MONDAY (THURSDAY) MORNING MATCH ROUND UP: STUFF I WATCHED
So it turns out I’m pretty bad at resisting the urge to write about this stuff. MOVING RIGHT ALONG:
ALLIANCE vs. DIGNITAS
GAME 1: ALLIANCE
This was hard to watch. Dignitas couldn’t have asked for a better team composition, with Qtpie getting Sivir, Shyvana and Olaf together, and Scarra on one of his signature champions mid with Gragas. Alliance let all of these picks go through and then proceeded to totally smear every single one of them all over the map.
Crumbzz got completely outclassed in jungle presence, Scarra gave up every single one of his blue buffs to Froggen, and the security of Zilean’s ultimate meant that the Olaf/Shyvana blitz never really came to fruition against a priority target the way it needed to. Alliance completely controlled this game from the outset, and by the end of it, Wickd was able to virtually solo the entire Dignitas lineup inside their own base. Just a total mismatch. Kiwikid definitely needs to work on his synergy with QT and every member of Dignitas needs to step up their game if they hope to be able to compete outside of NA.
GAME 2: ALLIANCE
Still a decisive win, but not nearly as one sided as the previous game’s was. Getting rid of Zilean in the ban phase meant that there was at least a bit of a stopgap in the insane jungle bullrushing from Shook, and Kiwi definitely managed to get more mileage out of Karma this time around. Karma and Shyvana is a very potent combination if it gets going, as Shyvana synergizes really really well with anyone that can give her a jumpstart in movespeed (Orianna, Zilean, Karma, etc.)
Alliance was still definitely in control here, though. Wickd still manages to make the Malphite pick work, and his build managed to get around Shyvana’s defenses thanks to the Sheen procs on his Triforce doing physical damage instead of magic. Wickd likes tanky champions that let him dictate when fights start, and so Malphite still fits the bill perfectly.
Bot lane was pretty evenly matched this time, and Crumbzz was able to influence the lanes far, far more than he ever did in game 1. The only obvious folding here was again in mid, where Froggen more or less took Scarra to school in Gragas 101 and showed why even the nerfed Gragas is a frighteningly versatile pick.
Team Solomid vs. Lemondogs (nominally)
This match was a pretty good show of the flaws in the current way the LCS is structured. This was envisioned as a #2 NA vs. #2 EU throwdown, but given the fact that the Lemondogs roster has undergone massive changes, this turned out way more one sided than it should have been.
GAME 1: TSM
And that’s why you don’t give Bjergsen LeBlanc if you’re not really sure of your ability to beat him in lane. Bjergsen just completely owned the mid lane here, getting first blood extremely early in a straight up 1v1 assassination, and it enabled TheOddOne to command the other two lanes at will. I was really impressed by the improvement in TSM rotations in this game; Bjergsen gets the kill mid lane, and INSTANTLY thereafter, a tower is being pushed top. TSM cleanly moved from kills to objectives, and it really showcased improvements in their communication since Worlds.
Bjergsen is a natural fit for this team and it shows. He has a similar champion pool to Reginald and similar aggression, but he’s more skilled than Regi and his champion pool goes a bit deeper. On top of that, I have a feeling he’s easier to work with than Regi and his playcalling skills are probably more honed as a mid laner after his time in the EU LCS last split, a region dominated by talented mids.
TheOddOne really shined in this game as well, showcasing improved mechanical skill and a great sense of map awareness. Oddone’s Elise play showcased a new level of mechanical prowess that served to complement Bjergsen’s aggression; Oddone missed almost no Cocoons and was able to pull off some great escapes with timely use of his abilities.
In general, a very one sided game, though not as much of a stom as Alliance vs. Dig’s game 1 was. TSM showed why they’re such a consistently great performer in LAN events, and the inclusion of Bjergsen seems to have done wonders for the team’s communication.
GAME 2: TSM
A closer game, but ultimately LD’s awful Sion pick came back to bite them and TSM hugely outscaled them into late game. I really don’t think there is any scenario in which Sion is a viable option; he has to work too hard for results that can be achieved much more easily by other champions, and his scaling is total garbage.
The Vi build here was also just pure soloqueue. Got fed? Better build a bunch of expensive damage so I can carry! Without a tanky build, Vi just got blown up whenever she tried to initiate into the late game, like every glass cannon bruiser will at a professional level. This game really was just a matter of very poor decision making on LD’s part; they had the skill to hold their own against TSM, but their lack of experience and bizarre choices in terms of team comp and item builds really hamstrung them in the long run.
Ninjas in Pajamas vs. Kiedyś Miałem Team: KTM 3-0 NiP
This sure was a shock, wasn’t it? I’m not sure what the hell the team that showed up was, but it sure wasn’t NiP. Even with a fresh roster composed of a bunch of EU’s most talented players, NiP just totally lacked any kind of cohesive strategy or confidence at all.
I’m not even going to go into the individual games here because NiP’s failure was so consistent on a strategic level. They completely failed to adapt their team comps to any of the strategies that KTM showed, and while KTM were inferior mechanical players, they simply starved the games out to the late game point and then won on better teamwork and team compositions.
As much as I love hyrqbot, his Amumu pick in game 2 after it failed so much in game 1 showed that NiP’s ability to change tactics was just nonexistent. On top of that, the stress of the relegation process really showed; NiP had everything to lose, KTM had everything to gain, and NiP played the entire set like they were scared.
In the end, their lack of confidence and strategic flexibility was their downfall, and they weren’t even able to take a single game off of the up and comers. The irony of this all isn’t lost on me; NiP’s roster is composed of teams who all left organizations that were guaranteed entry in the LCS next split in favor of what they undoubtedly assumed would be an easy requalification. Oops. We’ll see if that same sort of punt pays off for the Evil Geniuses in the NA promotion tournament.