Monday, July 18, 2016

LoL Analysis: NALCS 2016 Summer, TL vs IMT (Week 6)

I know I write a lot about Immortals - I watch all the LCS matches, but with the amount of games going on, I've chosen to focus my coverage on the top of the split. And IMT are going through several games against playoff competition, TL being one of them. I love this matchup. I love the good-natured trash talk between Reignover and Dardoch. I haven’t spoken to them personally, but I get the feeling that the talk is more for the camera and fans than any real bad blood – they have great camaraderie after the games and I feel like there’s tremendous respect between the two.


Picks and Bans – Liquid's draft suits their players well. Dardoch and Fenix are consistent damage dealers, Fabbbyyy provides utility and engage, while Lourlo plays tank Shen. The question is whether Lourlo will be good enough on his TP and ult to make an impact around the map – his TP play is extremely inconsistent and I’m not 100% certain the two globals will help. IMT picked a comp focused on late-game GP and Sivir, with a ton of utility and zoning from other places. If they get ahead, the siege could be scary.

Early Game – This seems to go swimmingly for TL. They surprise IMT with the lane swap, stop Huni’s TP at 14:35, and should have a tempo advantage. But instead of rushing to take the turret, they clear the incoming wave, which kills their timing. You just can’t make that type of mistake in the trade. They actually fall a wave behind in the turret take which manes their duo lane are a wave behind getting back to lane. Then, after initially heading bot, Fabbbyyy and Matt take a strange trip through the jungle, allowing Huni to soak an entire wave of solo experience in the bot lane while  – what the heck are Liquid doing!?!? Both top and duo lanes are losing in CS and both waves have been shoved to turret, preventing a freeze. Wow. This is a complete disaster.

20:00 – Liquid are trying to push this wave in to deny CS, since IMT have such a big lead already, but what are they doing here with no jungler and no vision?? Dardoch is nowhere near, Fenix is nowhere near (Pobelter TP’s in), and Lourlo’s ult is much too late (actually a bit lucky because he would have been a third kill if Fabbbyyy hadn’t died during his channel). For TL to get caught like this is truly horrific. That was a textbook play from IMT, something that should have been easily anticipated.

That was it. Liquid lost control of the map, never made any proactive plays, and took turret after turret. Their superior waveclear with GP, Zilean, Sivir gave them easily pressure and the early lead gave them the time to scale. Liquid’s only option was to play around the mid lane and they do a good job making some plays, but Immortals are very good at holding ground there and pressing everywhere else. IMT play around their win conditions correctly and win in good form.


Liquid really need to win one off these guys. C'mon.

Picks and Bans – Liquid desperately need to draft more waveclear to deal with IMT’s global pressure. They get that with Lourlo on Trundle with Viktor mid – those two can solve a lot of your pressure problems and can be left alone. And while the Jhin is weak in the waveclear department, he does give TL that long-range engage and they are clearly practiced at Jhin/Braum. Immortals draft a late-game scaling comp with Ryze, Zilean and Sivir. They have a lot of speed with Olaf in the jungle but I still like TL’s increase in map pressure.

Early Game – At 17:00, have rotated to the top but split up and really should just back. IMT get baited trying to kill Matt, but Huni is only level 4 against ultimates from the other side and the terrain favors Liquid heavily. Liquid get a 3 for 1 and should take a big map advantage. A few minutes later, IMT try for Ocean Drake and Liquid make another strong rotation to push them out and claim it themselves. Everything on the map going for TL right now.

22:30 – IMT actually have some vision of the river and react decently to this, but the TL initiation is so strong from long range. IMT should be farming for late game as Sivir and Ryze will out-scale, but they need to make sure Dardoch doesn’t become a monster. Nami has been very good for Adrian, but I wonder if Bard, with his additional mobility, would have been better against Jhin. He missed a lot of ults last game but most of those were placed to zone as well as catch, setting up several turret dives. Dardoch basically spends the next several minutes setting up in IMT’s jungle with no real way to stop him. This really throws IMT out of whack – Turtle eventually gets the top lane tier two to take a brief turret lead (TL had opted for Cloud Drake), but they can’t really feel safe pushing the lanes the way they’d like.

36:40 – IMT clear out some wards on their blue side, but I have no idea what Turtle is doing walking into the river like this. TL have been living in your river for days and have all the long-range initiation. You have Adrian and Reignover with you but you just saw fenix and Dardoch moving into their red side jungle. IMT then funnel in one after another and give up kills on Pobelter and Turtle as well. That’s Baron for TL and that should final get them some more turrets. That’s basically the game for Liquid. They have too much initiation with Rek’Sai and Fenix goes huge with the AP outscaling the IMT tanks. A great, balanced damage comp with aggressive play from TL finally nets them a win against IMT.


Honestly, I don’t think that IMT have looked super comfortable playing against Jhin/Braum in either game. They did a great job diving the Jhin in Game 1, but remember that was largely a result of Turtle getting ahead in the early game and Jhin never getting powerful. In an even matchup, I don’t know that IMT have as much success against them. They need Huni to step up in Game 3.

Picks and Bans – Ryze is a fantastic champion for Pobelter, but he needs that two item spike and the Huni Hecarim into Lourlo Irelia lane is a mismatch IMT have to exploit early. Liquid know that, but again, even though Graves scales super well, I’m not sure he gives Dardoch the early game tools to help Lourlo. I can see what Liquid are thinking with that pick: they need consistent damage from somewhere and Dardoch is their most consistent carry. I just don’t know that I love putting that many eggs into his basket.

Early game – The beginning of the game involved a series of misplays by both teams. I really don’t know what to think about any of these plays:
- 10:45: Adrian’s mid gank fails, but with Fenix attacking, Adrian has to expect more TL members. His pathing stinks, TL get his flash and Pobelter’s life
- 12:15: Laneswap time - thank goodness: no flash Nami + Ashe is iffy into Braum/Jhin. Just like Game 1, the TL turret take is much slower with Jhin. Two executes and one Lourlo flash later, the turret lives! Immortals indeed. But maybe the turrets actually a ruse…
- 14:00: …as TL catch Adrian and Turtle under it for a couple more kills! IMT saw Dardoch on a ward at 13:30 but decided to stick around 2v3. It ends about how you’d expect. Still, IMT are only 500 gold behind and still have a win condition of Huni’s split push since TL have given him a constant stream of solo CS

18:15 – IMT need to protect Huni’s CS lead by pushing the top wave and not letting Lourlo freeze. They trade top laners which I like – Fenix (got the kill on Huni) is not going to wreck your team with his Karma build and they really need Huni to win his lane. The play continues in the bot lane at 18:50 via Reignover’s ult and Lourlo’s TP – no idea what Matt is doing that far ahead of the minion wave and after hearing Reignover’s ult. He dies and the chase is on. Dardoch and fabbbyyy focus down an overzealous Huni dive but Pobelter grabs Dardoch on the way out to even the gold. TL are clinging to a kill lead but a 2/2/1 Hecarim (on top of a level/CS advantage) is more scary than a 2/0/2 Karma.

IMT continue to focus on Lourlo and even TL read the map well, Huni gets further and further ahead. This is the problem TL face, that I tried to explain in champion select: Because of their comp and the way they’ve itemized, neither Lourlo nor Fenix can stand up to Huni in a side lane. They can’t send fabbbyyy because he doesn’t have TP and Dardoch, the one fed member, doesn’t have waveclear. They don’t have neutral objective control. Their only hope is to group and hope that they can out-teamfight Immortals. The problem is, because of IMT’s lane dominance, an IMT teamfight win is much more punishing; TL would have to win several successive engages to flip the map.

24:00 – TL make the choice to group mid and try to prevent IMT from split-pushing them to death. They burn Lourlo’s TP at 23:20 to try and engage, fail, and gift more CS to Huni in the top lane. They then double down (I guess Lourlo never left) to kill Pobelter (never should have extended that far). But Huni TP’s in and just wrecks everyone. Lourlo, Matt, both go down despite Fenix and fabbbyyy at full health and Dardoch pelting from  the other side of the wall. IMT now control all three lanes, WildTurtle has a huge CS lead, Huni is doubling Lourlo in CS, and TL feel like they are losing their grasp on this game. Kobe gets it right: Huni rushes Frozen heart because he knows he needs to itemize against AD DPS.

32:00 – Over the next few minutes, TL continue to make decent plays in the mid lane but Huni and Pobelter have the side lanes pushed in almost all the way. It’s a shame that they can teamfight so well and still lose the game. Dardoch picks up a triple kill here responding to an IMT play, but look at the map: they can’t do anything with the advantage. They have no turrets left in the top or bot lane.

34:00 – TL stay true to their mid strategy and stay for a LONG time trying to knock down a turret. IMT set it up perfectly: Reignover flash/unburrows on Lourlo, Fenix and Matt, forcing Liquid to retreat through the IMT red side where they don’t have vision. Huni comes in and stops fabbbyyy’s ult before it can even begin; Jhin flashes away from the Hecarim ult, but IMT are not done chasing. Matt and fabbbyyy are separated from the team and killed. TL make a bad call to try to stop Baron but they go in and die one at a time. Free Baron + an extended ace for IMT means this is probably the game.

Liquid put on a decent defense but just can’t fight on three fronts. Immortals played to their win condition perfectly and let everything else fall into place: Pobelter was good, Turtle had an item lead on fabbbyyy, and Huni/Reignover were everywhere.

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