Statistics can suck.
They’re really important and help tell a story. Despite unfortunately becoming the subject of a meme, Cloud9’s lead data scientist Halee Mason referencing creep score difference at ten minutes for a support player is important. It can help drive a conversation about what that player may be doing differently than their competitors — even if the statistic seems relatively meaningless.
It probably shouldn’t be the reference statistic in an ad about PowerBi though. Sorry Microsoft.
As much as a number can tell us so much, there still needs to be general investigation into why those numbers exist, what creates those numbers and what happens as a result. Because without that, we lose so much of the general picture and can falsely understand what the data is telling us.
With that out of the way, it is time to look at one of the more interesting player statistics of the LCS 2021 summer split: Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen’s +148 gold lead at ten minutes.
Despite only participating in fourteen games in the summer split, his performance in the early game stands tall. He exited on top — Team Liquid’s Edward “Tactical” Ra was just behind him averaging a +139 lead at ten minutes, Immortals’ Quin “Raes” Korebrits was a good distance away at +80. At the end of the season, Tactical would be towards the top with an average lead of +139 and achieved this feat while playing a full season. But Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen would take second place after returning to Cloud 9, with an average gold lead of +141.
It should also be mentioned they were 3-11 during this period of time. It is interesting to see how he was doing this.
Ten minutes is a relatively short period of time in competitive League of Legends. We can expect maybe one dragon to be taken during that period of time, two “full” jungle clears and potentially now one Rift Herald to be taken given the increase in priority. Typically, not a lot happens unless an aggressive play is made or a mistake is made.
During the fourteen game stretch, Johnsun participated in 10 total kills at ten minutes — only securing 2 for himself. And he would also only die twice — which happened in FlyQuest’s match-up with Dignitas in the opening week. On the contrast, his opposing marksmen would participate in 5 total kills (3 secured) and die 3 times.
And then there is the laning portion.
His creep score statistic is a bit misleading given the usage of Senna in the bottom lane. For example, on average, he would see a lead of +14 creeps at ten minutes — just over two waves. But because of the strategy to not actively farm minions as Senna, this statistic factors in three games of a +79 creep advantage and one game where he was at a deficit of -73.
This would also impact the overall gold numbers. Despite support items being in existence to allow for supports to play League of Legends, gold per wave numbers are still pretty significant. For example, the average gold per wave prior at fifteen minutes is approximately 147 — 21 for melee minions, 14 for caster minions and 60-90 gold for siege minions (depending on the timing of the game).
While not ideal, if we remove games were Senna makes an appearance (4), it would look like this for Johnsun:
|Gold Diff @ 10||CS Diff @ 10|
|Games with Senna||171.5||14|
|Games without Senna||18.7||2.6|
Makes it seem more reasonable.
It is still impressive that he was still generally averaging a lead at ten minutes. FlyQuest’s bottom lane was perceived to be one of the weakest in North America. Its a silver lining.
And, it is more impressive when you look at the overall picture of FlyQuest.
In the first fourteen games of the season, the team averaged a -321 gold deficit at ten minutes, a first blood rate of 36% and were out slayed 1.71 to 2.07 at ten minutes. The team did have a respectable 43% first dragon rate. But outside of that, there aren’t a lot of nice things to say about FlyQuest’s early game.
This would lead to their inevitable downward spiral between 10 and 15 minutes. At fifteen minutes, Johnsun would be ahead of his opposing marksman in kill participation — 10 to 5 in fourteen matches. But between ten and fifteen minutes, opposing marksmen would drastically out perform him — 14 to 4 in total. Johnsun had 6 overall deaths at 15 minutes — compared to his opponents 3 overall deaths.
He did his job. In the grand picture, Johnsun wasn’t necessarily a liability.
He would have the fifth most deaths in fourteen matches and had the fourth lowest percentage of his team’s overall deaths. He did have the lowest overall kill participation among LCS marksmen (47.9%) but was still outputting the fourth most damage per minute (519) and made up the second most percentage of his team’s overall damage (31%).
The narrative that was being pushed was Johnsun was washed. in reality, a picture slowly begins to form. What, realistically, should he be responsible for?
FlyQuest would face some excellent scaling champions. Three games versus a Senna, five games versus a Ezreal, one game versus an Aphelios. They would lose all of these matches. The lack of their general aggression early leads to this inevitable snowball — backed by having the third shortest average game time in losses (30.5). In their wins, they would do the exact opposite — scale as much as possible — with an average game time of 38.9 minutes. And in games excluding Senna, where he had a gold lead at fifteen minutes (4), they won two of them. The two losses would be him playing on Tristana. The two wins would be good late game champions: Ezreal and Kog’Maw.
The team’s struggles in early skirmishes really did haunt them in a many different ways. Despite having a decent upfront approach, as the game would get messy, they didn’t have the ability to respond.
It leads to the question: what is strategy versus what is player driven?
This is the second time in his career where narrative regarding his team’s overall performance slowly seeps into his general reputation. A similar situation would happen during his tenure with Dignitas. It still remains a complicated — albeit interesting — story.
His early game performance is a nice little nugget to look at during what was a pretty depressing overall season given the expectations of the FlyQuest line-up. It is also what helps create general excitement once again as he is reunited with Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black in lane and Brandon “Josedeodo” Villegas can pair with an excellent in-game leader.
But in remembrance of the season, it is only a minor detail. That’s just the reality of how statistics can be viewed.
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