Lane efficiency: case studies from the NA and EU LCS

In professional play, some teams do a great job of managing minion waves and controlling the lanes. It’s a complex part of the game, with influence over many things, including gold income, map control, setup for objectives, and both extension of leads and defensive stalling while behind.

Lane efficiency is a new statistic that measures how well teams manage minion waves, securing as much lane farm for themselves as possible while denying farm from their opponents. For a full discussion of the theory and measurement of the statistic, take a look at the methods article.

Below are the lane efficiency (LE) statistics for the NA LCS and EU LCS, presented alongside jungle control (JNG%) and kill-to-death ratio (K:D) to paint a more full picture of teams’ play. For the NA LCS, the Immortals are discussed as a case study, while H2K are presented from the EU LCS.

Given the Immortals‘ modest 9-10 game record, it’s somewhat surprising to see them with such high lane efficiency, especially when paired with their good jungle control. It’s impressive that the team is able to pick as much farm as they do, given that they’ve posted the second-worst early game rating (EGR) in the NA LCS so far, which should put them at a disadvantage for contesting the lanes in the mid game. But they’re getting it done somehow: Flame sits second among top laners in CS per Minute, Cody Sun is fourth among AD carries, and even Pobelter, who has struggled in many areas, is holding his own at fifth among mids.

Low dragon and Baron control numbers and difficulty securing early towers are making it hard for the Immortals to turn their lane efficiency into consistent victories. Individual mistakes and overly aggressive decisions from various members have cost the Immortals too often, either setting them behind or negating their momentum. With continued good lane efficiency and jungle control, though, the Immortals may be close to putting all the pieces together, provided they can reduce their mistake count and give themselves more opportunities to pair their strong farming with objectives like towers and Barons.

H2K are an interesting team here, with below-average lane efficiency that doesn’t seem to align with their strong 10-5 game record. Their jungle control is second-best in the league, which certainly helps, as does their league-leading 83% dragon control and impressive 75% Baron control, but there’s no question H2K have room for improvement, especially on how they use their leads to close out wins.

Team fighting has long been an issue, visible in H2K’s K:D ratio, but their lane efficiency shows that better wave management may also be one of their missing pieces. For further diagnosis, look to their laning statistics, where only Febiven has earned a positive CSD10 to date, and their individual CS per Minute tallies, where Nuclear ranks last among all AD carries and Odoamne is 7th of 10 among top laners. It’s unlikely these numbers can be pinned on just last-hitting mechanics, with rotations more likely to be an issue. For example, see game 1 of H2K’s week 4 series against G2 Esports where the team struggled with side lane control in the mid game. Game 2 against Vitality in week 3 also saw trying to deal with split pushing solo laners, though they eventually found better solutions in that case.

Connecting numbers with actual play

To better understand H2K’s surprisingly low lane efficiency, or the Immortals and EnVyUs’s high lane efficiency, it may be necessary to watch their games a bit differently, trying to notice how often they abandon one or two of the lanes while sieging elsewhere, or whether they use poke or dive threats to force their opponents to miss CS under towers rather than simply pushing waves and then backing off and allowing the opponent to farm from safety.

It’s often helpful to have a framework like this to help direct the way we visually study the games. The right kinds of measurement can open our eyes to aspects of the game we had taken for granted. Lane efficiency has the potential to be exactly that type of eye-opening, conversation-generating statistic. It will probably be noticeably influencing my own note-taking in the future.

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