Saturday, April 2, 2016

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.

Early Game – Surprised that TSM didn’t go with the CLG tactic to invade and catch Moon on their way to a lane swap. Thought it would have been good for Kalista to swap. Yup, it’s a swap, but blind from TSM. Impact zones TSM off his red side jungle so Moon can get a clear path. After the 2 turret trades, NRG lay an extended siege on the TSM mid lane outer while leaving Doublelift alone in the bot lane. After 3 waves, TSM go for an aggressive fight to save the turret but a clutch shield from KonKwon saves Altec from the Gragas ult and nets them a kill on Yellowstar. It’s not a disaster for TSM though – they have even gold on the farm from Doublelift/Hauntzer.

22:50 – NRG go back for the mid turret, TSM read it, and make a good play to push them off. Azir is saved by the Kindred ult but Moon falls. This is the type of game TSM need to play – stay together and protect the carries. They take down GBM with a jungler gank a few minutes later anyway and TSM take the mid lane turret.

26:10 – NRG go for Rift Herald, TSM fancy a contest and critically, call everyone in. They look down Moon, then Impact inside the pit. Svenskeren then goes over the wall to get a kill on GBM who should not have stayed around (meanwhile Bjergsen tanked the curtain call for Svenskeren). Fantastic call and execution from TSM. They have a teamfight advantage now and should group as 5 for the rest of the game. They do so again at 30:25 and get another couple kills off a great play from Bjergsen. NRG stop the subsequent Baron attempt with the Jhin ult, but give up two more kills while backing. This is one of the better Braum games I’ve seen from Yellowstar in a long time.

TSM turn the lead into the midlane inhibitor turret and the bot lane tier 2. NRG still have nothing beyond the 2 lane swapped turrets. TSM later get the midlane inhibitor while NRG return a kill on Svenskeren. It’s still a huge lead for TSM though and they should be able to siege methodically between mid lane and either top or bottom and win the game.

37:10 – TSM have cleared vision around Baron but don’t have a numbers advantage. This feels very greedy. And Doublelift is sniped by Altec! Oh no! It’s a disaster for TSM. They are split between the inside and outside of the pit, Bjergsen goes down, Hauntzer, Svenskeren. A 4-0 for NRG is a Baron and NRG are back in the game. NRG push down mid with the Baron buff and take down the 2 outer turrets.

42:00 – TSM are back at the NRG midlane inhibitor and it feels like this next fight decides the game. Svenskeren goes in, burns his ult, and is unable to knock anybody back into his team. He goes down, and with that peel gone, Yellowstar and Bjergsen go down to while Hauntzer is run down in a chase. The game isn’t over but it feels like NRG have all the momentum. The teamfight mechanics that TSM showed off in the first 20 minutes have vanished. A snipe on Bjergsen a couple minutes later is another Baron for NRG. TSM took 3rd Dragon with zero vision of the Baron. NRG push in 5v4 but Bjergsen comes back and it’s an Ace for TSM! They wisely choose not to end with NRG coming back very soon, but what a clutch play for TSM. These two teams are basically even, making mistakes one after another. TSM have momentum but it is sooo annoying to try ending against Azir. They guy can be 3 places at once.

52:30 – What is Svenskeren doing?!? He goes over the back of the Baron pit but his teammates are in the front! That kills not only himself but Yellowstar as well. Bjergsen and Doublelift make a valiant effort 2v5 but get only 3 kills before dying themselves. Impact and Altec head for the nexus and get it.

NRG have to feel ecstatic about jumping TSM, but I don’t know that either team can realistically feel great about that game. NRG did well coming back, but I feel like this is more of a throw from TSM. If it weren’t for a couple catastrophic plays from Svenskeren, TSM should have been in control of this game. I’ve been critical of the TSM duo lane but Sven was a major weak point for SoloMid in this game. It's tough to know what went wrong, who made the call, and if the team just didn't follow Sven. But outside of Doublelift getting chain-CC'ed once at Baron (and the ADC is almost never the one making the objective calls), Sven was the one getting caught. I’m not sure how they come back from this to take on C9 in two weeks.

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