Saturday, March 26, 2016

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.

Early Game – After the turret trade, the REN duo are much faster to swap to the top lane for part 2. C9 have a ward to spot and circle around for a gank. Seraph TPs in to save his carry and Hakuho gets First Blood on Rush. Renegades burn all their TPs but I like the strong rotation with the bot wave pushing against Trundle’s very weak waveclear. C9 are playing a very slow, safe game which is curious against Kog’Maw.

34:45 – Balls straight doesn’t respect Renegades and trades badly. REN make another strong rotation to that lane, occupying all of C9 and letting Kog’Maw push the bot lane tier two alone. C9 eventually catch Freeze on the way out but this is a great move from REN. So many times they’ve had early game leads that haven’t transitioned to late game map pressure, hopefully they can do that this game.

37:30 – If you watch the minimap, you can see that Freeze is preparing for a C9 dive in the bot lane but isn’t able to do anything about it. But in death, he gets sneaky while Balls goes down in the top lane. C9 can’t even sneak out of the jungle alive, losing Balls and Hai. I tweeted during the game that this felt like a lot of overconfidence from C9:

Renegades are now very strong for siege and should be able to constantly rotate to waves pressed by Seraph.

49:55 – REN ambush Hai and catch him but Sneaky snipes Ninja right after the Zilean ult goes down. Balls gets some good damage on the bot lane tier two all alone. The next several minutes were skirmishes all across the map punishing over-aggression from both sides. There aren’t a lot of kills but Renegades eke out a 10-4 kill lead.

1:00:00 – C9 take down Hakuho and head for Baron. This feels very risky. With all ults and summoners up for REN. C9 zone Crumbz out with a pillar but Freeze is laying on the damage at the mouth of the pit, getting a Triple Kill on Jensen, Sneaky, and Hai. REN turn to the top lane and catch Balls as well – there’s the entire Baron buff aside from Rush! Renegades’ win condition was just made easier – group mid with 4 and split Seraph to the bot lane and rotate between waves. That’s exactly what they do and almost knock down both inhibitor turrets… and then they turn back for Dragon 4. What the hell!? I was literally jumping up and down. C’mon, knock down the inhibitors! REN completely give up the pressure in both lanes and this is now going to another neutral objective fight. REN have played so well, but I still trust in C9’s teamfight ability more. This feels like a major misstep for Renegades. Weldon agrees:

Dragon is an objective you pick up on the way out after burning down the inhibitor(s), not before.

1:06:10 – Renegades go back for the inhibitor turrets and Seraph is able to get one in the mid lane but Ninja is locked down and killed before he can pop his ult. Problem is the top lane inhibitor has respawned and the wave pressure goes another bit in C9’s favor. A fun fight in the mid lane at 1:07:40 again doesn’t result in any kills but a ton of burned summoners, ults, and item cooldowns. But C9 are first to recall and that means they can turn to Baron again. They catch Crumbz making his way up the river and neither Hakuho nor Ninja can save him. That’s an uncontested Baron for C9. This goes back to REN letting them off the siege several minutes ago. Does that 4th Dragon really help them now?

1:11:30 – The answer is no. C9 get the Dragon and escape without issue. They return a couple minutes later and straight siege the bot lane inhibitor with their poke and succeed. C9 were unstoppable at this point. I knew this would happen to REN once they turned for 4th Dragon.

As much as I laud Renegades for staying together, protecting Freeze, and having victory in their grasp, that has to  feel hollow for a team mired at the bottom of the standings. Still, if their goal really is to get better, no matter what league they find themselves in, this was a big step. They can legitimately pressure teams around the map and make sensible calls in the early- and mid-games. For C9, this better be a wakeup call – they can’t win every game on talent alone. They were caught out of position again and again, something unbefitting of someone that wants to challenge IMT and CLG at the top of the standings.

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