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.
Early Game – Hoping for standard lanes with a very strong Jhin/Janna matchup, NRG send all four into the bot lane for vision. Watching live, I was wondering what they were hoping to accomplish – it’s seems like they’re spooked from the Game 1 start. Despite a carry champion from Impact, they just cannot fall behind in the duo lane to the degree they have been. Impact gives moon a leash in the jungle on the blue side, and then is forced to TP to lane to counter TL’s more defensive start. Dardoch runs from his blue to the NRG red and bullies Moon off the buff. Wow. Impact at leasts walks out of a gank attempt and gives Moon time to run down and get the TL red. I think that’s a little overaggressive from Dardoch – they don’t need Lourlo to be a hero, Nautilus will eventually be a huge tank, but a jungle advantage can help him win the other lanes.
11:45 – Never mind. This is 3rd time Dardoch has come back to this lane and they smartly hold off attacking Impact until the stun wears off. Moon tries to gank Fenix but Fenix plays very safely knowing he doesn’t have jungler support.
13:35 – TL dive the bot lane again and NRG are just a split second late. Altec and Piglet both go down but GBM just can’t take out Matt – all the heals and shields and GBM just can’t get out one more auto attack. He’s forced to re-engage with the rest of his team and goes down to a thunerlords proc. Total bait by Matt turns into a 3-2 advantage for TL. But again, I feel like TL are making all the moves. Moon tries to dive top with the team a couple minutes later and almost gets killed. Lourlo is leading Impact, a huge problem for NRG. Moon executes a nice dive through a ward at 17:25 to get Lourlo, but Altec and KonKwon are caught by Dardoch and Zed in the jungle and both die. NRG die on their side of the map 2v3.
19:40 – After repelling a mid lane gank, NRG smartly group as 5 but can’t siege in the face of Dardoch’s aggression. NRG put the wombo combo on Dardoch and pop him. Lourlo in on Altec but NRG do a nice job peeling for him. Full-strength Zed on the outside however almost takes out Moon and the lack of a front line makes Altec hesitant to pop ult until the fight is over. I think Altec should have popped ult much sooner to try and take out Lourlo and maybe Matt. Zed is dangerous but he had already used his ult to chunk down GBM and you can’t play in fear of one enemy carry. That’s the summation of this series: NRG, after that disastrous First Blood in Game 1, have played very safely until it’s too late.
23:50 – The first time in a LONG time that NRG actually seize initiative. NRG are being forced out of their jungle and brute force shove in the mid lane, catching Piglet. They then follow the minion wave all the way to turret and take the mid lane outer. Yeah, they burned some cooldowns, but those should be back up by the time there’s another fight. Fenix returns the favor on GBM a few minutes later and TL take a few chunks out of the NRG turret. Impact TPs in at 25:20 to flank and fight but Lourlo walks up and Fenix is there before GBM (still coming out of base, no homeguards). Impact almost gets out but the Janna tornado misses and it’s two more kills for Liquid. That was a poor call to try and fight 4v5 but I like the aggression from NRG – and they did manage to hold on to the midlane outer. TL is going to swap you to death anyway, might as well try to kill them.
31:50 – NRG find a pick on Matt (trying to set vision) and again follow the wave to the midlane tier 2. TL kill the wave to stop the push but a Lourlo flank TP doesn’t catch anyone. Crazy fight on the back end does not result in any kills but TL are able to drop the midlane outer. I like the way NRG are playing. I think their only chance is to try and trade objectives over the next 5 minutes so that a late-game teamfight win can allow them to end. It will be tough facing a 6k gold lead, so they’ll need a pick first. TL should split Zed out instead of Lourlo and play a 4-1 split with the Zed basically unstoppable. Fenix doesn’t have TP but he should be able to survive being one-shotted by Impact.
TL try 1-3-1 instead and at 36:20, it’s heartbreak for NRG as they lose Altec and just aren’t able to kill the Zed. GBM is on the chase and gets him but that opens the rest of the map for TL and they take the midlane tier 2 easily. Altec should never have walked so close to Zed without KonKwon right behind him. Altec’s Jhin hasn’t been very inspiring. He’s not making full use of the curtain call and isn’t chaining the stuns with anyone else. Being down 100 in CS doesn’t help.
40:55 – TL bait Baron a second time and Lourlo flat outplays the teamfight, making me look smart for giving him the Most Improved award. He arrives before Impact and immediately jumps onto the backline while Impact is dealing with a tanky Dardoch. TL melt KonKwon before his ult does any healing and Piglet and Lourlo are just beasts while Moon and Impact are still fighting Dardoch. WTF NRG!? A Quadra Kill for Liquid is a clean Liquid Ace but they decide not to end, instead taking Baron. Lourlo is outplaying on his pocket Nautilus. TL push in with the Baron Buff, Piglet gets another Quadra Kill and TL win the game.
TL are just a better team than NRG. They showed they can split push into an advantage, teamfight to press that advantage, and fight around the right objectives. With Dardoch playing a carry role and Lourlo playing even with Impact, they have exhibited the necessary tools to take on CLG. I'm excited if they can solve Darshan, who presents a whole host of new problems. This is a scary team though that's good at multiple phases of the game that can play the right champions in this meta.
NRG look like they want to play a patient, lane-focused Korean-style game, but they just don’t have the tools to do that, not falling behind time after time in lane. They have struggled to adapt to the fast, bloody tempo of the NALCS and desperately need better mechanical performances from Altec and Moon. I felt they picked a strong team comp and weren’t able to capitalize on what should have been a good early-game comp.