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.
Early game – Standard lane swap but Pobelter’s pressure in mid and IMT’s decision to have Reignover power farm put a lot of pressure on Froggen and Hard. kfo is a bit ahead of Huni, but in a lane swap, it will take a long time for FOX to push that advantage while Reignover will be a problem sooner. The teams trade kills on rotations and overall, I’m impressed with how coordinated and decisive FOX have been. They don’t tunnel to try and save dead people but move to the next objective. They actually go up 3-1 on kills inside 12 minutes because of those calls, though it costs them turret pressure.
24:15 – FOX think they have them on the back but IMT had a lot of vision on the top side. Reignover sacrifices himself to blow people away, giving his carries time to poke people down. kfo, Big, and Keith are easily run down and then Huni goes 1v2 on Froggen and Hard and gets the Ace! kfo's lead is officially gone.
30:20 – I like this call from FOX – with their power spikes, you are not going to shove IMT off Baron, better to be committed to the split push you’ve already set up and see if kfo can get to the inhib. After Huni blows up Hard, they actually use Froggen’s ult to send him there as well. But the ult was a bit late and they are unable to knock down the inhibitor turret. This is basically the game. IMT push mid with 4 and Baron and kfo is unstoppable by himself in the bot lane – he pushes turrets so hard.
There are plus/minus takeaways for both teams from this game. For FOX, they played a smart early game and were diligent in executing their team comp. I always think it’s better to lose (esp. against superior competition) doing what you want to rather than purely reacting and getting run around the map. kfo's Fiora wasn’t amazing but she is a champion they absolutely need in his pool. For IMT, it wasn’t a clean game and going down a few kills is worrying. In addition, their plays are made often out of super aggressive dives from Reignover or Huni (Reignover = Gameover just 2 years ago). The good news is they win a good percentage of these dives and even when they don’t, they are good at recovering from lost fights. When they do, their positioning and rotations often allow them to take multiple objectives. I’m curious to see them against international teams, especially those accustomed to a more methodical style, and see if the all-aggressive all-the-time will work. Unfortunately for everyone, that won’t come at #IEM.