Tag Archives: LEC

Luck and League: Measuring Ideal Season Length in LoL

Angus Lockhart is a consultant at a market research firm in Toronto, Canada, and holds a Masters of Arts in Political Science. He has been playing League of Legends since season 2.


What is the ideal number of games to play in a season? To many fans and analysts, an ideal season has to be long enough that the best teams reliably come out on top, while the weaker teams fall to the bottom of the standings, but not so long that there is no real room for upsets and unpredictability. Based on that definition, sports analytics provide tools for answering that exact question.

The longer a season, the more likely it is that the best teams float to the top. We’d all agree that a four game season is probably too few, but a hundred game season is probably too many. How do we know what is right?

At 18 games, the LCS and LEC have only two more games than the NFL and significantly fewer games than the NBA (82) the NHL (82) and MLB (150). Is that too fed, or is it appropriate given the nature of League of Legends?

Before seeking an answer, we must acknowledge that when it comes to creating a schedule and a season length, many different factors are important: viewership, burnout, skill expression, and more. The focus of this analysis is “skill expression”, meaning the ability of a team to demonstrate its quality with minimal influence from random or uncontrollable factors. But skill expression is naturally not the only consideration, since teams and Riot have an incentive to maximize profit and to limit playing time to prevent burnout. Statistics, however, can’t say much about these other factors, so a broader discussion of the “best” season length must be left to a different context.

The Data

The math behind this analysis comes from Tom Tango’s “True talent replacement level for sports leagues”, via a Neil Paine article on 538. Their previous analysis provides a framework for understanding how much luck contributes to a team’s score after any number of games.

The following analyses use the LCS and LEC records for teams since the beginning of franchising. Continue reading Luck and League: Measuring Ideal Season Length in LoL

Harnessing Shelly: Rift Herald Usage and Timings in LCS, LEC, and LCK

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