Tuesday, April 5, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Spring Split Pre-Playoff Awards

Real quick before we get into the playoff analysis, I wanted to acknowledge the wild split we just had and hand out some awards. LoLeSports are doing it, so can You Make The Calls! I won't be doing team rankings because I feel the standings are pretty indicative of where these teams belong. But let's commemorate some remarkable achievements and memorable games.

Best Player

1.     Reignover: Starting the year with a ridiculous First Blood streak for your team and ending it with only one loss means Reignover gets this award. But more than that, Reignover was far and away the best jungler in the #NALCS. It goes beyond his 8.3 KDA (Dardoch was 2nd at a ridiculous 6.2 and Xmithie 3rd at 5.0). The entire team has taken after his aggressive style; I would say he enables Huni and Turtle and Pobelter to hunt after aggressive plays in lane since they know their jungler will always go with them. That's huge. He's so far removed from the gameover days and even better than he was with 18-0 Fnatic last year (5.7 KDA).

2.     Piglet: If you use only KDA to rank players, you'd basically have all 5 Immortals up here. But I'm going to give 2nd place to the former world champ because of his vast impact on his team. He gives TL such strength in the bottom lane, allowing Dardoch to roam elsewhere - for a while I thought Lourlo was in an unspoken competition with BillyBoss to be the worst toplaner in NA. Every time I write about at TL matchup, I immediately assume they have an advantage in the duo lane, and that's with a rookie support! Finally, his stats aren't shabby - behind WildTurtle in KDA, but he and Doublelift are not surprisingly lapping the field in CS. There are other great ADCs, notable Sneaky, who we'll get to, but none are charged with the hard carry as often as Piglet is.

3.     Adrian: Can't keep the Immortals off the podium. Adrian has single-handedly redefined the rankings of many support champions. The fact that teams are compelled to ban Janna and Soraka against him and still lose is huge. In a meta where everyone are playing Alistar, Braum, Trundle, Bard, Adrian's ability to go another direction and enable the cross-map aggression of his teammates is huge. Like Reignover, he allows Immortals to play their style. No other support does that as well. Having a KDA that's 4.1 points higher than Matt in 2nd place among supports isn't too shabby - that difference is almost by definition bigger than the difference between Matt and last-place! The difference between Adrian and Matt is basically the difference between Matt and me.

Best Rookie

1.      Dardoch: No complaints with any of the LoLeSports rankings on this one. Dardoch is 6th in all of NA in KDA (a smidge ahead of Piglet), 1st among all qualified junglers in Kill Participation and isn't bad at maintaining farm. He has shown proficiency on all of the priority junglers and is a major threat to hard carry. His Lee Sin is almost an insta-ban.

2.     Stixxay: Stepping into Doublelift's shoes, Stixxay hasn't been perfect but he's shown tremendous synergy with Aphromoo. He's 3rd in KDA and CS/minute among ADCs. He took Ezreal into Lucian in 3 straight games in Weeks 6/7 and ended 12/5/19 with back-to-back wins over IMT (WildTurtle) and C9 (Sneaky). This guy is good.

3.     Matt: By many measures a top-3 Support in NA, he has grown a lot playing with Piglet. I loved the spot of Piglet talking about Matt before their first playoff game against NRG; Piglet mentioned how easy Matt makes the game for him. Can't fault him for landing in a great spot.

Most Improved

1.     Lourlo: At one point, I wrote this about Lourlo: 

I know, that's harsh. It was Week 6. Then this happened in Week 7:

Hey, I was right! Nautilus worked out! After trying Gnar, Shen, Maokai, and Quinn, Lourlo settled into the tank roll and never looked back. 3 straight Nautilus wins in Weeks 7/8, including back-to-back victories over TSM and CLG led to an 8/1/29 (!!!) KDA and Nautilus bans. No fear, he switched to Poppy, beat C9 in a 16 KDA game and went into the playoffs hot. His 2nd half KDA of 4.6 was 44% higher than 1st-half 3.2 and his overall KDA is 3rd among NA top laners. He is among the laggards in CS/minute though.

2.     Crumbz: Like, Lourlo, I killed Crumbz for his poor play and worse shot-calling early in the season:

It's easy to point to the addition of Seraph and say he and Ninja are the reason behind the dramatic mid-season Renegades turnaround. But the team's good finish obfuscates some of the individual contributions from guys like Alex Ich, Freeze, and Crumbz. That last tiebreak against TIP showed me a lot: Renegades have finally figured out how to snowball a lead and the are unquestionably more together on the calls. I credit Crumbz for that, for pushing his teammates to practice and work harder than any other team. This is a guy that doesn't want to get knocked out of the NALCS.

3.     Procxin: TIP have faltered after a strong first couple weeks. The nadir for Procxin was probably 0/4/2 on Nidalee into Dardoch's Lee Sin in Week 7. He lost his buffs early on a failed dive and the team could never recover. What do TIP do the next day? First-pick Nidalee for Procxin into some nice early plays to take a lead and set vision. That baits NRG into a desperate vision that TIP get. Game. Did you know that Procxin is 2nd among qualified junglers in Kill Participation (behind Dardoch)? Did you know that he is 5th in CS/minute? His KDA is worse in the 2nd half of the split, but his kill and assist average per game has gone up. He's trying to do more, and it's not working out, but it's a good sign for TIP. They need their jungler to stay aggressive to make it back for the Summer.

NALCS First Team

Huni, Reignover, Jensen (this was the hardest position to rank), Piglet, Adrian. Couldn't have all Immortals, and Jensen has been a beast. The difference between Jensen's 96 kills and second place Bjergsen is the same as the difference between Bjergsen and 7th place (GBM). Jensen has also died a ton, but C9 play around him very well. Really, Jensen, Bjergsen, and Pobelter are so close that you can rank them in any order. Piglet/Sneaky was also very hard but like my argument in the best player section, Sneaky plays with other very good players - I've called C9 the most balanced roster after Immortals. The other 3 positions on this team are not close at all.

Second Team

Darshan, Dardoch, Pobelter, Sneaky, Hai. Sneaky/WildTurtle was close, but I felt Sneaky had a slight edge in their last matchup (Turtle went a little too hard trying to shut down Jhin). Hai/Aphromoo was also close - Hai's support KDA is much better though neither place any emphasis on vision.

Third Team

Hauntzer, Xmithie, Bjergsen, WildTurtle, Aphromoo. Thought a lot about Hauntzer vs. Balls and I just think Hauntzer has been more consistent for an inconsistent team. LoLeSpots had Rush over Xmithie, but the stats clearly favor the CLG jungler. Aphromoo/Matt is a tough one as well. I really wanted to reward Matt's superior vision, but at the same time, CLG play a different style. I wouldn't be surprised to see Matt ascend the rankings in the summer though. 

Tough omissions: Matt, Doublelift (much criticized including by me, Peter has managed to win lane again and again with almost no jungle support and Yellowstar struggling to fit in), Balls, Rush, Freeze (near the top in nearly all stat categories), Froggen (needed more games), Fenix (2nd in KDA but plays a very safe lane), Seraph (same as Froggen).

Best Plays of the 2016 Spring Split

This is going to be a ranking of the most memorable/ridiculous/remarkable plays from the Spring Split.

1.     Echo Fox backdoor the nexus: After facing an enormous deficit, including 3 Dragon 5s and 3 Barons, Echo Fox made it all the way to the Dignitas base in their Week 8 match. Then this happened:

2.     Xmithie takes down Immortals: With a pocket Udyr pick, CLG set vision and split push IMT all the way to their base - but couldn't quite close the game until this happens. Also, backdoors are fun.

3.     Save the Lucian: No explanation necessary:

4.     Balls goes huge on Gangplank: Another losing scenario turned into a win via a devastating series of barrel-chain-team-fight-wins. This was the first:

5.     Froggen gets the worldwide professional CS record: This isn't higher because it's the second highlight from the same game and Dignitas should have never been in this situation: 

6.     Immortals win in under 20: Not only was it amazingly fast, it was a perfect game. Immortals truly were immortal.

7.     Renegades and Dignitas, Quadruple execution: I'm not sure either team wants to be known for this, but it happened. No wonder Crumbz placed in the most improved category, you can only go up from here.

Yup, this is the North American League Championship Series. 

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