Monday, July 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, IMT vs C9 (Week 5)

Cloud 9 Gaming and Immortals come into this featured Week 5 matchup from different places. C9 just stumbled against Liquid as TL read their team perfectly and wisely chose to camp midlane. Sneaky is a god-tier ADC but in this meta, it takes a while for ADCs to get going and Impact and Meteos just aren’t consistently affecting the rest of the map. Jensen in particular tweeted frustration with his team’s effort, normal for eSports, but not something you’d hear from a professional in most other major sports leagues. IMT have continued to roll with a wider champion pool and more from Pobelter than they saw in the Spring Split. If they can keep up in the mid lane while continuing to pressure the sides in classic IMT fashion, this could be another IMT win. For C9, they really need to attack the solo lanes and have Meteos be in the right places.


Picks and Bans – IMT target support with their bans while C9 target the midlane. Both are fine strats - C9 have been rotating Bunny in/out with Smoothie, it's smart to play with that matchup. Pobelter has had carry performances, but I don't know his champion pool is quite as large as Jensen's. I like Karma with Jhin for IMT with Rumble top and Zyra at support – they should be able to do well in each lane and give Pobelter a lot of jungle support. C9 throw everything into Sneaky and Jensen with lots of engage/disengage with Thresh/Trundle/Gragas around Sivir/TF. They also have very strong wave clear and multiple positions, critical against IMT.

Early Game – It starts as a classic lane swap, but after the double outers go down, the teams trade right to the inhibs with IMT almost getting a nexus turret out of it! I love this for IMT because they had a tempo advantage and Trundle, with his itemization (no Tiamat), will take a while to get waveclear. C9 have skirmish tools but Impact is stuck in the base with the nexus turret below 50% health. That pressure allows IMT to roam around the map with 4 and take Ocean Drake and Rift herald. That’s big for their poke comp. C9 are able to get the mid lane outer though, which definitely helps pick comp. But the early inhib trade basically makes the game devolve into a highly extended laning phase.

32:00 – First big fight, Meteos gets Reignover with his ult. Huni and WildTurtle drop in on the team though and the damage from Rumble is enough to split the team up and Immortals are able to grab two return kills despite some saving lanterns from Bunny FuFuu. That Rumble. Even though Nidalee died early, Reignover chunked Impact out and the zoning Equalizer never allowed C9 to fight as a team. That’s a mid outer and Infernal Drake to Immortals.

37:20 – IMT set up a death brush and double TPs come in for IMT to grab two kills and almost a third. No Meteos means a Baron call for IMT and there’s just not enough C9 can do to stop it. This is huge for a poke comp that will eventually fall off in damage. There’s nothing C9 can do to fend them off the midlane push all the way to the inhibitor – there’s so much poke and roots from Jhin. IMT rotate for the bot lane inhib too and this is a ton of map pressure for a team that builds its name on that. Jensen can’t find a target with the TF ult on the way out and C9 can only console themselves with an Ocean Drake.

42:00 – IMT burn Equalizer and Jhin ult to reach the inhib turret but a spirited defense from C9 and a fantastic Gragas ult gets them a kill on Huni – that’s huge. Jensen pops Destiny Gate but IMT smartly turns back and Meteos has pursued so far. The CC comes in chains and it chains him for days while Jensen choose a highly questionable TP location. Bunny, Impact, all dead before Jensen can even reach the fight. He expected them to escape for the jungle but they just dove right in. The next couple minutes are a bit of hilarity. IMT call in a TP from Huni to tank the last nexus turret and with minions flooding the base, IMT just decide to stay and win the game.

Wow – that was a demoralizing loss from C9. Not only did they lose tempo at the beginning, get out-itemized and out-macro’d, and lose, but the fact that they couldn’t even push IMT out of the base. This will be a tough one to recover from. IMT are playing like they have no fear of this team and that is extremely powerful.


C9 have a tendency, especially against Immortals, to go ham on the aggression, like they need to prove that they belong. In this game, they almost opted into a more deliberate style, knowing that they could out-scale. But the early game tempo favored IMT entirely and C9 just never seized initiative at all. The tempo-pushing style makes things dangerous, but I think that’s their bread and butter and they need to find a way to get back to it.

Picks and Bans – IMT go back to their Soraka/Nidalee poke comp; C9 have seen this before and should have a way to counter. First-pick Braum gives them tools but they need to make sure Smoothie doesn’t get caught out alone like Braum is known to do. Sivir/Graves are fine but Graves is going to leave their lanes alone for a while. C9 pick the Maokai that was IMT’s undoing in the Spring Playoffs around Cassiopeia. I’m just concerned they don’t have enough early in the game to pressure Immortals.

Early Game – This game was lost inside 5 minutes. In fact, rather than go through the normal play-by-play, I think it’s more instructive to see what went wrong:
10:30 – IMT want standard lanes since Jhin into Sneak'y Sivir is a winning early lane; they need to keep Sneaky down. Adrian and Turtle hug the top wall on the way to lane avoid the C9 invade/wards and get the Aussie lanes they wanted
11:25 – Sneaky face checks the IMT duo and Adrian burns exhaust to zone him. Seeing the swap, Impact is forced to TP bot to match Huni
12:05 – Jhin/Soraka are starting to bully Sivir out of lane – look at the HP bars
12:10 – With Adrian’s exhaust down, Meteos heads top immediately without red buff. As this was happening I was wondering what the hell he was doing. Level 2 Graves is worthless regardless of the summoner spell advantage. That’s my biggest gripe with that champion – there just isn’t enough utility in the early games. I can’t tell you how many times a Graves has ganked for me and all we do is trade summoners
12:15 – Smoothie flashes in for Turtle but the Sivir boomerang misses, so no slow. Sneaky flashes as well and they tag him with Braum Q, but Adrian does a fantastic job body blocking for his ADC
12:22 – Free TP for Huni’s Irelia as Impact used his to get to lane. Braum passive stuns Turtle, but he keeps firing on Sneaky while Adrian keeps him alive
12:25 – Huni’s TP completes and Sivir dies
12:35 – Meteos and Smoothie hang around despite having no summoners. Oh look, there’s Reignover!
12:50 – Look ma, Immortals are diving. 3-0 Immortals and a free turret

That was it. Off that early kill lead, Immortals stayed ahead in every lane for the rest of the game and ran the kill score up to 17-0 before a well-played C9 Ace at 33:00 briefly makes it interesting. Jensen gets a Quadra and he has played well, but the losing lanes were just too much to overcome. Immortals have a habit of overdiving, but they have the confidence that their mechanics will win them those fights more often than not and their ability to stay together on the calls sets them apart. A convincing series win for IMT.

Overall, I’m a bit disappointed in this series. Outside of brief glimmers from Jensen and Sneaky, you could say that Immortals won every position. C9, instead of looking like a balanced, experienced team, looked like they had no idea how to play their comps or what their win conditions are. Ganking for Sivir at level 2 with Graves is not a win condition, but it certainly could be a way to lose! Impact has shown no signs of stabilizing the top lane and they really have to ask themselves if they’d be better off with Hai back at support and Rush back in the jungle. Meteos has been incredibly inconsistent and the shot calling is horrid. I expect C9 to bounce back but this looks like a nadir for the split.

Immortals? Keep diving.

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