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.
Early Game – Both teams invade for lane swap vision. Hauntzer very cheekily and very aggressively stays in the top lane bush to soak experience. I don’t know that it’s worth the immense risk but he is able to get out without an issue. That allows C9 to get the turret faster and Balls smartly shoves the wave a bit. TSM see Rush in the blue side jungle and Svenskeren gets an easy First Blood on Balls – after shoving he should have retreated once Hauntzer showed. On the other side though, Rush kills Doublelift in the bot lane. Svenskeren tries to get Rush exiting but is unable to do so.
19:05 – TSM’s vision advantage gets Svenskeren another play and an early roam from Bjergsen gets him Kindred too (Bjergsen started moving before Svenskeren). Jensen had no eyes on Bjergsen and both Hauntzer and Yellowstar roam as well. This is the TSM their fans have wanted to see – on the same page, supporting the plays, making things happen. It’s a 2-1 trade in favor of TSM, and Sneaky was forced up, giving Doublelift a big CS advantage. With the bot lane shoved, Doublelift/Yellowstar roam up mid unspotted and kill Jensen. This is going very well for TSM. – they are leading in the duo lanes and the jungle and Kalista scales very well.
22:50 – TSM are just faster to the play. After C9 take Dragon, TSM send 4 members mid, take the turret, and collapse on the bottom lane, picking up a free kill on Hai. From here, TSM run a very smart strat: splitting Maokai out and roaming as 4. This takes C9’s primary tank away, and while TSM are also very squishy without Hauntzer, have more poke and forms of disengage with Azir, Kalista, and Janna. They take complete control of the C9 jungle and can now play very safely. Staying in lanes works when you scale well and are winning every lane. With Azir on TSM’s side, this feels over unless they epically bungle it (not impossible).
35:15 – This would normally be a disaster for TSM. Svenskeren and Bjergsen can’t kill Rush before he pops ultimate and C9 flank with their duo along with a Balls TP. Bjergsen Zhonya’s out of the damage and the rest of TSM are there. Hauntzer’s Maokai is unstoppable, killing Rush and Hai (Hai actually led him into a recalling Rush) while Doublelift takes care of Balls. Sneaky is on the wrong side of a wall without peel, misses the majority of his culling, and is zoned out of the fight. TSM get Baron and have a massive lead.
37:20 – This would be disaster without a lead, but TSM have the power to turn it around. Losing Doublelift and Yellowstar is survivable when Bjergsen is a monster attacking everywhere. And Hauntzer. Goodness gracious. He walks into the middle of everything and wreaks havoc. C9 catch Hauntzer and Bjergsen on the way out but Hauntzer does some fancy dancing and takes Sneaky with him. There’s not much more to say about this game. C9 tries a last ditch initiation at 40:20, blow up Doublelift with help from Lamb’s Respite and Depth Charge, but Hauntzer is just so big. He TPs on-time and turns the fight by himself, justifying his position on the YMTC All-NALCS 3rd team. My immediate reaction:
Last fight happens at 43:20 as C9 try to contest Baron, then blow all of their abilities trying to take down Hauntzer. They do so but Jensen is dead and the rest of the team are stuck on the lamb’s respite. They may have to move on from Kindred. A 4-1 with Baron for TSM is the game. Wow. What a game. TSM grabbed control of vision with the Nidalee pick and never let go. They rotated as a team and played their comp perfectly. They won’t always get Nidalee for Svenskeren (I don’t expect that to be available the rest of the series), but this has to be a big shot in the arm for their confidence. Even with a lead, they were on-point and on-time and had each other’s backs.
For C9 – they cannot play their style and lose the jungle. It’s that simple. They need to open the map and control vision, but once they’re behind all of that fell apart. The silver lining is that they have two more blue-side games.