LCS vs LCK: What’s in the Meta? Week 2

As League of Legends enters its third week of professional play this season, Korea is finally on Patch 6.1 like the LCS. Comparing and contrasting how teams from LCK and LCS play is more appropriate. By doing so, we can understand what is strong and what isn’t, identify regional trends, and notice influences between regions.

Because of Echo Fox’s forfeit against NRG on Saturday, only nine games were played in NA instead of 10.

Variances among the regions are evident from the start. Gangplank is typically banned due to how strong he is, but North America and Korea let the pirate through a few times. Korea has played him mid to use the shorter lane for safety and guaranteed farm, while NA used him top. Europe has kept him permanently banned.

Lulu, Tahm Kench, and Ryze finish out as most banned across LCS and LCK. EU is disenchanted with Ryze after poor performances from several players, causing both his ban and pick rate to drop. NA and Korea still respect Ryze’s capabilities by picking him when he is not banned, sans some cases.

The one oddity in bans is Graves. NA didn’t mind him in Week 1, but his ban rate soared to 66 percent last week, suggesting the region is starting to learn him. EU uses Graves the most, splitting him between top and jungle. He remains a pocket pick for few players in Korea like Yeon “TrAce” Chang-dong.

Europe is unique with its top lane pool. Tahm Kench is heavily prioritized, and was always picked if open. Graves was taken to top a few times, but Europe prefers him jungle. After Europe’s fourth most picked, Gnar, the list gets murky as champions Lissandra, Ryze and Fiora were only picked once, though that is also a result of them being banned in some games.

The LCS turned to Shen and it didn’t do well, going 2–6 in Week 2. That may change after his rework in patch 6.2, where he is given new harass tools.

NA’s leading top laner is Fiora once again. She was undefeated in Week 1, and now has a cumulative record of 8–1. Her split push is effective, and until NA begins to play against split-pushers properly, she will still be the dominant pick.

Korea has fully embraced Poppy top. With players like Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho in control, she becomes a tanky split pusher that brawls with the best. She hasn’t supported in Korea yet, as that region prefers a farmed Poppy over a starved one. Both LCS regions also used her top last week, and her popularity is bound to grow given her success so far. She can split push, she can engage or disengage, she has high base damage and can become exceptionally tanky. These traits are quintessential for top laners, and after more teams practice, she’ll be heavily contested in picks and bans.

The jungle isn’t a volatile role in League of Legends right now, so the picks across the regions are going to be similar. Kindred, however, is worth discussing. In NA they were disabled after a bug in Friday’s match between Origen and Team Vitality. This affected the prioritized junglers for the week, but not by much.

Korea did not secure a single victory for Kindred during Week 2, despite strong teams like ROX Tigers using the champion. It was an unlucky week, but if Kindred continues to perform poorly, Korea may start to de-prioritize her like EU did Ryze.

Continuing its trend from Week 1, assassins are the most popular mid laners for Europe. After that, the shared pool dips as EU’s mids tried other champions like Twisted Fate, Morgana, and Syndra with varying results. NA’s mid pool is wide because teams experimented with a wide assortment of picks.

Korea, meanwhile, is fixated on Viktor and Corki. Viktor is no stranger to the region thanks to Lee “KurO” Seo-haeng last year, and in the chaos of Season 6’s first weeks, Korea has relied on Viktor as the safe blind pick. His wave clear, zone control, and burst make him incredibly versatile.

With his escape, Corki is safer than Viktor while providing waveclear and poke. Traditionally an AD carry, Corki has seen more success as a mid than his old role this past week.

Lux briefly sparked in Korea during Week 1, but with the arrival of patch 6.1 she has fallen off and will likely not be seen except for surprise pocket picks in the future. While nothing about her kit was changes, with the other keystones being buffed, more mids are viable, and Korea has stopped picking Leblanc into Lux after it failed to pressure her.

The competitive pool of ADCs is congruent between LCS and LCK, but the priority is wildly different.

Kalista was massive in Europe, losing only one out of nine games. This skews the rest of the data for EU’s ADC’s, as most of the other AD’s played against her. In NA, Kalista had a weaker showing, in part due to many of the substitutions such as Renegades’ Benjamin “Benjamin” deMunck subbing in for Aleš “Freeze” Kněžínek.

Corki and Ezreal were interchangeably played in mid and bot this past week, but each champion is more successful at a particular place. As an ADC, Corki suffered in EU and Korea but was successful in mid lane in Korea. With his high AP damage, Corki is better as a mid lane poke champion than an ADC. Ezreal, meanwhile, has done respectable as an ADC but fell flat as a mid laner because he lacks wave clear and can’t control the lane. That makes him a better ADC pick. SBENU Sonicboom’s series against CJ Entus is a good example of how those champions affect map pressure in their different lanes, as SBENU rotates the two between the positions. If teams are going to pick both and run a poke comp, put Corki in mid and Ezreal in bot.

Korea loves Lucian. Bringing mild poke, excellent waveclear, high mobility, and good scaling, he’s an all around safe pick the other regions haven’t prioritized to the same level. Given other ADC’s inability to match Kalista in Europe, perhaps it will pick him up to try and answer her.

Without a doubt, Alistar is the best support now. Innately tanky, he possesses excellent engage, sustain and the ability to peel, making him the jack of all trades. He had lower win rates last week, but now that better teams are prioritizing it, he’s leveled out. Should his dominance continue, nerfs will likely come.

Trundle’s nerfs have dragged him down. His win rate from LCK’s first week on 5.24 has plummeted, as well as his priority in picks and bans. He’ll always be a good situational pick, but perhaps his time as a rival to Alistar is over. After next week it will be clear.

With Trundle’s fall, teams are giving Thresh and Morgana a chance. Thresh did well in EU and Korea, but he didn’t appear in NA at all save for some bans. Morgana, on the other hand, didn’t debut well, suggesting it might not be her time yet, or teams need more practice with her.

Bard in Korea seems like an anomaly, but he’s actually a pocket pick. Longzhu Gaming’s Kim “Pure” Jin-sun used him in nearly every game he played last week, and since Longzhu played two series, Bard’s pick rate increased through Pure’s use. Considering Pure’s mediocre play on the champion and his past success with Alistar, it’s perplexing to see him only playing Bard. Perhaps after Longzhu’s disappointing Week 2, the team will take Pure off Bard.

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