During patch 8.20, a build that Riot dubbed “Strategically Minded Sion” rose in popularity (and infamy). Known more commonly as “inting Sion,” the build sacrifices KDA to draw as much map pressure as possible by mindlessly pushing towers, either winning the game himself or enabling one’s team to do so.
Intuitively, the strategy might seem ineffective, because dying gives the enemy gold and tends to relieve map pressure—however, like a new TSM roster, appearances can be deceiving. It really doesn’t matter how many times Sion dies, since with his Soul Furnace’s HP-stacking passive he’ll be inherently tanky as long as he knows what minions are, and the more he dies the less gold he’ll be worth (although as of preseason 9, the new bounty system has changed this). As a result, it becomes worthwhile for Sion to just trade his life for turrets. League is ultimately an objective-based game, and Sion’s abilities allow for a lot of turret damage, as well as waveclear that increases pushing power. Combined with Demolish, Titanic Hydra, Zz’Rot, and Sterak’s, Sion might as well have a wrecking ball instead of an axe. Then, there’s the issue of solo queue. Dealing with potent split pushers of any kind requires proper coordination amongst team members, and given with the Hue Jackson-like leadership of many teams, inting Sion can cause quite a snafu if not dealt with properly.
On October 3rd, a Reddit post put this build into the spotlight. To understand what came next, we pulled game data from September 15 to the end of November, counting every single time Sion died in a ranked solo queue game to compare “OG” Sion to Sion’s more current form. This data was plotted by day, with average deaths per game and games played shown. Note that the first vertical bar marks when the inting Sion post hit Reddit (and Mean Girls day). The second bar marks November 12th, when the ranked season ended. To give context to Sion’s death rate, we added a blue curve showing the overall death rate for all champions.
As it turns out, Sion’s death rate used to be below average, but after the Inting Sion Reddit post, he experienced a massive spike in play- and death-rates. Perhaps everyone wanted to feed before, but didn’t have an excuse to do it until now. Sion’s death and play rates remain consistently above average weeks after the post, but afterwards Sion’s death rate increases substantially while overall play rates decrease. This makes sense, since we expect fewer people to play solo queue after the ranked season ends. Those who didn’t either stopped trying, or decided now was the appropriate time to try some troll builds like inting Sion or picking Ivern. This may have caused an overall increase in death rate amongst all champions during the period after November 12. If you had an AP Shyvana in your game, you likely weren’t the only one.
We also looked at ranked games from Patch 8.20 (October 10-23), and counted each time any champion was killed each game as well as each time they were executed, meaning killed by something other than a champion: like minions, towers, or jungle monsters.
As you can see, our undead, KDA-impaired friend averages 6.4 deaths a game, and has more executes than any other champion, including Singed. At first, we were surprised to see this: Inting Sion players may have a Teemo-may-care attitude towards giving up deaths, but that doesn’t exactly explain the high execute rate. Then we realized that these executes could be due to the common strategy of taking a jungle camp and dying at level 1. To confirm this hypothesis, we looked at the distribution of execute times for Sion games.
As it turns out, Sion players really are fans of the well-aged cheese. The classic “die to jungle camp” strat seems to be alive and well.
We noticed some interesting things about other champions from the deaths vs. executes plot. In particular:
Finally, some “int”eresting anomalies from our data:
At Doran's Lab, we strive to keep our process transparent and accessible. We've included the data corresponding to this article in a public Github repository for you to download and use.