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.

Early game - CLG flat out-rotated IMT, which they have the talent to do, but is still somewhat of a surprise against IMT. The desk talked about this after the game, but Xmithie's surprise Udyr dominated the jungle phase against Reignover's Gragas. CLG made a conscious effort to shut down the Reignover jungler despite the buffs to Gragas' clearspeed. It was a minor miracle that Reignover was able to stay even in CS for the majority of the match, but Xmithie has the advantage in map pressure. That leads to a successful gank on Huni (15:00) that also kills Reignover - the damage just isn't there on early Gragas. And two kills on Darshan's Fiora started a snowball IMT desperately want to avoid - Fiora's split push. From here, Fiora was able to solo Quinn for the balance of the game. 22:30 is a good example - it doesn't result in a kill but goodness look at the damage.

23:30 - Nice proactive moves from Reignover and Pobelter to turn a teamfight for IMT. The problem for IMT? CLG are still in control of the map and pushing the other waves. IMT need several things to to in their favor to reset the map to what they've been used to on this win streak. And without a clear solution to Fiora, I don't know that they can get that chain of events to happen before Baron. The good news is they have Lux for that fight and WildTurtle is big, the bad news is that Quinn is disadvantaged in teamfights and now useless as a split pusher.

36:50 - The split push Fiora results in the bottom inhib turret for CLG, the best one to take in relation to late game Baron. Then, a flight of lunacy as WildTurtle fights off Xmithie and Stixxay before assassinating aphromoo. WildTurtle is crazy. They eventually find Stixxay too, but not before Darshan knocks down the bot lane inhib. And look where all the waves are. IMT have been down in kills the last few games but always control the map. Credit to them for maintaining good vision, but it's all defensive and the lanes are all losing. IMT know that they can't reset the map without Baron and make a desperate call, but despite killing Huhi, cannot finish with low health and Darshan threatening the nexus.

42:30 - CLG maintain the 1-3-1, which I love; it takes discipline to set up but once you do, it's hard for teams to clear (especially with Zz'Rot portals). They give up a death on a Huhi misplay (distorted back into the team after having escaped). There's no reason for Huhi to be there at all - they should have just baited. But for IMT, that means a Baron call, and they get it with a perfectly-timed smite/laser combo. But Darshan is still working on the base! The rest of CLG try to occupy them but IMT are able to use the Baron-enhanced recall and get back just in time to save the game. The problem? IMT have the gold lead but with Baron, are still unable to fully reset the waves. They get one turret in the bot lane but are unable to do more as Huni gets caught yet again.

50:00 - With Baron back up, IMT are drawn back to the pit while CLG stick with Darshan pushing bot with Pobelter. IMT realize that even with Baron, they would lose almost all their base without a back, and desperately try to recall. CLG knock down the bot lane inhib, two nexus turrets, and half of the nexus before Turtle arrives to save the day.

51:30 - With long death timers on CLG, IMT head for Baron. Then, disaster - Pobelter's laser is late and Xmithie wins the smite war. Meanwhile, Darshan has TP'ed to the bot lane with homeguards and IMT don't have a fast way to recall! They have to walk all the way back to their base! With all squishies and Gragas, they had no way to peel Xmithie off the Baron and Darshan is working on the half-health nexus. Huni wasn't able to stop Darshan all game and he doesn't here as Darshan solos the Nexus for a CLG victory! The undefeated streak is over and CLG make a claim to the throne of NA!

What a great game. I loved how CLG stuck to the split push, knowing that Fiora is unstoppable with a lead. IMT would have needed to win a 5v5 teamfight to have a prayer of coming back, and the best way to avoid that is to never group. Even had IMT taken the 50/50 Baron, it still wouldn't have resulted in significant lane pressure the other way. CLG could easily wait out the buff and send Darshan back to the bot lane. They played their comp well and used Udyr and Fiora perfectly.

For IMT, the end of their run shows how good they can be, even with a lost draft. Somehow, despite getting repeatedly ganked/killed, Huni was able to stay even in CS, Reignover too, while WildTurtle's domination almost swung the game. They need to figure out what team comp can work for them in this patch. The good news? Champs like Gragas and Quinn are important tools for them and even losses like these will benefit if it gives them additional playstyle flexibility, especially going into internationals where the games are longer and much more organized.

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