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.
Picks and Bans – CLG first-pick Nidalee and TL start with a very early Karma along with Kindred. CLG get Ekko/Kalista whiel TL return Poppy/Caitlin. Caitlin with Karma is a ton of safe push and siege. CLG should finish with either a Braum or Janna and indeed get Janna along with Ryze – whoa that is a TON of power! I like a tanky Ekko from Darshan along with Ryze. TL finish with LeBlanc for Fenix into either CLG mage, which is fine. Both of these teams want to skirmish and blow the backline up. I actually like TL’s comp a bit more though – I like their teamfight utility with Poppy frontline and Karma, with strong siege potential as well. I just don’t know how effective Kalista is going to be, so Fenix or Darshan is going to have to go OFF.
Early Game – CLG swap blindly and give Darshan solo experience in the bot lane – I love it. Nidalee will catch up in farm anyway as long as she doesn’t get 3-buffed. Darshan is caught at 31:00 but it’s not a big deal. He was farming without vision against Caitlin and Dardoch, seeing Xmithie in his red side jungle, pinged immediately. CLG are behind in the midgame and have to be careful that Ryze doesn’t fall too far behind LeBlanc before he can scale. For a team that’s built to skirmish (double TPs) against a more teamfight-oriented team, CLG haven’t made anything happen and Xmithie is not doing anything on Nidalee. He’s set vision and invaded, but Dardoch is actually up in CS through 15 minutes and CLG haven’t done anything with those wards. They make a strong rotation to chunk and then take the midlane outer, but that only matters if Huhi can push the wave and make plays in the side lanes.
41:15 – TL siege in the midlane is repelled but it burns both Huhi and Darshan’s TPs (Lourlo stopped Darshan’s TP). Nobody dies but TL have an advantage in CS across the board (shocking) and can play very patiently around Caitlin. They have a lot of protection for her and if she gets big enough, it’s going to be tough to stop this team 5v5 unless CLG can flank. I agree with Jatt – TL have neutralized Darshan AND Xmithie, CLGs best players.
44:20 – TL rotate from mid to Dragon and CLG run up to the Baron. They have Kalista! TL are a split second late to contest and Lourlo’s ult unfortunately ejects CLG from the pit for a clean disengage! Aphromoo sacrifices himself so CLG can get Baron on 4 members. What an aggressive call from CLG. They had been losing control of this game, but this will get them back in it. CLG roam between top (Darshan) and mid (Huhi) tier 2s and take the turret in mid. Safe play from both sides – TL can’t take down Darshan in the top and CLG opt to stay on the side of the TL jungle where they have vision rather than try to push the bot lane with double TPs.
50:30 – CLG make a huge mistake. They are committed to shoving the top lane turret, but I’m confused why they didn’t rotate bottom with Dragon 4 (for TL) coming up. TL make it down faster, kill the Dragon, and then Piglet gets a Quadra Kill on CLG who were trying to save Huhi! Ryze was already dead to rights by the time anyone from CLG arrived (only kept alive by the Kindred ult – Dardoch’s Kindred ult). This is a disaster for CLG, a disaster of their own making. Horrible shot calling into wore teamfight execution into a superior teamfight team. An Ace! This should be an inhibitor but they only take the turret.
54:10 – TL had pushed CLG off Baron, laid a bunch of vision in the CLG blue side, and taken the middle inhib and top lane tier 2. Look at the traps around the Baron area. CLG have to contest, Lourlo flanks, and TL force everyone into a narrow choke littered with traps. Lourlo knocks two out of the lamb’s respite and it’s another clean Ace for TL! This is why Lourlo was most improved in the Spring Split and why Dardoch is the rookie of the Split. TL take Game 1!
CLG optimists can point to one bad call (top lane tier 2 and then disastrous dragon fight) that lost the game. But before that, before the Baron sneak, they were behind in every lane AND the jungle. And that’s with first-pick Nidalee! TL’s lane swaps took away the Darshan vs. Lourlo advantage and once they scaled, their teamfight comp took over. It was a bad pick/ban phase from CLG into a hopeless game. They won’t make the same mistakes with their comp, but they have to be concerned with their individual inability to outplay TL. For Liquid – yup, this is why I was torn between these teams. This team is good. There’s not really a weak spot and if they can continue to dominate the macro against CLG, the NA macro kings, they will go through to finals.