Esport – League of Legends: between Asia and Europe, a widening gap

Home » Esport – League of Legends: between Asia and Europe, a widening gap
Esport – League of Legends: between Asia and Europe, a widening gap

Three South Korean teams, one Chinese team: for the second consecutive year, the last four of the Worlds of League of Legendswhich kicks off this Saturday in Atlanta (with JD Gaming-T1 at 11 p.m.), is 100% Asian. A hegemony that no longer surprises anyone, since the two countries have shared all the world titles for eleven years. In 2022, the record for the West is particularly tough: only Rogue, the best European representative, managed to reach the quarter-finals, where he was quickly eliminated by JD Gaming (3-0). Why is the rest of the world so far behind? How can he catch up? Response elements.

The individual and collective level

For anyone who has watched the last elimination matches of the Worlds, the current superiority of the Asian teams in play is not in doubt. “I think Western players just make more unforced errors, explained Sweden’s Martin “Rekkles” Larssonfinalist of the Worlds in 2018, in stream recently. It’s a lot of little things that make the difference, you know. A little bit at the draft level, a little bit at the individual game level, a little bit at the team game level, and if you add it all up, it becomes a big gap. »

Still, most players aren’t losing out to Asians, clinging to past European success stories, including the Fnatic (2018) and G2 (2019) World Finals. Which remain epiphenomena. “Currently, they literally do everything better than us, confirms Hadrian “Duke” Forestierformer coach of Splyce and Vitality. Their coordination is impressive, they have better discipline, a better understanding of the game, they adapt better…”

The talent pool

If League of Legends is still one of the most popular games in Europe, it is far from being as established as in Asia and particularly in China, where the number of players is in the tens of millions. “That’s the main reason for their advance, assures Jérémy “Eika” Valdenaire, double French champion this year with LDLC OL. With such a pool, it’s easier to have a better player base. To communicate, it’s also an advantage, because you can make teams with players who speak the same language, for whom ideas come out more quickly. »

The large pool of talent also allows structures to create internal emulation. “In Asia, there are substitutes who are very good players in almost every structure, confirms Duke. Everyone has to gamble their life because there is competition. » A more complicated system to put in place in Europe, where the top players are rarer and cost more, which necessarily limits the size of the workforce.

The solo dick

With such a wealth of high-level players, Asians can also benefit from better quality individual training during their online ranked games. South Korea and especially China, with its super server accessible only to a select few, are well known for hosting the most competitive servers in the world. By playing against greater adversity, the pros acquire better reflexes. “It’s very important, because the solo queue is what gives you confidence, it’s your compass, enlighten Eika. If you are in the top 10 of the ranking, that you have good results with your champions, you know that you will be able to take them out in competitions. »

The competition format

Unlike those in the Western leagues (although this is expected to change in 2023), regular season matches in the Korean and Chinese leagues are currently played best-of-three (Bo3), with the first team to two wins winning. A seemingly innocuous difference, but deplored for several years by players, who see it as a competitive advantage. “In total, that means they play more matches on stage than us in the year, details Duke. And there is a real difference between training matches and official matches, which come close to what you are going to play the Worlds. It gets you used to the pressure of these kinds of matches, it allows you to play the important moments better. It’s not the most important factor, but it does make a small difference. »


For many Western coaches, the Asian advance is finally explained by a difference in state of mind. In EuropeI rarely felt players who gave me the impression of being starved to death, inhabited by the desire for victory, remembers Duke. Almost all have no academic or professional background, they have never made an effort in their life and it is a dream life for them. They don’t know what it’s like to get out of their comfort zone, hurt themselves to progress, do things they don’t want to do… Very few understand it. »

Partly due to differences in the educational system, this discrepancy is often put forward to explain Asian superiority in many competitive games, from Starcraft in the 2000s. “They are raised in competition, from school, concludes Duke. I’m not saying that their system is perfect, it is sometimes extreme, especially in Korea, but the result is there. » On these Worlds, he was eloquent: on all of the Worlds, the Chinese and the Koreans only released three games to the rest of the world…

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