LGD Gaming could’ve been at the top of the world, finishing summer in first place and taking down their rivals EDG, going as favorites to the Season 5 World Championship, this team was amazing. Then they failed to make it out of groups in a embarrassing manner and now failed to even beat a TSM roster with one week of practice at IEM San Jose. This has to be one of the biggest and fastest declines for a team in the history of the game maybe the biggest; however, to understand what went wrong in my opinion it’s important to start in the rise of this group of players, when they hit their peak and ultimately when it went down hill.
Early into the year LGD had already made good moves managing to grab Choi “Acorn” Cheon-ju and Gu “imp” Seung-bin and later Lee “Flame” Ho-jong from the Korean exodus, which brought an interesting dynamic of two Top Laners, Acorn the utility and tank and Flame the aggressive carry. LGD was full of talent from the two Top Laners to Wei “We1less” Zhen (later GODV and PAinEvil) a solid Chinese Mid Laner with lots of growth ahead, the AD Carry World Champion Imp, and of course one of China’s premiere Supports Chen “Pyl” Bo. The biggest talent was going to be communication between the Korean and Chinese members.
The regular season for the team was pretty mediocre over all, with an unimpressive record of 7-5-10 finishing in 6th Place; however, there were some important points. First of all since Flame joined the team later, Acorn was prominently used and had a much better record with the team, then We1less’ style changed a lot, in the prominent 2v1 meta at the time Zhu “TBQ” Yong-Quan the “not so good” Jungler was exposed to a lot of invades so the Mid Laner started to play more to protect the weakness, buying much more wards than his in-lane competitor and also playing skirmish based champions such as Ahri and Kassadin in order to be ready to run to TBQ is case a fight would break out. To continue, one of LGD’s biggest strengths to this day is Wave Manipulation. In a region where teams like to fight and are far better than LGD was, they had to become smarter by pushing out creep waves on side lanes even if they’d lose a team fight the enemy team couldn’t take objectives while having to deal with not losing towers to creeps. On the opposite side, if LGD won a team-fight or skirmish they would take as much as possible from the map thanks to this refined control over the map.
All these characteristics made LGD a dark horse into the play-offs facing first against OMG, but it wasn’t even close, a 3-0 showed the team were done goofing around and they were ready to show the true potential of all this talent mixed with their game knowledge. In the second round they faced Snake, the team who finished second on the regular season and looked to be the true contender for EDward Gaming; however, LGD were on a new level more coordinated, imp and PYL just kept getting better as a Duo and imp specifically was starting to show that he was not carried by Mata. LGD quickly dispatched Snake in a 3-0 series and looked to give EDG and real challenge in the finals. The end match up delivered, we got one of my favorite series of the year between two of the best teams in the world leaving everything to try and clinch a spot in the Mid Season Invitational. The dramatic showdown ended in a pentakill for EDG’s AD Carry Deft and sending EDward gaming as the representative for the Chinese regions, who would end up beating SKT and claiming MSI champions, what fans seem to forget is that LGD was one team-fight away from being in Tallahassee.
Into the summer the promise was bigger than ever; however, it started rough again especially the first two weeks as PYL was out because of a jaw surgery so the team brought in Liu “Fan” Yi-Fan but it was not pretty. With a record of 1-3 the team looked like headless chickens running around and the one game they actually won was due to the fact that Flame made a miracle five man Gnar ultimate. After that the trend of “sandbagging” during the regular season continued, during this time the first of LGD’s fall symptoms started to show, coaching problems, Coach Yoon “Homme” Sung-young left the team and prompted Acorn to take a lot of the coach duties leaving more time for Flame to keep developing synergy with his team, then on August 7th Siu “Chris” Keung (previously coach of Star Horn Royal Club) joined to help the team and brought in Taiwanese analyst Huang “FireFox” Ting-Hsiang along; however, before during the final weeks of regular season coach Chris leaves the team again with some drama involved. LGD were without a coach once again heading into playoffs. LGD proved superior to Vici Gaming and Snake e-sports by eliminating them in 3-1 series with relative ease, especially with Imp hitting this new high on his skill level never seen before, his laning phase with PYL had reached its peak and so did his positioning on champions such as Kog’maw and Jinx, he was an unstoppable monster hungry for reaching his first LPL title. Next, in the Semi Finals of the tournament they faced EDG once again; however, this time LGD wanted it more, the series went on a decisive 3-0 to PYL and friends showing what I think is the absolute peak of this line up, aside from game one where EDG did throw a lead on a over dive, PYL’s shotcalling was on point and the whole team looked more coordinated than ever in team-fighting plays. and all the star players showed why they deserve that title, Imp’s positioning was immaculate all night long, GODV showcased his innovation and assassin play with two games of Diana (I credit a lot of the dominant Teleport play during the World Championship to this team) and a Yasuo game. Acorn played 3 different champion showcasing his flexibility with damage oriented Ryze, or more supportive Lulu and even TBQ had the series of his life with his main champion Lee Sin and some of his better ones with Gragas and Vi.
After sweeping EDG this squad consolidated themselves not only as favorites to win the LPL Summer Title. LGD could even challenge the dominant SKT from Korea in the World Championship. The final match in China was versus rookie team Qiao Gu it was supposed to be an easy one but the new kids put up a fight and a tired LGD showed some sloppy play forcing a Game 5; however, LGD ultimately pulled through to win a Summer Title and qualify for Worlds.
After almost two months of break the team was ready to debut on a world stage in Group D joined by Korea’s KT Rolster, Europe’s Origen and North America’s Team SoloMid. Obviously favorites to get out of their group they were confident. Right from the start, problems began to surface. LGD’s overconfidence after winning the LPL Title led to some rather lazy scrim ethic and also there was no real coach with the team, only their analyst FireFox. LGD’s first game was against Origen and straight out of the gate it was nothing but sloppy play after putting a good composition centered around Juggermaw. (A successful game plan for the team in the past) The team faltered to protect imp and flank appropriately with Malphite leading to the first loss on the World Stage. Things continued to go wrong with to more embarrassing losses against KT and even TSM by the end of the first week the team looked broken and ready to head back to China with their heads down. The second week Flame came into the team to replace a under-performing Acorn in a last effort to try and regain some respect, it didn’t work against KT; however, the wounded team did manage to get two wins albeit they didn’t mean anything to Origen as they were already locked into the playoffs or TSM who was already out of the tournament. LGD exited the tournament with a disappointing 2-4 record in Groups, joining Invictus gaming as the first teams from China to not make it out of the group stage.
Pre-Season and A Look Into 2016
LGD gaming attended IEM San Jose in an attempt to reclaim some glory in a smaller international competition, to no success, the team is in such a slump they couldn’t even take a best of three series against a new roster for Team SoloMid with only one week of practice. Again the team was sloppy and looked lost around the map. The team could stay together for a bit more and try to solve the growing pains; however, at this point it does not feel like a worthwhile gamble, some of the players should probably consider retirement as an option and some should simply be benched. Acorn could move to a coaching position as he already tried it briefly in the Summer Regular Season and leave the starter position to Flame who proved in the World Championship that he still has the drive and skills necessary to compete at the highest level.
TBQ just needs to retire, he has been the weakest link in the roster since day one being predictable in his pathing and since he was not a mechanical genius the team had to constantly play around him and protect him with lane-swaps and GODV’s different style of play based on warding and roaming to help his Jungler instead of the other way around. LGD also have had a rookie substitute Jungler called Xiaoxi in the bench for most of the Summer, this guy I believe can develop into a good player and even back in the Summer I thought he was the piece that could have elevated LGD much higher than with TBQ. If you want to check him out here is one of his few games, you might get distracted by GODV amazing Diana play Xiaoxi was the backbone of that victory on Rek’Sai.
GODV could be described this year as nothing but inconsistent from his high peaks such as dueling as if he were a rookie in a Yasuo vs Ekko 1v1 (with a little help from his Jungler), all the way down to his embarrassing 1-6-1 Varus game versus KT Rolster the first week of worlds. This player has definitely suffered on having a sub-par Jungler and having to play for most of the year to protect him. In my opinion his pros out weigh the cons and he deserves at least to play in the Season 6 Spring Split to return to his World Class play, besides finding a resident Chinese Mid Laner may be hard as the two best ones Cool and U are currently on OMG and Snake respectively.
Imp has been good all year and even better in the summer, he started the season wanting to prove that he does not need Mata or anyone to succeed, I would even consider imp in debates about being the best AD Carry of all time; however, that is another discussion. He has been a solid carry for the team during the whole season and was one of if not the biggest bright point during the World Championship. My only wish for this Christmas is for him to stay this next year with PYL. They are such a good duo and with the right team around them another World Championship might not be out of reach.
PYL is the soul of the team, not only the captain but also the shot-caller for the team and even though shot-calling has been one of the weak points after the World Championship I believe he will come back to his old ways. He is apart one of the best duos in LPL along side Imp, those two together should be feared the in the upcoming year. This team has reached rock-bottom.The only direction they go is up from now on. Whether or not Acorn becomes a coach the team need a stronger Support Staff around them to succeed.
Written by Wannabe
Edited by Williaf