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.
Early Game – Aussie lanes and Huni burns his TP to build a 1 wave CS lead on Hauntzer. But at 16:00, Reignover is 5 seconds late to the party and Huni is taken down (Reignover trades his life for Haiuntzer’s on the tail end). Across the map, Yellowstar and Doublelift go big on the IMT duo lane, barely missing a couple kills and asserting their dominance in lane. All year, Doublelift has been called on to push lanes, sometimes by himself, despite questionable jungle support. That has gotten him in trouble – A LOT – but his ability to keep that pressure up is impressive. On the other side, IMT have been hiding Turtle behind the strength of the rest of their roster and desperately need him to step up. 16:40 will get them back in the game – Pobelter shoves the lane and instead of backing, heads up top, picking up kills on both TSM duo laners (Doublelift missed an easy Q after the pulverize landed) and burning Hauntzer’s TP. Huni is getting back in the game too, left alone in the bottom.
17:55 – TSM have had lot of success setting traps in vision bushes and get an easy kill on Adrian. Riegnover is getting bullied – a big surprise. He roams top at 19:40 for a very predictable gank (almost all camps are down), Huni sees the gank coming, but just can’t get out of it (barrels and ult not enough). On the bot side though, Doublelift and Yellowstar make an aggressive call to take the IMT blue without jungle support and they both die. Pobelter uses his ult to block the TSM escape (Doublelift tried to Ult + flash both members out of the pit), but lacking that ult makes him a target for Zed and Bjergsen gets two kills on the way out. I wrote in the NALCS Spring Split Awards that Pobelter, Bjergsen, and Jensen could have been ranked in almost any order, and in this series, it’s Bjergsen that’s coming out on top. IMT are okay though – they can scale well and are even in all positions except jungle, putting pressure on Svenskern to continue making plays.
22:00 – IMT finally anticipate a Sven gank in time but the Poppy ult catches them just before they take down Nidalee. But TSM are back at it at 22:35 and although IMT walk out of the gank attempt, Reignover dies to Svenskeren again on the disengage. I love this global pressure from TSM – they are rotating faster and with more decisiveness than IMT and are a far cry from the disjointed squad we saw for much of the regular season. TSM immediately send Sven to the top lane where he draws in all 5 IMT members, leaving Doublelift alone in the bot lane. This is really strong stuff form SoloMid. The take a 2-0 turret lead and have complete control of the IMT jungle. IMT have to keep this lead under 5k to have a chance post-30 minutes. Pobelter dying to Bjergsen and Svenskeren in the bot lane isn’t going to help – Pobelter has no completed items and after the 2 early kills, Urgot has fallen off.
The gold lead at 20 is around 6k. That’s a problem. TSM, on average, will have an item advantage for the next 4-5 minutes at each tier. 4-5 minutes is 8-10 waves, multiple objective fights, and a snowball until 40 minutes or so when the gold lead should start diminishing in importance. Of course, that gold lead exists on different players and will last for longer for those players. But with that lead, IMT will basically have to win 2 (or more) successive teamfights to reset map pressure. 2 teamfight wins without a fully scaled GP. Ouch.
36:20 – After losing Huni, IMT still try to set a trap for TSM in the jungle but TSM react beautifully and pick up 2 more kills in a split fight. TSM run for Baron and Huni is forced to try some crazy barrel magic to steal, knowing this is the game. This feels like the game.
And it is (after an Ace at 40:25). IMT just don’t have great teamfight tools with Reignover the only tank and reliable source of initiation. He basically had to give himself up to start a fight and once TSM worked around the cask, they were immediately on IMT squishies. After two games of crazy picks, it finally seems that IMT’s inability to settle on a comp that works in the meta has bit them. Honestly, I’m not sure what they can do in Game 3 to rectify this. It’s not as simple as giving Huni a tank – I know he can play them. But they need to adjust their style wholescale, which is not something I think they can do. TSM’s experience in the meta and experience in Best of 5s is really showing through. They look unstoppable, winning at almost every position.