Momentum is Everything – The Intangible Reason Teams Collapse in League of Legends
Every year at Worlds in League of Legends, and in the regional leagues, we see upsets, teams rise and fall, and teams unexpectedly collapse. As an analyst, looking at the calibre of players on a team, it’s often tough to come up with an explanation.
Confidence, and emotion at large, can play a huge part in a team’s performance, especially when the pressure is at its highest internationally. It’s often the teams that have the highest highs that have the lowest lows, and there’s good reason.
Fnatic and Top Esports are great examples to look at, especially after their variable performance over the past few months. Here’s why they either go big or go home.
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Flair is a Double-Edged Sword
Some of the greatest teams in the history of League of Legends, haven’t always been objectively the best. 2019 G2, 2018 Invictus Gaming, and Top Esports in 2022, are examples of teams at the top of their game, who saw varying degrees of success.
Each was famous for a unique style of play, that broke the mould of what was considered the correct way to play. That is, they played with what i would describe as a certain ‘flair’.
2019 G2 were famous for their unorthodox drafting that would leave other teams stumped. A quad flex Pyke, bot-lane mages, and bizarre picks such a Wunder’s Shyvana, are just some examples of how effective the team was at their unique style. Besides an unfortunate Worlds Finals against FPX, they were able to retain momentum, and keep winning.
On the other hand, Top Esports this year. By no means were they objectively the best team, as mistakes would plague many of their games. However, individual skill and flair carried them far. Signature picks like Jackeylove’s Draven, and unique ones like Knight’s Brand were their foundation.
Fnatic this year is another example. Especially froma momentum standpoint, based on individual performance they scraped in to playoffs, and from there made an incredible run up until week two of Worlds groups.
Both Fnatic and TES though, collapsed, and when they did, they did in spectacular fashion. So why did they fall, and why was it so absolute?
Flair and Momentum do not Replace Skill
So why did G2 excel where others collapsed? The answer is simple, they played better League of Legends. Fnatic this year showed us that while individual skill can carry you far, there is no substitute for playing well as a team, and good macro.
If you can keep up the momentum though, it can eclipse a lot of issues under the surface. For some teams, a lost fight can tip the scales or a rough draft phase. For example Fnatic in the LEC playoffs. For others, it takes a huge shift, like a month’s break, and moving continents, like with TES.
What both those teams lack however, is the ability to play consistently as a unit. The teams that bested them in the end, in Rogue and JDG respectively, in many cases lacked the same skill on a player-by-player basis, but played better League of Legends as a team.
Teams like RNG are also a great example to look at. They are consistency embodied, and are almost never clouded by emotion. This means that they aren’t affected in the same way by momentum, and can bounce back from a loss, or play from the back foot much more reliably.
The best League of Legends to watch will often be teams on a momentum high, and an emotional one. G2’s 2019 title wasn’t a thrill for EU fans because of their good macro play. But the teams that will keep coming back, and consistently stay at the top, are those that rise above it.