8 Changes LCS Teams Can Make to Improve the League in 2021

LCS Studios. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
LCS Studios. (Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games) /
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League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

After another failure on the international stage, LCS organizations need to make some changes if they hope to improve in 2021.

2. Re-think how Your Team Practices

This goes hand-in-hand with the first point, as I think practices in League of Legends are drastically inefficient compared to what they could be. Currently, almost all LCS teams spend their the majority of their practice time doing either VOD reviews or scrimming another team. If you compare this to traditional sports, you can already see the inefficiencies in this process.

Sports teams do video analysis and scrimmages, yes, but those are a part of the overall practice regime. In traditional sports, a lot of time is dedicated to things like strength and conditioning, drills, and walkthroughs. The League of Legends equivalents to these would be something like physical/mental exercises, 1v1s or mechanical drills in practice tool, and walking through set plays and concepts.

I do believe that some LCS teams and players do the first two (though perhaps not enough nor as efficiently as they could), but the walkthrough aspect is a key aspect that I don’t think is used nearly enough. For instance, analyst MarkZ breaks down one of TSM’s failed tower dives at Worlds 2020, but the question I’m left asking is how do teams address these issues?

From my (albeit limited) understanding, TSM probably reviewed this video, talked through what went wrong, and that was it. What they would do in traditional sports is review the video, talk it through, and the coaches would have them replicate this tower dive in practice multiple times until the players understood how to execute this concept.

LCS teams don’t do that largely because the bulk of their playtime in practice is spent going against another LCS or Academy team in a full scrimmage. With the recent revelation that some LCS players refuse to practice against their Academy team for fear of being out-performed, it’s easy to recognize that LCS teams are further misusing their Academy team to improve their practice.

For most traditional pro sports teams, they will employ a scout squad which will simulate their coming opponent’s strategies so the team can practice against them. LCS teams should use their Academy and amateur teams in a similar manner so that their players can constantly practice concepts like tower diving, positioning around Dragon and Baron, jungle invades, warding, and more with different team compositions in a short period of time, without having to play a full simulated game.

Some of this is hindered by the fact that Riot’s practice tool does not accomodate full teams, but orgs can easily create a custom game, fill it with their pro and Academy teams, and just tell the players “we are going to farm to level 6 and then tower dive bot” do it, exit the game, and repeat. It’s not the most efficient practice, yes (and orgs should reach out to Riot about improvements to the practice tool so that they can repeat these concepts more easily) but it’s far better than playing a full game to practice a single concept.

This is also why using the amateur teams is much better than other orgs’ pro teams. Because you have control over your amateur players, you can make them simulate an opponent rather than having to rely on other players who might not give you their best effort (another horror story of LCS practices that is often repeated).

Scrims should be incorporated at the end of practices (and I would even say at the end of the week of practices) to allow the teams to incorporate the concepts they have been drilling into a full game. From there, you can do VOD analysis, continue to iterate the drills, and once they have been mastered move on to the next concept.