LCS Summer Playoffs: Criticism of TSM and Cloud9 Drafts is Wrong

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We break down some of the criticisms levied by LCS commentators on perceived poor drafts by TSM and Cloud9

How many times have you heard the phrase “this game was lost in draft” or “they got out-drafted”? In post-game comment sections and analyst desk segments, the primary talking point as to why any team lost a game was their draft. This is especially true of discussions LCS teams and has become a nearly-perpetual discussion regarding Cloud9 and TSM. Nearly everyone seemingly tunnels on draft as though the decisions made in-game by the players were less important than the champions they were playing.

The community has several incorrect assumptions about draft, such as there being a “correct” or ‘incorrect’ draft based on whether you win or lose the game. So today we will examine the draft phases of two recent series in the LCS playoffs: Cloud9 vs FlyQuest (which FlyQuest won) and TSM vs Golden Guardians (which GGS won).

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In both cases, the team that lost the series has been criticized as having bad drafts, despite there being a world of difference between the two. Such a discussion seems fitting since Cloud9 and TSM will now play one another for the final LCS spot at worlds.

TSM Bottom Lane

For TSM, they were hyper-focused on securing Caitlyn first pick every single time it was available. This behavior of making sure their star AD Carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng had arguably the strongest ADC pick on the patch was predictable and Golden Guardians responded by blind picking Morgana. She “counters” a lot of what Caitlyn brings to lane. Morgana can push waves with her pool and use Black Shield on Caitlyn’s traps and Q’s. The Ashe pick has historically been a good response to Caitlyn with her range and harass in lane to match Caitlyn’s.

As a result, this matchup is almost entirely dependent on what Support is paired with Caitlyn. What did TSM respond with? Thresh.

A champion that also has his strengths neutralized by Morgana/Ashe. In the LPL Caitlyn is nearly always paired with Lux or a similar support that can help her push the lane and harass the opponent. Champions like Bard, Karma, and Zyra can all accomplish this. TSM did pick the Bard in Game 2, but support Erik “Treatz” Wessen randomly suicided into GG’s bot lane duo early in the lane and eliminated any potential advantage.

In Game 3, after displaying they had no sufficient counter available, TSM was forced to ban Morgana. With its primary lane counter now banned, Golden Guardians had nothing preventing them from first picking Caitlyn. TSM responded with Ashe/Thresh, but the Tahm Kench pick for GGS support Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun neutralized any pick potential that duo would threaten.

There was a massive difference in draft and execution between Golden Guardians and TSM. Even when Doublelift completed his three-item power-spike on Caitlyn in Game 2 he was totally unable to impact the game due to mid laner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte reliably poking him with the Ziggs pick.

TSM’s bottom lane failed to gain meaningful pressure throughout the series despite placing such a high premium on the bot lane in the first phase of draft. As a result, they received the lion’s share of the blame for what might very well be the most embarrassing loss in TSM’s long history.

Oddly enough, Cloud9’s bottom lane has received a similar level of criticism for their performance against FlyQuest. Both the post-game analyst desk and reddit/twitter comment sections highlighted the duo’s picks as a main factor in Cloud9’s defeat. Such an analysis is extremely lazy.