Just like traditional sports, esports analysis is full of statistics which are meant to succinctly represent teams’ and players’ strengths and weaknesses. Professional League of Legends is no exception. League analysts use numbers and percentages regarding creep score, jungle proximity, gold difference, and kill-death-assist ratio to understand each match and to judge each individual over time.
However, the standard League statistics more often oversimplify the game. KDA, CS difference, damage per minute, and other typical measures cannot fully represent a team or a player. Most fans understand that these numbers have their limitations, and are insufficient for understanding the game.
The Stats Science series from last year’s EU LCS covered most of the major shortcomings of standard League stats. Kills and assists are affected by team playstyle, champion pool, and game time. Poke champions have higher damage per minute than tanks. Some carries more frequently die while dishing higher damage, while others prioritize survivability over damage to champions. The variables go on and on.
For example, look at FlyQuest’s Flame in the NA LCS. His 3.4 KDA is tied for second among top laners. Flame only averages 1.8 kills and 4.2 assists per game, but his 1.8 average deaths per game is third lowest. These numbers paint Flame as a conservative player–middle of the pack offensively, but knows how to stay alive. His numbers align closely with CLG’s Darshan (2.1 kills, 5.3 assists, 2.2 deaths, 3.4 KDA).
But look at FlyQuest’s team statistics compared to CLG’s. FlyQuest has the lowest kill:death ratio in the league–8.2 kills to 12.1 deaths for a .68 K:D. Meanwhile, CLG rank three places higher with a .98 K:D (11.1 kills, 11.3 deaths). All of FlyQuest’s players have lower KDAs than Flame, but Darshan has the lowest on CLG. These factors provide context for comparing players’ KDAs.
CS difference, gold difference, and XP difference make up the three primary laning phase statistics. All three of these numbers are tied to one another, as longer laning provides higher XP, which allows more opportunity for farming CS, which allows for more gold. Global gold from dragons, turrets, and other objectives can contribute to the gold difference, as well.
However, several outside factors affect a player’s laning phase. Continuing the comparison from above, Flame averages ahead 190 gold (2nd), 63 XP (3rd), and 4.8 CS (3rd) at ten minutes. Darshan starts behind 49 gold (6th) and 0.4 CS (5th), but ahead 2 XP (7th). But, like KDA, laning statistics require more context to properly judge.
Out of 16 total games this split, CLG and FlyQuest drafted so that Darshan and Flame both locked in their champion before their laning opponent in six games (37.5 percent), while choosing their champion after their opponent in ten (62.5 percent). Also, their champion pools are similar. Gnar and Gangplank have been the power picks of top lane, so it is not surprising to see them as Flame and Darshan’s most played. Both have a couple of Cho’Gath games, some Camille and Ornn. However, Darshan played Vladimir and Maokai twice each, and Fiora once, while Flame had one Sion game. Flame may have a slight advantage in laning strength champions, but not by much.
Jungle proximity is another variable that might contribute to their laning phase disparities. It is possible that Flame or Darshan gets more early attention from their jungler or the opponent’s jungler. The additional pressure could help them to fall behind or get ahead in the first 15 minutes. These statistics are not publicly available, so it remains unclear whether Reignover or AnDa more frequently pressures top lane.
Team success can help contextualize an individual’s contributions, as well. CLG generally gets ahead by 135 gold at 15 minutes. FlyQuest starts 1,242 gold behind, on average. According to OraclesElixir.com, FlyQuest carries the lowest Early Game Rating of any NA LCS team (38.1), while CLG sits sixth (51.1). This team-to-team comparison allows analysts to understand each player’s individual contributions within the five-man roster.
Damage is usually the final metric for top laners. DPM (damage per minute) is the typical calculation, which just divides a player’s total damage to champions by the number of minutes in the game. Again, Flame and Darshan occupy similar territory compared to other top laners. Flame averages 463 damage per minute (4th), while Darshan averages 450 (6th).
Of course, champion pool probably has the largest effects on a player’s damage, especially in top lane. It is common for tanks, fighters, mages, ranged, and melee champions to rotate through the meta. Gangplank, Jayce, and Vladimir average much higher damage per minute than Ornn, Cho’Gath and Maokai, for obvious reasons.
Multiply each champion’s average damage per minute by the number of times each player drafted them, and we get which player is expected to have higher damage statistics. Flame’s champion pool averages 15 more damage per minute (471) than Darshan’s (456), which makes up the discrepancy between their individual stats. However, CLG has the second highest team damage per minute (2,188), while FlyQuest only has the fifth (1,884), even though FlyQuest games are generally longer (39:36) versus CLG’s 39 minutes.
It is not surprising that Flame contributes 24.5 percent of FlyQuest’s damage (6th), but Darshan only contributes 21.3 percent (9th). But, as GamesofLegends.com founder, Bynjee, explains, “I don’t like when people use DMG% to compare 2 players. If you want to compare their damage, just use DPM. DMG% needs to be used from a team [point of view].” Comparing these two players is a perfect example, as their damage per minute is roughly the same, but their team-wide damage is different. Therefore, Flame’s percentage of damage is higher than Darshan’s.
Gold, vision, and other statistics exist that can help judge between players. Baron, dragon, and objective control can help judge between teams. But keep in mind how shallow these figures are, and what they represent. More importantly, figure out what shortcomings they have. Is a low gold percentage necessarily bad if a top laner is playing mostly tanks? Is vision score connected to game length and number of Barons or Elder Dragons? For example, OraclesElixir.com’s founder, Tim Sevenhuysen, commented, “I don’t trust vision score because I don’t really understand it, and because it makes subjective judgments that are disguised as an objective measurement.”
Balancing all of the data presented above, Flame appears to be the superior individual top laner. Despite FlyQuest’s downward tendencies as a team, and as individuals, Flame maintains mid-high performance compared to other top laners. Opposing top laners usually get to counter-pick Flame in the draft, and his team has the worst early game in the LCS, yet he averages ahead in all laning stats. Flame also outputs the expected damage, while staying safe enough to keep a high KDA. All things considered, Flame is likely a top three top laner in the NA LCS.
Featured Image: Reddit Post-Match Discussion
Other Images: LoL Esports Flickr
Statistics Screenshots: Oracles Elixir
Other Statistics: Games of Legends
Looking for a podcast covering EU and NA LCS? Check out LCS Weekly on Twitch. You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Thomas!
To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon