I’m going to go out on a limb and wager that you didn’t watch the LMS finals on Sunday morning. While you were tucked into the comfort of your bed (or stumbling home after a long night of imbibing domestic brew), ahq and Hong Kong Esports were battling for a spot at Worlds. The LMS format features two spots for the 2015 World Championship; Ahq claimed the first in a decisive 3-0 victory. While their victory in this series was impressive, ahq’s performance wasn’t exactly clean. Let’s take a look at these three games.
HKE opts for a lane swap. After clearing their blue jungle, ahq sends everyone but Westdoor to the bot lane. ahq dives the bottom tower twice in short succession and claim two kills. After subsequently taking the tower, ahq find themselves with a substantial 2k gold lead at five minutes. This early pressure, while granting ahq a gold/tower lead, has allowed May to receive more experience and farm than Ziv. Around 15:05, Dinter gets caught within ahq’s red jungle. GodJJ misplays by trying to finish off Mountain and not taking into account that Stand United was still up, ending the fight 3-2 in favor of ahq. Toyz manages to pick up two kills by way of excellently aimed Shock Blasts. One of the huge turn-arounds for HKE this game was a team-fight that broke out around 27:15. After sending Westdoor to split push bottom, the remaining ahq members attempt to take Baron. However, an excellent Shock Blast and an even better Equalizer grant HKE three kills and Baron. At 32:20, HKE groups to siege mid lane. Excellent aim on behalf of Toyz allows HKE to poke down ahq and claim the middle inhibitor. It’s extremely noteworthy that at this point, although HKE has 11 kills, Dinter is 0/4/2 and GodJJ is 0/4/3. ahq is eventually able to punish HKE when May’s teleport is on cooldown, forcing a 5v4 and claiming three kills, dragon and Baron. The game ends when Westdoor and Ziv use teleport and homeguard to catch May out of position, granting them an easy push to victory.
AN also built a Wit’s End on Sivir, so that’s a thing.
The game begins with HKE opting for a lane-swap once again. Not wasting anytime, ahq initiates a five-man dive under HKE’s bottom tier one tower, picking up two kills and establishing a 1.5k gold lead before the five minute mark. Around eight minutes in, ahq continues displaying their early-game dominance through a 4v2 dive under HKE’s top tier one tower, allowing them to pick up two kills and the tower. Dinter responds by killing Ziv in bottom lane. At 11:40, ahq sends four people mid to claim the middle tier one tower. HKE is far too slow in their response and arrives too late. Despite never having to face AN in lane, GodJJ is down 30 cs at 16:20. A team-fight breaks out at 22:30 and ends 3-2 in favor of HKE. Down 5k gold, HKE wins another team-fight, taking three kills and giving up none. HKE gradually claims a 2k gold lead, only to throw it away while trying to contest Baron. HKE gets aced and ahq claim Baron. Dinter and Olleh are caught as ahq press down mid, allowing them to easily end the game.
Both teams choose standard lanes. Dinter applies early pressure in the top lane while Mountain stays on the bottom side of the map. At 6:15, GodJJ is losing lane with eight CS to AN’s 35. To make things worse for HKE, ahq initiates a four-man dive bottom and kills GodJJ. At 10:30, GodJJ is level 4 with 20 CS and things are looking grim for HKE. HKE manage to pick up a kill onto AN and eventually Mountain, which allows them to claim the middle tier one tower. Westdoor gets caught at 18:50 and HKE is able to initiate a 4v5. However, GodJJ is severely behind in both levels and CS, making his contribution next to nothing; ahq manages to ace HKE and claim a dragon. At 26:20, ahq attempts Baron. Mountain, Ziv and AN all die to May, but manage to secure the Baron buff for Westdoor. Despite being down 10k gold, HKE manages to win a team-fight at 34:40, pick up three kills and a nexus turret. Westdoor splits bottom lane and ahq wins a 4v4 in their red jungle as Toyz and May go down. This allows ahq to push into HKE’s base, claim a few more kills and eventually destroy the Nexus.
Despite taking the series 3-0, not one of these games was won cleanly by ahq. There were multiple points in each game where HKE, despite being down significant amounts of gold, capitalized on ahq’s mistakes and managed to secure objectives. GodJJ played quite poorly in both games one and three. The CS differential between GodJJ and AN in the third game was catastrophic; at the very end of the game, AN had 150 more minion kills than GodJJ. Dinter played rather poorly in the first game as well, with a large number of deaths and a low kill contribution. Westdoor’s Diana wasn’t quite as impactful in game three, partially due to not having Ziv on Shen to come to his rescue. The Janna pick for HKE in game three also helped mitigate some of Diana’s engage potential. Despite a few mistakes, Mountain played an impressive series and significantly outperformed Dinter. While I’m certain that ahq will perform well at Worlds, I’m a bit concerned as to how they will fare against the likes of EDG, SKT, and KOO. If HKE, a third-place team from the LMS, could punish ahq’s mistakes from so far behind then I have no doubts that the aforementioned teams can do so as well, only much more harshly. With that said, ahq’s early-game aggression is something to be feared. It is unlikely that any Western teams (with the possible exception of Fnatic) will be able to keep up with ahq’s tempo, but we’ll just have to wait and see.