Many websites and even “The Worlds Top 20” by Jatt, Spawn and Deficio have ranked Smeb as the number 1 player at Worlds, with Faker as number 2. Has the Demon King been toppled off his throne or what’s really at play here?
Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok are, obviously, two stellar players. Both are highly accredited, both play carry roles in their respective teams to great success, and both hold the top two spots in most player rankings coming into worlds. Smeb is ranked first with Faker at second, but why? I will explore why that is through competitive accreditation, player statistics, individual skill, and their team environment.
Faker is known for his massive international success. Most notably, he is a two time world champion, winning both season 3 and season 5 Worlds. The only other player to have achieved this is his long time jungler on SKT, Bengi. Faker also won the season 6 MSI and IEM X, along with several LCK Split championships. He did not, however, win the 2016 LCK Summer Split as his team was not even in the summer finals.
Smeb’s team, the ROX Tigers, won the most recent LCK Split. The player also achieved second place in the 2016 LCK Spring Split and second place at the 2015 World Championship. These achievements are massive, but the major reason why Smeb is ranked above Faker is that Smeb won the MVP award for both the Spring and Summer Splits of the 2016 LCK season. Yes, they may be “just” awards, but they do also highlight how impactful the player was for his team compared to other players.
Although Faker has larger accreditation to his name, Smeb has a more recent accreditation that shows off his rise to the top. The fact that he is a two time, back to back, 2016 LCK MVP is enough to put him on top of Faker.
Statistics are always a good way to compare professional players as they show team impact and personal performance. All the statistics here are taken from lolesports.com and only consider the regular season. Playoffs are not considered as different numbers of games were played in playoffs between SKT and ROX, hence reducing the accuracy of the statistics. It is also important to note that in professional LoL, KDA is calculated using the following formula: (K + A)/D. This formula for KDA highlights the player’s impact on the team rather than pure individual skil as both kills and assists are equally weighted in the formula.
In the Spring Split, Smeb had a KDA of 5.4 with 141 kills, 77 deaths, and 277 assists. Faker had a KDA of 4.2 with 135 kills, 80 deaths, and 220 assists. It is absolutely clear that Smeb had a much larger impact for his team than Faker did in the Spring Split. With both more kills and assists, Smeb participated more in eliminating enemy teams to secure objectives. The number of deaths are too close to compare, but the fact that Smeb did more for his team on almost the same number of deaths on Faker showed his impact in games. It is important to note, however, that Faker had 9.0 CS per minute, larger than Smeb’s 8.0 CS per minute.
The Summer Split statistics showed a clearer difference between both players. Smeb had a KDA of 5.0 with 120 kills, 82 deaths, and 294 assists. Faker had a KDA of 4.2 with 161 kills, 84 deaths, and 195 assists. Faker had more kills than Smeb and his CS per minute was also higher at 8.6 CS per minute compared to Smeb’s 7.8 CS per minute. This shows off Faker’s individual skill. The higher kill count is due to his ability to solo kill enemies and his large kill share. The larger CS per minute highlights Faker’s amazing wave control and immaculate CSing. However, Smeb has 99 more assists than Faker and only 40 less kills. He was around the map much more than Faker, contributing to a lot of kills and participating in more skirmishes. At almost the same number of deaths, Smeb was more impactful than Faker in the Summer Split, yet again.
Smeb is a genius in the toplane. He has insane mechanics, immense game knowledge, a deep champion pool and above all, he knows how to play within his own and his team’s field of success. Smeb knows how to play fantastically individually and for his team.
“Smeb at times should be punished for how he plays, but he just does it so incredibly well. [He] plays within his limits and within his jungler’s limits incredibly well.” – Riot Spawn
Faker is the Unkillable Demon King, the best player of all time. This is due to the fact that he pretty much has the best wave manipulation skills of any player in the world. Faker will manipulate the wave to his advantage, make an opening on the enemy laner, expose him, then kill him. Once Faker gets a kill, he’s pretty much solidified his role as the game’s carry. On top of that, his mechanics are absolutely flawless which he has shown consistently throughout the 2016 LCK spring/summer splits.
“When he [Faker] is in control of a lane, you are completely shut out as an enemy midlaner. You’re consistently in kill range of this guy and it doesn’t matter whether he’s playing assassin, control mage or supportive style on Lulu. If the wave is on his side of map, he is so good at that” – Spawn
This is season 6, and in season 6, teams can’t rely on a solo carry. In order for a team to succeed, teamwork and understanding of a team’s limitations is mandatory. Smeb has this on his team, ROX Tigers. ROX Peanut, his jungler, makes sure that Smeb can succeed in the toplane and assists him when Smeb so desires. This allows for Smeb to consistently perform well in his lane. He also has a very support-ADC oriented ADC in PraY. All of this sets up Smeb to shine the best he possibly can.
“He’s [Smeb’s] is able to do much more than being a good player, and again that’s what makes you now, the best player in the world because it’s so much more about your team and your teamwork.” – Riot Deficio
As good as Faker is individually, he does not have a team environment that allows him to be the best player he possibly can be. He has a sub-par jungler in Blank which is critical because it potentially impacts his laning phase. Due to his reputation, Faker tends to get camped a lot by enemy junglers and the lack of support from Blank seriosuly hurts Faker’s ability to carry when he is pretty much playing a 2 versus 1 lane.
“Faker is still an absolutely insane player, and in a sense we’re punishing him because he is not able to work with Blank. If that’s Blank not necessarily playing the same way, but because Faker is alone, he pushes a bit too far and that causes him to make errors with his exceptional skill set.”
Faker might still be a better individual player, a god of sorts, but because Smeb is also extremely good and he also has the support of his team, he is able to succeed more consistently, thus the reason why Smeb is ranked higher than Faker in most top player lists.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games and ESL