I wrote previously about the effects of turret plating on the professional metagame in League of Legends. It’s been obvious that turret plates have shaped the priorities of pro teams as they try to get their hands on as much of that gold as possible before the plates disappear at 14:00. One of the key ways to pick up that gold is to take the Rift Herald and use it before the 14:00 mark. This has led to increased focus on killing Rift Herald, and especially killing it early.
In 2018 across LCS, LEC, and LCK, Rift Herald was killed in 89% of games. In 2019 to date, Rift Herald is being killed in 98% of games in those leagues, a dramatic increase.
The perceived value of Rift Herald has increased, but exactly how valuable has the early Herald kill become, and how is that playing out in leagues’ and teams’ priority levels?
How valuable is Rift Herald?
A Herald charge onto an outer tower is guaranteed to break two turret plates (worth 160 gold each), and it can lead to even more plates if the accompanying push isn’t well defended by the opposing team. Factor in the time the team gains in taking down the rest of the tower’s health in later pushes, and the Rift Herald’s value seems pretty high.
But you rarely get something for nothing. Objectives are frequently traded for something else cross-map. Anecdotally, the most common trade for Herald is a dragon.
According to the latest early-game rating (EGR) model, 320 gold at 15:00 is worth ~4.0 percentage points of win probability. Comparatively, holding one more dragon at 15:00 is worth ~7.5 points of win% — almost double!
If a team is looking to take the Herald pre-14:00 in trade for a dragon, they need to strongly believe either that a) the Herald is going to generate much more than two plates’ worth of value, or b) the dragon is less valuable than average due to its type and/or the two teams’ compositions and win conditions. Continue reading Harnessing Shelly: Rift Herald Usage and Timings in LCS, LEC, and LCK