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With YamatoCannon’s move to Korea, LCK Summer looks to channel European League of Legends

Coach YamatoCannon’s move to Korea marks a shift in attitudes within the LCK, as they look to reverse their decline within the League of Legends scene.

Jakob “YamatoCannon” Mebdi has come across success that few European coaches have been able to achieve. He’s brought two rookie teams to Worlds and coached some of EU’s most well-known League of Legends names, like Jankos, Wunder, and Kobbe. 

After leaving the professional scene at the end of Summer 2019, he’s returning to it -- albeit in a completely different part of the world, South Korea. 

Korea, by far the most dominant region in the world until 2018, has been on the decline for the past two years. The removal of the jungle item Tracker’s Knife was a heavy blow to the classical Korea play-style of defeating opponents through superior vision of their map movements and gaining significant advantages with better knowledge. 

Add that with the Season 8 nerf to AD Carries, and the late-game scaling aspect of the Korean play-style was gone. 

At Worlds 2018, one of Korea’s three teams dropped out of the group stage for the very first time. The following year was better, as the Korean teams all topped their groups, but only three-time world champions SKT would advance to the semi-finals. There, they dropped to G2 in a 3-1 series. 

In 2020, something had to change. The Korean playstyle wasn’t working. And so the LCK did the unthinkable: it began emulating other regions to create a faster-paced style. 

Comparing the statistics from Spring 2018 and Spring 2020, Korea reduced its average game time by nearly 15%, had 20% more kills, and displayed an aggression that it hadn’t had before. 

YamatoCannon LCK
YamatoCannon is back as a coach, but in the LCK (Picture: Riot Games) 

 

Over two years, they’d adapted to a new era of League of Legends that involved heavy skirmishes rather than drawn-out, front-to-back late-game team fights. 

Most thought the reason behind such a change was the players. However, it wasn’t just that the players were playing more aggressively. The coaching staff was being heavily changed as well. 

T1 sought out LPL coach Kim “Kim” Jeong-soo and parted ways with arguably the greatest coach in League of Legends history, Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun to pursue the play-style they envisioned. It worked -- T1 lost only 4 series over LCK’s Spring 2020 season and smashed LPL’s 3rd best team, FunPlus Phoenix, at the Mid-Season Cup. 

 

 

Now Sandbox Gaming picks up EU’s coach YamatoCannon, who was one of the earliest to understand that the new era of League of Legends needed proactive play. 

The team finished 3rd in LCK’s 2019 Summer Split, but have failed to find this success half a year later as they finished second-last in spring. The coaching staff have made questionable drafting decisions such as not banning or picking priority champions such as Ornn and Sett. 

For fans of Sandbox Gaming, it’s a change that brings with it the possibility of a return to former glory. For the LCK, it means continued changes as each team tries to find successful play-styles that define them. 

The LCK’s Summer 2020 Season starts on June 17 at 5:00 pm KST, and can be watched on Twitch, YouTube, or lolesports.com.

Get an overview of all the stories and talking points heading into the opening week with our 'Five things to look out for in LCK preview'.

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