Still catching up on the #NALCS #SummerSplit. going forward, given the sheer number of games/matches being played each week, I will highlight one matchup each day to analyze. This match between top contenders was a doozy. It's an important game for both sides, but especially a C9 side that is working in three new starters. Impact in particular I’m going to be watching – he really struggled in the top lane for NRG last split and really didn’t have great impact as a front-line tank. Meteos may take a few weeks to get back up to speed, but I’m more interested in Impact vs Huni as that is the matchup I assume Immortals will attack.
Early Game – – The draft really showed each team’s emphasis – C9 siege around Jensen and Sneaky and IMT playing around Huni’s dives. Turtle on Ashe will be interesting – Sneaky has played a lot of Ashe too and the Essence Reaver build is really helping her mid game – her damage has never stacked like other ADCs, but spamming arrow is a big deal. The first IMT dive at 27:10 goes to C9 as Huni goes way too far without mana. IMT win one at 36:30 by catching Sneaky with an early arrow. At 39:25, C9 had clawed back with a few kills in the Immortals jungle and they try to make another play mid, but Turtle somehow gets R and W out before dying. Jensen and Bunny die, IMT push back down the mid lane and pick up another turret and another kill for Huni. In the midst of it all, C9 grab several dragons, which they’ll need to force Immortals out of the split push.
43:55 – Sneaky gets caught again. Turtle sent a scouting Hawkshot down the mid lane 10 or 15 seconds before and I knew this was going to happen. With no Caitlin, IMT turn for Baron, but Jensen’s Azir is still very dangerous. Huni is forced to peel out and tries to bully out Jensen but doesn’t have the damage and is forced to ult back into the pit. It doesn’t matter as Jensen gets a Quadra Kill! That Azir! I still feel like IMT are ahead in the top and duo lane, but they have to get back to split pushing. C9 do a good job skirmishing but IMT still have a split push advantage and start strangling the map. WildTurtle gets to three items faster than Sneaky, Huni has a big lead on Impact, and Pobelter, while not as farmed as Jensen, can still one-shot a squishy. C9 need Bunny to set up some nice ganks because IMT are playing long lanes without great vision. Advantage: C9
53:30 – A 5 minute extended play. With the game stalled at the outer turrets, C9 go for a play mid with all of their zoning and CC tools. Azir/Caitlin siege can get very scary. Arrow gets Meteos but full tank Rek’Sai is not the focus and IMT can’t lock down a squishy and lose both Reignover and Pobelter. C9 take down the mid lane tier 2 for their third turret and open up the IMT red side for vision control around Baron. IMT try to push down mid with 3 (??) to dissuade them but again, outside of Hawkshot, they have no vision. Meteos flanks around with his ult and that’s Huni and Turtle as well. After playing so well, IMT have hit a wall and it feels like they are getting desperate. Adrian tries to be annoying around Baron but is pushed out. It should be a free Baron for C9 and they – WHOA! What!? Reignover saunters in, pops ult, Pobelter distorts over the wall, and Olaf steals Baron! What was Meteos doing? He can’t peel off the Baron like that – it was so low! All that CC doesn’t matter if Olaf is immune. Wow. That definitely helps IMT siege, which they’ve struggled at. Advantage: Immortals
58:30 – This is an interesting fight. Immortals lock down Jensen but can’t do anything with him. It looks like a disengage but then Jensen goes forward on a soldier with no vision and three IMT members surrounding him. He gets Adrian’s Flash but is forced to flash himself. That cues Huni's TP but C9 smartly freeze him right as he pops with Bard ult and a Caitlin trap. Huni is forced to ult back to his original location and IMT are desperately disengagnig. It looks like a disaster for them but Jensen is stuck recalling and watching the fight - not his character! Huni walks back through the jungle, pops Jensen, and the chase is on! Sneaky and Meteos die and Immortals can now push with Baron. Huni hilariously dies to an inhibitor turret but Immortals accomplish so much with that push. Advantage: Immortals
1:01:45 – Despite their map control, IMT have given up every Dragon and have to fight this Elder. They do a good job getting to the pit first and forcing a face check. And then Impact just loses his mind, going way too far forward with no meaningful damage tools and no summoners. He’s locked down and taken out with almost no damage dealt to Immortals. From there it turns into a rundown of Bunny, Meteos, Sneaky, and Jensen. That’s it. That’s the game. Huni and Adrian shield themselves up and straight tank the nexus turrets. Game: Immortals
IMT won the game but have to be concerned that they couldn’t properly snowball their lead and the split push strategy stalled out for minutes at a time. Of course, sieging against Azir/Caitlin is tough, but they need to play more cleanly around objectives like Draon. Finally, Huni’s stat line wasn’t that impressive, but the damage from his Echo and early lane pressure really made Impact’s Gragas irrelevant for much of the game.
I want to see C9 do a better job fighting around Jensen and they pick Fizz for him – love it.
22:30 – IMT collapse on C9 in the bot lane and pick up two kill sand give Pobelter a big CS advantage. But C9 rotate straight to the top lane where the turret is down, and the duo lane just can’t be pushed up that far. Then they roam to the mid and pick up Pobelter too, who has zero mobility on Varus. At least he doesn’t burn his flash, but this was a bad positioning mistake. At the same time, this is how IMT like to play, and C9 know how to punish. Question is whether they can do this consistently in both the balance of this game and the next one (if there is one). IMT’s pace has caused team after team to make bad calls – man they would have been fun to watch at MSI! Lots of love to CLG though for being the first NA team to make Finals. #Worth
26:00 – IMT take the mid turret, but this doesn’t feel like it will snowball as much for IMT as it would normally – not sure Pobelter is going to do a bunch of roaming. And then they kill him overstaying for CS – another positioning mistake. I feel like this play was about even, or maybe slightly favoring C9 since they’ll get the gold from the IMT mid outer eventually. IMT are able to get the Infernal Drake on the back end of the play though.
31:30 – Watching this live, it looked like IMT started it correctly. I feel like their goal should be to take down the turret first, and they do a good job getting in position for Huni to TP in (he had just solo-killed Jensen in the bot lane). But then they tunnel WAY too hard to try and kill Impact’s Maokai – do they still not know how hard it is to dive the twisted treant? They get him but give up the fight 2-4 to C9 and Sneaky and Meteos get very far ahead (especially Sneaky).
36:40 – Pobelter takes an aggressive path to the Dragon and Impact punishes him, but WildTurtle gets Sneaky on the back side. But IMT don’t have a great peel and C9 are able to lock down Huni for a 4-1 teamfight win. This Varus is turning into a disaster for Pobelter. IMT try a midlane dive at 38:40 which is again shut down by Impact. Uh… maybe ban Maokai already? This game is obviously not over but I’m not sure how IMT can win with Jensen so far ahead of Pobelter and no clear way to fix that problem. They do have a 2-0 Dragon lead, but they’ll have to play very carefully to survive the next 10 minutes.
45:20 – C9 have full vision control of virtually the entire map and IMT are forced to face check the Baron. Impact and Meteos ignore Reignover and kill Adrian, and C9 win an extended fight 3-2. Jatt talked about the work Huni did on the back side, and killing Smoothie was fine, but C9 had all the vision and were able to negotiate the fight better.
49:00 – Immortals still have no Baron vision and they are forced to push up the mid wave to deter C9 from rushing Baron. Huni thinks he has split Jensen and Meteos but Impact is wrecking the rest of the team. He just doesn’t take damage ant it’s a 4-0 for C9 (Meteos GA saved him). That’s Baron and the game is basically over.
Two very different games, both close in different ways. I want to favor IMT in Game 3, but they can’t let Jensen and Sneaky get fed like they have been. And C9 has had opportunities to win both games, which was not true for IMT in Game 2. Pobelter especially needs to step up in the mid lane – They love giving Huni a lead, but against a passive Impact start, I’m not sure sending Reignover mid wouldn’t be better.
Picks and Bans – Not sure I love the Gragas for Impact and they eventually flex him to Meteos. IMT did a really good job playing around his lack of waveclear and ult in Game 1. And I love the Ashe/Zyra combo for the duo lane – Ashe is one of my mains and I haven’t played with a Zyra in forever, but she’s a ton of fun with in lane. And then Riven for Huni in the top lane! The tank meta is over, let Huni do some damage! This is a better matchup for Huni into Trundle – they want to split and shove while C9 have tools to roam and catch. This is going to be a great game.
Early Game – C9 have to keep Huni in check and initiate a lane swap to do exactly that. Huni actually goes up a couple hundred gold as C9 give him solo turret gold but after the double turret trade, he pushes a long lane and is easily ganked by Reignover. I don’t understand what he was doing past the river with the river warded but not the IMT jungle. And the wave is still pushing against Huni. This should be survivable but a totally unforced error from C9.
17:00 – After Immortals take Ocean Drake, both teams ping the top lane where Impact is again pushed super far ahead. It’s a pretty easy play to read – C9 are not dumb enough to leave him without support, there’s an obvious TP play coming, IMT rotate Turtle and Adrian to match. They chase through the jungle with no Meteos and pick up kills on Impact AND Jensen. What was that!? Sneaky has a big CS advantage on WildTurtle, but I think that’s okay. Immortals will live with a losing Ashe into Lucian matchup as long as she can spam ult and get kills for the solo laners. C9 kill Turtle a few minutes later (missed arrow) but IMT pick up the mid turret. Huni has two levels on Impact.
24:20 – Jensen dodges the Ashe arrow but Pobelter almost one-shots him anyway and IMT get another turret. This is looking like standard Immortals – All lanes are pushing, they have vision where they want to rotate, and C9 are unable to match or punish the rotations. C9 tried to take control of the top side and gave Rift Herald to Impact, but that’s a strategy that is going to take a while to pay off.
30:10 – This is just unfortunate for C9. Jensen ambushes Pobelter in the top lane, Huni completes a TP to get the retribution kill, but Impact is there to clean up. On a 4-3 advantage, C9 go for the Mountain Drake and kill Adrian immediately. But then Jensen dives way too far on the Claw and is killed easily and IMT pick up the Dragon, their second Mountain. That’s going to be a problem.
38:45 – This is a straight bait from Immortals. Pobelter cleanses the Lissandra ult and Huni TPs almost immediately after the ult landed. Jensen is killed and then Meteos makes a HUGE mistake with Baron up by trying to 1v1 someone. He dies for free but even if he had taken down Pobelter, it would have been a disastrous trade. IMT get a Baron for free. Sneaky still is dangerous and he ha a lead on Turtle, but Turtle has two items and a QSS and will serve his role: spam arrow.
40:50 – Nice claw over the arrow from Jensen and IMT have little chance in this one with Jensen on their back line. Great initiation from C9 to to outsmart Immortals and claw their way back in the game (hahaha). They can’t do much with the lanes because they were all pushing for IMT, but they should be able to set vision aroun the next objective (Elder Dragon).
45:00 – Instead, it’s IMT that are first to the dragon pit. It looks like they have C9 zoned at the entrance to the river, but Meteos sneaks through the back of the pit and steals the Dragon! That’s a HUGE play! Elder Dragon on an Immortals team with double ocean and double mountain would have been a disaster. C9 gets out with 5 members and the Elder Dragon burn. What a sequence for Meteos, who honestly, has been pretty bad in this series until that play.
47:15 – Oh Sneaky, you cannot Relentless Pursue into the front line no matter how strong you think you are. He tries to pop Turtle but doesn’t even get half of Ashe’s life before Pobelter melts him. That’s it. It’s an Ace for Immortals only losing Reignover, and that should be it. IMT laid down a bunch of abilities in a narrow choke, and rather than back, C9 go ham with the Elder Dragon buff and lose another Baron. Huni is unstoppable and they tear C9 apart.
I agree with Jatt. Pobelter was huge in that last game. IMT were content to lose the duo lane and win Huni’s, and Pobelter’s waveclear and ability to one-shot people was key.