A review of the statistically best draft from the previous weekFinal Draft. Permitted by Riot Games.
Each week, with use of our cutting-edge Machine Learning (Artificial Intelligence) model, we predict the results of the upcoming games using a combination of Team and, more importantly, Draft statistics. From these predictions, we can evaluate which teams won draft the hardest, and more importantly: why. These, are the Drafts of the Week.
Interestingly, it feels that for both teams their current standings is a poor reflection of their performance. Yes, Team Vitality had a rough super-week (0–3), yet it was night & day with their 2nd weekend of games where they went 2–0 in style. SK Gaming on the other hand seemed to be showing signs of promise throughout, yet just haven’t quite managed to close out some closely fought games.
I’ve been studying the statistical advantages of drafts for quite some time and results like these are rare. Of course, Team Vitality were already the favoured team (76.6%), but to take this to 92.6% by the end of draft is quite the feat! Overall, Vitality gained a 16.0% increased chance of winning after the drafting phase.
Draft Summary. Image by Author.
Here, we break down some key elements of the draft, evaluating where the strengths & weaknesses lie. Given the complexity of drafting, not everything can be covered — however we’ll try to touch on the top points.
Every Lane, All Game
Usually when I evaluate a draft there are certain win conditions that the model has found. These advantages are usually gained by trading-off elsewhere. For instance, if you lock-in a strong bot side and give your mid the chance to counter-pick then you’d accept that your top side might struggle.
It is on the rare occasion when the model not only says that every lane is expected to win, but that they’ll do so from the start of the game to the end. From the SK point-of-view there are few opportunities to get ahead, let’s break that down:
Gragas is a decent Champion here. He counters Jayce (eventually), synergies well with his team and isn’t hard-countered by anything Vitality are playing. However, VIT Alphari is one, if not the best at getting ahead in lane whilst SK Jenax hasn’t had a great start to the split. As well as this, Jayce tends to be up in gold by the 10 minute mark when facing Gragas. These two factors compound and the top side is expected to fall way, way behind in the early game. Yes, the Gragas still offers value but it won’t win the game.
Ultimately, Viego just isn’t a strong pick right now — no matter how much he gets played! Our model estimated him to have a 46.3% win rate, this season so far (including this game) he’s rocking 36.8%. Ouch.
As well as this, Vitality have drafted a poke/bruiser composition. Viego has no reliable engage and is likely to get poked out before he gets a chance to carry the fight.
Orianna can bully Corki a little in the early laning phase but eventually he just offers far more to the team. He synergies really well with the Jhin/Jayce, scales better, and is a monster with a gold lead. The Orianna, is the safe pick — the problem is, too many safe picks and there’s no one to play around.
If you read my previous Draft of the Week, you’d know I’m pretty anti-Jhin in most scenarios (due to his low expected win rate so far this season). However, this isn’t one of those. Firstly, it just fits the thematic of the composition. By that, I mean his Champion excels at things that that his team mates want to also do.
To be even clearer: Jhin wants to poke you out, then suddenly jump in and blow the remainder of your health away. So does Jayce and so does Corki. As well as this, after a certain point in the game the Jhin will start destroying Xayah and given there’s considerable player diff (Carzzy > Jezu) here, that puts SK in a really rough spot.
The Rakan also hard-counters both Nautilus and Xayah, not to mention the fact that he’s simply a much stronger Champion right now than his counter-part.
Now we have evaluated the draft as it stands, we can also use the power of the model to make suggestions. In this case, we’ll see what alternative options the losing team had to try and stem the bleed of the draft.
We’ll focus on the 4th (top) & 5th (jungle) picks for SK as 1–3rd were blind (except Orianna, which as mentioned wasn’t a bad pickup) and so it’s likely Vitality would have played it differently if we changed those. However, being honest, SK had their hands tied at this point so I can’t imagine there’s much to gain.
The only Champion that seemed to make any real difference was Sett, which took the win rate from 7.4% to 10.6%. It’s not a Jayce counter, but what it does do is shut down the Gwen.
Note, this is one of those interesting interactions the model has where it says “No, this doesn’t make your top laner stronger — but it makes their jungle weaker”.
There’s two main options that come up: Diana or Jarvan IV. The reason? Reliable engage. As mentioned, the Corki/Jhin/Jayce want to poke you out and then hard-engage. You need to get onto them before they get the chance to soften your health bars. It also has to be someone who isn’t going to get one-popped as they go in. Overall, in combination with the Sett top, the win rate increases to 15%.
Like I said, it was going to be hard to really recover at this point. However, if a team is constantly looking for those 10% improvements — that could result in 1–2 extra wins and their best shot at playoffs.
You got to the end of the article! My name is Jack J and I’m a professional Data Scientist applying AI to competitive gaming & esports. I’m the founder of AI & Esports start-up iTero.GG and the analytics site jung.gg. You can follow me on Twitter, join the iTero Discord or drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you at the next one.
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