Has RNG Bin better, or are they Breathing fresh air? Analysis on Bin vs Breathe in 2022 LPL Spring

The off-season is normally full of roster turmoil and changes — mostly for the teams that have the free time on their hands. However, after hoisting the 2022 MSI Trophy, it took only a few days before Royal Never Give Up announced some news of their own.

After only one (very successful) Split with Bin as their top laner, RNG was already making changes ahead of Summer:

Initial Reactions

Fans were quick to point out that there were talks of these players originally joining teams in this order over the longer, end of season break. However, to see a change like this during the Season — let alone after RNG won the most recent International event — is pretty jarring for everyone. Add in the fact that Bilibili Gaming was ranked 8th in an LPL Spring Split of 17 teams, and you’ll get even more question mark pings about it.

2022 LPL Spring Standings (via Leaguepedia)

BLG was just barely in the top half of the League during the Regular Season, and managed to secure themselves 10 Championship Points in the Playoffs — losing early on to Top Esports — who would eventually lose twice to RNG in Winner’s Semifinals and Grand Finals.

2022 LPL Spring Playoffs Results (via Leaguepedia)

It has to be obvious by this point that the best team in the Region (and currently, best team in the World per MSI results) would be looking to take a player from a lower ranked team. Results of a team are not representative of the individual player, so join in me analyzing what Breathe can bring to the Rift for RNG, and how he stacks up compared to Bin.

Clarifying points about the data set

Before we dive in to the analysis portion, it’s important to establish some general knowledge about the data being used to do it. The data used is available courtesy of Tim Sevenhuysen at Oracle’s Elixir. Anyone can take a look at the data using his website and tables, but you can also download the raw data he extracts for your own use. I have downloaded his most recent 2022 Season file (as of writing, the 06/02/2022 file) and compiled it in my own ways to do this analysis. The analysis will be looking at the 2022 LPL Spring Regular Season and Playoffs, as Bin and Breathe played against the same competition in their domestic League and provides a less bias opinion than International opponents would for just Bin.

The other note is that the LPL data is incomplete compared to other Regions — this means a lot of “timestamped” data is unavailable. Because the Region has a different data structure than other professional Riot Leagues, people are unable to pull the data using an API and instead scrape data from the LOL.QQ website’s Scoreboard data. Stats fans maybe be familiar with such as CSD@8/10/14/15 and GD@8/10/14/15 are not natively available this way. The data set also does not have full Team related stats — Turret Plates, Heralds, and most “First” Objectives are unavailable with this limited data.

To provide the best analysis possible, I took some liberties and estimated parts of the data using available data. For example, you will see CS, GOLD, KILL and ASSIST@8/14 stats in my analysis. Any timestamped data listed here has been calculated based off finding the per minute averages for Teams or Players and then multiplying it by the amount of game time. There is also no easy way to determine an opponent using the data set, so I have manually calculated some opposing stats to provide “difference” stats (CSD/GD) for only Bin and Breathe. I do not expect this to be 100% accurate compared to someone having access to the data and finding these stats in there, but for the analysis’s sake — it will be sufficiently safe to use.

Additionally, all of the visuals you will see have been created by me and are available for reuse with credit. They have links below them to the Tableau Public version where you can interact with them. Sadly, Medium does not support Tableau embeds natively, and I have used Codepen.io to embed them, requiring you to run the script to use the visualization. I have also added static images for users that can not work the embeds.

With the full disclaimer out of the way, let us begin!

Bin and Breathe — Analysis of play

The LPL Top Lane has been a stacked lineup to talent in the recent years. Players such as TheShy, 369, Flandre, Zoom, and most recently Rich are all common names to see in discussion forums such as the League of Legends subreddit. Even RNG Mid Laner Xiaohu spent a year in the role and was able to push the boundaries of what it meant in the LPL. Bin has history in the role as well, taking 2nd place at Worlds 2020 with Suning (now Weibo Gaming) before a quieter 2021. Breathe does not have this prestige, with his crowning achievement being 2nd place in NEST 2021 with Team WE (losing to Bin’s SN).

Below, you can see how many recognizable names played Top Lane in the 2022 LPL Spring Split, and how both Bin and Breathe stacked up to the competition.

LPL Top Lane Stats — Total Game

If the visual does not run, you may view it on my Tableau Profile
2022 LPL Spring Top Lane Stats sorted by Games

Both players had a large sample size of games played during the Spring, tied for most and third most games played. Both players also rank highly in their Kills — with Breathe having the most Kills per game (KILL/G) of any LPL Top Laner. It did mean Breathe had less assists, meanwhile Bin ranked 10th in Assists per game (ASSIST/G) and was also 10 spots below Breathe in Kill Participation (KP). Bin did have a slightly higher Kill-Death-Assist Ratio (KDA) than Breathe, ranking 3rd amongst LPL Top Laners. The KP stat itself speaks to Breathe being slightly more involved in the team’s fights than Bin was, and anecdotally RNG is a team that plays a more controlled style of game where team fights matter more.

The big difference between players lies in their damage related numbers. Breathe’s Damage per Minute (DMG/M) stat is 62 higher than Bin’s, and his Damage Share (DMG%) is 2.8pp higher. While Champion Pool has some influence on these stats (more on that below) the stats show that Breathe gets more kills and deals more damage — which are usually desirable stats from a solo laner. However, a Top lane player is very rarely a hard carry in professional League of Legends, and needs to put up these numbers without demanding too many resources from their Bot and Mid lane counterparts. Breathe’s 23.9% Earned Gold Share (GOLD% Earn) is slightly higher than Bin’s 23.2% — but Bin’s Gold per Minute (GOLD/M) is the highest for LPL Top Laners at 365. Bin’s gold is a tad inflated due to how successful RNG were as a team, while Breathe’s 3rd-ranking 356 GOLD/M is slightly more reflective of his higher Kills and KP. Regardless of how it is earned, both players get their fair share of the resources. How efficient they are with them can be seen in the Damage per Gold (DMG/GOLD) stat — while neither ranks super high compared to their counterparts, Bin is ranked 2nd to last with 1.00 DMG/GOLD. Breathe on the other hand is ranked 13th with 1.16 DMG/GOLD, meaning he is using his higher GOLD% more efficiently than Bin is.

RNG & BLG Resource Share Stats by Player — 2022 LPL Spring Split

When looking at Resource Share, you also need to consider how the team breaks down the resources it has among it’s players. Having and high GOLD%, high DMG% in one role may sap resources from a more traditional carry role, or may be reliant on a Jungle or Support player taking even less resources than normal to funnel into a third carry role.

Both players come from teams that follow the “standard” distribution of gold — Bot lane takes the most, followed by Mid lane, then Top, Jungle, Support. On the side of BLG however, they played with two different Bot laners during the Spring Split — Doggo and Uzi. Anecdotally, Uzi is a player that traditionally demands higher resource share from his teams and enjoys playing scaling Champion picks, which pairs better with players that have larger, more supportive Champion Pools. Doggo on the other hand, had a very similar GOLD% (Earn) to RNG’s Bot Laner GALA — and overall Breathe was still able to secure more resources and have a higher DMG%.

The big differences between teams are the Jungle and the Mid Lane. Where BLG still had Weiwei taking more resources than Wei, his overall DMG% was down — which would contribute to Breathe’s higher share. RNG’s Mid laner Xiaohu took 1.5pp more gold than BLG Fofo, but only ended up dealing 0.3pp higher DMG% overall.

Where Breathe may struggle in the resource share game on RNG is how he can perform with slightly fewer resources (0.7pp less), or will other roles adjust to compensate — namely Mid Lane. On the other side, Bin has the opportunity to get some more resources for his team to try and shine — but his lower DMG/GOLD from the above table makes that seem less likely to happen. With that in mind, chances are that Fofo or Doggo will be getting a little bit more GOLD% (Earn) compared to last Split, and we will have to see if they use it well.

LPL Top Lane Stats — Lane Phase

End of game scorelines aren’t the only ways to look at how a player is performing — a lot of professional play revolves around a player knowing how to play the early stages on the game. Champion match up can influence the lane phase in different ways — do you pick to survive and provide for your team later on? Or do you play to win your lane and control the Rift on your side of the map?

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2022 LPL Spring Top Lane Early Game Stats sorted by Games

Bin is the player that stick out between the two in the early phases of the game. He has higher Kills and Assists (K+A) at both 8 and 14 minutes than Breathe does, which could mean either RNG focuses on Top side more early game, or Bin is more open to grouping for objectives early on. With top-half ranked Creep Score (CS) numbers, it doesn’t seem like Bin is sacrificing that much to be involved in these early plays either. Breathe does have slightly higher CS@14 than Bin does, but 2 CS is roughly 36–42 gold. Bin still has higher Total Gold (GOLD) at both 8 and 14 minutes, showing that the advantages RNG gets from his involvement is worth more than the CS he misses. Bin ranks 1st at both timestamps for his GOLD, while Breathe isn’t too far behind in 3rd at both timestamps.

Bin vs Breathe estimated CS and Gold Difference Lane Stats

Looking at a direct comparison to their lane opponents, while Bin has slightly lower CS totals on average, his CS Differential (CSD) is still higher than Breathe’s on average. That means while Bin may have lower CS numbers, his opponents are also getting less CS. There could be a multitude of factors for this, such as how much Jungle attention the lane gets, if Bin has favorable Champion match ups, etc. Regardless of the reason though, Bin is still staying ahead of his opponents. Breathe is also quite close to Bin in his CSD numbers, but that means his opponents are also getting more CS on average.

Even in the early game, the big difference between the two players is their damage output. Breathe ranks 9th in DMG/M at both 8 and 14 minutes, while Bin is 19th at both timestamps. Since these timestamp stats are determined by the averages I’ve calculated to make up for missing data, the constant 62 DMG/M difference for Breathe is true for these stats as well, so they could have slightly more or less damage output overall. Regardless, the data here shows that Breathe hurts more in the early game, even if he is involved with less K+A than Bin is — signalling his Champion picks may be more lane-focused.

A Deeper Dive on Damage per Minute

A recurring point in the analysis so far has been Breathe’s damage output compared to that of Bin. To take a closer look at where they compare to the rest of the Top Laners in the LPL, we can look at how damage is distributed in the League, instead of just where they rank.

If the visual does not run, you may view it on my Tableau Profile
Box and Whisker chart showing LPL Top Lane Avg. DMG/M — marks scaled by Games Played

The above chart breaks down all Top lane players in the 2022 LPL Spring Split on two axis — how much DMG/M they averaged, and how many games they played during the Split. That means that outliers with low games played (such as Victory Five Invincible or LGD Garvey) are way to the left of players that have played a full Split plus Playoff games. Likewise, players with extremely high or low DMG/M numbers fall on the “whiskers” of the plot — showing that they are outliers. Players such as Top Esports Zoom are lower in DMG/M due to games played (among other factors), while players such as Weibo Gaming TheShy are outliers due to their incredibly high damage Champion Pools.

The “box” portion of the plot showcases where the majority of players fall with their DMG/M numbers. The Median (avg) for Top Lane is 467.3 DMG/M, while the “Upper Hinge” (quartile) caps at 480.6, and the “Lower Hinge” hits 412.7 It also lists the MAX and MIN values, which are represented by the whiskers. The box area is where we concern ourselves for this analysis, and I have highlighted both the players we are looking at the help. This area will inform us at to what is considered “acceptable” or “worrisome” for a Top lane Player.

As mentioned above, the DMG/M difference between Breathe and Bin was only 62 (62.6 without rounding) — but with so many players in the LPL around them, a pure ranking doesn’t demonstrate how much that can be. The difference between the 75% and 25% on this above chart is 67.9 — only 5.3 higher than the difference between Breathe and Bin. That means that while Breathe falls just below the Upper Hinge for DMG/M, Bin is actually at the cusp of the Lower Hinge — even falling 0.1 DMG/M below it (not that much to be honest). The pure damage upgrade between players makes for an interesting conversation in regards to this trade deal, and can be looked at even further with Champion Pools in consideration. It would be easy to write off a player as higher damage if they only pick damage-dealing Champions (such as TheShy), but if their Champion Pools are similar at all, this could point towards being a strict upgrade to RNG’s damage output in Summer.

Champion Pool Breakdown

It’s been referred to a few times in this analysis already, but Champion pick has a big influence on a player’s stats. Top lane is one of the roles that feels this the most, as the role has a large amount of flexibility in the role it can provide to a team composition. A large amount of competitive Top lane picks are considered “Tanks” — which means they have lower damage output, higher durability to soak up damage in fights, and often are the ones initiating things for their team in the later stages of the game. However, there have also been a good amount of damage dealing Champions in the Top lane during the 2022 Spring. Some of these characters poke away at enemy health bars so their team can engage, racking up large damage numbers with area-of-effect damage on multiple targets. Others are the “melee carries” that take some time to get going and look to take advantages early so they can scale into the late game carry their team needs them to be.

Mastery of multiple roles makes for the best type of Top laner, but it’s difficult for some players to wear so many hats for their team. With a game that patches every 2 weeks, Top laners need to be on top of their game at all times to be as effective as possible for their teams. With all this in mind, let’s see what type of players Breathe and Bin are, and how changing them may (or may not) also change how RNG plays.

RNG Bin & BLG Breathe Champion Pools — Stats by Champion for additional content

Right away we see that Breathe’s Champion Pool is slightly larger than Bin’s by two Champions — and the pool varies a little bit by player as well. Already, Breathe has a point for more Champions played, which is always appealing to a team so long as they can play them well.

For additional context on the player’s Champion Pools, let’s look at the most picked Top Lane Champions in the LPL Spring Regular Seasonand Playoffs:

2022 LPL Spring Top Lane Picks (via GamesOfLegends)

Between both parts of the Spring Split, Jayce, Graves, and Gnar were extremely valuable picks for teams. Gwen was a pick that fell off in Playoffs (and picked up again at MSI) while Kennen became more popular in Playoffs than the Regular Season (from 6th most picked to T-2nd). Jayce and Graves are viewed as damage dealing Champions, while Gnar and Kennen provide both AoE damage and initiation to a team composition. Gwen is a self-sufficient threat that can join fights and help protect objectives, but also a power split pushing threat that also provides some much needed Ability Power (AP) damage from the Top lane (something Kennen also provides if built that way).

Both Breathe and Bin had Gwen as their most played Champion, which makes sense as it was the most picked Top Laner in the LPL Spring Split. Jacye and Graves saw similar high amounts of play between both players, while Bin was the player with more Gnar games (9 compared to Breathe’s 4). Gnar was not very high on the ban list in Regular Season or Playoffs, which goes to show it was a choice for BLG to not prioritize Gnar for Breathe.

One similarity between these players is the lack of “Tank” Champions played. Besides Gnar, who can be built as a damage-absorbing front line pick, Gragas is the only other beefy pick they have played. Breathe has managed to deal more damage and have a higher KP on the pick, but it’s interesting to see a lack of Sion or Ornn from either player, and speaks to both an LPL preference and how their teams want to use them in the same ways.

Where the players differ is the number of unique picks to each player. While Breathe also has more total Champions to his name, this tells us he has some picks Bin has not touched during Spring. While Bin does have a single game of Akshan in his Pool, Breathe has a single Riven game — but more importantly has 4 games each of Fiora and Tryndamere. While the unique picks are more situational and may depend on lane match ups or specific team needs, having two Champions he is comfortable playing multiple times that others are not gives Breathe extra appeal to Coaches and Analysts who may be responsible for a team’s pick and ban phase prep work.

Performance on Champions Played

Besides how often the Champions are played by each player, it is important to look at how they perform when given those picks. To help with this, let’s look at a different style of visual instead of just the text below Champion icons, again cenetering on damage as a core reason for RNG wanting Breathe.

If the visual does not run, you may view it on my Tableau Profile. Due to the size and readability of the visualization, I suggest viewing it in full screen and coming back to the article
Bin vs Breathe by Champion, grouping determined by DMG/M. Due to the size of this visualization, some of the labels may distort. I suggest checking it out on my Tableau Profile to get a better view

The top picks that we identified early — Jayce, Graves and Gnar — are featured at the top of the visualization (with Gnar in the 2nd row as being less damage, more tanky). Bin’s Jayce overall out-shines Breathe’s play on the pick, while both have relatively high DMG/M and DMG/GOLD. On Graves, both players are again close in their DMG/GOLD, with Breathe having a higher DMG/M. Gnar is also slightly in favor of Breathe as far as damage numbers go, although earlier we did see Bin with a higher KDA and DMG% and more than twice the games played.

Bin’s Champion Pool has many more games of both Jax and Camille compared to Breathe — two picks that pack a punch in the later game and are often difficult to deal with as a split pushing threat — but don’t always deal the most damage through fights. Recalling the lower KP that Bin had compared to Breathe, it could be that these Champions are influencing Bin’s involvement in fights as the game gets later. Breathe’s play on both of these characters has a higher KP than Bin does when choosing them, while his Camille play also had better DMG/M and DMG/GOLD stats.

In his repertoire, Breathe has 2 more games of Kennen and 3 more games of Akali in his Champion Pool. As mentioned above, Kennen is oftened picked for the AoE damage and a way to start fights — while Akali is an assassin Champion that has both great 1v1 duel potential and high burst damage to pick off enemy carries. These Champion picks maybe have an influence on both Breathe’s higher KP stat — but also his higher Kill numbers. Compared to Bin’s play on those picks though, Breathe has a lower KP on both, but a better KDA on Akali and multitudes more damage on both picks (as seen by the size of his Akali block compared to Bin’s). Breathe is also much more efficient with the damage he deals on these Champions, blowing Bin’s DMG/GOLD out of the water by 0.42 on Kennen and 0.65 on Akali.

Diving into DMG/GOLD — How it can inform our analysis

The reason DMG/GOLD is a stat of interest in this analysis is because it takes into account efficiency of resources given, not just pure output of damage. In total, we saw earlier that Breathe had a higher DMG/GOLD in Spring compared to Bin. Looking at each Champion played by the two, Breathe has a more efficient damage output on 7 of the 10 shared picks. Jayce, Jax and Irelia are the 3 that fall on Bin’s side of the stat, where Jayce has high potential damage to Champions, Jax and Irelia are on the lower end of the damage spectrum.

To put the earlier Kennen and Akali numbers into a larger, easier to understand perspective — consider numbers you would see in your own gameplay. A Kill is 300 gold and an Assist is 150 gold, which means a break-even 1.00 DMG/GOLD would be 300 per Kill and 150 per Assist. Breathe is dealing 63 more damage per Assist and 126 more damage per Kill as Kennen, and 98 more damage per Assist and 195 more damage per Kill as Akali compared to Bin’s damage on those Champions. That may amount to just a few auto attacks or skills hit per takedown, but in a game with 10 kills that’s 630–1,950 more damage from your Top laner. Anecdotally, for a role that traditionally ranks 3rd in damage dealt on a team, that could mean a massive swing in fights or a picking off of a key target that wasn’t there before. For those following the competitive scene for a while — that could be the difference between a normal Kennen ulti, and a Smeb Kennen ulti.

Team play — How Top lane may change playstyles

Team Stats from 2022 LPL Spring Split, sorted alphabetically

Although the LPL data does not give us insight into how a player is prioritized during lane phase, or how many turret plates are taken and when the towers may fall in different lanes, Team stats can give us a small window into how they may function as a unit.

RNG had both the highest Barons per Game (Avg. Barons) and highest Baron Control (BARON%) in the 2022 LPL Spring Split. They also had the 3rd longest Average Game Time (Avg. GT) in the Region, anecdotally leading to situations where wave management and map control mattered more than for other teams. Their Dragon Control (DRAKE%) was also 4th in the League at 55.3%, which could mean a prioritization of Dragon Soul for their longer, more controlled games. Their Team DMG/M was bottom half of the LPL, while their Combined Kills per Minute (CK/M) was 7th. This doesn’t neccessarily mean they didn’t fight as much as other teams, but could point towards choosing when and where to fight as they had more of a lead in their games. Longer games also can mean lower damage if the action doesn’t keep up, and not every RNG game played out the exact same way.

One key stat that is missed here is the priority around Rift Herald Control (HERALD%) and how often a team took the First Herald (FH). As a unique-to-Top-lane early game objective, teams that devote resources to top side of the Rift are often higher ranked in their HERALD%. Where the Herald eye gets used can also shift the tempo of a lane entirely, as the FH being secured before turret plates fall means a large influx of gold for the player located in that lane.

Overall, RNG looks to control the pace of their games and racks up objective control across the map. A player that can be relied on to be efficient with their resources is a shining light for a team that tends to play for longer, meticulous games. Not losing a given advantage would be crucial to a Top Laner that was given a carry-type Champion, and a player that is willing to group when things are set up on Tanky picks would secure many more wins for the team.

Closing statements

At the end of the day, this analysis isn’t meant to prove whether one player is a strict upgrade or “better” than another one. The goal of this analysis is to provide context and lift the hood on why teams such as RNG are making roster moves, even after winning their domestic League and MSI.

What this dive into the numbers has uncovered is that Breathe is more of a damage threat from Top lane, while providing a very similar role that Bin does in building a team composition. While both players have their strengths and weaknesses, Breathe has shown to be more efficient with the resources given to him as a member of BLG. A slower lane phase, a few more deaths, some missed assists, but overall larger Champion Pool and tactical use make Breathe an appealing pick for anyone.

I wish both RNG and BLG the best of luck with the 2022 LPL Summer Split rosters — be sure to tune in when the Season continues in just one week from now on June 10th. Thank you for reading, and remember to always trust the numbers!

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