Monday, April 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TL (Game 3)

Not sure what else Liquid can do. They picked an early game comp with an assassin for Fenix, an assassin focused on taking down Pobelter, and that didn’t work. Then they go late-game scaling and never get to the late game. Piglet only got his Muramana and Iceborn – that’s it. He needs to be better than that. Definitely give Bard back to Matt and either Lucian or Kalista to Piglet. Maybe a carry like Graves or Nidalee (unlikely) to Dardoch and see if he can carry. My goodness Immortals are on a tear.

Picks and Bans – TL ban Azir away and that gives Ryze to IMT. Graves and Kalista to TL, yup. Janna/Lucian for IMT – oh boy, that gives you bot lane pressure with potential that Huni plays it. Don’t think we’ll see the latter, but you never know. TL get Maokai/Bard, still very good and IMT finish with Gragas/Elise and TL however Orianna, which I like very much for teamfight utility but go with Lissandra. Their plan is clear: roam with Lissandra ult and double TPs and try to get Piglet a lead. 

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TL (Game 2)

TL thought they had a good draft going in the previous game, especially with IMT showing Azir so early, but they didn’t execute on the counters. I think they’ll be better on blue side and pick a more comfortable comp around Piglet.

Picks and Bans – Both teams heavily target jungle and that leaves Ekko and Ryze up. Liquid first-pick Ryze for that late-game scaling they didn’t have in Game 1. Huni declines to pick Ekko and grabs Poppy instead, who is one of his very best champions. I like Poppy better for him and Graves for Reignover. TL return Gragas/Braum, pretty standard, and IMT go Janna/Kalista, also standard. Whoa – TL then go Ezreal/Maokai – that’s a lot of pressure they’re giving up in the early game. This is a complete 180 for Liquid, though with the same protect the ADC they’ve been using. IMT last-pick Cassiopea for some poke over Ryze. Reignover is known for supportive, Korean-style jungling, but still feel he has the tools to carry – in fact, I think I think Graves’ skill cap is somewhat lower than Rek’Sai’s. For TL, I like giving Gragas to Dardoch – he’ll need to be everywhere though to

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TL (Game 1)

I wrote a preview of this series on SB Nation’s new LoL blog, The Rift Herald. In it, I noted that the matchup was basically a statistics question: sample size and recency bias. We have a huge sample of Immortals dominating NALCS teams, including two games against Team Liquid where TL were unable to get to 30 minutes. On the other side, we have the most recent results: an IMT loss to Team SoloMid where they looked completely lost in the pick/ban phase and were dominated at nearly every position, vs a TL loss to Counter Logic Gaming where Liquid at times looked very much like the best team in NA. Recency bias can be dangerous at predictions, however, and I went with #IMTWin in 4 as I felt they would be able to read the meta and read Liquid a bit better. Also, I trusted their ability to consistently shot call as a team more in a Best of 5 setting.

Picks and Bans – Already a very different draft from IMT, who have had a week to think about their loss to TSM. Azir is first-picked by Pobelter and does a lot to counter top lane AP tanks. The downside – Fenix is a VERY good Azir player and picking it this early gives him a chance to counter (see TSM vs C9). TL smartly take Ekko/Graves for aggression there, but I’m worried about a lack of CC and hard engage. Can Lourlo hit on the convergence? Is there CC from other areas coming? IMT go Elise/Kalista for a strong duo and CC/tank jungle. Then TL go to Bard/Caitlin – pretty standard as well, and there is that CC that chains very well with Ekko. If the can land a few combos, this could be a very strong teamfight comp -- IF Matt and Lourlo can land their skill shots. Gragas/Janna for IMT – there is the tank for Huni and further disengage. TL finish with LeBlanc – Fenix is a very good Azir player and this mid lane matchup is fascinating.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TSM (Game 3)

If TSM can stay together on the calls, play the map in the same strong fashion they have, and don’t get caught in a disastrous teamfight, I don’t see anything changing in this game. IMT want to push the tempo, but even when they’ve done that, their comp hasn’t scaled correctly. This is going to be a tough comeback.

Picks and Bans – IMT start with Graves, then Karma/Jhin, and I really want to see that Karma flexed to Pobelter, but I don’t think we’ll see it. They are heading back into a Maokai matchup, and yup, TSM to Corki/Janna then Kalista/Maokai. They are winning this phase again. Wow. Jhin will pressure them early but falls off terribly in the face of Maokai – the lack of mobility is really going to hurt, and Turtle’s Jhin is already questionable. IMT finish with Rek’Sai/Lissandra and TSM finish with Lee Sin. I think Rek’Sai is Reignover’s best champion due to his map pressure with ult, and the matchup with Lee Sin isn’t bad. If there’s ever a game that Reignover is a step ahead of Svenskeren, it should be this one.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TSM (Game 2)

Immortals beat TSM twice in the regular season off of TSM mistakes. Remember that in Game 1, TSM actually came back and had a shot at victory before Doublelift was picked off alone. Can they adjust to TSM’s teamfight and take advantage of those mistakes again? Will TSM even make more mistakes? The series may rest on those questions. It’s not so much TSM tilting IMT as figuring them out, which could be worse.

Picks and Bans – I’ve been saying it for at least the last 3 TSM games: take Maokai away from Hauntzer! I wouldn’t think TSM crazy to first-pick either Maokai OR Ekko, which is going to put IMT in a bind. Instead it’s standard Azir, Kindred, Ryze bans from IMT. They give Nidalee to TSM which I think is dangerous for both teams – Svenskeren dominated that last game but a Nidalee without CC is a concern if he can’t land spears and jungle aggressively. IMT counter with Corki/Karma – I don’t think they can get away with support Karma again, I think they need to bring her to the midlane. Last game they had no way to dive the back line and blow someone up. TSM return with Poppy/Kalista which are very strong and hard to counter, and I like Poppy with Nidalee better than Ekko. IMT go with Gragas/GP for a super-scaling team that brings out more magic damage – this does look like Karma support with Corki for WildTurtle – do they have enough peel? It is possible that all 4 positions IMT have picked can be flexed around, but I’m a bit concerned that they’re getting too cute with the counters. TSM finish with Zed/Alistar and IMT instantly lock in Urgot. Whoa! This is going to get CRAZY. That’s a pretty good Zed counter as long as they can stay safe in teamfights and get GP scaled. This is a very, very risky play for Immortals with a bunch of squishies, but they do have much better late game power.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, IMT vs TSM (Game 1)

I’m not going to lie – it took me a while to digest this series. I mean, in short (minor spoiler), it wasn’t close. But it was a much different game than we’ve seen either of these teams in the regular season and even lately. A lot has to do with not knowing which TSM to expect: the team that wasn’t on the same page so many times this year, or the team that out-jungled and out-rotated C9 as a team. I predicted #IMTWin in 4 – even though they’ve lookeda bit off for a few weeks, their ability to pressure the map in the macro game is matched possibly only by CLG. Time after time, they’ll give up kills but not pressure with the lanes constantly pushing. But honestly, if Svenskeren can continue to play above his weight class, anything could happen. And as Doublelift mentioned, just tilt them.

Picks and Bans – IMT first-pick Corki; feels like it’s for WildTurtle. TSM have their choice of top laners and go Kalista/Graves, with Graves I think for Hauntzer. IMT should go Lucian and a support and indeed get Lucian and Karma. Karma support is fine but we just saw such great Karma mid from Fenix, it’s a little disappointing not to get more burst out of her. TSM return with Braum (given) with Lulu – they are going back to the protect Doublelift lineup, which was a disaster in the regular season, but really strong against a better ADC in C9’s Sneaky. Whoa – IMT lock in Jhin/Gragas – what is going on!?!?!? Is this top-lane Lucian? Is Huni out of his mind? And TSM can counter pick it! They go Maokai for more teamfight utility. Wow. IMT have picked an extremely squishy comp with a lot of shields. Can Karma protect all the ADCs on this team. Oh my goodness – it’s 3 ADCs into Braum. I don’t even know what to think. If TSM can get to the midgame without being down, it’s going to be very hard to stop them from taking Baron.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 5)

I don’t have much to say about this. I have no clue who will win and am just hoping for a well-played game. Let’s get into it.

Picks and Bans – Have to take Ekko away from Darshan and it’s done. Then CLG first-pick Poppy. Ok! All-in on teamfights once again! I think TL should pick Nidalee and a support, maybe Braum/Bard. Instead they go back to Nautilus with Bard which means no Nidalee. Nautilus has been nerfed but he is Lourlo’s best champion. CLG get Kindred/Morgana for more teamfight utility against Bard. TL return with Karma/Rek’Sai and are building for a big Fenix/Piglet game yet again. CLG smartly grab Lucian and Ryze and Piglet finishes with Caitlin. Both teams want to fight instead of split/wave-clear; this is going to be a bloody game.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 4)

CLG made the counter-moves in Games 2 and 3 and were one step ahead of Liquid both times. I think Liquid will be good enough though to adjust and not make the same blatant pick/ban mistakes they did, especially with not counter-picking Huhi on red side in Game 3. I’m looking for one more adjustment from TL to get them even in the series. One thing is clear: focusing their gameplan around Piglet is not working. Lourlo or Fenix are going to have to step up as a major carry and get a supportive, tanky performance from Dardoch. The risk is that may swing the macro in CLG’s favor, but you need to take Darshan off Ekko.

Picks and Bans – TL get rid of the Trist ban and get Ekko for Lourlo. This is what I’m talking about! CLG counter with Kindred/Maokai – duh, why wasn’t Lourlo playing Maokai? Oh yeah, Ekko’s mobility can destroy the tree. CLG are showing their hand – the teamfight comp – early this time and TL need to adjust. TL come back with Karma/Rek’Sai – love the Sai for Dardoch. And CLG get Braum/Tristana – whoa! I’ve been playing quite a bit of Trist lately and it’s been a ton of fun – I also such at League, so not sure that tells you anything. TL finish with Lucian/Bard – love it, Matt’s Bard has been pretty good this split, and Lucian will get Piglet off to a good start (though it is into Braum). CLG last-pick Ryze for Huhi – they still have a strong teamfight comp with siege. TL though have some teamfight but need a good start and need Lourlo to win his lane: that’s a tall task against Darshan, but this guy has gotten so much better.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 3)

Game 1 of a best of 3, CLG I feel still have a slight edge to me. They lost the first game because of dragon stacks and they still got a relatively uncontested Baron. My worry with TL is that CLG may have them figured out – prevent them from swapping lanes and pick a good teamfight comp, and I think Counter Logic out-executed their counterparts. On the other hand, TL’s Game 1 win was a beauty and they are super hot. This is a tossup.

Picks and bans – this one got CRAZY! CLG first-pick Ekko with Nidalee still on the table, a sign of their evolved thought process snice Game 1. TL respond with Ryze/Kindred, taking a champion away from Huhi. CLG then go Elise/Caitlin (Xmithie was good on Elise and Caitlin is a pretty strong ADC that picks at Piglet) and TL follow with Karma/Poppy. Seeing the TL solo lanes, CLG finish Anivia/Soraka – whoa! They have gone ALL IN on the teamfight comp! That works when you know Ryze has to scale for almost just as long, and when Anivia does scale, it’s going to be very hard to dive either the team or a 4-1 with Darshan split. Liquid finish with Karma/Poppy and a last-pick Sivir, who will be useful, but as I was watching this, I couldn’t help but think that CLG had won this phase with the Anivia pick. TL have early pressure with Karma and Kindred but Ryze and Sivir both take a while to scale and if CLG can just stay even long enough, they will have tremendous zoning and teamfight control. 

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 2)

I want to say CLG will learn from their mistakes, but TL are on Blue side. However, CLG will be able to counterpick the midlane, which will help, and potentially the duo lane too. Not much else going from them after the Game 1 clinic. They desperately need a better early-game comp and more peel and initiation for teamfights. And their performance throughout the regular season gives me hope that they’ll get back in this.

Picks and Bans – Could we see a Maokai for Darshan? Nope, he goes back to Ekko with an Elise for Xmithie after TL first-pick Kindred (jungle heavily banned). TL go Karma/Corki then Kalista/Poppy – Fenix cannot be late to the fights as he is wont to do. CLG finish with Soraka/Lucian and go back to Ryze. Lucian will help CLG early but Xmithie needs to play better against Dardoch. I almost feel Red side helped CLG by allowing them to counter-pick the mid lane.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, CLG vs TL (Game 1)

Before last week, I would have said CLG wins this in a clean sweep. CLG has spent the whole split dominating the top lane and I just don’t see how Lourlo can compete with Darshan. They should be able to stay even the mid lane, and though Dardoch’s has a slight advantage over Xmithie (I had them 2/3 in my end-of-season NALCS jungler rankings), Xmithie should have freedom to play around his duo lane. Piglet is a god, but I trust Aphromoo more than Matt.

Then CLG swept NRG. And it wasn’t so much the sweep as how they swept that changed my mind. They did it with advantages at every position. Impact is no joke, despite being relegated to straight tanks the whole split. But Lourlo, who had found success on tanks, managed to outplay the world champ on a variety of champions, including a very impressive Ekko. If he can stay even long enough to get those tank stats and stop Darshan from split-pushing with TP advantage, pulling Xmithie in different directions, Dardoch could really snowball the game. I think CLG still win this but I don’t feel good about it at all and think they need all 5 games. I don’t blame KiWiKiD (miss you!) and Phreak for picking Liquid.

Friday, April 8, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, TL vs NRG (Game 3)

I thought this could be a 4 game series and with NRG winning one late-game teamfight or stealing an objective for a win, but after Games 1 and 2, I don’t know that’s possible. They need, need, need Impact to carry them and force something, but they are not as good at laning, skirmishing, or teamfighting. That's tough.

Picks and Bans – I really hope NRG give Impact a carry and go for a picky comp with something like Elise/TF to help them match TL’s dominant macro play. Really fast bans transition into Gragas for Dardoch and then Ekko/Janna for NRG – that’s certainly carry potential. He’s still going to need Moon’s help to snowball that lane though. TL respond with Nautilus for Lourlo and Karma which I agree should be a support. NRG go with Elise/Jhin – I think Elise just suits Moon: strong farm, pick potential and CC, can be a tank. She just gives him a ton of utility and suits his passive style. But Altec has not been good in two straight games despite getting Sivir in one - he just can't keep dying to Piglet in lane. TL go with Lucian/Zed blind – there goes TF. GBM picks Varus – oh man, that’s a lot of poke, but a lot of ways to kill Varus. I think NRG’s only hope is a 4-1 with Impact split out and everyone protecting Jhin and Varus poking down turrets.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, TL vs NRG (Game 2)

It’s hard to see how NRG get even a single win after that game 1 performance from Liquid. Of course, that’s the same way we felt about TSM/C9. But I think Liquid get this in pretty straightforward manner. What NRG can do is not play scared: pick carries, make rotations, and try to get Liquid to respond at least once or twice. And for goodness sake, find an answer for the duo lane.

Picks and Bans – NRG start with Graves which is a good flex with Gragas and Nidalee banned. TL go with Maokai/Janna – Lourlo is really pushing his champion pool and NRG need to respond with early game poke. Varus would be a smart midlane pick. They instead go with Gnar/Sivir, which is better than Game 1, but I still don’t know if Gnar is enough damage in that top lane. TL go with Lee Sin/Kalista – that is extremely scary. Wow, it looks like 4 rotations in, TL are winning the draft again. NRG finish Lissandra/Alistar – that’s a lot of teamfight again but can they group as 5 and find the right engagements? Can they coordinate the TPs and use of ultimates? How are they going to survive early game? TL last-pick Azir with no threat of getting poked out of lane.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, TL vs NRG (Game 1)

TL started off the split pretty shaky but the team has really coalesced around their three rookies. Dardoch won best rookie in both LoLeSports and YMTC Sports rankings and he was the 2nd ranked jungler in all of NA by my definition. Matt was 3rd in my rookie rankings and Lourlo placed first in most improved. NRG though have kept Moon in a very supportive role and have a huge disadvantage in the duo lane. GBM has played really well for this team but they desperately need Altec to hold his ground to have a shot. I called this series for Liquid in 4 #TLWin:

Picks and Bans – Lots of jungle bans and TL grab first-pick Gragas. NRG respond with Maokai/Lucian – that’s okay with Sivir gone. TL counter with Janna/Ekko which is very strong. TL should want to push the pace and not let GBM or Altec scale up for late teamfights. Janna is so good in lane early and Ekko is a great assassin pick against Maokai. Big question: can Lourlo pressure Impact without getting ganked and have enough gamesense to use Ekko as intended? This guy got most improved off of tanks (Nautilus and Poppy), this will be a big test for him against a former world champ. NRG go with Trundle/Rek’Sai – that’s interesting! I love trundle support, but there isn’t really a tank on TL for Trundle to counter. TL finish with Kalista/Azir for teamfight utility and NRG last-pick Orianna, which is going to give them a lot of teamfight with ball delivery. Still, they are putting a lot of eggs in GBM and Altec and that duo lane will have a “gank me” sign on it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 4)

I still think C9 can come back in this series and get to Game 5, but playing the way they have been, I’m not sure that TSM can’t be considered an absolutely elite team in the #NALCS. It feels like C9 need a whole revamp of their strategy into a teamfight comp, which is going to be tough to do facing elimination. Zirene’s comment about Hai not placing wards was on-point – they had no vision in Game 3 and lost member after member. I went #C9Win but didn’t feel good about it at all.

Picks and Bans – I agree with Jatt that C9 need to either pick Maokai away or ban it. They show Yellowstar and Bjergsen respect with Janna/Zed bans after a standard red-side Nidalee ban. I'm not sure about that. Taking Zed away was smart and Yellowstar's Janna has been excellent, but support bans give TSM a LOT of options. With Nidalee gone, TSM first-pick Gragas, who hasn't been good for Svenskeren. He was 0-4 in the regular season on Gragas with a 1.84 KDA, and Kindred into Gragas is okay if you pop ult after he does. C9 respond with Azir/Corki – that’s a decent counter for Maokai and indeed indicates a shift to a teamfight comp. But showing your damage this early? TSM return with Graves/Brauminteresting! I expect Hauntzer to play Gragas; Yellowstar can also get redemption on Braum (1-6 regular season record, 2.04 KDA). C9 pick Poppy/Kindred which I'll have to admit, I'm let down by. Those two aren't winning you the game. TSM return with Kalista/Vel’Koz – whoa! That’s a lot of poke into Azir. C9 last-pick Morgana, who’s been very good for Hai. This will be fun.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 3)

C9’s mission is simple: take away Nidalee from Svenskeren, pick a stronger early-game jungler for Rush, snowball that into ganks, and go back into the standard bloody pick mode that got them here. Oh, and figure out a way to stop Hauntzer because that guy is a monster. I’ve been saying for weeks that he has been TSM’s most consistent player, ranking him ahead of Balls in the top lane.

Picks and Bans – Bans heavily target the jungle: TSM are forced to ban Nidalee on red side and also take out Lee Sin. C9 ban Gragas and Graves and I agree that TSM seem to be baiting Kindred – that ult is still an issue but they showed some capacity to play round it in Game 2. C9 indeed get Kindred and TSM follow with Maokai/Corki, which means C9 may pick Azir for a more teamfight-oriented comp. I’m not so sure the Corki isn’t for Doublelift – he’s been good on the bombardier and I think TSM want Bjergsen to counter Jensen – that’s where they want to win this game. C9 go GP/Braum – very good – and TSM Elise/Janna – also good. C9 go back to Jhin with Orianna – Orianna is one of the best teamfighting picks, she gives you options, and picking blind, she’s relatively safe. I’m an ADC but like playing a little Orianna here and there because she’s so fun. TSM finish with Zedwhoa! If Bjergsen can play around the Kindred ult, this could be fun. Of course, it also requires Sven to gank that lane heavily – a fed Zed is no fun to play against, but falling behind could be an issue. TSM want to win mid lane, C9 everywhere else.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 2)

C9 put on a clinic in Game 1, but I don’t think each game is going to be as easy. TSM lost on a bad call that snowballed but they have also been very good at adjusting in Best of 5 series. They lost in an unfathomable manner to ESC Ever at #IEM and came back from that – I think they take this game and make it a series. I agree with Phreak that TSM need to feed Bjergsen and not rely on Svenskeren. I would love to see him on LeBlanc and just try to blow people up instead of a control mage like Azir.

Picks and Bans – TSM smartly ban GP and TF and first-pick Nidalee for Svenskeren. He’s terrible at First-Blood, but Nidalee will give him options to counter-jungle. C9 return with Braum and Kindred which, again, I love against TSM. It’s really going to test TSM’s ability to find the right engages which they’ve been unable to do. TSM return with Azir/Maokai – they are going back to that style of global map control and teamfight utility. Man, if they fall behind again… C9 counter with Nautilus and Lucian which gives them even more utility. TSM finish with Kalista/Janna – I love Janna for Yellowstar! She is such an enabler: she lets you make plays, gives you multiple ways out, helps influence multiple lanes with the speed boost. If Yellowstar can play her to her potential, it can disengage a lot of what C9 will want to do, and makes the Maokai/Azir teamfight  much better. C9 go all-in on the pick comp with last-pick Zed, who can blow people up if he can get to the backline. He is a decent matchup into Azir without TF. Strong drafts for both sides – that Janna pick really makes me like TSM’s lineup much more.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Split Playoffs, C9 vs TSM (Game 1)

As promised, analysis of the first round of the #NALCS playoffs! Thanks to LoLeventVODs for the stream and to StreamCastify for the next big thing: video replays! Enjoy!

It’s hard to argue, on a position by position basis, that Cloud 9 are the clearly better team here. That’s the power of the TSM roster. But C9 are the 3 seed by virtue of an entire split playing better together as a team while during the second half, TSM take one step forward and two steps back. I just don’t think TSM will find enough coordinated teamfights to beat C9, and I think C9 are better at cross-map skirmishes via the Rush vs Svenskeren matchup. 

That said, TSM have responded beautifully in best of 5 situations and I don’t think this is going to be easy for C9. Remember – TSM were in complete control of the last game they played against C9, and only lost because of several picture-perfect barrel chains from Balls’ Gangplank. With better vision, being behind is a scary scenario for C9. I’m a bit surprised that the desk chose TSM to win the series, but the 10 days with Weldon and the new patch may certainly change the dynamic. This is close and I called it as a 5-game win for C9:

Picks and Bans – Smart bans from TSM who target Rush and Hai – evening the playing field at those positions will be big. I have Hai as the 2nd best Support in NA with Yellowstar not in the top 3, but with the right champion matchup, I’m not sure that Yellowstar isn’t better. C9 first-pick Kindred – I love it. TSM have previously struggled teamfighting around the Kindred ult and C9 will want to fight. TSM respond with Poppy/Azir, which is pretty early to reveal both solo laners (don’t think Yellowstar will play support Poppy). And with so many power picks available, it's a little underwhelming. C9 counter with GP/Braum – this is shaping up very well for the favorites. TSM go with the tried-and-true Kalista/Alistar – this is begging Sneaky to play Jhin, and I’m interested to see how C9 counter the midlane. They go Lucian/TF instead for more early-game pressure. TSM last-pick Elise for Svenskeren. I like the comp from TSM but am concerned that C9 were able to counter so many positions. I think C9 snowball early and win this game.

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Spring Split Pre-Playoff Awards

Real quick before we get into the playoff analysis, I wanted to acknowledge the wild split we just had and hand out some awards. LoLeSports are doing it, so can You Make The Calls! I won't be doing team rankings because I feel the standings are pretty indicative of where these teams belong. But let's commemorate some remarkable achievements and memorable games.

Best Player

1.     Reignover: Starting the year with a ridiculous First Blood streak for your team and ending it with only one loss means Reignover gets this award. But more than that, Reignover was far and away the best jungler in the #NALCS. It goes beyond his 8.3 KDA (Dardoch was 2nd at a ridiculous 6.2 and Xmithie 3rd at 5.0). The entire team has taken after his aggressive style; I would say he enables Huni and Turtle and Pobelter to hunt after aggressive plays in lane since they know their jungler will always go with them. That's huge. He's so far removed from the gameover days and even better than he was with 18-0 Fnatic last year (5.7 KDA).

Monday, April 4, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs REN Tiebreaker (Week 9, Day 2)

Extra League! A fantastic finish from REN coupled with a nightmare Week 9 schedule for TIP have conspired to bring us an extra #NALCS game. I’m okay with that. Frankly, I think REN are playing at a higher level now, though this being Renegades, this game will probably last an hour and TIP will probably get gold lead somewhere past 20 minutes. #RENWin, let’s dive into it!

Picks and Bans – TIP pick Corki then Nautilus/Kindred sandwiched around Poppy/Gragas from REN. REN then pick GP/Lucian – surely that’s a top lane GP and Poppy support? I don’t love Poppy support (I think Janna is a much more effective version of a similar kit), but this is very interesting. If REN can win the top lane matchup, which is in their favor both personnel- and champion-wise, this could scale very well. TIP finish with Azir/Bard while REN counter with Zed. Loving the way this draft turned out for REN, using the flex Poppy to their advantage.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TL vs C9 (Week 9, Day 2)

Finishing Week 9 now, hoping to get recaps of the big Team SoloMid and Liquid wins tomorrow. What a playoffs it's been!

The game of the week. C9 need to stay in 2nd place while Liquid would love to knock off one of the top teams and show they belong. Crucial to this matchup: can Lourlo get a tank that he feels comfortable enough taking it into Balls? TL are one of the few teams that can feel good about the duo lane into Sneaky/Hai (in fact, I have C9’s duo over IMT’s in my secret rankings that I’ll reveal tomorrow). But C9 are so balanced – Balls, Rush, and Jensen have taken turns straight carrying. I think this means more for C9 and will go #C9Win

Picks and Bans – TL target Hai with Soraka/Morgana bans; I’ve never been a fan of support bans. There are so many good supports in this meta and while Hai’s champion pool has been questioned, it’s unlikely you’re going to take them all away with Janna, Alistar, Braum, Trundle still available. C9 go straight for Jhin/Lee Sin after TL first-pick Corki. TL respond with Poppy/Janna instead of Nautilus – interesting. C9 get Azir/Trundle and last-pick Alistar around TL’s Zed/Rek’Sai. I like this for TL – I like the Zed into Azir matchup and Rek’Sai remains one of my favorite junglers to play with despite the prevalence of other junglers in the meta. TL need Fenix to win his lane, a tough task against Jensen, and influence plays around the map, notably for the duo lane.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, REN vs FOX (Week 9, Day 2)

One of the more interesting games of the day. Renegades are playing with attitude, and their prowess in the early game is finally starting to snowball into wins for them. That can help them against Echo Fox as long as they don’t get sucked into a long laning game which allows FOX to get what they want: late-game all-in teamfights. I think this game means more for REN and despite the record disparity, with Seraph in the top lane, I think they win.

Picks and Bans – This was a very questionable phase for Echo Fox. After first-pick Lulu, FOX respond with Morgana/Jhin – is it wise to reveal your duo that quickly? Especially with Kalista banned and Sivir available? Their next two are Nautilus/Lee Sin; that’s a lot of eggs in the Jhin basket without seeing the REN duo. REN follow Lulu with Gragas/Corki and Sivir/Trundle (LOVE). Before FOX’s last pick came out, I already liked the REN draft more. More damage, more utility, ability to take Nautilus tank stats away… last pick Lux isn’t going to save them.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why Syracuse Doesn't Deserve the Final Four

I've had this post on my mind for a while, but with the Final Four upon us, it's time. When Syracuse were included in this year's conference field, a minor uproar occurred: how could this team, 9th in the ACC at 9-9, have made it over much more deserving mid-major teams?

For some, the fact that the Orange have made it to the Final Four justified their selection. How can you say they weren't one of the nation's 64 best teams when they're still here, 3 weekends later? That argument is a straw man to me. Here's why Syracuse doesn't deserve the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TIP vs IMT (Week 9, Day 2)

There is no way TIP can beat IMT. Sorry. #IMTWin.

Picks and Bans – TIP first-pick Kalista, then Elise/Braum for a ton of pick potential and power in the duo lane. IMT start with a standard Corki/Gragas but go back to throwing out unique comps, this time with Jhin/Karma, then Ekko. TIP end with Malphite/Viktor. I like Viktor but can Malphite get big enough fast emough to be a teamfight initiator? Do they even want that?

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, TSM vs NRG (Week 9, Day 2)

After encouraging play at #IEM, TSM have fallen off a cliff in the last few weeks. Doublelift (one of my favorite players) doesn’t look like a top-tier ADC, Yellowstar hasn’t been able to play Braum effectively, and Svenskeren’s jungle leaves a lot to be desired. NRG are catching TSM at a perfect time, especially with the chance to leapfrog them in the playoff standings. If Svenskeren can’t punish Moon, NRG’s strengths in the solo lanes match well with TSM’s and a lot will ride on the duo pairing. I honestly don’t know what to think about this game: my head tells me #TSMWin and my gut #NRGWin. Since I’m an idiot, I’ll go with my gut. This game turned out to be quite crazy...

Picks and Ban – TSM first-pick Kalista – can Altec play Jhin? NRG counter with Trundle/Kindred, which is great with Graves banned. I love Kindred into TSM - they have had issues coordinating teamfights and Jhin's ult, like Bard's, completely changes the dynamic of fights They’ll need more damage though as TSM return with Corki/Poppy. NRG indeed go with Morgana/Jhin and last-pick Azir – I love it! TSM finish with Gragas/Braum – they are putting a lot of faith in Doublelift along with Bjergsen to siege and win teamfights. And there's that Braum gaain - they need Yellowstar to show something on this priority support champion. TSM have a very standard teamfight comp but need, need, need to stay together.

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS, CLG vs DIG (Week 9, Day 2)

BillyBoss is going to have an awful hard time against Darshan. #CLGWin

Picks and Bans – This was a weird draft. CLG start with Nidalee and Dignitas go Bard/Sivir. I’ve not been very impressed with KiWiKiD’s Bard, but that may be a derivative of his being on a losing team. CLG then get Soraka/Lucian (ok…) and then Azir/Gnar. Hmm. I mean those are okay champions with good teamfight utility, but are they sure they want to teamfight into Sivir? DIG are smart to get Gragas/Poppy then GP last for a very scary (albeit AD-focused) late-game comp. But GP will struggle to lane against Azir and CLG can pressure early around Huhi and Stixxay.