Patrik “Patrik” Jírů has not seen the post-season since the 2019 Spring Split.
It’s been a point that casually is mentioned in conversation but never truly addressed. We don’t normally see individually great players experience such a drought. Since joining the league in the spring of 2018, he’s only made the playoffs twice but has managed to earn the honor of being first-team All-Pro for his performance in the Summer of 2020. He probably should have also been recognized in the Spring of 2019 but that is a different story for a different day.
It begs the question of what is going wrong: is it the player, is it the coach, is it the environment?
It’s rarely the player.
The Unsolved Role
Back in 2014, the then-named EU LCS was bracing itself for something different. Struggling in the marksman role, a new challenger was approaching. Only it wouldn’t be the highly-rated prospect Martin “Rekkles” Larsson, it was Konstantinos-Napoleon “FORG1VEN” Tzortziou who would shine. Dominating the lane as well as carrying the weight of his team was not only impressive but unheard of from a marksman in the region. Comment on his character all you want, he’s still one of the most important players to step on the LEC stage.
Since then, teams have struggled to handover the keys to a marksman. It is why we’ve only seen two marksmen win the “Most Valuable Player” award in Europe: Rekkles (3) and FORG1VEN (1). Players have stepped up to the plate but haven’t set themselves apart. The closest we witnessed was the performance of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen but his departure to North America left a void yet to be filled. Players like Elias “Upset” Lipp, Juš “Crownshot” Marušič, Steven “Hans sama” Liv and Patrik continue to step up to the plate but fall just short.
The Resource Problem
This has been a relatively bad year to be a marksmen in the LEC. Marksman are averaging the lowest percentage of their team’s damage since Spring 2017 (25.92%). They’re also averaging the lowest percentage of their team’s creeps post fifteen minutes (29.72%) and lowest percentage of their team’s economy (26.45%) since the 2018 Summer Split — which was when the bottom lane role turned to non-conventional carries and Rekkles quit on the split as a result.
That split is also incredibly memorable as Gabriël “Bwipo” Rau took over the marksman role while also competing with Paul “sOAZ” Boyer for the starting top lane role.
Yet Patrik has managed to make the most of the opportunity. He’s averaging the largest percentage of his team’s damage among marksmen (30.1%). Even more impressive, he’s doing this with the fifth-largest economy (26.6%) and fourth-highest percentage of his team’s creeps post fifteen minutes (30%) among marksmen.
He’s been expected to put the team on his back but hasn’t necessarily been given the resources. To compare, Rekkles’ performance in 2018 Spring – the last time a marksman won the award for MVP – he averaged the highest percentage of his team’s damage (33.5%) with 35.8% of his team’s creeps post and making up 29.5% of his team’s overall economy.
In wins this season, where he receives a high level of resources, he’s putting on MVP numbers. He’s averaging the second highest damage per minute (635) and the highest percentage of his team’s overall damage (34.7%) while receiving 31.7% of the team’s post-fifteen-minute creeps and making up 29.0% of his team’s overall economy. In losses, it’s a different story. While still outputting a respectable 440 damage per minute and making up 27.1% of his team’s damage, he’s receiving the third-lowest percentage of his team’s creeps post fifteen minutes (28.9%) and is only making up 25.1% of his team’s economy.
Struggling to Keep the Hot Hand Hot
Patrik has played nine unique champions this split, tied for the most among marksmen in Europe. On seven of those champions, he has a win rate of 50% or below.
Joey “YoungBuck” Steltenpool is well respected for his ability to put his players in positions to succeed but it doesn’t feel like he’s looking out for his star marksman. He received some heat for his drafting for Felix “Kryze” Hellström in the opening weeks and hasn’t been able to develop the green talent that has entered the franchise. He was attempting to spread the wealth of resources across the team but its not translating into success. When the team is able to get to the late game, they have a shot because of how individually talented a lot of their members are in teamfights.
But the overall lack of consistency with the team’s approach to the game stunted the potential of this lineup. While the individual performances of certain members on the team didn’t help, the lack of role definition mixed with questionable compositions has been a disaster. Their seven-game losing streak was tied for the second-longest this split. It’s even more frustrating when Excel’s streak happens in the middle of the split compared to Astralis’ early-season woes.
Do Excel Even Want a Franchise Guy
Sometimes, an organization just wants someone that fits into a system. They don’t want the person that can put a team on their back. While statistics show that the team does perform well when Patrik is carrying, they might want a different style of marksman to compliment a different style of game. It is a reasonable ask but shouldn’t diminish the value he provides as a true carry. A pass-first point guard provides just as much value as a scoring point guard, albeit in a different fashion.
It explains how valuations for players fluctuate. Upset’s value rises because he can play multiple styles in the bottom lane. But Crownshot was brought back to reality last offseason because SK Gaming primarily played through him and teams weren’t interested in that style of play or how well he performed in that particular system.
The hope is that with someone as talented as Patrik, he gets the opportunity to do what he is good at. It’s not always a bad thing to move on from a really great player in search of something better for the future.
Great players shouldn’t be missing play-offs. Something must be wrong. Addressing an issue with roster dynamic is never easy, a hard decision is oftentimes made. Should you trust the coach or should you trust the player?
Patrik has been one of the more promising players in recent years and is managing to be someone special on the rift. He should be recognized as one of the three best marksmen competing in the LEC this split despite his team not performing well. Now, its just a conversation about whether that “something special” aligns with what Excel’s ownership is wanting to see.
As the LEC region continues to improve, you don’t want to lose sight of who is individually good. A great team isn’t necessarily the five best players, it’s five players that execute a vision better than other teams – players that can completely reach another level in the game should be admired. Patrik is of those players.
“From Our Haus to Yours”