Sunday, February 28, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, FOX vs TSM (Week 7, Day 1)

A few weeks ago, this would have been an easy #TSMWin call. But after a disastrous Week 6 from TSM and an incredible win streak behind Froggen, this game is even, if not tilting a little to FOX, who are undefeated the last 4 weeks. I honestly think this one is too close to call, but I want to give TSM the benefit of doubt - I think Hauntzer will win his lane and Bjergsen can at least keep Froggen in control. The latter has been unstoppable on Corki, and if you don't ban it away, I would actually pick a more utility champion for Bjergsen. Stay safe and support your team in the fights - they've been relatively good protecting Doublelift the last few weeks. As good as Bjergsen is, just don't give Froggen the 1v1 he has been looking for.

Picks and Bans - Unsurprisingly, FOX first-pick Corki and TSM respond with Kalista/Alistar - great combination. I'm not sure why FOX banned TF instead of one of this combo. In addition, this allows TSM to counter-pick all the other positions. TSM troll the Quinn into Malphite again before picking Nautilus - that will work! But now I think they have to pick a ranged champion for Bjergsen in the mid, and that's exactly what they do with the last-pick Orianna. I love it. Orianna is such a solid champion, she stays safe and brings a ton of utility to teamfights. TSM just want their solo lanes to draw even and have Doublelift shove in with Kalista vs. Keith's Lucian (I excited to see Keith's Lucian again!). FOX have more siege but both teams have strong teamfight tools.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs CLG (Week 7, Day 1)

Immortals are the story of the #NALCS split, with Huni and Reignover on an incredible regular-season win streak. However, they have looked a bit sloppy in the last few matches, looking like they're still figuring out the best matchup for them in patch 6.3. If anybody can take them down, it would be Counter Logic Gaming. CLG are getting some much-needed work from Xmithie, who will have to match Reignover's aggression. Xmithie will be key to winning the Darshan matchup Huni as I don't think CLG can win the duo lane unless WildTurtle tunnels way to hard on kills. I had #IMTWin in this one.

Picks and Bans - I hated this phase for IMT. IMT keep picking these super squishy lineups that have a chance to fall apart if they don't snowball early. And you just can't last pick Quinn with Malphite, Nautilus, etc. still available. CLG last-picked Fiora as a counter to Quinn, which I don't hate for IMT, but matchup aside, I don't know how Quinn fits with the rest of the IMT comp. I don't really like the Gragas/Quinn combo; first-picking Gragas indicates to me you want a very flexible teamfight comp. Quinn does not give you anything in teamfights, and I hate picking her blind. I know Huni wants to be on an aggressive champion, and her mobility can certainly help IMT's lane pressure, which has been excellent this split, but it's too easy to lose that lane. I would much rather have someone like Gragas with this comp.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs FOX (Week 6, Day 1)

This game will forever be known as "Save the Lucian!!!" - you'll find out later.

This sums up how I feel about Echo Fox:

As for TL, I feel like they have so much potential if their duo lanes can just hold the line. After a fantastic start, Dardoch has slowed down a bit, but again, they just need Lourlo to survive in lane and they have a shot against anyone. But because their name is not Immortals, I went #FOXWin.

Picks and Bans – I feel better about FOX’s pick/ban – they go with the same formula of protecting Froggen. For TL, they pick a lot of teamfight utility in Gragas (1st pick), Poppy, and Alistar, but with only Ezreal poke. They’ll have to tunell real hard as 5 to blow up the FOX back line in fights.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs TIP (Week 6, Day 1)

CLG were playing very strong and then ran into a TSM buzzsaw. TIP have been very uneven, though uneven is a pretty good from where they started the season. I don’t expect TIP to do much as CLG are fine with different styles, but I would say that a long drawn-out game with scaling damage dealers may work for the underdogs. I’m not holding my breath though.

Picks and Bans – Fun draft from both sides! CLG will want to speed up the game with first-pick Nidalee into Braum, Corki, LeBlanc, and Poppy. Lots of ways to keep the three carries safe. TIP went with that late-game scaling comp with GP/Alistar and a very fun Nocturne pickup. Lucian and Lissandra will give them additional teamfight splash damage – if they can scale.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs DIG (Week 6, Day 1)

Two teams fighting to remain in the #NALCS 2016 Spring Split playoffs. NRG came in with a lot of hope with their new comp but have looked lost with Impact relegated to tanks (which the analysts mentioned before the match) and Altec not carrying teamfights. I still think NRG have more talent and win this, but DIG played two bloody games last week and could make this interesting. Kirei has had his struggles but so has Moon.

Picks and Bans – Interesting draft from both sides. DIG went with Lulu, Bard, and Kindred around Kalista and will try to focus on Apollo – smart. NRG give Karma to GBM and Poppy to Impact – again, a bit disappointing since I expect this to be a tank poppy against BillyBoss’ Trundle.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs CLG (Week 6, Day 2)

I hope this game is a fun matchup of junglers stepping up. Crumbz finally gave his team some life with his aggressive start to the game against Immortals, while Xmithie was a god on Nidalee. Crumbz plays a more vision-oriented, supporting jungle while Xmithie last went big and ended as his team’s carry. As a carry, I favor the former, but Nidalee is quickly becoming a huge priority pick. I think CLG win this, but REN have a lot to hang their hat on.

Picks and Bans – Well, there goes the Nidalee, along with Fiora, Kalista, Kog’Maw, and Lulu. REN first-pick Gangplank, which I am a little worried about since it requires a lot of teamfight coordination to use GP effectively. They’ll need some good poke and they do get Lucia before finishing their draft with Karma/Rek’Sai – their comp is all about teamfight utility. CLG get Corki/Gragas into Ezreal/Bard – good engage and poke, and then surprise with a Pantheon for Darshan. I’m a bit worried that if REN get behind against this comp, they won’t be able to come back.

Friday, February 26, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TSM vs C9 (Week 6, Day 1)

This turned out to be the best game of the week. Maybe one of the best this split, a great exhibition of playstyles and champions. Team SoloMid and Cloud 9 Gaming both performed at a high level the last couple weeks. For C9, Hai's shot calling has been a boon while TSM have benefited from staying together as a team. Before the match, I though C9 would win based on the balance across their lineup; I also thought Hai and Sneaky will would the duo lane as Doublelift has mixed great performances with disappointing ones. Alert: this game was a doozy and this post will be a bit long...

Picks and Bans – I loved this draft. GP vs Kog’Maw is not only a fun matchup of wildly different styles, but NA players need to start excelling on champions like these when they’re regularly seen in other regions. The late-game scaling will be incredible from both sides, and whichever carry stays safer will likely win the game. As for the supporting champs (and they are all supports in this game), I loves TSM getting Gragas but worry about their lack of poke – their last picks were LeBlanc/Poppy for Bjergsen/Hauntzer, but I would have rather seen one of Corki/Graves for some range to blow up barrels. Poppy can do it, and she has good engage, but she doesn’t have many exit skills (and the recent nerfs seem to have hurt). For C9, Kalista is fine, but a longer-range champ may be better suited to keep Kog’Maw contained in lane. Still, it’s Kalista. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs IMT (Week 6, Day 1)

Immortals are the hottest team in the #NALCS but teams have had some success playing super aggressive, bloody games that feel like solo queue. Renegades are reeling from a bad week 6 in which their shot-calling and teamfight execution were lacking. Can Crumbz rally the team around RF Legendary (back in place of Flaresz)? I don't think so but I'm rooting for an exciting game.

Picks and Bans - Really like the draft from Renegades, especially first-picking the Gragas for Crumbz. Gragas is built for teamfight utility but is also a champion that I feel you kind of need to all-in on. I think that will help him be decisive after a very poor Elise game last week. They follow with even more utility in Orianna and Malphite with Caitlin siege. Waveclear isn't great, but they aren't going to be split pushing against Immortals anyway. IMT feel like they're trying things out picking Rumble for Reignover early and going again with Ekko for Huni. RF will have to play very carefully, but I'm a bit worried that IMT keep playing these power-heavy squishy lineups. They have Soraka but not a lot of peel or CC for WildTurtle.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs REN (Week 5, Day 2)

Renegades are in a bit of disarray. Their shot calling was subpar in their loss to Echo Fox on Saturday and really need Crumbz to step up. Crumbz has been good helping all his lanes, but I wonder if he should just spend all his time on one lane to try to snowball. The casters mentioned focusing on bot, but I actually think REN have a better chance trying to take down Lourlo with aggressive ganks with a Jungler like Nidalee/Elise. The problem is Dardoch is such a strong fighter as well. Team Liquid have really coalesced around their jungler, though they continue to lose pressure in the top lane. Still, I don’t really see how REN win this.

Picks and Bans – The Casters talked about how REN can’t fall behind facing Ezreal and Corki, but I’m a bit concerned with the TL draft. I’m a huge fan of Thresh; Thresh’s have saved me so many times in solo queue. But despite having the Ezreal, they don’t really have peel for late-game teamfights, so they’ll have to do work before Malphite gets big. As for Renegades, they don’t have great laners outside of Kalista and their win condition is to win objective-based fights in the midgame. But, I kind of like their draft - when you're struggling with macro coordination, sometimes its easier to roam as 5 and force fights at places of your picking. That, of course, requires a different (and finer) level of coordination, but with this comp, that may work.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, DIG vs TIP (Week 5, Day 2)

These teams have the same record but I like how Dignitas played their last game against Immortals. If they can push the pace the get some turrets around kills, I think they win this. Team Impulse have had strong duo lane play from Mash and Gate but desperately need better play from the other positions.

Picks and Bans – love the comp from DIG which is a continuation of their aggressive approach against Immortals. TIP have better teamfight utility and hovered Jhin for a long time before giving Corki to Mash. They have better catch potential and will want to group.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs C9 (Week 5, Day 2)

The biggest game of Week 5 Day 2 in the #NALCS. As I’ve written numerous times, with Hai, C9 have one of the most balanced rosters in the NA. And even though they lost, Dignitas acquitted themselves well against Immortals in the Saturday game by roaming for kills, going over-aggressive, and mucking up the game. DIG didn’t get any objectives for their trouble and were never really a threat to win, but against a machine like IMT, maybe that gives you a shot. I’ll be interested to see if C9 try to go straight-power (3 ADCs, all AP, etc.) and try something crazy.

Picks and Bans – IMT get Nidalee first pick and Rush goes with Lee Sin. I like this! Lee Sin wants to gank all over the map and so does Nidalee. This should be a fun early game, especially if they show up in the same places. Then the moment we've waited for: Jhin comes out for Sneaky! Like many, I’ve seem him play a lot of Jhin in solo queue, but this is crazy! But oh man does IMT get a ton of power with Lux, Kalista, and Quinn, but they have a bunch of squishies. If C9 can get past Braum's shield, they have some good tools in teamfights and sieges.

Friday, February 19, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs TSM (Week 5, Day 2)

This is one of the premier matchups of Week 5 Day of the #NALCS. Team SoloMid have come back from some disjointed early losses to pull into second place. Their last win was noticeably cleaner - can they take that focus and apply it here? CLG were equally competitive yesterday and completely shut down TSM in their first match. Still, I think TSM wins this – I still think they need better play from Svenskeren and Doublelift, but many of the mistakes they've made over the first 4 weeks are straightforward and correctable. For CLG, I think their strategy should be to go hard on the duo lane and force TSM into a mistake.

Picks and Bans – CLG went with a teamfight-centric lineup without a lot of waveclear or siege utility. I have a special place in my heart for Ashe; I’m among the legion that mained Ashe for a long time. But I don’t think she fits into this lineup – I agree with Jatt and Phreak that her hitting an ECA would be more a mistake on the part of TSM. Having Morgana helps since Ashe is so squishy but after the first few levels, Kalista can bully her hard in lane. This kind of feels like a lost draft from CLG.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, FOX vs NRG (Week 5, Day 2)

Echo Fox have really come together around Froggen and should be a force to be reckoned with. NRG have gotten really good play from GBM and KonKwon, but teams have found a way to shut down Impact and Moon. They keep giving Impact tanky champions and I feel like they need more power from him to move into that second tier behind Immortals. And they need Altec to do more – he’s been tentative in some midgames and needs to carry when the opponent focus is on the other lanes. I feel like NRG are better but I like Echo Fox with the upset in this game.

Picks and Bans – FOX first-picked Corki, presumably for Froggen, which I love. NRG get GP, presumably for Impact, which I also love. He should be good enough to survive later and the siege from GP will scale nicely. FOX surround Froggen with Graves jungle, Janna support, and then Caitlin/Malphite. Pretty standard. NRG though got funky. They follow GP with Braum (ok), Evelyn (whoa), Lucian (ok, no Kalista), and Maokai - wait, what? This is such a weird lineup. They'll want to assassinate someone early, but Corki has good mobility with range and should not be an easy gank. Maybe focus on the duo lane? Moon will be really pressed to make something happen on Evelyn early. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs DIG (Week 5, Day 1)

I have a lot of respect for every player on these pro teams. These guys and girls sacrifice a lot and work hard to play these games for us. That said, Team Dignitas would be proud to get to 30 minutes against Huni, Reignover, and Company. DIG did not look convincing in their last win against Echo Fox and should probably just try to snowball their bot lane and hope for the best as they cannot win the solo lanes. Playing the long game against Immortals has obviously not worked for anyone, so I'd encourage them to play power champions, try for picks, lane swap back and forth, and generally try to muck things up and create chaos. Basically a C9 game. 

Picks and Bans – Reignover hovered Nunu for a fair bit before taking Rek’Sai. Rek’Sai is one of my favorite junglers because of his utility and ability to soak damage, but I would have loved to see him continue the 6.2 Nunu resurgence. I wrote that DIG will lose the top lane and that they shouldn't split push, but Quinn is actually a great pick for BillyBoss against Gangplank. And Ahri is no pushover in the midlane. This is a fun comp from DIG.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs TSM (Week 5, Day 1)

Team Impulse have good players but haven’t been able to put together complete games. Hey, that’s Team SoloMid too! The team that shows better rotations and shot calling in this matchup will win. I think both teams should try to go super-aggressive early and snowball and give themselves more margin of error with the midgame calls. Doublelift and Yellowstar should win the duo lane matchup, but that was the case last week as well.

Picks and Bans – this is a very powerful but dangerous lineup from TSM. Kindred and Zilean ults need to be timed perfectly and they haven’t shown that much teamfight coordination in the past few weeks. Setting Fiora’s split-push should be good for them, though I worry about them being separated. TIP went with a surprise Nautilus which give them some siege and CC, but I'm not sure he's the best of either of those worlds.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs TL (Week 5, Day 1)

This Saturday’s slate of power games continues and this one is very even. Cloud 9 have perhaps the most balanced lineup outside of Immortals, but Team Liquid have the tools to help Piglet carry. And Dardoch vs Rush is going to be a ton of fun. I expected C9 to win based on their strength across all positions, but if Dardoch can beat Rush, all bets are off. I feel like TL need to win the early game to have a chance.

Picks and Bans – I love TL picking Quinn for Lourlo. As Kobe mentioned, TL have tried tank after tank on Lourlo to keep him safe and the game easy for him and it’s been mostly disastrous. Let him try to be aggressive and actually have an impact on the global game, especially in the lane phase where C9 so often dominate. He'll have to stay safe and set vision to really split push, but he hasn't really stayed safe on tanks either.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs CLG (Week 5, Day 1)

I was very excited for this match of second tier #NALCS teams. Both teams have stars but I feel Counter Logic Gaming have fewer weaknesses. I’m very excited for GBM vs Huhi in the midlane, but I give the edge to CLG as teams have figured out how to limit Impact.

Picks and Bans – It seems like NALCS teams are figuring out the picks and bans and I like the draft from both teams. CLG are built to catch and fight while NRG scale a bit later. If CLG can get aggressive though and keep Ezreal down, this could be a long game for Altec who has been solid in the lane phase but not outstanding afterwards. I am a bit disappointed in Impact not taking a ranged toplaner against Fiora. But they wanted 3 ranged with 2 tanks to siege, and if they scale, it CLG’s catches won’t be able to blow anybody up.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, FOX vs REN (Week 5, Day 1)

We are finally catching up in the #NALCS! Right about halfway through the Spring Split, Echo Fox and Renegades are fighting to escape the basement, with both teams doing some major roster shuffling. I had this as a #RENWin due to their having a little more time to jell around Crumbz, but man was that Echo Fox loss to Dignitas last week ballsy. They have Froggen (!!), the tools to compete at this level, and this is a friendly matchup for them. The winner of this still has a shot to make the playoffs.

Picks and Bans – Liked this draft for both sides. FOX got some siege potential while Renegades want to split-push. Both have good teamfight utility and both got some power picks. If Renegades can avoid getting caught, I like their late game a bit better with Kalista and Quinn.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, DIG vs FOX (Week 4, Day 2)

Both of these teams are struggling to get out of the bottom of the #NALCS. Echo Fox have some light with new players coming in but still have a huge hole in the duo lane Meanwhile Dignitas desperately need better play from Kirei in the jungle when teams ban Elise from him. I think DIG gets this as try to integrate new members.

Pick/Ban – With no FOX bans due to late Challenger subs, Dignitas banned three interesting champions in GP, Alistar, and Fiora. DIG start with Nidalee for Kirei, which would be huge for him if he can finally show affinity for another champion beside Elise. DIG follow with a lot of utility and support in LuluTrundle, and Bard, but I’m unsure about this composition – they’ll have to be really coordinated to win this. Phreak even mentioned that DIG’s draft doesn’t look like one they got with no opponent bans. We’ll see if DIG can play their comp correctly and prevent FOX from getting fed. With all the power left available, FOX get Kalista, Poppy, Elise, and Ryze. They should be able to execute multiple midgame strategies. However, it will be interesting to see if the individually powerful champions will result in a good team play as they don't have a standard teamfighting lineup with engage, CC, tanks, and peel. If they get caught in a bad objective fight, look out.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs TIP (Week 4, Day 2)

Counter Logic Gaming and Team Impulse are pretty close in the #NALCS standings but CLG were favored and I think they should beat TIP handily. They had a good showing against Immortals on Saturday I think they have advantages in the solo lanes. They are just such a well-rounded team. For Impulse, they are still trying to find the right way to play around Impact. His stats aren't fantastic, but that's due in large part to the focus opponents have placed on him.

Picks and Bans – CLG did a good job counterpicking. Lulu/Kalista are going to be a problem for Lucian/Bard in the early game and Zed into Corki is also a good counter. However, if TIP get to the midgame with vision and set up the Quinn split push, they will be able to run CLG around a bit.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs TSM (Week 4, Day 2)

This should be an easy win for Team SoloMid, right? I mean they've had their struggles, but are one of the only teams to have had a lead on Immortals and Renegades have issues of their own. Doublelift and Yellowstar have a good duo lane matchup; is this the game Peter finally carries for his team?

Pick/Ban – I really liked this draft for both teams. Renegades picked strong AP champions that should have utility in skirmishes and teamfights. They are not as coordinated with supporting play and their champions are more prepared for picks and individual duels. For TSM, they gave Fiora to Hauntzer to stay safe by himself and picked 3 champions in Lulu, Kindred, and Alistar to keep Doublelift safe. Doublelift’s KDA has been hampered by a litany of unneeded deaths and I like giving Bjergsen a more utility midlaner. They should win this game without him carrying and I think this is a good way to work out some team synergy issues. The one concern with this comp - Kindred and Alistar's teamfight abilities require them to dive into melee range - can TSM follow fast enough?

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs NRG (Week 4, Day 2)

Two teams fighting at the tier below Immortals in the #NALCS Spring Split, both Cloud 9 and NRG have had fantastic and disappointing performances, often in the same weekend. I feel like this means more for C9 – they are going into Week 5 against Liquid and Immortals and a loss here could see them tumble below .500 with only 3 weeks left. 

Pick/Ban – this was another fun pick/ban phase. C9 built a strong catch/teamfighting comp with the Nunu jungle. I am a big fan of the Nunu comeback! NRG combat with a lot of zone control with siege potential. I’m a bit disappointed to see GBM on more of a utility champion, but I trust his judgment. I feel C9 have the advantage in the duo lane while NRG are better up top and the teams are equal in the middle. My feeling is that the jungle matchup wins this and if Rush plays Nunu correctly, he might have a big advantage on Moon.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs TL (Week 4, Day 2)

I was super excited for this game in Week 4 of the #NALCS. Immortals showed some macro issues in their win vs. C9 – if you extend them long enough, you might be able to win an objective-based teamfight since they play a squishy comp. And Team Liquid might have the shot to do it – specifically if Dardoch can match Reignover’s aggression and Piglet can carry.

Picks and Bans – This got a little crazy. Both teams heavily targeted top lane in their bans with IMT banning Poppy, Nidalee, and Graves, all champions they’ve been good on. They first pick Lulu, which is curious, since Pobelter has been so good as a carry champion. TL do well to get both Elise and Kalista following with Corki/Maokai to keep Lourlo safe. The IMT draft finishes with Rek’Sai, Caitlin, Ekko, and Janna. IMT look like world beaters but this is a very strange comp with poke, catch ability, and some teamfight utility. TL have a more classic CC-based teamfight comp which has been effective in the meta in other regions, but requires a ton of coordination. They do have a lot of waveclear and midgame options. This is one of the better drafts against IMT that I’ve seen so far.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs TIP (Week 4, Day 1)

Team Impulse have played well this split, but I expect NRG to win this off of superior play from all the mid and duo lanes. Impact has been fairly quiet this split as opponents have focused him, but GBM and Altec have taken turns carrying.

Picks and Bans – Pretty standard picks on this patch as we get Corki from NRG and Graves/Nidalee for TIP. TIP have picked a lot of poke with good utility in Graves, Nidalee, and Ezreal – they have power early, mid and late. NRG will have a lot of pick/CC and will be beastly in teamfights, but have to last long enough for Ezreal to scale. I like these comps – TIP want to play fast and NRG have the tools to stop them in their tracks.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TSM vs FOX (Week 4, Day 1)

Team SoloMid are better than Echo Fox at each position. This should be an easy win right?

Yup, TSM played like crap but are just better than Echo Fox. TSM’s strong lane phase devolved into midgame chaos as they got caught repeatedly. TSM do such a good job shoving lanes with vision; it’s a little incomprehensible why they don’t collapse together or why they keep getting caught. FOX had chances to kill the team but just couldn’t make the calls fast enough, even when they catch someone. They had a 5v4 at the Baron with Kalista and weren’t confident enough to call for it. Then when they do make a call to contest TSM’s Baron at 47:30 , they blow all their cooldowns trying to steal and have no damage left for the fight. They would have lost the game even had they stolen Baron with Kalista/Lux/Smite.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs IMT (Week 4, Day 1)

This was my most anticipated game of the week. Counter Logic Gaming are right in the mix of the next tier behind Immortals with NRG and C9. A win against the undefeated leaders of the LCS would do a lot for them the rest of this split. Then there’s Pobelter vs. HuHi, but if CLG are smart, they’d focus on shutting down Reignover and Huni as those two have been monsters in every IMT game. Can CLG either push the pace faster than IMT want (improbable) or extend the game to a late-game siege where IMT’s pick comp doesn’t scale as well?

Picks and Bans – Third straight game where Nidalee was a priority pick, this time for Reignover. His Rek’Sai is really good, but given how IMT have let him be aggressive in the first 3 weeks, this could be dangerous for CLG. If they are unable to start his early counter-jungling and prevent him from dominating the map, they could be in for a long game.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs REN (Week 4, Day 1)

This should be a straightforward game for Cloud 9, who look like one of the more coordinated teams in the #NALCS. Renegades have to feel good to be here, but there are too many moving parts for them right now. It's a shame they lost Remi, but they have to regroup. It's not going to happen against C9 though.

Picks and Bans - The second straight game where Nidalee was a jungle pick and although I favor Rek’Sai due to his global ult and teamfight utility, I love the power that C9 bring to the table. Also, I like speeding the game up as the favorite, which Nidalee does. I'm beginning to think NA teams aren't coordinated enough to play 2-tank lineups in this meta and C9 went with a zero tank catch comp that should be able to shove lanes early. They need to switch objectives smartly and not tunnel in on any one place on the map. REN counter with a fair bit of initiation and mobility of their own but with the potential to scale much better. This should be a fun game that’s decided on who can rotate fastest.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs DIG (Week 4, Day 1)

I expected this to be a straightforward win for Team Liquid with Piglet starting to hard carry, Dardoch arriving as a star, and the team starting to jell really well. Their two wins (NRG and TIP) in Week 3 indicate to me that they’re ready to win with the big boys at the top of the standings. Dignitas have done good things and I agree with the casters that BillyBoss has been good for them, but they haven‘t been to link all three phases of the game together.

P/B – Kirei is going to have to widen his champ pool if DIG want to win and Dardoch on Nidalee could be a bad matchup. I’m just as surprised as the casters that Graves and Poppy were not picked by DIG with picks 2/3. KiWiKiD’s Alistar has been good but I’m not as sure about the priority on Lulu. DIG are fortunate to pick Graves and Lucian. Kirei’s performance on Graves will be key to this matchup.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs TIP (Week 3, Day 2)

This was my second highly-anticipated Sunday matches in Week 3 of the #NALCS 2016 Spring Split. Team Liquid have found a star jungler in Dardoch and Piglet is still Piglet. I'll never forget Piglet vs. Uzi for the 2013 World Championships, and his game is still elite. Team Impulse don't have the star power but they have rallied for 3 straight wins coming into this match. 

Pick/Ban – very interesting bans of Caitlin, Bard, and Lulu by TIP leaves a lot of power up and they are able to trade first pick Graves for their Ryze and Alistar. TL get Lucian, Tahm Kench, Lux, and Morgana while TIP end with Elise, Varus and Kalista. Both of these comps have good engage and range damage. TIP can stay a bit safer in fights while TIP might be looking for a split push. I like what both teams are doing with some mid-game power.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs TSM (Week 3, Day 2)

NRG vs TSM and TL vs TIP were my most anticipated matches of the day. These teams all have potential to give Immortals a run at the top but need to gain separation from each other first. Starting with NRG vs. Team SoloMid, I expected TSM to use some of the confidence from their Saturday win vs. C9 to improve their confidence and coordination in this showdown with NRG. 

Pick/Ban – This started really well for NRG. They go Poppy, Rek’Sai, Lucian with their first three while TSM countered with Graves, Elise, Caitlin, and Braum (have not been convinced w/ Doublelift’s Caitlin). Then things got wacky. NRG blind-picked Zilean for GBM (only one Zilean played in mid this season). Bjergsen’s Viktor will pressure him; NRG will really need the side lanes to dominate with the power Zilean can give them. They have some good siege potential but so do TSM.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs TSM (Week 3, Day 1)

This was one of the most hyped matches of Week 3 and turned into a crazy game of objective trading.

Pick/Ban - C9 first-picked Corki, which I felt was a slight misstep with so much power available, and then go with Tahm Kench and Braum with their next couple picks. Those are all fine champions, but going up against Lissandra from TSM and with Lucian/Kalista still available (Alistar was banned by TSM), that's just not a ton of damage. C9 finish with Nidalee and Tristana which, again, are fine, but their power will be a bit late. I could see them getting in trouble against the waveclear and burst from Lissandra, Viktor, and Lucian for TSM. TSM have been a bit uncoordinated as a team though and if C9 can out-rotate TSM with their siege, the poke could be devastating. I just like the TSM draft better.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs FOX (Week 3, Day 1)

CLG vs. FOX should be a win for CLG - Echo Fox have a lot of issues to work out beyond the initial laning phase. 

Pick/Ban – love CLG’s first three of Kalista, Rek’Sai and Fiora; I can’t get over the fact that Fiora is going to get fed. FOX get two priority picks in Alistar and Elise then pivot to some solid, flexible choices in Trundle and Ezreal, but I worry about their power. CLG are going to be beastly in the midgame if they don’t get caught too many times early. FOX will need to keep their lane phase strong and get to the right teamfights and kite properly. Even though FOX got to counter CLG, I think CLG’s lineup are just better for this fast-paced meta. Despite having the Alistar, I think it will be hard for FOX to force CLG into a big fight before 30 minutes.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs DIG (Week 3, Day 1)

This game was nuts. That is all. #Analysis #NALCS #SpringIsCrazy

Pick/Ban – TIP had only one ban, which made this phase a ton of fun due to the amount of power that's available. First pick Alistar was curious for TIP - I've criticized grabbing Alistar early with power up, but I don't mind it in this context since TIP are sure to get good power in picks 4/5. DIG get Poppy and Kalista which I like a lot. They are in good position to get more power with picks 6/7 and give Poppy to Kirei, but his champion pool is famously small and they are forced to give him Rengar instead. TIP end up with Lucian and Fiora – I love that side lane combo in this meta. Maybe it's because Kalista is hard to play in solo queue ( you need a ton of support synergy for her to work), but Lucian is right up there for me in terms of best AD carries and Fiora/Poppy/Graves are by far the best toplaners in this meta. DIG get Corki for waveclear but the rest of the lineup is a bit blah (and again that Rengar is questionable). I just like TIP’s power a bit more, especially for only one ban and first-picking Alistar. DIG will need to outplay the Fiora and keep pressuring the Lucian with Kalista or this could turn ugly by midgame.

League of Legends: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs REN (Week 3, Day 1)

Week 3 is upon us in a flurry and that's a good adjective to describe the games with. With a bevy of sub-30 minute games, I'm ready to see which teams really blew it. First up - I don't really expect Renegades to win. But can they at least pretend to slow down Immortals? I'll follow IMT as long as they're undefeated.

Pick/Ban: IMT first-pick Graves... and REN respond with Corki and Alistar? Are you serious? Are you serious? This is a disaster for REN. I feel like they've already lost. Corki is fine wherevere you put him, but leaving Poppy, Lucian and Elise up (Kalista was banned)? I literally shouted at my screen when they first-picked Alistar. Nothing against Alistar - he's an extremely popular pick, but going up against a team that you know wants early pressure and mid-game power, this doesn't make sense. I get it - pick/ban is a balance between getting the picks you want and not letting the opponent counter. But at some point, you just have to go with the better champion. Ezreal scales well and Nidalee gives you good poke and early game gank pressure, but I have a hard time seeing REN take down either WildTurtle or Huni in this game.

There's not much else to say about this game. IMT are the clearly better shot-calling, rotating, teamfighting team and had the more powerful comp. I don't know if you can consistently play the two-tanks and poke comp in this meta. Maybe with a champion like Caitlin which gives you better siege than Ezreal, but building a comp for late-game Barons doesn't help if the other team is so fed you can't make that call.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs NRG (Week 3, Day 1)

I know, I know, I'm behind on my #NALCS analysis. I actually had Week 3 all ready but a computer issue prevented me from posting. So here's a barrage of Week 3 and Week 4 action starting with two hot teams, Team Liquid and NRG ESports.

Pick/Ban - TL picked a flexible comp that can siege and poke. NRG went with a standard teamfight-focused 2-tank comp with Kalista/Alistar and Trundle up top. I think it will be very interesting to see if Fenix can stay alive on Lux vs. Viktor – Viktor has better wave clear and both have great burst damage. If TL can keep Fenix safe, they’ll bring a lot of power to the midgame. NRG have the edge around later game objective fights, though, so TL will have to play fast.