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.

Early Game – SKT lane swap and push Sven off his wolves while burning his flash. TSM tries a dive at 14:30 but it is telegraphed by Yellowstar’s aggressive positioning and SKT defend well under turret. That good play by SKT turns into CS leads for all three lanes and Blank taking the blue buff away from Bjergsen. This is a small snowball, but it could become an avalanche. TSM need to play aggressive and force a rotation but they need waves pushing first. But they are so scared of Faker and Blank is everywhere. A good roam from Svenskeren at 21:00 nets a kill for Hauntzer – that will go a long way in resetting that lane. But SKT take the bot lane outer and Dragon in response.

21:45 – Faker goes big on Bjergsen, using the shadow, but Svenskeren is there and they take God down! Bang rockets in for a return kill on Bjergsen though, who probably should have recalled after taking a lot of damage on the second activation of Zed’s R. Bang gets a lot of time with the mid lane outer and gets over half the health. SKT collapse on TF again at 23:00 and this time it’s a clean kill with 3 members. Crucially, none of the lanes are pushing for TSM and they are unable to rotate to an objective elsewhere. SKT’s vision control of TSM’s side of the river has given them operational freedom.

23:30 – This starts as a gank onto Yellowstar by Blank and Wolf, again very deep on TSM’s side. Doublelift pulls Yellowstar back and then throws him on the SKT pair, chunking down both and popping lots of Wolf’s CDs. Faker comes from behind to kill Yellowstar but is instantly popped by Svenskeren and Doublelift upon emerging from the ult. Sven chases SKT through their side of the jungle allowing Doublelift time to take down the SKT mid lane outer. This is a fantastic reaction for TSM. One turret in a non-lane-swap is not a bad start against SKT.

26:15 – Good game sense from Faker finds Yellowstar in a bad spot but Svenskeren and Bjergsen are there and somehow Doublelift saves him with Fate’s Call. Faker is hit on the way out by a gold card and killed by Svenskeren. 1/3/1 on Faker (!!!), though 2 of those kills are on the TSM Jungler. This gives Hautnzer a lot of time in the top lane by himself. Duke saves the turret by Fiora is on the path to being a split push problem. SKT commit a lot of resources to take down the TSM mid lane outer and TSM have the side waves in a good spot.

30:45 – Doublelift is in a long side line killing a ward; SKT all recall and TP out with homeguards, which just came up. Faker catches Doublelift who just has no chance against Zed without backup. In the jungle, Duke, Wolf and Bang take down Svenskeren and Yellowstar. Just like that, SKT wrest control of the game. Again, why is Doublelift out in that lane? Why not have Bjergsen split instead? SKT rotate to a risk Baron by a much superior teamfight nets Baron and several more kills for SKT. Hauntzer popped his ult as soon as Wolf used all his cooldowns, but SKT rotate off Baron expertly and zone the 2 TSM members off. Bjergsen can’t escape, Svenskeren gets a good knockup but the damage from TSM is just not enough. Doublelift tunnels a little hard to get Blank allowing Faker to kill him and it’s 4 members for TSM gone.

That was the game. SKT take the middle inhib and roam the map as a mob. TSM try a valiant defense at their base but just don’t have the damage to kill anyone. And that’s fine. Despite a loss in under 25 minutes, I’m okay with this effort from TSM. They came to Katowice with major questions on chemistry, coordination, and communication, and while those questions remain, they have shown that against some of the better teams in the world, they can remain together and get each other’s backs. Yellowstar was caught multiple times in this game and multiple times, various teammates would save him. They made strong rotations to take objectives, something few international teams have been able to do against SKT (remember 2015 Worlds where nobody could even take a turret?). SKT are clearly superior, especially in the duo lane, but TSM have a lot of positive takeaways heading into the #NALCS playoffs.

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