Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon has everyone’s attention in the world of League of Legends at the start of season 9. Griffin’s mid laner is, at only 17 years of age, dominating the LCK and putting up incredible stats. The most impressive number so far has been the 104 KDA mark after 10 matches.
When new idols like Chovy arise in sudden prodigious ascensions, the public almost always becomes starstruck and thus unable to perceive the complete context. That is why today we will look beyond the KDA. Today we will allow ourselves to understand what actually makes a player become a new contender for best player in the world.
The team is, currently, the unbeaten first place in the LCK. Having lost only one match in six best of threes, they are considered the best team in the world in 2019, for now. A lot of this success comes from how the players seem to have well planned and well executed functions. Chovy has received accolades for his recent performances, but his accomplishments and his team’s success are the result of more than outplays and perfect KDAs. They are the result of the efficiency and functionality of the mutually beneficial moving parts of a machine. A machine called Griffin.
Sword, Griffin’s top laner, is responsible for defending the top side of the map while the team builds up on win conditions in the rest of the map. He usually plays picks that emphasize this role. So far, he has played 8 matches with Sion, 3 as Urgot and only one Viktor game and one Jayce game. Sword is the starter with the lowest kill participation rate in Korea, with only 48%. Many would look at these numbers and think he is a bad player. Far from it. The stats are merely a reflection of the important mission Sword embraces: allowing Griffin’s strong side of the map to thrive, via crossmap pressure and control.
Tarzan, Griffin’s jungler, is seen as one of the stars in his team and in the LCK. His champion pool is wide and varied, which allows him to play diverse parts, depending on the team’s plan for each match. His work is, mostly, making sure that Chovy and Viper have the resources they need to secure the wins.
A good example of that was his pathing in Griffin’s first match against SKT. Tarzan started at the Wolves, went to the Raptor camp and got his red buff. He then went back to his blue side, where he secured the river crab before grabbing his blue buff. There is a pattern here: proximity to the mid lane, an important factor that let Chovy have tranquility in his matchup against Faker. Tarzan and Chovy also had synchronized back timings throughout the laning phase. That is another factor that shows how important Tarzan is for Chovy’s and Griffin’s success.
Viper and Lehends, Griffin’s bot lane, complete the roster. Their function and playstyle can frequently be summarized as to win lane. Viper, for instance, already has six Lucian games this split, a preference that vouches for that aggressive style.
The statistic that stands out about the team’s bot lane is the First Blood participation rate. Viper is the number one First Blood influencer among LCK ADCs, with a 46% participation rate. Lehends, at 54%, leads the LCK supports. Chovy sits at 38%. This indicates that Griffin tends to invest quite a lot in setting up their bot lane for success in the early game. This investment is made even when Viper and Lehends are facing unfavorable matchups, as seen in their first game against Hanwha Life. In that occasion, Griffin’s bot lane had Kai’sa and Rakan, facing up against Ashe and Tahm Kench. At 4 minutes, Tarzan ganked the lane and put Viper and Lehends ahead in the bot side of the map.
An extremely efficient defensive top laner. A jungler that offers his mid laner proximity, protection and sinergy. A lane phase winning duo in the bot side. These tools are indispensable for Griffin’s success as much as anything else. Then why are so many people looking at Chovy alone?
Chovy shocked the world with a few stats that tell part of the story. The impressive 104 KDA mark, being the only mid laner to maintain 10 CS per minute in the LCK, being the 17 year old kid who went 20 CS up on Faker twice in two games.
But the rest of the story is told by the rest of the numbers. Chovy is second to last in team damage share, among LCK starting mid laners. Among the same group of players, only three have a lower kill participation rate. Before we get to the point, let us make it very clear: nobody is saying Chovy is bad, or that he is not one of the best, if not the best player in the world right now. Not even these stats.
Actually, Chovy probably is the best in the world, as of today. But it is not the quality or quantity of kills that justifies this status. Despite the undeniable mechanical skill the prodigy has, it is important to set aside the illusion that “the best player in the world is the one that makes every game look like a one versus nine”. Chovy is the best player in the world because he makes Griffin whole. Chovy is the best in the world because he is the central gear that makes the machine work. Chovy is the best in the world because he is the player who makes the best team in the world be the best team in the world.