No team in the Big Four has been written off quite the same way as Western University. Written off by pundits (including this one) as underdogs in the East despite being the 1st Seed, The Purple almost ran the table against the rest of their region, yielding only one game to a feisty New York University in the regional semifinals. Despite being written off, Western has actually been extremely consistent regardless of the level of their opponents. They will need to maintain that consistency if they want National Championship hardware come June.
All things considered, this was one metric that we were totally wrong about. Despite not having the most explosive Objective Metrics in the Week 4 check-in, Western has proven that their consistent macro is probably their finest attribute.
Here is what we found about their objective control relative to other undefeated teams heading into Week 5:
Relative to the field, Western’s Objective Difference of 69 put them at an unflattering 14th out of 18 undefeated teams. This relative underperformance was exacerbated by Regional neighbors, Ottawa, whose own OBJ Diff. came in at a whopping 95. It honestly looked like Western was one of the weaker macro teams in College LoL at face value.
Even heading into the final showdown with Ottawa, Western looked like the inferior macro team. Despite shorter overall game times and a superior playoff record, WU had given up 15 more objectives than Ottawa. Then they rolled right through the Gee-Gees 3-0. So what happened?
The honest answer, oddly enough, is: “Nothing out of the ordinary.”
Generally speaking, Western has been extremely consistent this year in their objective control. The only serious dip was their series against NYU, which was the longest they’ve played all season (4 games), and included one of their only two game losses of the season (notably, the other one also came from NYU in Week 6 of the regular season). While they have only put up five series with 20+ Objective Difference, the Ontario boys have managed tremendous consistency in Objectives Taken. Further, they placed third in the Elite Eight with an average Objective Difference of 8.57 over the course of the full season, outranking both Columbia College (MO) (8.54) and Maryville (7.77). Their average also crushes Ottawa’s meagre 6.78.
Western’s most mystifying achievement is the near lack of change in their objective control from the first measurement point - Weeks 1-4 - and the last one - after the full season and regional playoffs. Most teams’ difference dipped as the season went on and they lost more games while playing tougher opponents. However, Western hardly missed a beat, even in the series where they did drop games. The result is almost no drop at all. Their average objective difference per game nudged from 8.63 in Weeks 1-4 to 8.57 over the whole season. While their Objectives Taken and Objectives Conceded both rose, it seems that this is more the product of the longer playoff series than a change in the team. The fact that this difference barely changed despite accounting for both of Western’s losses speaks to just how much they take and how little they lose even in defeats, which separates them markedly from the rest of the herd.
As a result, I would argue that Western is actually one of the most deserving teams in the National Championship circuit. It is incredibly difficult to maintain objective control in this way, and with a matchup against a surging, but ultimately less competitive Big Ten team in the first round, the Mustangs should have a good shot at a semifinal berth and a possible rematch with Ottawa.
Tune in to all of the action as we see who wins this year's national championship on June 7-10 in LA. Keep an eye on CSL's Facebook and Twitter pages for more League of Legends content, and be sure to check out our coverage of other games at cstarleague.com!
Matt Howard is the League of Legends editor for Collegiate StarLeague. He is also a Games Scholar finishing his Master’s in History at the University of Houston. His thesis is a sport history of League of Legends esports and Web 2.0 culture. Find him on Twitter @EHyungNim.