In a world where most teams are shifting power from friends and players to coaches and organizations, Alliance is an anomaly in the League of Legends competitive scene, centered on the work and dedication of its founder, Froggen, and the teammates he gathered. And yet, Alliance is going into Worlds with a dominating performance in the Summer Split and playoffs. The only question now is whether Alliance will be able to perform as well at Worlds, against a diverse group of talented opponents. Let’s take a look, by analyzing Alliance’s performance thus far, the current meta, and their group.
Journey to Worlds
Alliance was formed after Froggen’s previous team, Evil Geniuses, failed to qualify for the 2013 World Championships. Froggen created the team with the idea that a team based on the concept that the players should not reach a mechanical ceiling in their quest towards being the best in the world. His team was hailed from the start as the “Super Team,” but they did not live up to that name until the Summer Split of 2014, when they stormed through their competition to claim the top European seed at the World Championships.
Let's first consider the Alliance’s mechanical ability, which is the sum total of each member’s individual ability and is ultimately a measure of the team’s raw potential. Teams with high mechanical ability can consistently beat teams with low synergy, because they have the ability to outplay their opposition. In Alliance’s case, Froggen sought to gather players with great mechanics, suffering short-term losses in the Spring Split until the players’ synergy could catch up to their individual skill.
We can measure mechanical ability by comparing the team’s KDAs to the LCS average.
Alliance’s high KDA with respect to the LCS average is a result of their ability to consistently outplay their opponents in skirmishes and teamfights, helping them recover from early deficits and make decisive calls around objectives. Every member of Alliance has a KDA that is higher than their respective role’s average. Of particular note is Froggen’s KDA of 7.28, almost double the mid average.
The high KDAs suggest that Alliance is a team with high mechanical ability. However, each member’s above-average KDA may be a side-effect of Alliance’s high winrate (27-9 in the Summer Split and playoffs). To find out whether that is the case, we can split their games according to wins and losses, and then compare their KDAs to the LCS average.
We can also use CS scores to measure skill in laning, which is a component of mechanical ability. It measures how efficiently players can move and kill minions while preventing their lane opponents from doing the same. Each creep score is measured as the average difference between the player and their lane opponent at various points in the game in wins and losses.
The graphs also reveal some interesting differences in behavior when Alliance is ahead or behind. In the early game, Shook generally has a larger CS lead on his opponent in losses than in wins, perhaps implying that Alliance may have had a stronger early game if Shook spent more time ganking or establishing vision control in the games instead of farming. Wickd tends to fall behind during losses, while Tabzz is even by the 20 minute mark, but their relative CS leads at the end of losses may mean that Alliance reallocates their resources from Tabzz to Wickd in an attempt to make him relevant, but he is unable to have enough of an impact on teamfights to lead to a win, when the gold may have been more effective on Tabzz.
How well players focus or disengage from teamfights and the amount of cohesion they display in high-pressure situations is a result of how well the players understand and communicate with each other in game. This team synergy is slowly developed through experience, as the players learn each other’s responses to specific situations, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Understanding each player’s tendencies also allows teams to identify the strategies and compositions that are best-suited to their style of play.
A team’s synergy can be measured by their the team’s participation in kills and how well they control objectives. Kill participation also demonstrates how well the team coordinates teleports and sets up ganks for their opponents.
Despite their dominant win percentage, the data suggests that Alliance may have further to go in terms of objective control, although they have improved significantly since their formation, when they were unable to work as a team to defeat their opponents. Alliance currently only controls 57% of dragons, most of them due to lack of early vision or prioritizing other objectives.
They do however control 68.42% of Barons, which somewhat reflects their win percentage, and they have the second highest GPM in the league, showing that they have the ability to optimize resource collection around the map. Alliance’s high kill participation also shows that they are highly coordinated and approach team fights and skirmishes as a cohesive unit.
If we divulge kill participation for each player, we can see that, in wins, Alliance’s players participate in more kills than the LCS average. In contrast, their losses show a dramatic decrease in Wickd’s and Shook’s kill participation, who fall below the LCS average, as Alliance are unable to leverage their primary strengths to secure the win. Froggen, however, participates in ~9% more kills than his fellow LCS midlaners in both wins and losses, demonstrating his consistent impact in all of Alliance’s games.
Teams with strategic depth adapt well to changes in the meta and the changes between the games in a series. They can successfully play multiple types of team compositions and understand where to allocate their resources during a game to ensure victory against a variety of opponents.
Strategic depth comes from applying thoughtful analysis and introspection to the team’s playstyle, and is supported by individual ability and synergy. In the same way that a skilled team with great synergy can lose due to poor strategic direction, a team that displays a deep understanding of the game may be unable to translate their analysis into victory if the players lack skill or synergy.
Most teams in the LCS are limited strategically by either the skill of their players or lack of analysis and understanding of team compositions. Alliance’s players leveraged their innate mechanical strength to experiment and find success with more champions than the rest of the LCS, the only exceptions being Cyanide in the jungle and nRated as support.
Overall, the Alliance members individually have shown a great deal of adaptability in their picks. This adaptability means that the team could utilize a range of strategies during the summer to bolster their unique strengths in each meta. The result is that Alliance demonstrated a fairly even distribution of playstyles, though they prioritized teamfight compositions most often. This makes sense because it allows Alliance to use their finesse in fights to make aggressive plays and create opportunities.
At the same time, Alliance chose to use intelligent map movements in order to win with siege and split-push competitions in 16.7% and 9.7% of the games each.
Alliance’s group, Group D, is the most interesting of the four groups at Worlds with Alliance, Cloud 9, and Najin White Shield forming an exciting triumvirate of talent that will create some of the best games in the tournament. Members of Cloud 9 have recently demonstrated their mechanical skill in the Korean ladder by achieving Challenger and Master tiers in a short period of time, and have always been hailed as a strategically apt team after the mid game. Najin White Shield are famous for their perfect execution in the late game, and demolished a much-hyped gauntlet of teams, such as KT Arrows and SK Telecom T1, to reach Worlds. Despite their dominance in the EU LCS, Alliance will need to focus on refining certain aspects of their game to compete against these teams.
Early in the game, Alliance focuses on either farming or creating picks, but not necessarily controlling dragons. Many teams take advantage of this to establish early leads or roam freely in Alliance’s jungle. In their loss against Copenhagen Wolves, CW exposed this weakness and were able to completely take control of the game using those early advantages, despite being a weaker team both mechanically and strategically. Ordinarily, Alliance can recover from these early losses through superior teamfights and skirmishes, but since Cloud 9 and NJWS excel at converting their leads into victories, it is paramount for Alliance address to their early game plan.
In the face of adversity, Alliance has to maintain composure and play to the unique strengths of their team members in order to find success against much stronger opponents than were present during Season 3. This involves looking at past data to identify areas of weakness, developing a plan to erase or mitigate those deficiencies, testing the efficacy of these strategies in scrimmages against other strong opponents, and, most importantly, having faith in the ability of their team. Alliance is one of the strongest teams in the western scene, and can beat any opponent when performing at their best. Hopefully their performance at the World Championships will reflect the confident team that finished at the top of the EU gauntlet rather than the inexperienced team that entered the Spring Split earlier this year.