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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 MSI, RNG vs CLG

See the full preview on the Rift Herald. Ultimately, I think more things have to go right for CLG. They need the right matchup in the duo lane, with wuxx having a stronger champion pool than Stixxay. Huhi has been good in his last few mid lane matchups, but RNG trust XiaoHu more and don't focus ban the opposing midlane as much. And their strategy to find fight after fight should still work to a degree. And they'll have to do all of this on red side, and they didn't show great proficiency countering against TSM. Can they do better in Shanghai?

CLG's task: withstand the onslaught, don't get drawn into bad fights like they have during losses all year, and get to split push. I want to see Darshan on a lane bully instead of a tank and see if they can run RNG around the map.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Finals, CLG vs TSM (Game 5)

We know what both of these teams want to do and what they are playing for (Shanghai is pretty nice in spring). CLG get blue side for a comp that they all feel comfortable on – as much as I like Elise in this meta, I think they need more damage from Xmithie to take the pressure off the rookies. For TSM – play a supportive style around Doublelift and Bjergsen and let them loose in teamfights.


Picks and Bans – Jatt was right in his post-match analysis of Game 4 – neither of these teams have shown adept at red-side counter-picking. That’s a potential problem on the world stage against Asian teams that love to counter on red side. Both Poppy and Maokai banned places emphasis on the mid and duo lanes. CLG ban Nidalee, so first-pick Ekko should be for Darshan (unless he goes Trundle again). TSM return Caitlin/Kindred – ok, that’s different for Svenskeren. CLG return Elise/Alistar – I don’t know that trying to counter TSM is wise. TSM grab Braum/Gragas – okay, we are all-in on the teamfight. I think they a predicting a Stixxay Lucian. Whoa – CLG finish Lulu/Tristana! I love it! She is my favorite all-time ADC and with Lulu, I actually like this siege more than Caitlin’s. But this is a TON of pressure on Huhi AND Stixxay – more so than the last game. Can Stixxay redeem his Trist, a disaster pocket pick in Game 4 against Liquid.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Finals, CLG vs TSM (Game 4)

The constant in this series? Poppy. I wonder if CLG will ban this champion. Also, Stixxay is looking more and more comfortable on Caitlin, but Doublelift is a very apt Caitlin. I wonder if we’ll see that. And why did they go without Lulu? For CLG, they just need a repeat of that game – out-jungle Svenskeren and get to split pushes power.


Picks and Bans – First pick Nidalee for Svenskeren with Poppy and Ekko both banned. This can be good for red side – there’s some counter potential. CLG return Trundle/Elise, which I love. Lots of flexibility for counters. Yup – Caitlin/Alistar for the TSM duo lane, making life difficult for Stixxay. CLG counter with Bard/Ezreal, which is okay, but is going to set them back time-wise. Can they get to the point where Ezreal can spam spells? TSM finish Gragas/Lulu and CLG last-pick Twisted Fate. Makes sense: pick across the map and prevent TSM from snowballing long enough that Ezreal can carry. This game is solely on Stixxay’s shoulders.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Finals, CLG vs TSM (Game 3)

The story of the series: what will be the priority for CLG on blue side, and how will TSM respond? And what will we see next from Bjergsen and his endless champion pool? He’s a dream to watch on assassins, but when they go teamfight-heavy and don’t have sufficient engage, he’s also very good on utility champions like Lulu and Orianna.


Picks and Bans – Very standard first-pick Poppy, who’s become a huge power pick in the top lane with Maokai now auto-banned. I wonder if we’re going to see Gragas for Hautnzer in the top lane, which didn’t work out in Game 1? Oh wow, yes, it’s Gragas and Graves. Wow. You are giving CLG the potential for Ekko, Nidalee (no Kindred), or Kalista. Graves is fine but with Gragas, there’s just not a lot of CC. CLG return Nidalee/Caitlin to keep Stixxay safe with range – but that’s Kalista/Alistar to TSM. TSM should again have the advantage in the duo and CLG an edge in the top lane; which jungler can show up at better times? CLG finish with Ekko/Bard, pretty standard with a TON of CC and TSM finish with LeBlanc for Bjergsen. TSM have a pick comp, but I’m worried about their lack of CC. Sure they have great tools for teamfight, but if CLG play around the LeBlanc and keep Stixxay alive, they have a ton of ways to lock down Doublelift. There will be a lot of pressure on Bjergsen to roam early and to get Doublelift ahead, since Nidalee will always be a step ahead of Graves. LeBlanc does have 100% potential, and CLG will have to play a much better team fight around her. 

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Finals, CLG vs TSM (Game 2)

I felt CLG threw a breaking ball at TSM in Game 1 with the Poppy/Ekko combination. TSM still came away with a pretty powerful comp, but Poppy is just better than Gragas and Svenskeren’s Nidalee wasn’t impactful enough in the later fights. He consistently got caught early and that’s the danger of not having an CC or tank stats on your jungler. I wonder if CLG will let Nidalee through to him on blue side and pick for top lane again?


Picks and bans – CLG let Nidalee through but TSM first-pick Graves. Interesting. CLG then go back to Ekko/Caitlin – Huhi and Stixxay were fine in Game 1, but I don’t know that either carried the game, and this gives Poppy to Hauntzer along with Alistar for Doublelift. This is a win for TSM with Kalista bound to follow. CLG get Morgana/Rek’Sai and TSM grab Lulu along with that Kalista. Love this draft from TSM. I feel Lulu gives them more tools in the teamfight and really empowers Doublelift. Of course, they will have a tough time laning against Caitlin, but TSM just need to get to teamfights. CLG last-pick Corki for Huhi, which is fine, but TSM have more sources of CC and knockups than CLG. We’ll see if they can use them better. 

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Finals, CLG vs TSM (Game 1)

The Dream Final. But these teams took such divergent paths getting here. Counter Logic Gaming showed all year that they are one of the best teams in NA in the regular season. IN the playoffs, though the meta seemed to have shifted against CLG’s preferred split-pushing style and Liquid were able to turn their series into a festival of late-game teamfights. CLG ultimately executed those fights better, but they have to be concerned that the teamfight style flows right into what TSM want to do.


Team Solo Mid were inconsistent throughout the Spring Split, including an inexplicable losing streak to squeak into the playoffs in 6th place. The playoffs though, were kind to them as they teamfought their way to a 6-game winning streak. We have to see if the Svenskeren jungle revival is real, as out-jungling Rush, Reignover, and Xmithie in succession would be quite a feat. Also, their win over Immortals was almost too easy. IMT admitted themselves to misreading which champions were strong in the meta, and even the best teams can struggle when the picks don’t go their way. Remember that 2013 SKT, before sweeping Star Horn Royal Club in the World Finals, faced a tough 5 game match against NaJin Black Sword that was decided largely on picks and bans. TSM will face a much different comp this week and will have to execute much cleaner than they have in the past.

Why We Should Watch Jake Arrieta

I watched as Jake Arrieta's home scoreless inning streak was broken by the Milwaukee Brewers last week. He got a bit unlucky: a liner in just the wrong spot (of course he'd gotten lucky in getting the streak). Before that, he had gone 52.2 innings without yielding a run. In his last 26 games, he is 24-2 and his only game with an ERA over 3.00 was a playoff loss to the Mets. He is averaging less than 1 walk/hit per inning, though that's been happening since 2014. He is throwing no hitters and racking up award after award.

He has been recently dogged by PED speculation.



I'm not going to go into the ethics/morality of PED usage. I rooted for the Barry Bonds' Giants teams unabashedly and still claim those teams as building blocks of my fandom. Barry remains the greatest hitter I've ever seen, though Giancarlo and Bryce are trying their best to change my mind. I wish Barry was in our clubhouse instead of Miami's. But this isn't about Barry, and really, it's not even about PEDs.

Monday, April 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TL (Game 3)

Not sure what else Liquid can do. They picked an early game comp with an assassin for Fenix, an assassin focused on taking down Pobelter, and that didn’t work. Then they go late-game scaling and never get to the late game. Piglet only got his Muramana and Iceborn – that’s it. He needs to be better than that. Definitely give Bard back to Matt and either Lucian or Kalista to Piglet. Maybe a carry like Graves or Nidalee (unlikely) to Dardoch and see if he can carry. My goodness Immortals are on a tear.


Picks and Bans – TL ban Azir away and that gives Ryze to IMT. Graves and Kalista to TL, yup. Janna/Lucian for IMT – oh boy, that gives you bot lane pressure with potential that Huni plays it. Don’t think we’ll see the latter, but you never know. TL get Maokai/Bard, still very good and IMT finish with Gragas/Elise and TL however Orianna, which I like very much for teamfight utility but go with Lissandra. Their plan is clear: roam with Lissandra ult and double TPs and try to get Piglet a lead. 

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TL (Game 2)

TL thought they had a good draft going in the previous game, especially with IMT showing Azir so early, but they didn’t execute on the counters. I think they’ll be better on blue side and pick a more comfortable comp around Piglet.


Picks and Bans – Both teams heavily target jungle and that leaves Ekko and Ryze up. Liquid first-pick Ryze for that late-game scaling they didn’t have in Game 1. Huni declines to pick Ekko and grabs Poppy instead, who is one of his very best champions. I like Poppy better for him and Graves for Reignover. TL return Gragas/Braum, pretty standard, and IMT go Janna/Kalista, also standard. Whoa – TL then go Ezreal/Maokai – that’s a lot of pressure they’re giving up in the early game. This is a complete 180 for Liquid, though with the same protect the ADC they’ve been using. IMT last-pick Cassiopea for some poke over Ryze. Reignover is known for supportive, Korean-style jungling, but still feel he has the tools to carry – in fact, I think I think Graves’ skill cap is somewhat lower than Rek’Sai’s. For TL, I like giving Gragas to Dardoch – he’ll need to be everywhere though to

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TL (Game 1)

I wrote a preview of this series on SB Nation’s new LoL blog, The Rift Herald. In it, I noted that the matchup was basically a statistics question: sample size and recency bias. We have a huge sample of Immortals dominating NALCS teams, including two games against Team Liquid where TL were unable to get to 30 minutes. On the other side, we have the most recent results: an IMT loss to Team SoloMid where they looked completely lost in the pick/ban phase and were dominated at nearly every position, vs a TL loss to Counter Logic Gaming where Liquid at times looked very much like the best team in NA. Recency bias can be dangerous at predictions, however, and I went with #IMTWin in 4 as I felt they would be able to read the meta and read Liquid a bit better. Also, I trusted their ability to consistently shot call as a team more in a Best of 5 setting.


Picks and Bans – Already a very different draft from IMT, who have had a week to think about their loss to TSM. Azir is first-picked by Pobelter and does a lot to counter top lane AP tanks. The downside – Fenix is a VERY good Azir player and picking it this early gives him a chance to counter (see TSM vs C9). TL smartly take Ekko/Graves for aggression there, but I’m worried about a lack of CC and hard engage. Can Lourlo hit on the convergence? Is there CC from other areas coming? IMT go Elise/Kalista for a strong duo and CC/tank jungle. Then TL go to Bard/Caitlin – pretty standard as well, and there is that CC that chains very well with Ekko. If the can land a few combos, this could be a very strong teamfight comp -- IF Matt and Lourlo can land their skill shots. Gragas/Janna for IMT – there is the tank for Huni and further disengage. TL finish with LeBlanc – Fenix is a very good Azir player and this mid lane matchup is fascinating.