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.

LoL Analysis: A few thoughts on Chinese teams at IEM Katowice

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting article at PC Gamer detailing the failings of the Chinese teams at Katowice, the first time we've seen international LAN competition. I think he hits it on the head: but resorting to mass imports of Korean talent, Chinese teams are bereft of communication and synergy and the skirmish-heavy style prevalent in the LPL simply does not hold against competition focused on taking towers. You should read the article here. But I think there are a few more items to consider, namely the fact that instead of importing Koreans (or even Taiwanese), Chinese teams need more new blood from the LSPL. And they need teams in that lower tier to try new, crazy things without the fear of failure.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, DIG vs IMT (Week 8, Day 2)

I don’t know how Dignitas can possibly come back from their heartbreaking Saturday loss to Echo Fox to play Immortals, so let’s just hope they show up and don’t lay an egg in this one, ok? Making it to 25 minutes against Huni, Reignover, and Co. would be an achievement.

Picks and Bans – This was a bit of a weird draft. DIG draft Corki, Gragas/Jhin, and Rammus/Braum. Shocked to see Braum fall so far, but good preparation from DIG – they know Adrian is not going to pick him. IMT go with Sivir/Graves, TF/Rek’Sai, and Janna. Both of these teams want to engage heavily and flank. It’s a standard, aggressive IMT comp but I agree with Kobe, it would be nice to see Adrian on a non-Janna/Soraka, champs that just aren’t picked elsewhere. DIG will scale fairly well but need to win the early mid lane to have a chance at map control.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TSM vs REN (Week 8, Day 2)

In a day of upsets, surely Team SoloMid can hold off last-place Renegades, right? Well, TSM sure things are never as sure as we think they are. Renegades have to be disappointed after losing a very competitive match yesterday, but a lot of what worked against C9 can work against TSM – rotating together as a team and punishing overconfidence.

Picks and Bans – This was the story of the match. TSM first-pick Lulu, which is perfectly fine. REN follow with Graves/Gragas, which means a ton of top lane pressure and teamfight. TSM follow with Braum/Jhin for their duo lane – as good as those two are, I think it's risky for TSM. Doublelift and Yellwstar already get caught - a lot - and even though Braum is the top support globally and an excellent shield for Doublelift, all of his abilities require him to walk to melee range without escapes. I question whether Alistar wouldn’t have been safer. For Doublelift, Jhin’s short auto range and lack of mobility puts him more at risk of dying unnecessarily. He’s shown he can manage that with good performances on Kog’Maw and he does have Lulu for move speed, but TSM fans should feel nervous. REN follow with Lissandra/Bard – they want to catch – and TSM finish with Elise/Trundle. I know Trundle has been a priority Pick/Ban all over the world, and he provides more protection for Doublelift, but I really dislike picking Trundle into Seraph’s Graves in this comp. It puts Hauntzer at a waveclear disadvantage and gives REN a clear win condition: avoid teamfights. All they need to do is trade turrets early, lane and pick, and they will have a tempo advantage. And then they add to their poke with a last-pick Caitlin for Freeze. I love this – she can duel at range with Jhin and has more siege potential. As long as REN don’t fall hopelessly behind early, they should be able to run around the map. TSM really need to push the duo lane and hope Doublelift can hard carry. We’ve seen this movie from TSM before and it usually doesn’t end well.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs TL (Week 8, Day 2)

Both of these teams are fighting to remain relevant in the tier behind IMT, CLG, and C9. Both have major weaknesses (NRG’s ADC and Jungler, Liquid’s solo lanes) that they’ve slowly shored up with more comfortable champions over the last couple of weeks. Lourlo specifically has been very good on Nautilus – I think that’s a must-ban for NRG. But that leaves a lot of power up, and with NRG on a losing streak, I want to say Liquid #TLWin in this one.

Picks and Bans – Can I switch to #NRGWin? They first-pick Nautilus for Impact and TL grab Braum/Corki which is fine since Dardoch’s champion pool is larger than Moon’s.  NRG grab Kalista/Trundle for a very strong teamfight comp… but Lulu and Kog’Maw are still up! TL can’t pick it because they already have Corki and Lourlo has only played tanks. But Lee Sin/Lucian feels like a letdown despite Dardoch's insane stats on Lee Sin. And then GBM goes with Zed into Corki! I agree with Jatt – that’s a fantastic matchup for NRG. TL then finish with the Lulu – what!? If they are going to give Lulu to Lourlo and play Braum, why not get Kog’Maw and last-pick Lee Sin? Kog, Corki with Lulu and Braum, is a ton of siege. Of course, NRG could counter, but still! These were my thoughts immediately after:

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs TIP (Week 8, Day 2)

Cloud 9 played really overconfidently in their Saturday game. They still won, but it was very sloppy. This is another #C9Win on paper as they should have advantages and every position, and honestly, I feel like Renegades are playing a bit better than Team Impulse are despite the records. I think TIP should focus on what worked for Renegades – turning this into a skirmish-heavy, bloody game (which C9 like and can be baited into) and avoid big teamfights where C9’s mechanical skill will take over.

Picks and Bans – TIP follow first-pick Gragas with Janna/Elise… umm, yeah that's sub-optimal? Those are terrible picks in this meta, leaving so much power up. TIP are not good enough to counterpick against C9, they need to grab power picks for themselves. Where are Ryze, Poppy, Alistar, Braum, etc.? C9 get Morgana/Jhin for their duo lane while TIP counter with Graves/Sivir, which actually are priority picks, but not sure about how this comp works together. C9 finish with Varus/Trundle without knowing if TIP would have a tank (Feng has played Graves a ton), but their comp is just much better at teamfighting. TIP finish with LeBlanc. So they’re going with picks all over the map, but I don’t think they’re good enough to do so. Completely agree with Jatt and Phreak: This is a bad draft for TIP.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, FOX vs DIG (Week 8, Day 1)

This game was nuts. This is a selection from my post-match Twitter feed:

In fact, I’m not even going to do much analysis, not least because the game lasted over an hour and featured a dozen crucial moments/teamfights. Just watch it yourself. I’ll highlight key moments and let you bask in the glory that is the wacky, wild #NALCS.

Picks and Bans – FOX first-pick Nidalee with Corki still on the table, showing her value in this meta. DIG Corki along with Braum and follow with Elise/Jhin; we haven’t seen Apollo’s Jhin, but Elise is one of the few champions Kirei has been good on. However this allows FOX to get Alistar/Kalista and GP/Nautilus – Phreak and Kobe talked about how this was basically an entire lineup of top-tier power picks for FOX, and I agree. DIG though have some advantages – last-pick Poppy should hold her own in the top lane, Jhin's range is favorable into Kalista early, same for Corki into GP. If DIG can prevent Hard from making plays all over the map in support of their lanes, they should have an advantage through 15 minutes.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs C9 (Week 8, Day 1)

Renegades were mired in a long losing streak after a win vs TL in day 1 of the #NALCS Spring Split, finally picking up a win last week with Seraph subbing in the top lane. What is it going to take to get Seraph in the LCS permanently? Apparently not much, as Renegades made a trade for him, though they had to give up their midlaner, AlexIch. Going against C9 will be tough though. Despite losing to CLG, I think C9 have more tools in their box and will round into form as the second best team behind IMT.

Picks and Bans – REN start with flex-pick Graves and C9 follow with Corki/Gragas. REN play an interesting draft with Elise/Braum and Kog’Maw/Zilean. I’ll be very impressed to see if REN, with Ninja replacing AlexIch, can be coordinated enough to keep Freeze alive. C9 finish with Morgana/Trundle and last-pick Varus for some good waveclear. I’m not sure I love C9’s comp, but it presents a lot of teamfight challenges and their pure talent should net them a win.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs TL (Week 8, Day 1)

CLG received a dose of reality at #IEM. Yes, their lane swap is crisp and they can split push with the rest of the world, but once teams adjusted, it was ugly. Any time they were forced away from the split, the team fell apart, not encouraging when their last series was against a mid-tier #EULCS team. Specifically, they need Huhi and Stixxay to show up as hyper carries. TL have their weaknesses, but if there’s one thing they can do, it’s play around their duo lane. Can they survive in the other positions to get to teamfights around Piglet? I didn’t think so, picking #CLGWin:

Picks and Bans – Lots of power picks were banned, namely Xmithie’s Udyr, but he gets Gragas later on which is a coup for teamfights. TL follow CLG’s first-pick Kalista with Corki/Braum, Nautilus/Lee Sin, and Lucian. CLG also have 4-1 with Bard and LeBlanc around a Yasuo. Pretty straightforward from both sides.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs NRG (Week 8, Day 1)

This is just a bad matchup for NRG most #NALCS teams. They want to press advantages in the solo lanes but that’s going to be so hard with Reignover supporting Huni/Pobelter, and I don’t see how they can win the duo lane even with Altec back (and playing a bit better). They do need to show strong mechanics on 6.4 champions, which is something that NRG can potentially take advantage of. As good as Adrian is on the healing supports, I would love to see his Braum or Alistar or Trundle given the high priority of those champions in other regions.

Picks and Bans – Jungle and top lane were heavily targeted in the bans and both Lulu and Kog’Maw are up. IMT first-pick Corki which gives NRG the ability to pick Juggermaw. Instead NRG grab Poppy and Elise – I heavily disagree with that combination in this patch. IMT return with Rek’Sai/GP – GP is great and Rek’Sai is a comfort pick for Reignover with junglers down, but again, no Braum, no Lulu, no Kog’Maw? I mean IMT are going to win this game anyway but this looks like a big strategic misstep that IMT can’t survive against a better team. NRG follow with Braum/Sivir, both great in this patch. Sivir is back with the new crits and Braum is so good if you can follow him and not leave him out to dry. Sivir just give syou so much teamfight utility. IMT lock in Lucian/Soraka which are perfectly fine comfort picks, but a bit disappointing.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TSM vs TIP (Week 8, Day 1)

Foreword: So I planned my vacation for #IEM week instead of the pre-playoff off week thinking that Katowice would let me get caught up. Instead, I ended up writing replays of 12 matches that TSM and CLG (mostly TSM) played. I know it was a double-elimination tournament, but I was expecting 8 games from NA teams, 9 at most. But congrats to SoloMid who got the the semis!

That got me behind, but I'm determined to catch up this week. I actually have all the game analysis already done - I write down notes as I watch the games (which is sometimes why my Twitter goes silent) and flesh out the details and edit afterwards. That's why these posts often come in rapid-fire manner. Anyway, no more chat, the first game of the week is TIP vs a returning TSM squad that showed a new gear in Europe.

TSM are coming home after some encouraging, though fruitless results at IEM. I didn’t expect them to take a game off SKT, and they didn’t, but they did show better coordination and tools with the split push. TIP stopped a slide with a clutch victory against NRG last week and need to keep winning to have a shot at playoffs. This should be a #TSMWin off a big mismatch in the top lane.

Picks and Bans – TSM start Lulu and TIP go Graves/Braum which are fine picks. But that leaves Alistar/Kog’Maw for the TSM duo lane. This was my reaction:

Saturday, March 19, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, SKT vs TSM (Semifinal Game 2 of 3)

I wrote that SKT had 4 objectives for this series in my analysis of Game 1. They accomplished 2.5: coordinating plays across the map and hold up in the duo lane. They played their comp well, but picking a tank into Trundle was a problem. And instead of picking on Blank/Duke, they were solidly out-played by SKT's new members. They aren't going to catch up to the Koreans in individual skill in one game, but I hope they can play a comp that allows them to pressure the lanes a bit more. And of course, stay together.

Picks and Bans – SKT leave up Kalista and TSM are smart to first-pick that for Doublelift. SKT are trying to get Braum, and I think TSM should go Trundle with Alistar banned by SKT. SKT go Braum/Corki. Go Trundle support! Instead they get Fiora/Janna; Janna is one of my favorite supports, but I agree with Kreppo and Deficio – Morgana would have been way better. Janna just doesn’t bring enough to the teamfights. SKT get Poppy and Gragas – love it. They are setting up for super strong teamfights. TSM finish with TF/Lee Sin, which means they are 100% squishies with good engage but little teamfight sustain. They will have to go super aggressive on SKT to survive, and SKT smartly finish with Zed. SKT are still going to win this, TSM’s goal is to play fast and loose and pick up some kills.

Friday, March 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, SKT vs TSM (Semifinal Game 1 of 3)

I have no expectations for Team SoloMid to beat SKT Telecom T1. Bjergsen has been fantastic on assassins, but he’s playing into an assassin god. I believe SKT will 2-0 their NALCS opponent, but that doesn’t mean it’s a lost series for TSM. I want to see them accomplish a few things:

  1. Pick and play their comp well
  2. Coordinate plays across the map and make some plays rather than purely react
  3. Don’t wilt in the duo lane (they will lose a bit), and 
  4. Try to pick on Blank and Duke

I think if they can accomplish 3 of those 4 things, they can survive into the mid- to late-game where a weird teamfight could win it. SKT aren't going to let them win any of those, but you just want to be there. More importantly, they need to get better as a team going into the #NALCS playoffs.

Picks and Bans – SKT first-pick Corki with Lissandra gone, which is interesting, since Corki hasn’t been a top priority recently. TSM follow with Nautilus/Ezreal, which the casters weren’t loving but I don’t hate. They are not priority picks, but Ezreal is a comfort pick for Doublelift and Yellowstar’s Braum has not been good at IEM. SKT follow with Nidalee/Braum (very standard) and Lucian/Trundle. After LeBlanc/Lee Sin, TSM have a chance to counter the Trundle with Quinn but go back to Alistar. Like Deficio, I’m a bit disappointed to see TSM give up all early game pressure against Trundle, but then again, they have not shot against SKT and should just try to execute. Alistar a perfectly fine comfort pick for Yellowstar and more importantly, is better than Nautilus support at keeping Doublelift alive in a passive laning phase. Even with the tank into Trundle problem, I feel TSM have a better chance to execute the comp they have, even if it’s not ideal.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, FNC vs CLG (Group B, Game 3 of 3)

The team that makes better decisions around minute 20 will win. I think with both teams facing elimination, this turns into a much faster game than the first two.

Picks and Bans – Lulu makes it through and FNC pick her first. CLG respond with Kalista/Gragas, also very standard. FNC go back to Jhin/Thresh, and have even more ways to keep Jhin alive. CLG do what I thought they should have last game with Alistar/Corki for a lot of poke. They are building a teamfight comp, but they look like they want to do a fair bit of teamfighting anyway, and Corki’s midgame spike is very real. FNC finish with Lee Sin and Rammus – Like the Rammus but not sure about Lee Sin. CLG go back to Vlad to give them split push pressure and this time have a couple tanks of their own.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, FNC vs CLG (Group B, Game 2 of 3)

CLG won the last game off superior rotations and map control while FNC looked lost in the extended lane swap and against the split push. Combined with a better scaling comp from CLG, it was a snowball FNC could not stop. After a disjointed loss to SKT in the first game (not that I blame them for losing) of the day, CLG are back to the style we’re familiar with, and I expect them to win Game 2. FNC have a shot though if they can just force teamfights - CLG have proven thus far to be a bit of a one-trick pony and their comp doesn't scale as well as it did in Game 1.

Pick and Bans – This started normally and got really weird. Kalista made it through with Udyr banned so CLG first-pick that for Stixxay. FNC follow with Thresh/Gragas and then Elise/Morgana for CLG. FNC then lock in QuinnJ/Jhin very quickly – did not see that coming! Quinn will help their answer to split push, but picking her blind is a huge risk. And Jhin too – that will help in the lane phase but his lack of auto range and mobility really hurts after that (esp. against Kalista). FNC can flex the Quinn but depending on Huhi’s champion pool, CLG should be able to counter. CLG do counter with Pantheon/Ekko; I think FNC will want Pantheon v. Quinn in the midlane and make Darshan play Ekko. FNC finish with the Rammus again but CLG have a ton of catch potential and can transition to splitting 4-1 with Huhi out. FNC do have the Thresh to help move Jhin around and will have a lot of mobility with Thresh, Quinn and Rammus.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, FNC vs CLG (Group B, Game 1 of 3)

After an expected loss against the defending world champions, CLG look to bounce back against Fnatic, a team that has struggled mightily to gain fround in the #EULCS after a surprising seminfal run at 2015 Worlds. Unfortunately for CLG, FNC's strengths in the midlane with Febiven and ADC with Rekless directly match against some of their weaknesses, but if they can consistently execute the split push with Darshan, it may not matter. They need to remain consistent and together and should win this match to stay alive.

Picks and Bans – FNC first-pick Gragas with Nidalee gone and CLG return with Ezreal and Udyr. I like CLG grabbing Lulu/Thresh. Agree with the desk that they need a strong top laner with Udyr. FNC finish with Corki, a power pick that I’m surprised to see fall so far, with Rammus top and CLG finish with Vladimir. Vladimir will give Darshan a lot of tools in the split push. CLG will be out-ranged by Corki and FNC have better engage with Grags but unlike the SKT game, CLG have better scaling if they avoid bad teamfights.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, SKT vs CLG (Group B, Best of 1)

CLG have improved throughout the #NALCS Spring Split and can seriously lay claim as the best team in NA. The problem is the best team in NA rarely means anything in international play, and against SKT T1, I’m not sure best team in any non-LCK region matters. SKT do have a couple rookie players, but they still have Faker going into Huhi and I think Bang into Stixxay is a big mismatch. Can Darshan and Xmithie do enough against Duke and Blank? I don’t think so, but SKT have struggled this year, so I’m saying there’s a chance!

Picks and Bans – SKT target Darshan, Stixxay, and aphromoo with Bard, Fiora, and Kalista banned. CLG banned Kog’Maw, Nautilus, and Corki which are fine power picks off the tabe. CLG go Lucian/Poppy, which is interesting – can Darshan be effective on Poppy? T1 get Lulu/Braum, interesting to see Lulu drop. Faker’s been so good on Lulu and this could be a way to bully around the map. Whoa CLG go with Gragas/Thresh – haven’t seen Thresh in a while in NA (think the last one was Remi), and I agree with Kreppo – Thresh is curious, although he gives Poppy an escape. SKT are able to counter Poppy with Trundle; Trundle has been hugely popular in the LCK but in the top, he works really well against tanks like Poppy. And Huhi takes Lux into Faker. I’m not sure about that. Faker was already going to bully Huhi, now he scales late on Lux allowing Faker to shove the lane and then roam. Feels a bit disjointed from CLG.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, TSM vs OG (Group A, Game 2 of 3)

TSM have proven through 2 games that they are the clearly superior team. ESC have proven that despite facing large gold deficits, they can bait TSM into overly aggressive teamfights that allow them to turn games. I’m encouraged by the last game for TSM and think they close this out.

Picks and Bans – ESC surely have to pick or ban Fiora and they choose pick after TSM first-pick Alistar. They do ban Kog’Maw and Lee Sin and pair Fiora with Lucian. TSM return with Elise/Ezreal, very standard. I like Nidalee along with Bard for ESC, which gives Ares a simple job: speed through the jungle and gank. TSM pick Quinn into the Fiora, which is in theory a good matchup, but it could get messy in teamfights. TSM finish with LeBlanc and PowerOfEvil goes back to Lux, which I’m unsure of – POE had some nice skirmish catches but didn’t turn any of the teamfights in the last game and is going to lose in the early game to Bjergsen. If TSM can execute the split, I like LeBlanc with their team in a fight more than Lux. ESC have tools to deal with the distortion, I just don’t know if they are up to par mechanically.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, TSM vs ESC (Group A, Game 1 of 3)

After a disastrous start to #IEM, Team SoloMid get another crack at Ever. In their first match, TSM outplayed Ever only to collapse for one disastrous teamfight that lost them the game. Since then, they have shown flashes of the split push strategy, particularly in the last game against Origen. I have a hard time believing in Ever after seeing them lose to RNG and that first TSM game, but TSM make the same issues over and over again. Nice callout by Darshan by the way on how TSM’s split Fiora isn’t a threat ;) But, since I’m an NA writer and player, #TSMWin!

Picks and Bans – Interesting bans heavily targeting the midlane with TF, LeBlanc, and Lissandra banned by ESC and Corki banned by TSM. Ever sneak the Kalista through and I expected Kog’Maw for TSM but they instead reply with Alistar/Lee Sin, interesting with Bard and Nidalee up. Ever go with Graves/Nautilus then Lux/Bard after seeing TSM’s Fiora/Kog’Maw – ESC have a lot of tools to take down Doublelift. TSM finishes with Zilean for Bjergsen – I like that for Doublelift as well as a way to zone-siege in the 4-1.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, TSM vs OG (Group A, Game 3 of 3)

Despite a dodgy end to game 2, I still feel like TSM have more tools coming into this game with their ability to split push and play the map. All they have to do is manage the global pressure from OG. Surely their superior talent will show in the 3 game series???

Picks and Bans – OG first-pick Lucian, which is fine with Kalista banned, but not what I think they want going into a whole litany of possible TSM lineups. Doublelift hasn’t been great on Ezreal, but has been picking him with abandon. TSM respond with Alistar/TF, which I agree with Deficio is a direct callout on PowerOfEvil’s champion pool (Corki and LeBlanc were banned). Syndra would be perfect against TF. The next few picks are OG Elise/Braum and TSM Ezreal/Lee Sin. Svenskeren’s Lee Sin hasn’t been great – he needs to find better skillshots. And then… OG pick Talon/Trundle? Uh… ok… So that’s an assassin that will bring early game power against TF, but he will need to be heavily ganked in mid lane. Problem is TSM have a Fiora vs. Trundle again in the top lane… Elise has a bunch of spiderlings but can't be everywhere. TSM have won P/B yet again. Then again, we’ve said that 3 times at #IEM and they only have one victory so far to show for it…

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, TSM vs OG (Group A, Game 2 of 3)

TSM are up and look like a clearly better team. That's exactly when their opponents are usually the most dangerous...

Picks and Bans – Nautilus is banned from Hauntzer but Kalista makes it through and OG get it for Zven. TSM has to take Braum away and go back to Fiora, which I like, but only if they remain committed to the split push. They played a 4-1 in the last game but need to continue to focus on leaving Hauntzer alone and trusting him. OG go with Elise/Trundle – Trundle hasn’t been relevant for a couple patches and while he’s a good teamfight champion, he will eventually start struggling against Fiora. Svenskeren goes back to Lee Sin (weird that Nidalee makes it all the way through) and a very standard Lucian. OG finish with old-school TF and Thresh, which allows Bjergsen to last-pick Corki. I like this draft a lot better for TSM if they play correctly around Hauntzer.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, TSM vs OG (Group A, Game 1 of 3)

Origen have struggled in the EULCS after a Cinderella run to the 2015 Worlds semis. The top of the #EULCS is super strong right now, but it’s been a long time since OG won against a good team. TSM have had success against good #NALCS teams, but how good is the NALCS? We’re about to find out.

Picks and Bans – TSM first-picks Nautilus, a bit of a surprise since Hauntzer has been a reliable carry, but he gives them a ton of options at the expense of waveclear. Also they give up Lucian and Nidalee to OG. Then it gets a little funky – they prioritize Janna/Lee Sin, not champions you associate as power picks, before finishing with LeBlanc/Ezreal. Origen follow with Lissandra/Thresh and a last-pick Poppy for teamfight utility. I like the Janna for Yellowstar – TSM have had issues following his aggressive lead, and Janna will certainly keep Doublelift safe, another TSM weakness. But it is interesting to see TSM completely abandon the split push that worked for them against ESC – until they abandoned it. Bjergsen played really well on Lissandra and I’m excited to see his LeBlanc vs the Lissandra of PowerOfEvil.

LoL Analysis: 2016 IEM Katowice, ESC vs TSM (Group A, Best of 1)

So hyped for this! I've been waiting for a long time to see how NA teams fare in international play and see if 2016 is the year they finally stop disappointing. ESC are a Challenger team, but crucially a Challenger from Korea who won the 2015 KeSPA Cup, taking down SKT T1 and CJ along the way. I was a bit surprised that the desk favored TSM after the pick/ban phase with only Monte sticking with his Koreans. I think this will be a very good test for how well TSM can truly coordinate this meta. 

Picks and Bans – Agree completely with the desk – I feel Ezreal over Lucian was a mistake. Ezreal has tools to stay alive once he gets some mana, but Lucian can bully him so hard in the lane phase and Doublelift/Yellowstar have not been 100% coordinated in how to keep the ADC alive. You need only to look at their performance against Piglet’s Lucian in their last #NALCS game to understand what can go wrong. Ezreal is a fine champion, especially for midgame teamfights, but they are really going to need Sven to camp the duo lane (or swap). Bard/Lucian is so strong in lane.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, IMT vs FOX (Week 7, Day 2)

I feel bad for FOX – they have been hot but TSM stopped them on Saturday by playing superior teamfights and keeping Froggen down. And now they have to face an IMT team coming off a loss? IMT keep playing interesting comps with Quinn and Lux in the solo lanes, which is not a bad by any means, but that combo doesn’t match up against everything. Pobelter vs Froggen will be fun but the rest of IMT are far ahead of where FOX are right now. #IMTWin

Picks and Bans – A lot has been made of Froggen’s Corki and IMT ban it straightaway. Corki is strong but I’m the tiniest bit surprised to see Pobelter not try to just pick it for himself. He has played more burst-y champions though and is setting up for that. IMT first-pick Gragas again and FOX follow with a very standard Alistar/Lucian which is the best duo lane combo in this patch with Kalista and Kogmaw autobanned. Save the Lucian! I agree with Zirene that the FOX 3/4 picks of TF/Fiora was a mistake. Fiora is ok – she’s tough in lane, but I feel it was a mistake to allow IMT to counter both solo lanes. IMT follow with Syndra/Pantheon and will want to dive early and prevent FOX from ever setting up the split push. Pantheon is a good counter for Fiora but if kfo’s mechanics can stall that lane out, FOX have a shot.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs DIG (Week 7, Day 2)

Not by any means the game of the day, but a game full of... unintended unique #NALCS moments. Just watch and read.

Out of the playoffs, both Renegades and Dignitas teams are looking for silver linings and comps that work for their teams. Both struggle transitioning from the early lane phase to midgame shotcalling and rotations. I want to go against the records and say #RENWin but it really could go either way.

Picks and Bans – Like the first-pick Nidalee for Crumbz, who has struggled. Nidalee is simple in concept – hard farm and show up early to lanes. DIG respond with a smart Kogmaw/Braum – Apollo is their best player, smart to build your team around him. I expect Lucian/Alistar for REN and they get the Lucian with Nautilus who may be another solution to Kogmaw. DIG go with Viktor/Gragas, who are fine picks, but I wonder about their ability to keep Apollo alive. REN end with Graves/Lissandra to try and pop the maw – that means Nautilus support! DIG smartly finish with Poppy for additional protection.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs TSM (Week 7, Day 2)

TL played a smart Saturday game against TIP, but it was against TIP. TSM should have a big advantage in the top lane but Svenskeren has to keep up with Dardoch. I would expect TSM to ban Nidalee to make sure Dardoch doesn’t power farm into ganks. This should be a #TSMWin on paper, but so should a lot of games.

Picks and Bans – Not sure about the first-pick Lulu for TL (Nidalee was indeed banned). I don’t like that matchup for Lourlo into Hauntzer (really should just stick with Nautilus) and if you go with a tank in the top, you’re going to need Dardoch to build aggressively with Lulu mid. TSM go with a standard Alistar/Elise with Kalista off the table. TL counter with Lee Sin/Janna, which is fine, but I don’t love how their comp is shaping up. TSM keep playing standard with Ezreal/Orianna, who was really good for Bjergsen on Saturday. TL put all their eggs in Piglet’s pen and end with Nautilus/Lucian. The super tank has been good for Lourlo, but there just isn’t that much damage. TL have good disengage with Janna and Lulu but TSM have a lot of ways to catch the pig with Elise, Orianna and Alistar. Dardoch is going to have to spend a lot of time in the bot lane to keep his duo from falling behind, because that is the game for TSM.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs CLG (Week 7, Day 2)

Hang onto your butts, this one turned into a doozy!

After their wins on Saturday, this became the premier match of W7D2. I’ve said for weeks that after IMT, C9 have the most balanced roster in the #NALCS, but CLG did just take down IMT with a brave Udyr pick. CLG were a little lucky to get the late Baron but probably would have won the game without it due to their split push advantage. This one is so close but I think C9 squeak out a win on a slightly stronger duo lane with Sneaky/Hai.

Picks and Bans – After first-pick Lulu for C9, CLG respond with Corki and another Udyr - here we go again! Udyr is farm-intensive to start but becomes such a big threat pushing towers in the midgame. C9 go pretty standard with Alistar/Lucian then LeBlanc/Lee Sin. But CLG continue the madness – Ezreal/Bard (ok) into Jax top lane! No Fiora, no problem, split push heaven! C9 will try again to skirmish and prevent those carries from staying safe in long lanes.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs NRG (Week 7, Day 2)

NRG are fighting to stay in the #NALCS playoffs while TIP are in a slide trying to figure out how to play their comp in this patch. Both teams are trying to improve their shotcalling and perhaps more importantly, the little things (warding, namely) that set up the plays. Have to go with #NRGWin here.

Picks and Bans – The real story is the NRG draft of Gragas/Kogmaw followed by Tahm Kench/Janna, which means they are focused on keeping KonKwon alive. TIP are smart to follow first-pick Nidalee with Bard and Nautilus (removing a tank from the NRG lineup and adding a way to catch Kogmaw and Kalista/Viktor for range waveclear. Love NRG finishing with Orianna – she is such a good utility fighter, adds a shield for Kogmaw, and has both engage and disengage with the ult. She’s one of my favorite midlane champions to see or play with.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, C9 vs DIG (Week 7, Day 1)

Dignitas have been feisty lately but despite CLG’s win vs IMT earlier, I still feel like C9 are the stronger team. They do tunnel a little hard sometimes and Sneaky’s teamfight positioning isn’t perfect, but man do they have stellar champion pools and shot calling. #CLGWin

Picks and Bans – C9 picked a skirmish comp with a  Pantheon counter into Fiora. DIG go with a late game scaling split push comp with Alistar/Fiora followed by Elise, Ezreal, and Ahri, all of which follow their strategy to go with comfort picks. I like that thought of picking what you’re good at and work on your mechanics and coordination. DIG are not at the level where they survive a long macro game against C9, but playing the comp correctly would be a positive sign, even in defeat. C9 have the tools to break the comp apart and I expect a bloody start to this game.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs REN (Week 7, Day 1)

Right after Altec was getting on his groove, he steps down from the team. Speculation is rife but I don’t want to get into that. For a team that is hanging around in the middle of the standings but has struggled at times with communication, LOD will have to learn how to play with KonKwon soon. Renegades on the other hand have recovered from the loss of Remi early in the split and have been playing better and better together. He was good early in the split for TIP, but going against Impact will really test him. I like NRG in this – honestly don’t think going from Altec to LOD will be a major loss.

Picks and Bans – 2 straight Kogmaw games! REN respond with Kalista/Braum, which I don’t love as much as Alistar, but Braum has been a priority in this patch as Phreak indicated. The draft is pretty standard with Elise/Janna for NRG followed by Viktor/Rek’Sai for REN. Impact blind picks Poppy and GBM takes Zilean – this could be a great siege comp for NRG that can keep Kogmaw alive for a long time. And Seraph goes with Fiora which I love – Poppy can block Fiora, but REN have good wave clear and should want to split push.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs TL (Week 7, Day 1)

Wrapping up Week 7 of the #NALCS before I move onto #IEM replays!

TIP have been struggling more and more over the last few weeks, and need to find a team comp that all 5 can play together. Feng is especially struggling with his gamesense and the casters are right to wonder if they would be better off with Seraph. TL have had moments but need better performances from their solo lanes (and possibly Dardoch in his support of those lanes). Can they elevate their 5-person macro play, which failed them in their last game against IMT? I think playing TIP will help (along with the sports pysch they picked up this week) and they’ll keep pressure on the resurgent FOX and TIP for the last playoff spot. 

Picks and Bans – TL answer first-pick Nidalee with Corki/Kogmaw, which I love. Kogmaw is ridiculous in this patch and I love giving it to Piglet and putting the onus on him to stay safe and the team to keep him safe. They will be challenged to rotate all over the map while trying to protect him, but that’s the type of game they need to succeed at to be taken seriously in the playoffs. TL also last-pick Nautilus for Lourlo, which I also love – one tank with a support Janna is not ideal for Kogmaw, but Lourlo at least will stay safe. TIP have a ton of pick and rotation potential to try and catch Kogmaw with TF; this will challenge that gamesense that I wrote about earlier. I agree with Jatt that I like the TL draft a bit better, but if they fall behind, it could snowball pretty hard for TIP.

Monday, March 7, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs IMT (Week 6, Day 2)

Interesting intro with Dardoch and Reignover talking about each other. Reignover is my favorite player in the #NALCS, but Dardoch has definitely come into his own this split. Still, I think Reignover gives his team more tools and I think he covers the map better. The synergy with Huni is real where Dardoch has been unable to keep Lourlo alive in game after game. Liquid started the Spring Split strong but are sliding, and I don’t think they win here.

Picks and Bans – First pick Poppy for TL, who seem like they want to counter their bot lane. IMT get Kalista and Gragas, then Twisted Fate and Janna. TL counter with Alistar and Zilean, a strange comp, and then go even more wild with Caitlin/Udyr. We get to see some Udyr! TL have a fun comp that will push the pace againset Immortals, something that IMT love to match. IMT have a lot of zoning tools to use against Udyr with Gragas and Janna, and have strong split push potential with Quinn.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs FOX (Week 6, Day 2)

I’m fully onboard the Echo Fox hype train! I expect them to use the tried and true strategy of snowballing Froggen to a win against Impulse.

Picks and Bans – TIP’s draft started really strong with first-pick Corki, then Elise and Lulu. It got a bit weird for them, ending with Braum and Poppy top; I think they need more damage and they’re very heavily invested in AP. Maybe it’s just because I’m an AD Carry, but I just can’t fathom a lineup without more poke AD. FOX have an interesting lineup as well – Kayle top with Gragas, GP, and Alistar/Lucian. They have a lot of different damage sources and ways to zone, however. And if they get to late game, watch out.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, NRG vs C9 (Week 6, Day 2)

This should be a straightforward win for C9. NRG will have a tough time winning any of the lanes, especially with Impact relegated to pure tanks.

Picks and Bans – NRG first-pick Alistar, which I like – C9 would grab Lucian/Alistar in a second if given the opportunity. C9 pivot to Lulu/Lucian, a great flex pick. With Kalista and Kog’Maw banned, I really like Lucian in any other AD Carry matchup – NRG responded with the standard Ezreal that will scale well for DPS but is going to need protecting. NRG give Impact another tank in Nautilus, but he gets so tanky that Graves should be able to focus the duo lane. C9 last-pick TF for a skirmish comp that should have potential for split push. Fun picks from both sides.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, DIG vs TSM (Week 6, Day 2)

Using the off week to catch up on missing posts from the NALCS; my goal is to have the rest of Weeks 6/7 and the opening rounds of last week's IEM tournament (feat. CLG and TSM) up before Week 8.

Dignitas fell apart in the second half against NRG on Saturday while TSM lost a well-fought match with C9. For TSM, though, I liked how they focused on keeping Doublelift alive on Kog’Maw, and for the most part, they were able to execute that strategy. If they play together and move as 5 again, this is a win. Dignitas would love a pick comp that spreads TSM out and finds individual members face checking, an annoying TSM habit that they haven’t yet solved. Svenskeren and Kirei have both been a bit shaky – I think this is again the key matchup.

Picks and Bans – DIG start with Corki (standard) while TSM hovered Graves along with the Lulu before going with Gragas. Svenskeren was fine on Gragas vs C9, but I like the damage from Graves a lot. After seeing Lucian/Alistar (my favorite bot lane combo in this meta), TSM go back to the Braum/Caitlin well. That’s something Yellowstar/Doublelift have obviously practiced a lot, but I’m unconvinced with their play on those champions in competition. Zirene talked about Doublelift’s creative use of traps, but I’m more concerned about her relative lack of mobility. Then they give Hauntzer Quinn against Malphite, which is also interesting. They were a bit forced into a damage dealer, but it’s a tough matchup.