Wednesday, August 3, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, APX vs TL (Week 9)

What the hell is wrong with Liquid? The upstart bunch that were so close to going to the Spring Playoff Finals have struggled through an inconsistent split of monster plays followed by careless throws. Their most recent embarrassment was a 2-1 loss to Apex, a non-playoff team. Let's take a look at what exactly is going on.

In a desperate bid to make playoffs, Apex had to go 2-0 against playoff teams Liquid and CLG to make it, while hoping Envy stubbed their toe. Liquid on the other hand still had pride and playoff positioning to play for. They can't throw these games away.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Announcement: I am now writing for Blog of Legends!

The past year has been an incredible journey producing League of Legends content for this blog. However, I can't deny that this platform is minuscule compared to those offered by sites like Blog of Legends and The Rift Herald.

You may have noticed that I produced some content for the Rift Herald during MSI. Over the last few weeks, I have transitioned into a writing role with Blog of Legends to provide weekly previews and recaps of key NALCS matchups.

A lot of the analysis that was posted to this site will be moved there. The pieces will not be as in-depth due to length requirements, but they will still give you a thorough understanding of what happened during the games and why the winning side achieved victory.

I may continue to post other League-related material to this site, and will definitely keep track of the other major sports here. But for LCS-specific analysis, please visit the sites linked above. See you on the Rift!

Monday, July 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, TL vs IMT (Week 6)

I know I write a lot about Immortals - I watch all the LCS matches, but with the amount of games going on, I've chosen to focus my coverage on the top of the split. And IMT are going through several games against playoff competition, TL being one of them. I love this matchup. I love the good-natured trash talk between Reignover and Dardoch. I haven’t spoken to them personally, but I get the feeling that the talk is more for the camera and fans than any real bad blood – they have great camaraderie after the games and I feel like there’s tremendous respect between the two.


Picks and Bans – Liquid's draft suits their players well. Dardoch and Fenix are consistent damage dealers, Fabbbyyy provides utility and engage, while Lourlo plays tank Shen. The question is whether Lourlo will be good enough on his TP and ult to make an impact around the map – his TP play is extremely inconsistent and I’m not 100% certain the two globals will help. IMT picked a comp focused on late-game GP and Sivir, with a ton of utility and zoning from other places. If they get ahead, the siege could be scary.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, IMT vs C9 (Week 5)

Cloud 9 Gaming and Immortals come into this featured Week 5 matchup from different places. C9 just stumbled against Liquid as TL read their team perfectly and wisely chose to camp midlane. Sneaky is a god-tier ADC but in this meta, it takes a while for ADCs to get going and Impact and Meteos just aren’t consistently affecting the rest of the map. Jensen in particular tweeted frustration with his team’s effort, normal for eSports, but not something you’d hear from a professional in most other major sports leagues. IMT have continued to roll with a wider champion pool and more from Pobelter than they saw in the Spring Split. If they can keep up in the mid lane while continuing to pressure the sides in classic IMT fashion, this could be another IMT win. For C9, they really need to attack the solo lanes and have Meteos be in the right places.


Picks and Bans – IMT target support with their bans while C9 target the midlane. Both are fine strats - C9 have been rotating Bunny in/out with Smoothie, it's smart to play with that matchup. Pobelter has had carry performances, but I don't know his champion pool is quite as large as Jensen's. I like Karma with Jhin for IMT with Rumble top and Zyra at support – they should be able to do well in each lane and give Pobelter a lot of jungle support. C9 throw everything into Sneaky and Jensen with lots of engage/disengage with Thresh/Trundle/Gragas around Sivir/TF. They also have very strong wave clear and multiple positions, critical against IMT.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, NV vs TSM (Week 4)

TSM are straight rolling this split, with Biogod Biofrost providing much needed game sense and synergy with Doublelift. Everyone has found his role, Svenskeren is effectively getting leads for his carries, and everyone is teamfighting well around Bjergsen and Double. I still think that a split push style, a la CLG, can potentially cause them problems, but honestly, I don't know if anyone outside Immortals has the horses to compete. NV have a big task ahead of them in this matchup, but these are the games they need to prove they belong in the upper half of the standings.


Picks and Bans – NV start well getting Trundle and Ezreal, but then mysteriously finish thing off with a Varus, which basically gives Bjergsen a huge pressure advantage on Zilean. They have a strong pick comp, but I’m not sure how that works with Trundle – I think you’d rather have double TP and try to play a split push game. I can see the fear of them not being able to split against TSM’s superior coordination, but I don’t know if Varus is the answer. TSM have so much speed with Karma and Zilean and Sivir and double TP, I just don’t see NV playing their comp effectively. Braum/Ezreal will eventually be good against Karma/Sivir, but can they get to the late game?

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, CLG vs IMT (Week 4)

While CLG have stumbled out of the gates, IMT have continued their strong, dive-focused play. They still have the best lane management in NA (all respect to TSM), and they have the tools to punish CLG where it hurts - the midlane matchup between Pobelter and Huhi is key to this entire series.


Early Game – IMT win the early game via strong control around TF in mid, which is a bit unexpected given their playstyle and comp. But that attention has a cost – Huni is far behind Darshan, and CLG played those fights close to even. A strong rotation at 12 minutes nets them a kill lead and a plus KDA on Darshan’s Jax, which is already becoming a problem. IMT like to pressure all waves and one way to get them out of that pattern is to group faster than they can (and before losing a turret). They continue roaming around the map, getting a gold lead and summoner after summoner from IMT. That gives CLG the mid outer at 22:30.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, C9 vs TSM (Week 3)

I wrote multiple times during the 2016 Spring Split that C9 were the most balanced team in the NALCS, with strong performers at every position. So what did they do to prepare for summer? Bring in 3 new players, including Impact in top lane, to form a 2-team LCS/Challenger duo that went legitimately 2-deep at every position. And you know what? I think it was the right call. They did well to get the 3rd seed in the regular season, but they were thoroughly shut down in the playoffs by TSM, despite winning game 1 and getting decent champion matchups. They needed a shakeup.

The other reason I like this move is that, over the next 7 weeks, these players will play between 28 and 52 games. That is a lot. Not only do I think it’s valuable to have subs to share workload, I think that many games gives teams an ample sample to see which combinations truly work best. When the NALCS was BO1, there just weren’t enough games to see which players synergized the best on stage. Now, you can afford to sub someone in for two weeks, in which case you’ll see up to 12 games of that person with the rest of your players. That’s valuable knowledge to build on.

All that said, I don’t think it helps them against TSM. Those guys are playing really well and have come together fast. I want to see C9 try to win jungle and top lane, where they have 2 of their 3 new starters. I don’t think they can do it consistently, and Meteos has mixed in god-like objective steals with questionable decisions that have thrown games, but I want to see those guys try to take advantage of TSM because I don’t know that C9 will find big advantages elsewhere.

Game 1

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, IMT vs NV (Week 3)

I am so excited for this matchup. The best team of the Spring Split against the hottest non-TSM team of Summer. NV have done a terrific job playing around Seraph and Ninja in their victories. Seraph vs Huni has quickly become one of, if not the, premier top lane matchup in the NALCS and I think the winner of that duo wins the match.


Picks and Bans – IMT go with the standard wave-clear focused pressure team with Irelia top and Nidalee jungle. Can they accelerate the game fast enough? They have good zone control but I wonder if the lack of a tank will hurt them. NV respond with a lot of late-game scaling – and boy do they have it with Ezreal/Ryze. The pull a do-si-do with Ryze flexed top, Trundle at support (love) and Karma in the mid lane. I’m just worried that they’ll struggle controlling the waves against the best team in America at pressure.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, APX vs NV (Week 2)

Our first look at these teams this split. I watched Apex straight dominate the promotion tournament and they more than deserve their standing in the LCS. NV brought back a lot of the old Renegades gang that played like gangbusters at the end of the Spring Split, avoiding the promotion tournament altogether despite a long losing streak in the middle of the season. The team came together behind Seraph and Ninja and never looked back. I’m excited to analyze this match of Week 2 unbeatens.


Picks and bans – Apex picked a very interesting comp that basically sets up around Viktor and Caitlin zone control with Shen flying around the map to support hose two primary damage dealers. NV play a more pick-heavy lineup that I think plays into the Apex comp really well. A lot will depend on if Ray push Seraph and roam, because Procxin’s Elise will have a lot of early game pick potential.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, IMT vs C9 (Week 1)

Still catching up on the #NALCS #SummerSplit. going forward, given the sheer number of games/matches being played each week, I will highlight one matchup each day to analyze. This match between top contenders was a doozy. It's an important game for both sides, but especially a C9 side that is working in three new starters. Impact in particular I’m going to be watching – he really struggled in the top lane for NRG last split and really didn’t have great impact as a front-line tank. Meteos may take a few weeks to get back up to speed, but I’m more interested in Impact vs Huni as that is the matchup I assume Immortals will attack. 


Early Game – – The draft really showed each team’s emphasis – C9 siege around Jensen and Sneaky and IMT playing around Huni’s dives. Turtle on Ashe will be interesting – Sneaky has played a lot of Ashe too and the Essence Reaver build is really helping her mid game – her damage has never stacked like other ADCs, but spamming arrow is a big deal. The first IMT dive at 27:10 goes to C9 as Huni goes way too far without mana. IMT win one at 36:30 by catching Sneaky with an early arrow. At 39:25, C9 had clawed back with a few kills in the Immortals jungle and they try to make another play mid, but Turtle somehow gets R and W out before dying. Jensen and Bunny die, IMT push back down the mid lane and pick up another turret and another kill for Huni. In the midst of it all, C9 grab several dragons, which they’ll need to force Immortals out of the split push.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, TSM vs CLG (Week 1)

Yes, I know, I'm behind. I've been working on a few projects for other sites, but have notes dating back to Week 1. Let's get to it!

CLG bring back the same lineup that took it to the rest of the world at MSI. Can they continue to play around Stixxay like they did? Or will nerfs to ADCs and other changes force them to go back to more Darshan play? Either way, at the beginning of the split, this team must have had high hopes for the rest of the year.

TSM on the other hand struggled through week after week of inconsistency in Spring 2016 before turning on the jets in the playoffs and giving CLG a very close series. Although they lost star support Yellowstar (one of my favorites) I actually think they'll be quite good in this split. Bora struggled to fit in with Doublelift, was an ineffective shot caller at times, and couldn't quite adapt his champion pool to the ranged support meta. Biofrost is an unproven challenger player, but I think that benefits TSM in that they can possibly mold him into a better fit. Of course, that puts shot-calling at a premium, so it will be interesting to see how cohesive this team is beyond 10 minutes.

Oh, and #BO3 in the #NALCS! Hype!

Game 1

Monday, June 13, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer Preview

Who is hyped for another split in the glorious NALCS!? I know we are already 12 weeks in, but never fear, the analysis will be rolling! We are back and better than ever, coming off a MSI FINALS APPEARANCE by Spring Champions Counter Logic Gaming. Now that NA have proved to be major contenders in international play, with two knockout-round teams in both major international tournaments this year, I'm extremely excited to see which teams from this split will make it to #Worlds2016 and how they will fare. The storylines for this split abound, starting with our first game:

  • CLG and Team SoloMid played an extremely competitive BO5 in the Spring Final... and we get them right back again in Week 1... this time in a BO3!! I'm excited for the new best-of changes to the LCS for two major reasons: 1) this helps prep teams for international play, where best-of series dominate the conversation, and 2) this allows them to play more games at the highest level. LCK and LPL teams already play much more on stage than their LCS counterparts, giving them more time to figure out comps, counters, and how to adjust mid-series. I think the best-of move will even the competitive landscape and give LCS teams an even better shot at downing the Koreans

Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016 NBA Finals Preview

After a wild few series in the Western Conference and an absolute snoozer in the East, we get the rematch that most people wanted before the season began. I was among those that thought OKC would win the series after going up 3-1: it's hard to win three straight games against that good a team. They were longer and more athletic at every position and played stifling defense. Guess what? The Warriors play pretty stifling defense themselves, predicated on intelligence and strong rotations rather than length contesting shots and passing lanes.

Cleveland on the other hand played mediocre team after mediocre team in the east: Detroit was never good with Andre Drummond on the floor, Atlanta's office went in the toilet with its shooting, and Toronto subsisted on tough shots all year. They combined spurts of strong defense and hot shooting with stretches of disinterested play on both ends.

So who wins the series? I'm calling Warriors in 5, and here are 5 reasons why:

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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

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

If TSM can stay together on the calls, play the map in the same strong fashion they have, and don’t get caught in a disastrous teamfight, I don’t see anything changing in this game. IMT want to push the tempo, but even when they’ve done that, their comp hasn’t scaled correctly. This is going to be a tough comeback.

Picks and Bans – IMT start with Graves, then Karma/Jhin, and I really want to see that Karma flexed to Pobelter, but I don’t think we’ll see it. They are heading back into a Maokai matchup, and yup, TSM to Corki/Janna then Kalista/Maokai. They are winning this phase again. Wow. Jhin will pressure them early but falls off terribly in the face of Maokai – the lack of mobility is really going to hurt, and Turtle’s Jhin is already questionable. IMT finish with Rek’Sai/Lissandra and TSM finish with Lee Sin. I think Rek’Sai is Reignover’s best champion due to his map pressure with ult, and the matchup with Lee Sin isn’t bad. If there’s ever a game that Reignover is a step ahead of Svenskeren, it should be this one.

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

Immortals beat TSM twice in the regular season off of TSM mistakes. Remember that in Game 1, TSM actually came back and had a shot at victory before Doublelift was picked off alone. Can they adjust to TSM’s teamfight and take advantage of those mistakes again? Will TSM even make more mistakes? The series may rest on those questions. It’s not so much TSM tilting IMT as figuring them out, which could be worse.

Picks and Bans – I’ve been saying it for at least the last 3 TSM games: take Maokai away from Hauntzer! I wouldn’t think TSM crazy to first-pick either Maokai OR Ekko, which is going to put IMT in a bind. Instead it’s standard Azir, Kindred, Ryze bans from IMT. They give Nidalee to TSM which I think is dangerous for both teams – Svenskeren dominated that last game but a Nidalee without CC is a concern if he can’t land spears and jungle aggressively. IMT counter with Corki/Karma – I don’t think they can get away with support Karma again, I think they need to bring her to the midlane. Last game they had no way to dive the back line and blow someone up. TSM return with Poppy/Kalista which are very strong and hard to counter, and I like Poppy with Nidalee better than Ekko. IMT go with Gragas/GP for a super-scaling team that brings out more magic damage – this does look like Karma support with Corki for WildTurtle – do they have enough peel? It is possible that all 4 positions IMT have picked can be flexed around, but I’m a bit concerned that they’re getting too cute with the counters. TSM finish with Zed/Alistar and IMT instantly lock in Urgot. Whoa! This is going to get CRAZY. That’s a pretty good Zed counter as long as they can stay safe in teamfights and get GP scaled. This is a very, very risky play for Immortals with a bunch of squishies, but they do have much better late game power.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

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

I’m not going to lie – it took me a while to digest this series. I mean, in short (minor spoiler), it wasn’t close. But it was a much different game than we’ve seen either of these teams in the regular season and even lately. A lot has to do with not knowing which TSM to expect: the team that wasn’t on the same page so many times this year, or the team that out-jungled and out-rotated C9 as a team. I predicted #IMTWin in 4 – even though they’ve lookeda bit off for a few weeks, their ability to pressure the map in the macro game is matched possibly only by CLG. Time after time, they’ll give up kills but not pressure with the lanes constantly pushing. But honestly, if Svenskeren can continue to play above his weight class, anything could happen. And as Doublelift mentioned, just tilt them.

Picks and Bans – IMT first-pick Corki; feels like it’s for WildTurtle. TSM have their choice of top laners and go Kalista/Graves, with Graves I think for Hauntzer. IMT should go Lucian and a support and indeed get Lucian and Karma. Karma support is fine but we just saw such great Karma mid from Fenix, it’s a little disappointing not to get more burst out of her. TSM return with Braum (given) with Lulu – they are going back to the protect Doublelift lineup, which was a disaster in the regular season, but really strong against a better ADC in C9’s Sneaky. Whoa – IMT lock in Jhin/Gragas – what is going on!?!?!? Is this top-lane Lucian? Is Huni out of his mind? And TSM can counter pick it! They go Maokai for more teamfight utility. Wow. IMT have picked an extremely squishy comp with a lot of shields. Can Karma protect all the ADCs on this team. Oh my goodness – it’s 3 ADCs into Braum. I don’t even know what to think. If TSM can get to the midgame without being down, it’s going to be very hard to stop them from taking Baron.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 5)

I don’t have much to say about this. I have no clue who will win and am just hoping for a well-played game. Let’s get into it.

Picks and Bans – Have to take Ekko away from Darshan and it’s done. Then CLG first-pick Poppy. Ok! All-in on teamfights once again! I think TL should pick Nidalee and a support, maybe Braum/Bard. Instead they go back to Nautilus with Bard which means no Nidalee. Nautilus has been nerfed but he is Lourlo’s best champion. CLG get Kindred/Morgana for more teamfight utility against Bard. TL return with Karma/Rek’Sai and are building for a big Fenix/Piglet game yet again. CLG smartly grab Lucian and Ryze and Piglet finishes with Caitlin. Both teams want to fight instead of split/wave-clear; this is going to be a bloody game.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 4)

CLG made the counter-moves in Games 2 and 3 and were one step ahead of Liquid both times. I think Liquid will be good enough though to adjust and not make the same blatant pick/ban mistakes they did, especially with not counter-picking Huhi on red side in Game 3. I’m looking for one more adjustment from TL to get them even in the series. One thing is clear: focusing their gameplan around Piglet is not working. Lourlo or Fenix are going to have to step up as a major carry and get a supportive, tanky performance from Dardoch. The risk is that may swing the macro in CLG’s favor, but you need to take Darshan off Ekko.

Picks and Bans – TL get rid of the Trist ban and get Ekko for Lourlo. This is what I’m talking about! CLG counter with Kindred/Maokai – duh, why wasn’t Lourlo playing Maokai? Oh yeah, Ekko’s mobility can destroy the tree. CLG are showing their hand – the teamfight comp – early this time and TL need to adjust. TL come back with Karma/Rek’Sai – love the Sai for Dardoch. And CLG get Braum/Tristana – whoa! I’ve been playing quite a bit of Trist lately and it’s been a ton of fun – I also such at League, so not sure that tells you anything. TL finish with Lucian/Bard – love it, Matt’s Bard has been pretty good this split, and Lucian will get Piglet off to a good start (though it is into Braum). CLG last-pick Ryze for Huhi – they still have a strong teamfight comp with siege. TL though have some teamfight but need a good start and need Lourlo to win his lane: that’s a tall task against Darshan, but this guy has gotten so much better.

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

Game 1 of a best of 3, CLG I feel still have a slight edge to me. They lost the first game because of dragon stacks and they still got a relatively uncontested Baron. My worry with TL is that CLG may have them figured out – prevent them from swapping lanes and pick a good teamfight comp, and I think Counter Logic out-executed their counterparts. On the other hand, TL’s Game 1 win was a beauty and they are super hot. This is a tossup.

Picks and bans – this one got CRAZY! CLG first-pick Ekko with Nidalee still on the table, a sign of their evolved thought process snice Game 1. TL respond with Ryze/Kindred, taking a champion away from Huhi. CLG then go Elise/Caitlin (Xmithie was good on Elise and Caitlin is a pretty strong ADC that picks at Piglet) and TL follow with Karma/Poppy. Seeing the TL solo lanes, CLG finish Anivia/Soraka – whoa! They have gone ALL IN on the teamfight comp! That works when you know Ryze has to scale for almost just as long, and when Anivia does scale, it’s going to be very hard to dive either the team or a 4-1 with Darshan split. Liquid finish with Karma/Poppy and a last-pick Sivir, who will be useful, but as I was watching this, I couldn’t help but think that CLG had won this phase with the Anivia pick. TL have early pressure with Karma and Kindred but Ryze and Sivir both take a while to scale and if CLG can just stay even long enough, they will have tremendous zoning and teamfight control. 

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

I want to say CLG will learn from their mistakes, but TL are on Blue side. However, CLG will be able to counterpick the midlane, which will help, and potentially the duo lane too. Not much else going from them after the Game 1 clinic. They desperately need a better early-game comp and more peel and initiation for teamfights. And their performance throughout the regular season gives me hope that they’ll get back in this.

Picks and Bans – Could we see a Maokai for Darshan? Nope, he goes back to Ekko with an Elise for Xmithie after TL first-pick Kindred (jungle heavily banned). TL go Karma/Corki then Kalista/Poppy – Fenix cannot be late to the fights as he is wont to do. CLG finish with Soraka/Lucian and go back to Ryze. Lucian will help CLG early but Xmithie needs to play better against Dardoch. I almost feel Red side helped CLG by allowing them to counter-pick the mid lane.

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

Before last week, I would have said CLG wins this in a clean sweep. CLG has spent the whole split dominating the top lane and I just don’t see how Lourlo can compete with Darshan. They should be able to stay even the mid lane, and though Dardoch’s has a slight advantage over Xmithie (I had them 2/3 in my end-of-season NALCS jungler rankings), Xmithie should have freedom to play around his duo lane. Piglet is a god, but I trust Aphromoo more than Matt.

Then CLG swept NRG. And it wasn’t so much the sweep as how they swept that changed my mind. They did it with advantages at every position. Impact is no joke, despite being relegated to straight tanks the whole split. But Lourlo, who had found success on tanks, managed to outplay the world champ on a variety of champions, including a very impressive Ekko. If he can stay even long enough to get those tank stats and stop Darshan from split-pushing with TP advantage, pulling Xmithie in different directions, Dardoch could really snowball the game. I think CLG still win this but I don’t feel good about it at all and think they need all 5 games. I don’t blame KiWiKiD (miss you!) and Phreak for picking Liquid.

Friday, April 8, 2016

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

I thought this could be a 4 game series and with NRG winning one late-game teamfight or stealing an objective for a win, but after Games 1 and 2, I don’t know that’s possible. They need, need, need Impact to carry them and force something, but they are not as good at laning, skirmishing, or teamfighting. That's tough.

Picks and Bans – I really hope NRG give Impact a carry and go for a picky comp with something like Elise/TF to help them match TL’s dominant macro play. Really fast bans transition into Gragas for Dardoch and then Ekko/Janna for NRG – that’s certainly carry potential. He’s still going to need Moon’s help to snowball that lane though. TL respond with Nautilus for Lourlo and Karma which I agree should be a support. NRG go with Elise/Jhin – I think Elise just suits Moon: strong farm, pick potential and CC, can be a tank. She just gives him a ton of utility and suits his passive style. But Altec has not been good in two straight games despite getting Sivir in one - he just can't keep dying to Piglet in lane. TL go with Lucian/Zed blind – there goes TF. GBM picks Varus – oh man, that’s a lot of poke, but a lot of ways to kill Varus. I think NRG’s only hope is a 4-1 with Impact split out and everyone protecting Jhin and Varus poking down turrets.

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

It’s hard to see how NRG get even a single win after that game 1 performance from Liquid. Of course, that’s the same way we felt about TSM/C9. But I think Liquid get this in pretty straightforward manner. What NRG can do is not play scared: pick carries, make rotations, and try to get Liquid to respond at least once or twice. And for goodness sake, find an answer for the duo lane.

Picks and Bans – NRG start with Graves which is a good flex with Gragas and Nidalee banned. TL go with Maokai/Janna – Lourlo is really pushing his champion pool and NRG need to respond with early game poke. Varus would be a smart midlane pick. They instead go with Gnar/Sivir, which is better than Game 1, but I still don’t know if Gnar is enough damage in that top lane. TL go with Lee Sin/Kalista – that is extremely scary. Wow, it looks like 4 rotations in, TL are winning the draft again. NRG finish Lissandra/Alistar – that’s a lot of teamfight again but can they group as 5 and find the right engagements? Can they coordinate the TPs and use of ultimates? How are they going to survive early game? TL last-pick Azir with no threat of getting poked out of lane.

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

TL started off the split pretty shaky but the team has really coalesced around their three rookies. Dardoch won best rookie in both LoLeSports and YMTC Sports rankings and he was the 2nd ranked jungler in all of NA by my definition. Matt was 3rd in my rookie rankings and Lourlo placed first in most improved. NRG though have kept Moon in a very supportive role and have a huge disadvantage in the duo lane. GBM has played really well for this team but they desperately need Altec to hold his ground to have a shot. I called this series for Liquid in 4 #TLWin:

Picks and Bans – Lots of jungle bans and TL grab first-pick Gragas. NRG respond with Maokai/Lucian – that’s okay with Sivir gone. TL counter with Janna/Ekko which is very strong. TL should want to push the pace and not let GBM or Altec scale up for late teamfights. Janna is so good in lane early and Ekko is a great assassin pick against Maokai. Big question: can Lourlo pressure Impact without getting ganked and have enough gamesense to use Ekko as intended? This guy got most improved off of tanks (Nautilus and Poppy), this will be a big test for him against a former world champ. NRG go with Trundle/Rek’Sai – that’s interesting! I love trundle support, but there isn’t really a tank on TL for Trundle to counter. TL finish with Kalista/Azir for teamfight utility and NRG last-pick Orianna, which is going to give them a lot of teamfight with ball delivery. Still, they are putting a lot of eggs in GBM and Altec and that duo lane will have a “gank me” sign on it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 4)

I still think C9 can come back in this series and get to Game 5, but playing the way they have been, I’m not sure that TSM can’t be considered an absolutely elite team in the #NALCS. It feels like C9 need a whole revamp of their strategy into a teamfight comp, which is going to be tough to do facing elimination. Zirene’s comment about Hai not placing wards was on-point – they had no vision in Game 3 and lost member after member. I went #C9Win but didn’t feel good about it at all.

Picks and Bans – I agree with Jatt that C9 need to either pick Maokai away or ban it. They show Yellowstar and Bjergsen respect with Janna/Zed bans after a standard red-side Nidalee ban. I'm not sure about that. Taking Zed away was smart and Yellowstar's Janna has been excellent, but support bans give TSM a LOT of options. With Nidalee gone, TSM first-pick Gragas, who hasn't been good for Svenskeren. He was 0-4 in the regular season on Gragas with a 1.84 KDA, and Kindred into Gragas is okay if you pop ult after he does. C9 respond with Azir/Corki – that’s a decent counter for Maokai and indeed indicates a shift to a teamfight comp. But showing your damage this early? TSM return with Graves/Brauminteresting! I expect Hauntzer to play Gragas; Yellowstar can also get redemption on Braum (1-6 regular season record, 2.04 KDA). C9 pick Poppy/Kindred which I'll have to admit, I'm let down by. Those two aren't winning you the game. TSM return with Kalista/Vel’Koz – whoa! That’s a lot of poke into Azir. C9 last-pick Morgana, who’s been very good for Hai. This will be fun.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 3)

C9’s mission is simple: take away Nidalee from Svenskeren, pick a stronger early-game jungler for Rush, snowball that into ganks, and go back into the standard bloody pick mode that got them here. Oh, and figure out a way to stop Hauntzer because that guy is a monster. I’ve been saying for weeks that he has been TSM’s most consistent player, ranking him ahead of Balls in the top lane.

Picks and Bans – Bans heavily target the jungle: TSM are forced to ban Nidalee on red side and also take out Lee Sin. C9 ban Gragas and Graves and I agree that TSM seem to be baiting Kindred – that ult is still an issue but they showed some capacity to play round it in Game 2. C9 indeed get Kindred and TSM follow with Maokai/Corki, which means C9 may pick Azir for a more teamfight-oriented comp. I’m not so sure the Corki isn’t for Doublelift – he’s been good on the bombardier and I think TSM want Bjergsen to counter Jensen – that’s where they want to win this game. C9 go GP/Braum – very good – and TSM Elise/Janna – also good. C9 go back to Jhin with Orianna – Orianna is one of the best teamfighting picks, she gives you options, and picking blind, she’s relatively safe. I’m an ADC but like playing a little Orianna here and there because she’s so fun. TSM finish with Zedwhoa! If Bjergsen can play around the Kindred ult, this could be fun. Of course, it also requires Sven to gank that lane heavily – a fed Zed is no fun to play against, but falling behind could be an issue. TSM want to win mid lane, C9 everywhere else.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 2)

C9 put on a clinic in Game 1, but I don’t think each game is going to be as easy. TSM lost on a bad call that snowballed but they have also been very good at adjusting in Best of 5 series. They lost in an unfathomable manner to ESC Ever at #IEM and came back from that – I think they take this game and make it a series. I agree with Phreak that TSM need to feed Bjergsen and not rely on Svenskeren. I would love to see him on LeBlanc and just try to blow people up instead of a control mage like Azir.

Picks and Bans – TSM smartly ban GP and TF and first-pick Nidalee for Svenskeren. He’s terrible at First-Blood, but Nidalee will give him options to counter-jungle. C9 return with Braum and Kindred which, again, I love against TSM. It’s really going to test TSM’s ability to find the right engages which they’ve been unable to do. TSM return with Azir/Maokai – they are going back to that style of global map control and teamfight utility. Man, if they fall behind again… C9 counter with Nautilus and Lucian which gives them even more utility. TSM finish with Kalista/Janna – I love Janna for Yellowstar! She is such an enabler: she lets you make plays, gives you multiple ways out, helps influence multiple lanes with the speed boost. If Yellowstar can play her to her potential, it can disengage a lot of what C9 will want to do, and makes the Maokai/Azir teamfight  much better. C9 go all-in on the pick comp with last-pick Zed, who can blow people up if he can get to the backline. He is a decent matchup into Azir without TF. Strong drafts for both sides – that Janna pick really makes me like TSM’s lineup much more.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 1)

As promised, analysis of the first round of the #NALCS playoffs! Thanks to LoLeventVODs for the stream and to StreamCastify for the next big thing: video replays! Enjoy!

It’s hard to argue, on a position by position basis, that Cloud 9 are the clearly better team here. That’s the power of the TSM roster. But C9 are the 3 seed by virtue of an entire split playing better together as a team while during the second half, TSM take one step forward and two steps back. I just don’t think TSM will find enough coordinated teamfights to beat C9, and I think C9 are better at cross-map skirmishes via the Rush vs Svenskeren matchup. 

That said, TSM have responded beautifully in best of 5 situations and I don’t think this is going to be easy for C9. Remember – TSM were in complete control of the last game they played against C9, and only lost because of several picture-perfect barrel chains from Balls’ Gangplank. With better vision, being behind is a scary scenario for C9. I’m a bit surprised that the desk chose TSM to win the series, but the 10 days with Weldon and the new patch may certainly change the dynamic. This is close and I called it as a 5-game win for C9:

Picks and Bans – Smart bans from TSM who target Rush and Hai – evening the playing field at those positions will be big. I have Hai as the 2nd best Support in NA with Yellowstar not in the top 3, but with the right champion matchup, I’m not sure that Yellowstar isn’t better. C9 first-pick Kindred – I love it. TSM have previously struggled teamfighting around the Kindred ult and C9 will want to fight. TSM respond with Poppy/Azir, which is pretty early to reveal both solo laners (don’t think Yellowstar will play support Poppy). And with so many power picks available, it's a little underwhelming. C9 counter with GP/Braum – this is shaping up very well for the favorites. TSM go with the tried-and-true Kalista/Alistar – this is begging Sneaky to play Jhin, and I’m interested to see how C9 counter the midlane. They go Lucian/TF instead for more early-game pressure. TSM last-pick Elise for Svenskeren. I like the comp from TSM but am concerned that C9 were able to counter so many positions. I think C9 snowball early and win this game.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Spring Split Pre-Playoff Awards

Real quick before we get into the playoff analysis, I wanted to acknowledge the wild split we just had and hand out some awards. LoLeSports are doing it, so can You Make The Calls! I won't be doing team rankings because I feel the standings are pretty indicative of where these teams belong. But let's commemorate some remarkable achievements and memorable games.

Best Player

1.     Reignover: Starting the year with a ridiculous First Blood streak for your team and ending it with only one loss means Reignover gets this award. But more than that, Reignover was far and away the best jungler in the #NALCS. It goes beyond his 8.3 KDA (Dardoch was 2nd at a ridiculous 6.2 and Xmithie 3rd at 5.0). The entire team has taken after his aggressive style; I would say he enables Huni and Turtle and Pobelter to hunt after aggressive plays in lane since they know their jungler will always go with them. That's huge. He's so far removed from the gameover days and even better than he was with 18-0 Fnatic last year (5.7 KDA).

Monday, April 4, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs REN Tiebreaker (Week 9, Day 2)

Extra League! A fantastic finish from REN coupled with a nightmare Week 9 schedule for TIP have conspired to bring us an extra #NALCS game. I’m okay with that. Frankly, I think REN are playing at a higher level now, though this being Renegades, this game will probably last an hour and TIP will probably get gold lead somewhere past 20 minutes. #RENWin, let’s dive into it!

Picks and Bans – TIP pick Corki then Nautilus/Kindred sandwiched around Poppy/Gragas from REN. REN then pick GP/Lucian – surely that’s a top lane GP and Poppy support? I don’t love Poppy support (I think Janna is a much more effective version of a similar kit), but this is very interesting. If REN can win the top lane matchup, which is in their favor both personnel- and champion-wise, this could scale very well. TIP finish with Azir/Bard while REN counter with Zed. Loving the way this draft turned out for REN, using the flex Poppy to their advantage.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs C9 (Week 9, Day 2)

Finishing Week 9 now, hoping to get recaps of the big Team SoloMid and Liquid wins tomorrow. What a playoffs it's been!

The game of the week. C9 need to stay in 2nd place while Liquid would love to knock off one of the top teams and show they belong. Crucial to this matchup: can Lourlo get a tank that he feels comfortable enough taking it into Balls? TL are one of the few teams that can feel good about the duo lane into Sneaky/Hai (in fact, I have C9’s duo over IMT’s in my secret rankings that I’ll reveal tomorrow). But C9 are so balanced – Balls, Rush, and Jensen have taken turns straight carrying. I think this means more for C9 and will go #C9Win

Picks and Bans – TL target Hai with Soraka/Morgana bans; I’ve never been a fan of support bans. There are so many good supports in this meta and while Hai’s champion pool has been questioned, it’s unlikely you’re going to take them all away with Janna, Alistar, Braum, Trundle still available. C9 go straight for Jhin/Lee Sin after TL first-pick Corki. TL respond with Poppy/Janna instead of Nautilus – interesting. C9 get Azir/Trundle and last-pick Alistar around TL’s Zed/Rek’Sai. I like this for TL – I like the Zed into Azir matchup and Rek’Sai remains one of my favorite junglers to play with despite the prevalence of other junglers in the meta. TL need Fenix to win his lane, a tough task against Jensen, and influence plays around the map, notably for the duo lane.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs FOX (Week 9, Day 2)

One of the more interesting games of the day. Renegades are playing with attitude, and their prowess in the early game is finally starting to snowball into wins for them. That can help them against Echo Fox as long as they don’t get sucked into a long laning game which allows FOX to get what they want: late-game all-in teamfights. I think this game means more for REN and despite the record disparity, with Seraph in the top lane, I think they win.

Picks and Bans – This was a very questionable phase for Echo Fox. After first-pick Lulu, FOX respond with Morgana/Jhin – is it wise to reveal your duo that quickly? Especially with Kalista banned and Sivir available? Their next two are Nautilus/Lee Sin; that’s a lot of eggs in the Jhin basket without seeing the REN duo. REN follow Lulu with Gragas/Corki and Sivir/Trundle (LOVE). Before FOX’s last pick came out, I already liked the REN draft more. More damage, more utility, ability to take Nautilus tank stats away… last pick Lux isn’t going to save them.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why Syracuse Doesn't Deserve the Final Four

I've had this post on my mind for a while, but with the Final Four upon us, it's time. When Syracuse were included in this year's conference field, a minor uproar occurred: how could this team, 9th in the ACC at 9-9, have made it over much more deserving mid-major teams?

For some, the fact that the Orange have made it to the Final Four justified their selection. How can you say they weren't one of the nation's 64 best teams when they're still here, 3 weekends later? That argument is a straw man to me. Here's why Syracuse doesn't deserve the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs IMT (Week 9, Day 2)

There is no way TIP can beat IMT. Sorry. #IMTWin.

Picks and Bans – TIP first-pick Kalista, then Elise/Braum for a ton of pick potential and power in the duo lane. IMT start with a standard Corki/Gragas but go back to throwing out unique comps, this time with Jhin/Karma, then Ekko. TIP end with Malphite/Viktor. I like Viktor but can Malphite get big enough fast emough to be a teamfight initiator? Do they even want that?

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TSM vs NRG (Week 9, Day 2)

After encouraging play at #IEM, TSM have fallen off a cliff in the last few weeks. Doublelift (one of my favorite players) doesn’t look like a top-tier ADC, Yellowstar hasn’t been able to play Braum effectively, and Svenskeren’s jungle leaves a lot to be desired. NRG are catching TSM at a perfect time, especially with the chance to leapfrog them in the playoff standings. If Svenskeren can’t punish Moon, NRG’s strengths in the solo lanes match well with TSM’s and a lot will ride on the duo pairing. I honestly don’t know what to think about this game: my head tells me #TSMWin and my gut #NRGWin. Since I’m an idiot, I’ll go with my gut. This game turned out to be quite crazy...

Picks and Ban – TSM first-pick Kalista – can Altec play Jhin? NRG counter with Trundle/Kindred, which is great with Graves banned. I love Kindred into TSM - they have had issues coordinating teamfights and Jhin's ult, like Bard's, completely changes the dynamic of fights They’ll need more damage though as TSM return with Corki/Poppy. NRG indeed go with Morgana/Jhin and last-pick Azir – I love it! TSM finish with Gragas/Braum – they are putting a lot of faith in Doublelift along with Bjergsen to siege and win teamfights. And there's that Braum gaain - they need Yellowstar to show something on this priority support champion. TSM have a very standard teamfight comp but need, need, need to stay together.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs DIG (Week 9, Day 2)

BillyBoss is going to have an awful hard time against Darshan. #CLGWin

Picks and Bans – This was a weird draft. CLG start with Nidalee and Dignitas go Bard/Sivir. I’ve not been very impressed with KiWiKiD’s Bard, but that may be a derivative of his being on a losing team. CLG then get Soraka/Lucian (ok…) and then Azir/Gnar. Hmm. I mean those are okay champions with good teamfight utility, but are they sure they want to teamfight into Sivir? DIG are smart to get Gragas/Poppy then GP last for a very scary (albeit AD-focused) late-game comp. But GP will struggle to lane against Azir and CLG can pressure early around Huhi and Stixxay.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs FOX (Week 9, Day 1)

Unfortunately, the Echo Fox hype train has to run into C9. It is unlikely that C9 will let FOX farm up for late game teamfights. I just don't see how FOX are going to slow down the C9 duo lane.

Picks and Bans – Whoa first-pick Jhin for Sneaky! Let’s go! FOX get Corki for Froggen and Trundle, which I like IF it’s a true flex pick (Graves was banned, so I like it more).

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, DIG vs TL (Week 9, Day 1)

Hard to see Dignitas winning this. Sorry guys, #TLWin.

Picks and Bans – Dignitas ban Nautilus from Lourlo… ok, but can BillyBoss capitalize? DIG first-pick Corki and then Trundle/Sivir after TL grab Poppy/Elise for comfort. Curious Elise prioritization, though Dardoch is very good at power farming and doing damage on the spider. TL next pick Lulu/Janna so they can counter the ADC, and DIG follow with Udyr/Bard. They are going to have to stay very safe in lanes to let Udyr do his thing (Jatt noticed Kirei has only one Udyr game in solo queue…). It’s not a crazy pick, but DIG haven’t really shown much prowess split pushing and TL have a ton of disengage and kite. Piglet picks Vayne into Sivir which is totally fine.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs TSM (Week 9, Day 1)

Fresh off a good showing at #IEM Katowice, TSM have returned to the same bad habits of dying in bad spots and losing to inferior competition. As much as I would love to see IMT face strong competition, I'm not convinced that will happen before playoffs, and possibly not until the final match. I feel like the only shot TSM have are to get a hard carry from Bjergsen into Pobelter, but that will require Hauntzer to outfarm Reignover. #IMTWin

Picks and Bans – This was a weird phase. Fast bans, with Kindred and Nidalee off the table. And then TSM take away Soraka and Janna. Excited for Adrian to try something else! But not sure that's the way to beat IMT. After first-pick Corki, TSM grab Gragas with Sivir instead of Braum – with a lot of junglers banned, I like this strategy and I remain unconvinced with Yellowstar’s Braum. IMT counter with Sejuani/Lulu, then Graves/Trundle (love) and ending with Yasuo/Karma – whoa! If you look at the TSM lineup (finished with Lissandra), it looks like power picks, but the IMT lineup will be very dangerous in teamfights. So many shields and powerups.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs NRG (Week 9, Day 1)

CLG should have no trouble taking down NRG. I would say Lourlo into Impact is concerning but Impact hasn’t been the Impact of old this season. Can GBM do enough against Huhi to make things interesting and force CLG out of the split push?

Picks and Bans – CLG first pick Nidalee then Graves/Lucian, which is a ton of early game pressure. We know what they’ll want to do. NRG combat it with Trundle (afraid he'll scale too late and not be useful against Graves), then Kalista/Shen, which is the first Shen I’ve seen in a long time! They finish with Ahri/Kindred and flex Shen to the support spot, but I’m still concerned they don’t have enough early game firepower. CLG have a very squishy comp with TF/Bard, but the early firepower is there and if they don’t opt into any crazy teamfights, this should be a clean win.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs REN (Week 9, Day 1)

The #NALCS playoffs are upon us in only 2 days! I'm finally getting caught up again, kicking off Week 9 with Team Impulse vs Renegades. I like the attitude REN have played with over the last few weeks and Seraph has been huge in the NALCS. I’m going #RENWin.

Picks and Bans – Banning Gragas from Crumbz is a good move, but with Nidalee off the table and first pick, curious that Procxin isn’t comfortable enough to play it himself. Corki is fine but Lulu/Elise are interesting for Renegades – that's a lot of priority on Elise with Poppy, Trundle, Braum, Sivir all up (and Crumbz' Elise isn't anything to write home about). They do end up getting Trundle/Sivir and last-pick Varus after TIP pick Lee Sin/Braum then Azir/Nautilus. I like this for Renegades. Varus is good into Azir, Trundle helps with Nautilus, and with Lulu in the top lane, they have more damage. I love, love, love the support Trundle, as I feel you get his teamfight utility while not suffering from losing his damage. Even level 1 subjugate is no joke.

Monday, March 28, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, FOX vs CLG (Week 8, Day 2)

Despite all the flaws exhibited in their last-gasp victory against Dignitas, does anybody really want to play Echo Fox at this point? Rick Fox’s team are incredibly still in position for the playoffs though they’ll have to beat 2nd place CLG to get there. It doesn’t help that NRG pulled a minor upset with a victory over Liquid earlier, but if I’ve learned anything this split, it’s to never count Froggen out. Still, CLG plays split push much better than Dignitas, Darshan will give Seraph a test, and Xmithie will really pressure Hard. #CLGWin

Picks and Bans – It's crucial to pick Nidalee away from Xmithie, but Hard's just passable on the cat against DIG and this level of priority puts the onus on him to carry the early game. Not sure he's up to it. CLG counter with Graves/Braum for split push and Gragas/Ezreal. FOX get Lucian/Lulu (no Juggermaw, which makes sense – not sure FOX can put their eggs in such a late game strat) and then Poppy/Morgana. Liking this comp from FOX, basically riding Keith. CLG finish with TF for Huhi and will smartly try to run FOX around the map and win quickly.