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.
Early Game – Not surprisingly, C9 won the lane phase pretty easily with their draft. At 23:30 Moon walks into the C9 red side, is found by Rush, and Jensen gets first blood (GBM was a bit behind in the lane, tough to invade without help). Fantastic find by Rush to stop the invade. NRG’s only chance in this game is GBM boosting Altec and this is not a good start. Moon has spent a lot of time on the top side which I’m not sure about – Impact should be okay even with a big CS difference, as he’s lower econ. Lulu will be a problem, but so will the C9 duo lane.
26:30 starts with a great bind on Altec who is chunked down heavily. But KonKwon saves the day with a headbutt pulverize on Sneaky under the turret. Sneaky kills KonwKwon but Altec returns two kills. He’s been very inconsistent for NRG but this is the type of game they need from him. Great rotation from Impact and GBM as well. But C9 maintain a gold lead off their big CS differential and a few minutes later, rotate all their members back down to take down Altec. NRG are smart to respond by shoving lanes. A few minutes later, C9 try to set up a TP gank by Balls into the duo lane, but Hai had recalled and Sneaky begins a few seconds too early. Another nice play by KonKwon is a won fight for NRG. Balls keeps going and after some tricky footwork from both sides, he trades his life for Altec’s.
Mid Game: the good news for NRG is that despite losing, Altec is slowly gaining enough items and cooldown reduction that he shouldn’t be bullied as hard in lane and will be useful in teamfights. Impact is already very tanky. But C9 take down all the outer turrets unopposed and become a much more dangerous split push/pick comp. At 35:00, NRG try to contest Dragon, fail, and Altec is caught behind on the back. Without their main source of damage, the rest of the team fall apart. It’s getting close to impossible to find a win condition for NRG – even grouping as 5 to teamfight won’t be as effective with their item disadvantage.
39:00 – C9 try for Baron at a weird time, they have only one wave pushing in the top lane and NRG are full health. KonKwon, who’s been outstanding, knocks up the whole team, melting Hai and Jensen. This is not what C9 want! This is a fight in a location where Karma and Graves are ultra deadly! Sneaky tries to stop the NRG Baron, but dies and that ruins Rush’s attempt at steal. KonKwon is there to zone him and despite taking a ton of damage, they find their way back into the game. That’s a path to a win condition! They need turrets though and C9 have such good waveclear. NRG get the mid outer but a timely shield onto Sneaky saves the tier 2 for C9.
NRG try to group for another turret on the top but C9 smartly rush down the middle inhib while Balls and Rush interrupt the recalls. Then a bit of a disaster. Sneaky is caught in the top lane and he, Jensen, and Hai go down (Balls had been previously killed). C9 actually had a ton of vision on the NRG side but none on the entrances to their own jungle. If C9 went bot instead of top, I think they get more pressure and don’t die.
47:00 – NRG try Baron but there’s no damage and they’re bushed off. Jensen desperately wants a gold card on Altec but stays too long and is rooted. NRG can’t do much with the kill but dragging the game on is beneficial for them. Critically, the waves are now pushing and the Baron bait will be even harder on C9. The second bait at 49:15 draws C9 in again but they are much better positioned in the river. Rush goes overboard on NRG and is melted, but the poke from C9 eventually wears down both NRG tanks. It’s a 4 for 1 for C9 and with slivers of health take Baron (losing 2 on the attempt). What a fun fight for both sides. They only have Baron on 2, but this is surely the game. NRG put on a nice defense but a scattered fight in the jungle at 54:30 is their undoing. C9 engaged with Frostqueens but Moon isn’t with his teamd and one AD carry goes down. Rush 1v2s GBM and Altec and C9 get a clean Ace.
The execution from C9 was not perfect – they kept fighting in places where they shouldn’t have and Sneaky has a habit of walking too close to the enemy team. This has been somewhat a theme of their season, pushing a little beyond the limits of the champions. But for the most part, they played the comp well. NRG picked a hard-engage teamfight comp and did find some fights in good places. But to play this style, they can’t let the side lanes snowball out of control – they caught up in kills but could never make up the early turret and CS advantage that C9 achieved. They had some nice plays to shut down Sneaky early, but would often over-invest in plays while C9 did a good job switching from a loss in one place to an objective somewhere else. KonKwon played out of his mind but NRG need even more from Moon to really ascend.