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.
Early Game – C9 with some classic early game pressure but at 14:50 Balls and Rush walk in too far on the level 1 invade. This is not what you want with Lulu! Balls is almost burned down and is forced to flash to keep himself alive, which means a big “Gank Me” sign on him for the next 5 minutes. Wonder if C9 should audible into a laneswap to fix this. That’s exactly what they do but CLG are smart to swap themselves to match. This also gives them a favorable matchup of Aphromoo’s Bard against Hai’s Alistar, still stuck at level 1 (16:20 for some comedy). Love this aggressive start from CLG to match what they know is coming from C9. CLG come for Balls at 17:00, are smart to not tunnel on the kill, content that GP is scaling far faster than Lulu. The pressure finally pays off with First Blood for Lulu at 19:00. Rush should not have tunneled so hard on the kill – his goal is to fix the lane for Balls, not kill Darshan. Showing up, sitting in a bush, keeping Balls safe would have been enough but without mana or cooldowns, Balls is stuck. The CLG duo lane are winning to boot (Aphromoo even swag steals the C9 red).
25:30 – Insanity. Huhi moves to the bot lane with the package to zone Huhi. Rush comes in and blows up aphromoo before Balls dies, buying time for Jensen to rotate down as well. Neither Huhi nor Stixxay have abilities left and Jensen pops the Ezreal. Huhi follows the right LeBlanc and takes down Jensen before getting killed by Rush. And in the top lane, Darshan and Xmithie have gone hard on Hai and Sneaky, but Balls comes up just in time to TP in. Hai lives just long enough to give Sneaky time to take down both CLG members. What a fun fight. It’s a lost fight for CLG and they lose some map pressure, but I can’t really say it was a bad call.
27:10 – A couple kicks by Rush and Huhi and Aphromoo are dead. That allows them to even the gold lead and the lanes.
34:45 – Wombo combo onto Xmithie is a ton of turret damage for C9. C9 try to kill Darshan in the long bot lane and force the flash. Not sure that pushing mid lane wouldn’t have been better but forcing a summoner from Jax is important for Balls in lane. C9 hang around in the mid lane for a while with Jensen doing silly damage. At 37:35, they catch Hai who pops ult to stay alive but Sneaky is left behind. This isn't all on him but Sneaky has a bad habit of getting caught (even in solo queue) and it's no wonder why he has the second most ADC deaths in NA behind Doublelift. Bad pathing from Balls is a double kill for Darshan. CLG get a turret but clutch kicks from Balls saves the tier 2 at the cost of his own life. Such a fun game, so even still.
40:45 – With Darshan a major problem, C9 call Baron but CLG are prepared. They freeze it with the Bard ult, TP Darshan, and it’s fish in a barrel. C9 finish Nash but lose nearly everyone in the pit. C9 though push with the remaining buff on Jense and at 43:30, Rush turns another fight on CLG. Huhi goes down immediately and it’s a 3-0 for C9. Still such an even game. Jensen and Rush are raving marauders.
48:00 – Rush with godlike ward hop/kick kills Stixxay but Darshan is on the inhibitor turret. C9 take him down but C9 turn to Baron. CLG have no tools to get behind Alistar and C9 gets it unimpeded. C9 head up the mid lane and take down the tier 2 but CLG make a stand at the mid turret and at 49:50, it’s Counter Logic that get the Tempered Fate and turn onto Hai! It’s a 4 for 1 for CLG and 50 second death timers (delayed Ace on Balls a few seconds later). CLG does not finish but get two inhibitors and a ton of map control. What a crazy game. CLG can now position Darshan in the top lane for that inhib and control Baron. Hai went in a little too deep, couldn’t kill Xmithie, and the Tempered Fate bought enough time for Darshan to TP in and kill Jensen.
53:30 – C9 have to make a play since Darshan is camped out near the nexus turrets. Rush goes in again but is locked up while Xmithie tanks him, finally killed by the True Shot Barrage. That’s the last inhib and CLG wear out the remaining members of C9 for an amazing win.
There’s a reason these two teams were tied for second coming into this game and this game just showed why. I honestly still think these teams are basically even. C9 should hold their heads high – they had a disastrous start and got as far as the mid lane inhib turret based off their superior teamfight prowess. But Darshan continues to prove himself as a split push god and you absolutely need that in your team’s toolbox for international (IEM analysis coming soon!). Fun, fun game from both sides, I have high hopes for CLG going into IEM Katowice. And for the rest of the #NALCS, no respect to the other teams, but can we just see a massive round robin between CLG, C9 and IMT?