#8: PVPLive Team Ranking — (Link)
PVPLive’s team rankings begin with a tongue-in-cheek introduction, where every single sentence has a footnote making an inane joke about the inherent inaccuracy of power ranks. Despite devoting the entire introduction to making excuses, the ranking still employs the cowardly “tier” system instead of ranking the teams outright.
There are a couple of redeeming factors to be found. There’s one instance of incredible bravery, daring to rate TSM as a middling team despite this guaranteeing the article’s utter failure on /r/LeagueofLegends. Furthermore, the article argues that structural imbalances condemn International Wildcard teams to perpetual failure—a point that should concern anyone who enjoys watching Worlds.
Though I found some portions I enjoyed, the inexcusably dull use of tiers forces me to put this ranking in last place.
#7: Inven Team Rankings — (Link)
Like PVPLive, Korea’s Inven also employs a tier system that defeats the primary objective of a power rank: getting people to fight over arbitrary numbers given by writers who can’t possibly have watched every league.
Inven does manage to offer one, very tasty morsel by ranking TSM at #3 over SKT at #4. Korean fans are about as aware of NA LCS as NA LCS fans are aware of LMS (if not less), making this a supremely bold choice.
Additionally, Inven scores points by cutting down their analysis down to two, context-void bullet points on “strengths/weaknesses.” In some instances, they go as far as to substitute memes for actual insight. In a media environment where everyone obsesses over credibility, this was an oddly refreshing lack of effort.
#6: Inven Player Ranking — (Link)
As in their team ranking, Inven resort to the criminally bland tier system. However, compared to the team ranking, Inven do a slightly better job at stirring the pot with players.
Uzi and Meiko—shoo-ins on other rankings—are conspicuously missing from Inven’s list. Instead, we see LPL mercenaries Mata and Looper elbow their way in. In fact, Clearlove is the only Chinese-born player who is ranked at all. This is precisely the kind of controversy you want from a Korean source, the kind that makes you want to learn Chinese just so you can read reactions on Weibo.
However, I have to penalize Inven heavily for their absurd cop-out of making the entire Samsung team an honorable mention, despite placing them #5 in the team rankings. Inven doesn’t need to hedge on their bias; they should go all-in.
#5: theScore Player Ranking — (Link)
theScore’s player ranking gives you a terrible impression off the bat, beginning with a useless video (it’s literally just a slideshow with music) that auto-plays upon opening the page.
From there it doesn’t get much better. The three writers in charge of the ranking have proven they can bring a wealth of knowledge and insight to the fore in other pieces, but here they are hamstrung by sharing space in a cramped article. Individually, they may have had some interesting things to say, but instead they’re reduced to statements which boil down to “this player is good.”
Presenting all three writers’ individual rankings first and leaving the aggregate ranking till last is also a poor editorial choice. The end result is an article that doesn’t offer much substantive analysis, nor the rush of mainlining esports hot takes. Next time, theScore needs to make a decision: respect its writers more, or respect its audience less.
#4: SplitPush Team Ranking — (Link)
SplitPush presents the only ranking that uses a point system, measuring qualities such as “individual talent” and “experience” on a scale of 0 to 10. This, for obvious reasons, is an utterly useless way to rate professional League of Legends teams. It’s also an incredibly fun way to rate them.
There are few things nerds love better than taking topics that can only be tackled with complex, nuanced arguments, and reducing them to oversimplified systems of categories and numbers. Power rankings themselves are an example of this, and it makes perfect sense to pair them with a point system.
I love the general idea behind this ranking, and would enjoy seeing more lists of a similar style. Unfortunately, the writing is downright atrocious, and sometimes devolves into embarassing fanboyism. Alas.
#3: ESPN Team Ranking — (Link)
ESPN’s ranking feels surprisingly compact for a 2000 word piece, deftly picking out the most salient narratives and bits of context before wrapping them up in a neat little package. There are hints of Fionn’s dramatic flair scattered throughout, giving the article some much needed color. While that’s certainly a positive, it also makes one yearn for the light novel version of the ranking that he would have published on TeamLiquid.net three years ago.
It’s not a particularly ambitious article, which is fine. It’s a Worlds primer for the masses, a role it does a splendid job of fulfilling.
#2: theScore Team Ranking — (Link)
This is theScore at its best, delivering what you’ve come to expect from them: functional analysis that’s as thorough as it is dry. The article is permeated with an aura of ‘we did our work’—all it lacks is endnotes and a bibliography. One gets the impression that the content creation process at theScore is editors hacking 50,000 words of tactical meandering down to a manageable 3,000.
It would be interesting to see theScore’s writers completely unfettered and left to geek out with things like jungle pathing, wave manipulation, and ward heat maps. Or maybe it would be really fucking boring.
Overall, both the rankings and analysis are fairly uncontroversial, presenting few opportunities for argument except from fanatical supporters of certain teams. For “hardcore” fans, this is probably the least disagreeable ranking. It’s not an exciting spot to be in, but it’s hardly a bad spot to be in either.
#1: LoLesports Player Ranking — (Link)
The first thing you notice about LoLesports’ ranking is the jaw-dropping presentation that blows everyone else out of the water. The next thing you notice is that it’s not a standard article—it’s a series of short videos stitched together with minimal text.
Each individual player’s video runs about four minutes, which turns out to be a sweet spot in terms of length. All three panelists have enough time to get their points in without seeming rushed, but they also don’t wear out their welcome by droning on.
The ranking makes liberal use of what passes for “advanced” LoL stats, such as CS differential at 10 minutes, damage per minute, and so forth. All of these are tragically insufficient to describe what goes on in a game as complex as League of Legends, but that doesn’t really matter. They’re used expertly to achieve the desired goal: creating digestible, engaging content for people with short attention spans.
In that regard, the total length of video content—around 90 minutes—is a bit of a detriment. That’s far too daunting for the average fan. The quick scroll-through experience without video isn’t nearly as good, even if the layout is extremely slick.
Given the disparity in resources, it’s almost unfair to compare the other power ranks to LoLesports. But if Riot wants to use those resources to entertain me with something as frivolous as a power rank, then that’s the media’s problem. #1 it is.
* Dishonorable mentions*
Gamurs "Power Rankings"
Despite having the words “Power Rank” featured prominently in the headline, Gamurs offer a bait-and-switch article where a barebones ranking is tacked on to the end of a group stage preview/predictions. BOOOOOOOO. Still, kudos for taking my click; consider it a $0.002 well earned.
ESPN Top 5 Players by Lane
There's only one cop-out more disgusting than using tiers, and that's separating players by position. Does it make way, way more sense than mashing everyone into a single ranking? Yes. Is it way, way more lame? Also yes.