League of Legends Esports: A Statistical Look if the LCS is Getting Worse

Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games.
Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games. /
2 of 5
LCS. League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo courtesy of Riot Games. /

A Look at NA

The simplest way to evaluate whether NA has gotten worse is to, well, look at these stats and see for ourselves. Here are the average game times, GPM, and kills per team for each of the past four full splits and this year (for this year, we extrapolated out their kills per game to the full 18-game schedule).

Created by Josh Tyler
Created by Josh Tyler /

So, game time is up from last summer, while GPM and kills are both down. That’s not a good sign for NA, since those numbers indicate that their level of play has declined from last summer. Games are slower, teams are worse at optimizing their income, and there are fewer kills per game. But is this a long-term trend?

Well, going back all the way to 2018, we see that for gold per minute there is an unmistakable trend downward, with NA teams’ GPM declining every single split since 2018. From last summer, NA teams actually had the steepest decline from one split to another, with the average GPM down over 90 GPM.

For average game time, however, NA teams were actually improving over the last three years. From Spring 2018, NA teams are closing games almost a full four minutes quicker than they used to. Yes, last summer they were closing games in under 34 minutes, but the current average game time is still faster than any of the other past splits.

For kills by team, the question is actually much harder to answer. It looks like NA has had alternating splits of more and less aggressive play. In the spring, the teams tend to have fewer kills than in summer, when they average about 15-20 more kills per team per split.

Now, the projected average kills per team for Spring 2020 is the lowest of any split in the last two years, so that is cause for concern. However, it’s not massively out of line from years past.

These stats seem to indicate that NA is, in fact getting better in some aspects (closing games quicker) while getting worse in others (gold per minute). That doesn’t seem to make sense since teams that are closing games better should be optimizing their gold far better.

There is a simpler possibility than these numbers reflecting the overall level of play going up or down for the LCS. Instead, these numbers could just reflect the state of League of Legends and how games are generally getting shorter, with less gold per minute available to teams. To check, let’s compare NA’s numbers to those in the rest of the World.