Impressions: Week 2 Day 1 NA LCS Recap
Welcome, to the Leauge of Kalista. The Spear of Vengeance herself had her very own debutante celebration today after appearing in three of five matches earning a win for her team in each contest. Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, and Jason “WildTurlte” Tran all took the leagues newest AD-carry for a dance, with a combined KDA of 10/1/18. As for who is the most adept suitor, well, the jury is still out.
It was a day of debuts, but sadly the Korean top-laners set to spark up the Rift for the first time today got off to a rocky start. Winterfox and Team Impulse tried out their new imports for the first time in the competitive scene in what resulted in defeats for both organizations. Hopefully we’ll see a marked improvement for tomorrow.
It was a big day for Cloud9, earning themselves a crucial victory against Team Liquid who were sitting at the top of the table when the day began at 2-0. C9, beginning the day in tenth position in the standings after losing both opening weekend matches, were relieved to join the masses in the middle of the pack and reward their fans who gave them tremendous support despite the uncharacteristic opening to the season. Let’s hope Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin’s masteries’ fiasco does not weigh on their conscience too heavily and tempt questions concerning whether they did as well as they thought. Here are your recaps:
Gravity (1-1) beat Team Dignitas (1-1)
Team Gravity slowly ground their opponents into the preverbal dirt in what ended up being a 51 minute snoozefest. This match resulted in one of the most baritone gold graphs ever created in a game of League of Legends; its only redeemable quality is that it reminded me of a hill that might be fun to go sledding on. I would say that Gravity utilized the lauded Gnarvan combo to great effect, save for the fact that Gravity scarcely had the opportunity, or even desire, to use it in a teamfight. Led by Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco’s methodical shotcalling Gravity were able to slowly, and I mean slowly, accrue a 14.1K gold lead simply by outrotating their opponents. The game was so slow that it prompted the broadcasters to display the notorious #80MinuteDream Twitter prompt, alluding to the now infamous match between Curse and Comlexity from last season, which stretched a hair over 80 minutes. The match ended in only nine deaths, despite its length, split 5 to 4 in favor of the victors.
Gravity can be happy with this victory. Although boring to watch, their play was emblematic of a team that knows what to do and when to do it. As Michael “Bunny FuFuu” Kurylo explains in a post-match interview with Taylor “Riot RoboTayCo” Cocke, the team was able to think several steps ahead; manipulating minions waves in preparation of team movements. Although this match won’t make the highlight reel, it really was an impressive feat. When we consider the strategy of League and its, albeit loose, metaphorical ties to warfare, this was the cream of the crop. If you offered any military leader the choice of winning a war whilst suffering and dealing far fewer casualties than your typical armed conflict, with the only caveat being a prolonged incursion, they would leap at the opportunity and call you a godsend.
Dignitas, on the other hand, are in dire straits. DIRE I TELL YOU. Sure sitting at 1-2 is not the end of the world, but let’s be honest, that first game was a fluke due to a massive misplay by Coast. In my book they are effectively 0-3. Tomorrow’s match against a Winterfox team in flux is a vital opportunity for them to keep the ship afloat before they take the week to do some much needed maintenance.
Team 8 (1-1) beat Team Coast (1-1)
Team 8 emerged victorious in another match between two 1-1 teams. Although I’m counting Dignitas’ victory over Coast in Week 1 as a loss, that does not mean that I am counting Coast’s loss as a victory. They both lost. The only victors were the fans who got to stand on their feet and shout “STOP THE PORTS” at the top of their lungs. Team 8, on the other hand, had nabbed a solid win against TSM in Week 1; the pre-match breakdown goes to them by a country mile.
In what was a much more exciting game than its predecessor, this match had a total of six changes in the gold lead, with Coast leading by as much as 2.5K at 23:00 and Team8 with a 3.9K lead only fourteen minutes later.
First blood went to Braeden “Porpoise” Schwark after he snuck his Jarvan into a side brush in bot lane (where both top laners were located after a lane-swap) behind Steven “CaliTrlolz” Kim and jumped on Cristian “Cris” Rosales’ Gnar. After giving the lane advantage to CaliTrlolz’s Jax, Team 8 continued to have him split push, as they clearly wanted to get him fed as soon as possible. Although his eyes were bigger than his stomach several times, he was a force to be reckoned early in the mid-game. He had a completed Trinity Force and Hextech Gunblade in the bag by 23:00.
Coast had exemplary objective control throughout the match however, and managed to finish with four dragons to the one of Team8. They also showed strong teamfight prowess, particularly Jesse “Jesiz” Le. Jesiz is a recent import for Team Coast and major mid-lane boon for them. Jesiz, another Dane to join North America, has serious competitive chomps after taking SK Gaming all the way to Seoul for the 2014 World Championship. Although SK did not have the strongest showing in the tournament, earning a spot is not to be taken lightly.
Going into tomorrow’s match against Gravity, Coast will have their work cut out for them. Similar to TSM, if they can get their mid-laner going early they could coast (lol) to an easy victory. Going forward it will be important for them to stay up to date on meta-shifts.
As for Team8, they should be flying pretty high after this victory. A wounded Team Impulse could very well be an opportunity for them, although they should by no means overestimate their chances. TiP will be hungry to redeem themselves after today and Yu “XiaoWeiXiao” Xian displayed a great ability to bounce back after losses last season. I would not be surprised if Calitrlolz drew a Jax ban tomorrow as he wielded that lamp post like a champ, although as Leah “SpiNN” Jackson noted in her post-match interview with the top laner, Cali has “18 LCS-ready” champions in his pool making it potentially very difficult to ban him out even slightly.
Cloud 9 (0-2) beat Team Liquid (2-0)
Cloud 9 got back on the right track with a win over table toppers Team Liquid today. Another Gnarvan combo locked in today by Liquid, and the first match featuring Kalista. The crowd went nuts upon seeing Sneaky lock-in the bobbing and weaving ADC who is every skill-shots’ worst nightmare. C9 could not have asked for a better comp to introduce Kalista against in this regard. Xenith Blade? Skill-shot. Ahri’s Charm? Skill-Shot. Sure Cataclym breaks the mold, but guess what, she can actually use that passive hop right over the barricade like she’s running hurdles.
The most crucial fight of the match came at twenty minutes as Hai “Hai” Du Lam and William “Meteos” Hartman overextended just a hair when tracking down Piglet and Alex “Xpecial” Chu in the top lane. A heads up play from Diego “Quas” Ruiz to teleport right in between the two parties prompted the rest of his team to turn around and join the fight. Quas got off a terrific GNAR! on Lissandra and Vi, followed by by a Zenith Blade/Shield of Daybreak combo from Xpecial to chain-stun Hai right up against a wall. Spamming that R button faster than a Rek-Sai ultimate, Hai was able to use Frozen Tomb on himself, not only saving his life but dealing massive area of effect damage to his attackers, enabling Sneaky to kite the fight from the outside and pick up a double kill. The fight ended up being a resounding victory for C9 but it was by the skin of their teeth, especially when you consider that PIGLET WAS RUNNING A 0/0/0 MASTERY PAGE.
I’m just going to let that sink in.
In no way do I think this detracts from Cloud9’s victory today. They earned it. Piglet made an unbelievably careless error and Cloud9 capitalized on it. This does not make them effectively 0-3 in my book, not by a long shot.
That being said, it is impossible to deny this game isn’t 100% different if Piglet has the appropriate masteries. That lane was won so hard and so fast in favor of Cloud9. When re-watching the trades between the two bot-lanes, I almost feel stupid that I didn’t notice something was up. Kalista does good damage, but she was absolutely shredding Piglet’s Sivir from the get-go.
I think it is a shame that C9’s first victory of the season should have this question mark hanging over it. The best thing for them to do is just say hey, we won. Move on.
As for Liquid, I think they should do the same. They have a very strong team and Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera has really come into his own as the teams’ jungler.
Team Impulse (1-1) lost to CLG (1-1)
Doublelift took Kalista for her second stroll of the night, perhaps egged on by his competitive nature after seeing Sneaky display her potential for the first time in the NA LCS, after using one his team’s first two picks to lock down the ADC for themselves. Jung “Impact” Eon-yeoung had a brutally disappointing opening on Lulu after giving first blood to Jake “Xmithie” Puchero’s Jarvan IV. After an early invade by Blitzcrank, J4, Sion, and Kalista into TiP’s blue-side jungle, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and Doublelift very curiously began proxy-farming half of the first wave. Impact teleported to the top-turret ready for the 2v1 lane and his debut in North America. Upon landing he was greeting with a Rocket Grab to the jaw, forcing his flash and still dropping to 3/4ths health. In an shockingly lazy move Impact stayed within range of the tri-bush behind him where only moments before it was confirmed that both Sion and J4 were located along with the rest of the invade caravan. Sure enough Xmithie’s Demacian Standard erupted from the fog of war to secure the kill alongside Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaha’s Sion. As Lulu’s purple witch-cap floated back to the rift all alone, David “Phreak” Turley secured the moment by commenting “Welcome to the North American LCS Impact”. Although Impulse were able to answer back relatively quickly with a kill onto Sion, in the bot lane 1v2, the tone had been set for the rest of the match.
Of the two supports paired with Kalista today, Annie can certainly be thought of as a better all-around match. When it comes to the entertainment factor, however, The Dark Child pales in comparison to Blitzcrank. The highlight came when Aphromoo Flash-Rocket Grabbed Xerath, followed by a Fate’s Call from Doublelift to pull XiaoWeiXiao all the way from the left side of mid-lane to the Razorbeak camp where the rest of CLG were gathered mouths agape like baby birds awaiting dinner. Speaking of Aphromoo, the support maven’s pulls were on point in this match including another highlight reel worthy grab featuring Apollo “Apollo” Price’s Corki who met the boxing glove end of a Q after it shot between a minion wave that parted like the Red Sea for Blitz’s outstretched arm.
To Team Impulse’s credit they put up a decent fight in the late game given their circumstances. The final nail in the coffin was struck around the 25 minute mark after CLG appeared to backing off TiP’s top inhibitor turret, as they were half HP team-wide. A questionable turn-around ultimate from Doublelift sent Aphromoo headfirst into three members of Impulse, which started a rather scattered fight in the narrow corridors of the west jungle. Xmithie nearly dropped after a Missile Barrage and Arcanopulse collided with him and the fight, for the briefest of moments, looked winnable for TiP. Link nipped any remaining hope in the bud by forward flashing from the side bush to land a Petrifying Gaze right in the faces of Corki and Xerath.
Outside of some flashy (lol, someone stop me) plays the game was a pretty standard, one-sided affair. CLG caused havoc in the early game and never left the drivers seat. CLG certainly came in with a plan and executed, but they showed moments of carelessness; a poor habit that if it is continued will be exploited by more cohesive and decisive teams (cough, TSM, cough C9).
Although it was a very rough start, I do believe that TiP will have little to no problem brushing this loss off their shoulder. I would expect a marked improvement, even by tomorrow in their match up against Team 8.
Team SoloMid (1-1) beat Winterfox (1-1)
The last match of the day ended with TSM moving to 2-1 in a clean victory over Winterfox. The Kalista/Annie combination was on display yet again, a pairing that could well become the most hotly contested pick in the game for the foreseeable future. It was a great day for Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen who had a perfect supportive jungler KDA of 0/0/11 on Jarvan IV. J4 marks the third different champion in three games played by the Dane, who has proven to be a strong addition to the TSM roster. It is no secret by this point that Santorin likes to get Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg ahead early and often, and the rest of the team is just fine with their star mid-laner free to roam about the map on LeBlanc and snowball the game. The Bjerger King locked down first blood with help from his jungler over Eugene “Pobelter” Park’s Morgana. It was especially important in this match-up to get Bjergsen ahead, as Morgana is a relatively strong counterpick to LeBlanc. Mid-lane Morgana is a safe, fast pushing machine when compared to LeBlanc, and a LeBlanc who is pushed to tower all game is like an attack dog chained to a pole.
TSM top-lane hero Marcus “Dyrus” Hill proved yet again that he is one of the most consistent players in North America. At the 13:00 minute mark Dyrus was able to chunk down Johnny “Altec” Ru’s Tristana, who was left to duel Dyrus’s Maokai in order to get the solo-lane experience and farm. The trade drew the attention of Winterfox jungler Dong-jin “Helios” Shin on Rengar. Dyrus narrowly avoided an Empowered Bola Strike from Rengar with an absurdly reactive flash. By doing nothing more than successfully avoiding this gank Dyrus gave his team the opportunity to take the first dragon and rotate bot to pick up the tower as well. It was the freest of trades thanks to TSM’s stalwart top-laner, and with a fed LeBlanc poised and ready the team was able to snowball themselves to victory.
Winterfox had a very rough game overall. Too many players fell too far behind, and not a single one was keeping pace with TSM. Pobelter finished 0/5/2, and although the stats do not show it, he was the lone bright spot on the team today. Despite being down to Bjergsen he flexed the favor of his match up in a 1v1 engage that left LeBlanc nearly in a grave. He will have to have to perform particularly well in the games to come lest Winterfox falls too far behind in the standings. Avalon, as with fellow Korean top-laner Impact, had a dismal opening performance. It will be important for Winterfox to grab Pobelter a champion he can make plays on in order for them to tread water while the rest of the team coalesces, another reason why the Morgana pick was probably not the best option.
Thanks for joining me for the recap of today’s games, be sure to tune-in to lolesports.com tomorrow for Day 2 of Week 2 of the NA LCS. The broadcast starts at 3pm EST/12pm PST.
 For an example of this support, check out this awesome video by YouTuber Zanti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CfTeihFfMQ
 The matches are headlined with Blue side on the left and Red sight on the right, hence the slight variance in wording depending on the result. Match records given are how the team stand before the match.