Tuesday, May 3, 2016

LoL Analysis: 2016 NALCS Spring Finals, CLG vs TSM (Game 1)

The Dream Final. But these teams took such divergent paths getting here. Counter Logic Gaming showed all year that they are one of the best teams in NA in the regular season. IN the playoffs, though the meta seemed to have shifted against CLG’s preferred split-pushing style and Liquid were able to turn their series into a festival of late-game teamfights. CLG ultimately executed those fights better, but they have to be concerned that the teamfight style flows right into what TSM want to do.

Team Solo Mid were inconsistent throughout the Spring Split, including an inexplicable losing streak to squeak into the playoffs in 6th place. The playoffs though, were kind to them as they teamfought their way to a 6-game winning streak. We have to see if the Svenskeren jungle revival is real, as out-jungling Rush, Reignover, and Xmithie in succession would be quite a feat. Also, their win over Immortals was almost too easy. IMT admitted themselves to misreading which champions were strong in the meta, and even the best teams can struggle when the picks don’t go their way. Remember that 2013 SKT, before sweeping Star Horn Royal Club in the World Finals, faced a tough 5 game match against NaJin Black Sword that was decided largely on picks and bans. TSM will face a much different comp this week and will have to execute much cleaner than they have in the past.

Picks and Bans – I’m really curious to see what these two teams do in the top lane matchup. TSM ban Bard from aphromoo, which leaves a lot of power up. CLG first-pick Ekko, which I’m a huge fan of though TSM should just return with Poppy/Nidalee. Instead, it’s Nidalee/Kalista, TSM thinking Poppy won’t go to a support. But she does! CLG return Poppy/Kindred! Is this a Poppy support? Or AP Ekko midlane? I think CLG really threw a wrench into TSM’s draft with that series. TSM do get Gragas/Braum, but I think Hauntzer is going to struggle against whichever top lane champion he sees. CLG finish with Caitlin/Morgana – you need that CC with Ekko probably in mid and Kindred a marksman carry. Bjergsen gets Corki and both team have strong teamfight comps. Hauntzer needs to stay even with Darshan in order to start fights with his ult. Then again, Svenskeren gets Nidalee to help his lanes – a lot of this is going to rest on the early jungle matchup.

Early Game – CLG predict the TSM lane swap by hiding Stixxay in a top lane bush instead of invading for vision. They build a lead off of this advantage but it doesn’t amount to much. After the second turret swap, CLG send Stixxay mid to put some damage on the turret, but this allows TSM to shove all the lanes. At 47:40, TSM use that advantage to gank mid and take down Huhi. CLG should have known that play was coming and Huhi was too far from his turret. Bjergsen wasn’t there but that’s a lot of TSM members missing. CLG then do something very smart – they swap Huhi into a side lane for a ton of wave clear and to give Hauntzer different looks. They are right behind Immortals in their ability to swap globally and pressure all the lanes.

55:20 – Svenskeren pokes Stixxay off the turret and aphromoo is in the wrong place. Darshan stops the engage with his ult but this is going TSM’s way. TSM head back mid at 1:04:10, but this time CLG call a Double TP from Huhi and Darshan. Darshan, with Homeguards, rushes in and Yellowstar and Doublelift don’t even know what happened before Yellowstar is killed. No Hauntzer means it’s a bloodbath for TSM and they lose 0-4. Baron for CLG.

1:07:15 – You can TP flank? So can TSM! It looks like Yellowstar is again pushing without backup but Hauntzer comes around from the back and blows the team up. Doublelift had already killed Huhi who popped a very early Zhonya’s. A 5-1 Ace for TSM! After doing no damage in the last fight, Hauntzer made a fantastic play for his team. All the AOE abilities zoned Stixxay out of the fight and Doublelift was free to auto.

1:09:50 – TSM try ambush Darshan but use too many cooldowns – Poppy is just so freaking tanky! Huhi takes down Doublelift, who popped QSS early, and CLG rotate faster. You just can’t be late to the fight when you are the ones engaging! TSM put enough poke down to keep the inhibitor but now all the vision is on the TSM side of the river.

1:12:30 – Feeling the game slip out of their hands, TSM try to rush Baron – they have a pretty good comp for it. They get it and after trading top laners, barely get out alive (Svenskeren almost left his team behind). This game! CLG’s lack of vision control gave Baron but TSM actually can’t do anything with it – CLG had the waves pushed, are winning with their split push, and Caitlin is hard to siege against.

1:16:00 – TSM try another ambush, this time on Huhi, but they can’t take him down. Again CLG are faster to collapse and they get Svenskeren immediately after his Zhonya’s wears off. Doublelift throws Yellowstar on the carries but crucially, the Gragas ult knocks them backwards. TSM tank down Huhi but leave Yellowstar alone to die. Then aphromoo binds Hauntzer, Drashan finishes him, and CLG pick up two inhibitors. This was an extremely close fight, but CLG were just more together: they came as a team and TSM didn’t do a good enough job balance peel with engage. The whiffed Explosive Cask really hurt TSM’s fight.

1:20:20 – TSM have tried this mid lane siege over and over and just can’t get past the trap line. Meanwhile, CLG have superminions (one with Banner of Command) crashing into the nexus turrets. With that advantage, CLG make a ballsy call: head Baron and force TSM to react. Hauntzer has backed to clear the minions (one nexus turret went down), and CLG have a 5v4 in the pit. Hauntzer is forced to TP and once it complete, CLG go back in! A chaotic fight breaks out and CLG look to have won it with a second wave of minions hitting the base. But Bjergsen flashes around the back of the pit and kills Stixxay AND Xmithie! He turns his attention to Darshan who leads him on a merry chase with both nexus turrets down. TSM don’t have any waveclear with only Yellowstar and Hauntzer back and the winions win the game!

Wow. That certainly went back and forth. CLG played a beautiful macro game. TPs, split push, objectives, and teamfights. They just executed cleaner across more elements of the game. And yet – TSM were right in it. They won big fights down in gold and showed how dangerous they are when all 5 get there first. This is going to be a fun series.

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