasizes his intention to splitpush and tank more than serve as a carry role on his team. And finally, Mouse’s success largely depended on his jungler, Ming “Clearlove” Kai.
Clearlove was famous for Hecarim picks in the regular season. He was massively successful on that champion, commonly outplaying enemy champions that would try to escape by flashing, but knocking them back into the fight with Hecarim’s E. This was successful in the regular season because of the lane swap meta. In playoffs, however, he showed a poor performance on Hecarim because the patch had changed to 6.16+, where the lane swap meta had been killed. His Hecarim games in the playoffs showed and average KDA of 2.11 whereas his other champion in the playoffs showed a combined average KDA of 10.0. Clearlove had played Hecarim in 3 out of 8 of EDG’s playoff games. Clearlove had thus exhibited much success in early ganking jungler such as Elise and Rek’Sai. Winning games saw Clearlove ganking Mouse once early to make sure he didn’t fall behind, then continuedto camp bot with the assistance of Lee “Scout” Ye-chan.
Scout and Heo “PawN” Won-seok both shared the duties as EDG’s midlaner, but the tam played Scout much more than PawN in the regular season and in the playoffs. In fact, every single playoffs game from EDG was played with the former SKT player. Generally, Scout displayed the highest amount of success on mage champions such as Lissandra, Taliyah and his signature pick, Twisted Fate. In the playoffs, Scout never fell behind and was always a relevant threat, even in loss games. Scout’s role was essential to the team as he would assist Clearlove in ganking bot to ensure that Deft would get ahead and carry the game as it progresses.
Deft is pretty much the best ADC player in the world right now. He can play any ADC to great success, anything from Jinx to Ezreal. A remarkably powerful champion on Deft, however, is Ashe. Ashe is an S-Level Utility ADC, but they way Deft plays her turns her into an absolute hard carry monster. He played Ashe twice in the playoffs with an average KDA of 14.5 and 69.05% kill participation. The support that Deft recieves from his team is evident in his combined average kill participation in the entirety of playoffs, at 76.1%. Behind Deft though lies his saving grace, Tian “Meiko” Ye.
Meiko is EDG’s critical support. Meiko’s successful playstyle lies in him playing melee tank supports, most notably Tahm Kench and Braum. He picks these champions to make sure Deft can stay safe as he dishes out damage. In the playoffs, he picked Tahm Kench in 5 out of 8 games, Braum in 2 and Thresh in 1 game. Clearly, Meiko puts an emphasis on making sure Deft is safe at all costs because if Deft falls behind, EDG would have to stall the game until Deft can make it back into the game.
Change and Underpormance in Groups:
As was determined, the winning strategy from EDG is a 1 – 4 splitpush composition. Mouse would pick a heavy splitpush champion and split the sidelanes while the rest of the team applies intense pressure to the enemy team with a fed Deft. In order for Deft to get fed, Scout and Clearlove would orchestrate an early gank that would give Deft the kills and gold he needs to propel himself forward and carry. Meiko would play a tanky champion to frontline and make sure neither Deft nor the other two die in the gank. This bot-centric 1-4 splitpush strategy would only be countered if EDG was either out-drafted or if Clearlove was out-rotated or crippled by an immense counter-jungle.
EDG’s performance in groups was poorer than expected. Although they passed on to the quarterfinals as the second seed of their group, the question still remains unanswered, why did EDG under perform. It is because they deviated from their winning strategy in three ways: subbing in PawN, ganking Mouse more often than Deft, and Meiko’s support picks.
EDG’s first major mistake was subbing PawN instead of Scout. Although PawN is great individually, he does not roam as Scout does. In a team composition that relies on Deft getting ahead, PawN would spend most of his time focusing on his own ability to carry, meaning that although he would perform relatively well, the team was playing on unfamiliar grounds. This is amplified by the fact that Clearlove would gank Mouse more often than Deft.
In games where Mouse picked Irelia, Clearlove would try to get him ahead to enable him to to more than just splitpush. The difference between Mouse’s successful Irelia playstyle in the LPL and his more unpredictable playstyle in Worlds is build and intent. In the LPL, Mouse would only build Trinity Force on Irelia followed by tank items, then he would proceed to splitpush for the rest of the game. In Worlds, that changed when he built both Trinity force and Youmou’s Ghostblade with the intent to do more in teamfights. This deviation put Mouse in an unfamiliar atmosphere and caused him to lose his team’s opening game versus INTZ e-sports, ending 1/7/3 with the second least gold on the team.
Meiko’s awkward picks were the final piece of the puzzle that explains the reason behind EDG’s under-performance in the group stage. Meiko’s mistake was very simple, he picked squishy ranged supports over melee tank supports. Meiko played Nami in 5 out of 7 group stage games, and the three losses EDG had all had Meiko playing Nami. Meiko was, like Mouse, put in an unfamiliar scenario that caused him to underperform on a champion that he hasn’t displayed professional prominence on in relevant patches.
The reason EDG “choked” was because they changed their playstyle to spreading the carry duties to their midlaner, whether it be Scout of PawN, and Mouse and not trying to rely mostly on Deft to carry. Clearly, this went very shakily for them, losing 3 of 7 games and only barely winning their two games against ahq e-Sports Club. EDG have a tough matchup ahead of them against Korea’s number one seed, the ROX Tigers in the quarterfinals. Unless EDG has perfected their new strategy or reverted to and practiced their older more succesful strategy while adapting tot he substitution of Koro1, the semifinals will not have a place for the team
Photos Courtesy of Riot Games