The influence of Dragons in Teams’ proactivity

The influence of Dragons in Teams’ proactivity

The presence of Elemental Dragons in Summoner’s Rift heavily influences teams’ behavior during games. Teams change their vision setups, their lane assignments and make other adjustments to prepare for either contest the neutral objective or respond to it somewhere else in the map. Having the Dragon on the map also influences teams’ proactivity.

This research is meant to suggest a format of data gathering which can help analysts get an easier hold on each team’s change in proactivity in relation to the presence of a Dragon in the map.


The Format

Most notably, when it comes to Elemental Dragons, teams seem to react to four different situations throughout a match:

  • Before the first Elemental Dragon spawns (before the game clock hits 5 minutes)
  • During the presence of an Elemental Dragon
  • When there is no Dragon on the map
  • When a Dragon is about to spawn (approximately 1 minute before spawn)

Of course teams’ behavior also varies because of other elements of the game, but most of those other elements have stats of their own which do not invalidate the stats shown in this study, nor are they invalidated by them.

With that in mind, I collected stats from the playoffs campaigns of Worlds 2019 finalists G2 and FPX. The stats are separated according to the moments previously mentioned, as seen in the stat sheets.

FPX

World Champions FunPlus Phoenix were an extremely proactive team throughout Worlds 2019. They constantly showed high levels of aggressiveness and hunger for playmaking. While most teams fight and press lanes to contest an objective or vision control over a neutral objective, FPX seemed to fight and press lanes simply because they saw an opportunity for that.

One factor not many people noted, however, was that FPX frequently tried to kill Elemental Dragons almost on spawn. This can be linked to the fact that they are mostly independent of having a neutral objective in the map to create plays. By taking away the Dragon as soon as possible, FPX makes it so that there is less time during a match in which they have to worry about it. It also makes it harder for teams that frequently orchestrate plays around Dragon to have an opportunity to do so.

The fact that FPX are better when there is no Dragon in Summoner’s Rift is supported by the data I collected, especially regarding Baron Nashor. During their victorious playoffs run, the Chinese team saw a total of 14 Barons being taken.

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None of them were taken while there was a Dragon in the map.

None of them were taken within one minute of Dragon spawn times.

All of them were taken when there was no Dragon in Summoner’s Rift. And 11 of those 14 were in favor of FunPlus Phoenix.

The numbers also show that FPX was a bit dependent on being good when no Dragon was alive. In the team’s two losses during the playoffs, they were still very good when playing around the neutral objective. However, the difference was that they lost heavily when it was not on the map.

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With this information, it is possible FunPlus Phoenix’s adversaries could have had a bigger chance at beating them, by either punishing them or avoiding fights when there were no Drakes alive.

G2

Worlds 2019 runners-up G2, despite being known as a highly proactive team throughout the season, was not as much during Worlds playoffs. Unlike FPX, they would seek fights and lane pressure almost only when it seemed necessary, not at every chance. Most notably, they were highly reliant on making plays around objectives. Amongst them, of course, Elemental Dragons.

Back to the Baron Nashor stats, it again demonstrates a change in the team’s behavior in relation to the presence of a Dragon in the map. In contrast with FPX’s high Baron control rate when there were no Dragons alive, G2 was quite inefficient in that regard. A total of 13 Barons were taken under those circumstances during their playoffs campaign, but only 2 were in favor of the European team. In the team’s five losses in the playoffs, 8 Barons were killed when there was no Dragon in Summoner’s Rift, all of them against G2.

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On a slightly brighter note, the team secured 2 Baron buffs when there was a Dragon in the map and only gave up the buff once under these circumstances. They also won every playoffs game in which Baron was taken while a Dragon was alive.

G2 was way more active than FPX when the first Elemental had not yet spawned, when Dragon was alive and within one minute of spawn. Also in contrast with FPX’s tendencies, G2 seemed to lean on the game being played around Dragon, which is shown by the fact that they also gave up less kills, platings and Baron buffs in their losses than in their wins, when a Dragon was alive.

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Comparing the Finalists

The data gathered in this research becomes even more revealing and relevant when we put G2’s stats side by side with FPX’s. Here are some interesting comparisons:

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In summary, FPX was much better than G2 when there was no Elemental alive, while the Europeans were more competitive when playing around the neutral objective. And the numbers support that. But for these stats to be relevant, these patterns would have to repeat themselves in the finals. FPX would beat G2 in games that were more active when there were no Dragons in the map, and G2 would have a better chance at beating the Chinese squad in games where the opposite happened.

And that is exactly what happened. FPX won the series 3 to 0, and in all games most fights and objectives were happening when Dragon was dead. All four Baron buffs taken in the finals were in FPX’s favor, all of them when there was no Dragon alive or close to spawning. Out of all 31 platings taken during the series, 23 were when no Dragon was on the map. The number of kills and turrets was also much higher when there was no Dragon to contest for.

The Verdict

There are too many factors that influence a game’s outcome, and this study does not invalidate or outshine them. But the fact that there is a pattern means that proactivity in relation to the Dragon’s presence in the map can be a factor in the result of different matches.

If such proactivity is a factor, this format of data gathering can be useful to predict teams’ behavior in matches, which can facilitate pre-match analysis. Furthermore, it can back already existing analysis that lacked statistical support.

The comparisons between G2 and FPX show that the data gathered in this research does support the observations made by analysts during Worlds 2019 playoffs. Analysts had pointed out that FPX likes to take Dragons almost on spawn, and this research gives more insight on why. It had been observed that G2 played mostly around Dragons during Worlds 2019 playoffs, and this study supports that analysis. By using and further developing this method of collecting statistics, we as League enthusiasts and analysts will gain even more awareness and knowledge.

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