Monday, July 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, C9 vs TSM (Week 3)

I wrote multiple times during the 2016 Spring Split that C9 were the most balanced team in the NALCS, with strong performers at every position. So what did they do to prepare for summer? Bring in 3 new players, including Impact in top lane, to form a 2-team LCS/Challenger duo that went legitimately 2-deep at every position. And you know what? I think it was the right call. They did well to get the 3rd seed in the regular season, but they were thoroughly shut down in the playoffs by TSM, despite winning game 1 and getting decent champion matchups. They needed a shakeup.

The other reason I like this move is that, over the next 7 weeks, these players will play between 28 and 52 games. That is a lot. Not only do I think it’s valuable to have subs to share workload, I think that many games gives teams an ample sample to see which combinations truly work best. When the NALCS was BO1, there just weren’t enough games to see which players synergized the best on stage. Now, you can afford to sub someone in for two weeks, in which case you’ll see up to 12 games of that person with the rest of your players. That’s valuable knowledge to build on.

All that said, I don’t think it helps them against TSM. Those guys are playing really well and have come together fast. I want to see C9 try to win jungle and top lane, where they have 2 of their 3 new starters. I don’t think they can do it consistently, and Meteos has mixed in god-like objective steals with questionable decisions that have thrown games, but I want to see those guys try to take advantage of TSM because I don’t know that C9 will find big advantages elsewhere.

Game 1

Picks and Bans – I’m not sure about C9’s draft. They pick a bunch of global pressure with Rek’Sai and Shen, Bard is strong as a roaming support, and Ashe’s somewhat low damage and weak lane phase is offset by her game-changing global ult. It looks like C9 really want to catch, which can be done against TSM, but in straight teamfights, are they going to have enough damage outside of Jensen’s Viktor? Meanwhile TSM pick strong damage midgame dealers in Irelia, Nidalee and Lucian plus utility from Zilean. Bjergsen’s Zilean is amazing to watch.

Early Game – TSM smartly opt into a lane swap to accelerate pace. At 26:20, Svenskeren is there for a countergank (Jensen had backed) and straight outplays C9 – he jumps in and out smartly and gets Impact separated from Meteos. Bjergsen roams for extra assistance but it’s not really needed. This normally wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but TSM are so strong in the midgame. A kill for Svenskeren on Jensen a couple minutes later doesn’t help things at all. I’m starting to really hate this C9 draft – what is Impact going to do? He can’t lane against a 1/0/1 Irelia with a 20 CS lead, he can’t really help Sneaky since Ashe is a losing lane into Lucian, what is he going to do? He’ll eventually get super tanky but I still don’t like where this is going. You can only freeze so long.

38:15 – C9 go through the TSM jungle to catch Hauntzer, but TSM go straight to the pushing top lane. Two turrets go down and they get a kill on the back as well. Sneaky and Jensen just don’t get there in time – Sneaky lands his ult, but only gets 2 autos and nowhere near enough for his Q. TSM look so good playing together, it just came a split later than I expected.

45:40 – Sven gets caught on a face check but again he pounces away before Sneaky can stack his Q. Then Bunny Fufuu goes over the wall, misses his Q, and goes back. That gives Meteos time to lock down Doublelift, but Bjergsen calmly revives him. Doublelift kills Meteos, pops out of the Zilean ult, and melts Jensen while Bunny whiffs his ult. C9 did such a bad job fighting around the wall, but really, there wasn’t enough damage to follow the CC. It’s Baron for TSM and another Mountain Drake. That’s the game.

Game 2

C9 lost the draft in Game 1 and lost the game by letting TSM get to their midgame power spikes with leads on all players. It’s easy to say that a better comp (maybe Sivir/Jax?) but they still need to play that comp better – if you need to scale late, then play patiently and don’t get dove. There was so little pressure on TSM in the last game. Can a new game and a sub at support (bringing in Smoothie) cure their ills?

Picks and bans – C9 react to the Impact’s ineffective Shen with a Trundle pick on the first red-side rotation (along with Azir). That’s a good pick depending on what Hauntzer brings to the table. TSM basically run back the same comp with the exception of Viktor for Vjergsen instead of Zilean into Azir. C9 curiously leave ADC for last, where they grab Jhin for Sneaky. I like his kit for Sneaky more than Ashe; his lane phase is stronger, he gives you more CC, and his ult has more damage. The drawback is you’re going to completely lose sight of Nidalee, but it’s not like Meteos did great playing into that in G1, even with hawkshot.

Early Game – Right away, Impact is able to punish Hauntzer via his better sustain, and that eventually gets him First Blood and two TSM flashes, though Svenskeren killed him in retribution. In the top lane, the stronger lane phase from Jhin/Bard too gives them an advantage over Doublelift’s Lucian. Sven does return to the bot lane to deny Impact some CS, but this is much more promising for C9. They are freed to roam around the map and pick up kill after kill. TSM try to camp the duo lane but two ganks are turned back by strong play from Sneaky and Smoothie.

Really, that was the game. Hauntzer had no chance against Impact in a complete reversal of Game 1, and the increased damage from Sneaky turned a couple deaths into kills for the C9 ADC. It’s not that Doublelift and Biofrost played poorly – they were just outplayed and the advantages C9 had all over the map gave them pressure and eventually, itemization advantages. TSM actually got some work done (Bjergsen was amazing) but lost too much of the map.

Game 3

So we have two games where the team with an early lead snowballed correctly. I still think though that TSM have more tools – they can just ban Bard (or play a sustain support). TSM need play more patiently around Bjergsen and Doublelift. C9 need to continue trying to punish TSM for overextending. These teams are such a good matchup for each other.

Picks and Bans – We finally get to see Bjergsen’s Azir, and C9 go back to Trundle, this time against Swain. I like that. Otherwise, it’s pretty standard and similar to what we’ve seen. C9 do bring back Bunny FuFuu, and Meteos goes back to Rek’Sai vs. Elyse (Svenskeren gets Gragas).

Early game – TSM picked several strong lanes and C9 again will have to be careful while they scale the Trundle. They do the opposite at 17:30, when they ignore the ward that clearly sees Svenskeren. Sneaky goes in cavalierly for a CS, is combo’ed but Lucian, and that’s all she wrote. They actually have a chance to get out but Bunny misplays it totally by taking magical journey into the jungle. He compounds his mistake with a Flash and it’s a free kill for TSM, who have all lanes pushing. Impact will eventually even his out, but Bjergsen is going to be in Jensen’s face all game and Doublelift is one his way to bullying Sneaky.

19:30 – C9 try to catch TSM and they find Hauntzer on a face check. But look at all the CDs they blow: ults, flashes, and 4 members to chase down Hauntzer who did a nice job stringing the play out. That allows TSM to collapse on Jensen, getting a kill back for Svenskeren. The teams trade turrets, but I think this helps TSM.

25:00 – This play started several seconds before when the two teams skirmished in the jungle for Red Buff and Krugs. C9 had just seen multiple TSM members there, they are in a long lane and there’s really no hope of them getting the turret. They should have just straight based and waited for the wave to come back towards them, but instead overstay, and Sneaky dies before Hauntzer even gets here. They are lucky to not give up another kill but it burns the Bard ult and gives their blue buff to Bjergsen. Doublelift is well on his way to a Black Cleaver while Sneaky has little more than the Ghost Blade. And Bjergsen is enabling this all by shoving in Jensen again and again and opening the map for his team’s rotations.

27:00 – Impact has to know what’s happening. Look at where the mid wave is: that allows TSM full access to the C9 jungle. Impact just doesn’t react well to members roaming down and is killed despite burning Flash. That’s another kill and two turrets for an open inhibitor turret before 20 minutes. They have a 4-2 turret lead, gold leads on every carry, and a 3-0 Dragon lead.

31:30 – TSM have just taken the mid lane outer with Sven giving up his life to zone away the team. Impact started a TP to get in on the fight, but cancels and continues farming in the bot lane. Look at where he is on the map – he has a few wards but has basically no escape. It’s another free kill and a huge TSM lead. They should win and they do. There are a few more fights before the game is over, but TSM continue to rotate as a team, set vision for long lanes, and snowball the game around Doublelift’s Lucian. Not that C9 didn’t have their chances, but TSM pulled them around the map too well, played around the lost bot lane inhib tower too well, and made the  right calls. That’s an improvement upon their 2nd place finish last split, and that’s scary.

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