4 Fantasy LoL Lessons for 2016

We only got 3 months of Fantasy LoL in 2015, but those 3 months were packed with exciting moments, rising and falling of teams, and lots of big contest winners here on DraftKings!

As we move towards the NA and EU LCS seasons kicking off next week (which’ll be our first Fantasy LoL contests of the new year), it’s important that we take a look back on the lessons we learned so we can do better in 2016. Here are four big things to keep in mind as we dive into 2016.

Koreans are still the King

It finally happened. A semi-professional team from Korea beat professional teams from all of the other regions to win an international tournament at IEM Cologne. But that was just the final verdict. Korean teams dominated throughout the entire World Championship tournament, despite lots of naysayers predicting China would usurp them this time.

This lesson won’t be immediately practical in 2016, as we step back into local regional leagues. But we’ll definitely see international tournaments sprinkled around the schedule and it’s important that we remember that Korea’s domination last year came after a massive exodus of their top players. It can’t be understated how many starting players they lost in 2015 to other regions—and they STILL embarrassed every other region. They didn’t lose nearly as many players this year, so we shouldn’t doubt their ability to continue to curb-stomp the other regions until proven otherwise.

AD Carries are Key

Throughout Worlds, SKT was the one 100%-guaranteed team we could rely on. You had to pay a lot to get them on your roster, but you always knew you’d get your money’s worth. And that was most true for Bang, the team’s ADC, who routinely turned in the most points of any single player each day.

We’ve talked a few times here about how “swingy” fantasy points for ADCs are, because they rely on hiding on the back of fights, dishing out damage while being protected by their teammates. An ADC on a winning team has an impenetrable wall around them, but an ADC on a losing team suddenly finds themself alone and vulnerable. So grabbing a top-tier ADC like Bang became top priority for a lot of contest winners.

That should be even more true in 2016, due to changes that Riot has made to the game. Matches are now much faster and snowball more quickly in favor of the first team to get an advantage. A lot of that is due to all of the new items that ADCs can purchase and the upgrades that many ADC champions got. Studs like Bang will have no problem amassing huge points in this new version of the game.

Supports are Safe Team-Wide Targets

We ran across many brand-new teams in the international tournaments last year, which made it hard to know which player to pick for your roster. Is their mid laner the key to their strategy, or is it their top laner? Maybe both those are weak and they really rely on the jungler ganking in early game to get them ahead in lane? We had no way of knowing for sure what teams with no professional experience playing against each other would try.

But we found away around all those pesky hurdles: the Support player. Support players facilitate their teammates’ success and should always be around when big fights or plays are happening—that’s their job. So, if a team wins, the support player will always soak up a fair amount of assists, at the very least. If they lose, the support won’t get those assists.

So, let’s remember in 2016: when we want to bet on a team in general, without committing to a specific player, grab the support player. It’s a cheap position that should always rise with the winning team, no matter what strategy they use.

Skill Isn’t Enough

We went into Worlds analyzing player skill, because that was the only hard data we had on some of these teams that had never played each other (or even played against the same team) before. But we quickly found out that skill isn’t the most important factor about a team. China had talent, but didn’t take the tournament as seriously as other regions. While Korea and the rest were bootcamping for months beforehand, Chinese teams took a vacation and stopped playing the game together entirely.

Going into 2016, we’ll strive to provide more insight into the practice regimes and management style of teams in the contests each day. Many teams jealously guard that information for fear of giving away info to their opponents, but we’ll tap all of our resources to try and get you that information as early as possible, so you can make the most informed decisions.

But, despite all that, let’s be honest, there are still a few player names that you can still blindly follow. We’re looking at you, Faker.

The closest Josh Augustine ever got to going pro in esports was beating his older brother at Street Fighter. He works as a game designer at Daybreak Games. He’d love to talk with you on Twitter.