During Week 3 of the EU LCS, spectators were given the opportunity to see something that rarely ever happens in this era of pro League of Legends: The top three teams in Europe all lost to teams that were at the bottom of the table or perceived to be worse, excusing Misfits of course.
Thanks to this series of events, a particular buzzword began floating around the esports community among experts and pundits: parity.
Parity, in LCS terms, can be defined as the competitive gap between the top teams and the bottom teams during a given split. A good example is the LCK, where there is pretty good parity in the league, save for SK Telecom T1. But, let's move back west to Europe.
For the last few years, the parity gap in both EU and NA has been growing wider, as new or existing teams continue to perceptively get worse, while older teams like Team SoloMid, Cloud9, Unicorns of Love, and H2K Gaming get better as time progresses.
This split seems to be different, as games seem to be getting closer and closer between top teams like G2 Esports, and bottom tier teams like ROCCAT, who actually took a game off of the former in Spring 2017.
But does this mean that, as defined by LCS parity, the competition is getting better, or are the top teams getting worse? The argument could go both ways, but if this weekend is our case study, then the top teams are getting worse.
Let's exclude Fnatic, who are in the top spot for the first time in a long time, so they are an outlier to this study. For Unicorns of Love and G2 Esports, it is quite obvious that if you look beyond statistics and at individual and team play, both teams are not the same as the ones that competed in the Spring Finals.
UOL not only don't have the same objective control as last year (55.8 percent drag control and 65 percent Baron control compared to 63.8 percent and 81.1 percent respectively), they also seem to have lost their macro efficiency, taking an approach that screams 5v5 ARAM in the mid lane instead of playing around vision and rotations.
For G2 Esports, the team is experiencing a post-MSI hangover, posting negatives in Gold Differentials per Minute and Tower Differentials at 15 minutes where last split they posted positives of 1,002 and 0.45. G2's objective control is more abysmal than UOL's and the top side of their map has been grossly under-performing.
Compare this to Splyce, whose statistics in almost all of the same categories have gotten worse, and Misfits, who are just as bad, but have the excuse that they lost Lee "KaKAO" Byung-kwon.
So before you start believing that western regions are getting better as a region in parity, take a step back and look at the numbers. I think they might surprise and possibly depress you.
Photo courtesy of LoL Esports