GPL Roundup: Week 1-2
For better or worse, the GPL group stage is 2/3 complete. Half the teams will be weeded out in this stage, and Impunity Legends may be one of them after their abysmal performance against Kuala Lumpur Hunters. Vietnamese teams are ruling the roost as expected, although ZOTAC is still in danger of elimination. However, the Singaporean teams have largely disappointed in general, which could be due to a lack of ongoing tournaments there at the moment. Meanwhile, Malaysia and Thailand are on the up, both picking up wins in Week 2. All three Philippine teams ended up with a 1-1 score after Week 2, with every chance of qualifying from their groups still. Indonesia continues to lag behind the rest of the pack.
Because of the way GPL is set up (the 2nd group stage is a single round-robin group), it doesn't matter whether you come in first or second - you just have to finish top 2. ZOTAC sits in joint third place with Thirsty Chinchillas, and their match this week will decide who advances. Neither team looked particularly impressive against Saigon Jokers; ZOTAC tunneled into a sub-optimal Jayce pick in two games, while TCH's bot lane got wrecked against superstar support Tsu.
ZOTAC made a switch in their bot lane, moving support BaRolBeo to ADC to make room for their new support Vigoss. TCH would be foolish not to exploit this new bot lane; BaRolBeo looks distinctly uncomfortable being in the ADC role, suffering losses to both Boba Marines and SF5's bot lanes this weekend. The funny thing is, TCH is in the exact same position - their bot lane is possibly their weakest as well. Whoever can exploit the other's bot lane more may gain an invaluable advantage.
Irelia will be a hotly contested pick, as both top laners favour Irelia. But it will be in the mid lane where the battle may be won or lost - both Henry and Ease are integral to the team, although ZOTAC relies more on Henry to carry than TCH does on Ease.
They did not play last week, so everything is still up in the air. Both Wargods and IPT will want to show that Filipino teams aren't pushovers, but draws are all they can hope for. SF5 may be inconsistent as all hell, but they're still a solid, aggressive team. IPT has a better chance of a draw than Wargods does due to their propensity to pull out cheesy picks like mid Renekton or Katarina, which could catch SF5 off-guard.
Unlike SF5, Fate plays a careful, methodical game. Wargods usually picks standard, but their late-game is simply not as strong as Fate's is. Their methodology of playing off their opponents' mistakes is unlikely to work against a team like Fate.
The most open group of all, after Proioxis showed up in Week 1 with something to prove. The new kids on the block Proioxis beat the odds once in annihilating the Kuala Lumpur Hunters in Week 1, but suffered a reverse sweep against Gigabyte Full Louis; SofM farming up a storm in both games and pulling out a carry Jarvan build in game 2. Ravenous Hydra and...Statikk Stiv actually works - if you don't get popped in two seconds. Thankfully, that did not happen to him and one dragon fight was all it took to show off his isolation build with a triple kill.
Before Rush grabbed that Quadra Kill in NA LCS with Nidalee, SofM was running around with 200+ cs in 20 minutes on the same champion. Constant counter-jungling and split-pushing later was the key; Kuremento struggled heavily against the pressure and chose to snowball the top lane instead. While Wrath is a competent carry top laner, if both the bot and mid lanes are behind in farm, there's not much he can do. Something to consider for when they face the "all-star" Impiety Legends.
Proioxis's bot lane is a cause for concern. Losing the early game as Kalista is always crippling, and IBROOOM did exactly that both games. One wonders if Faaa's oddball support picks are the cause. His support Trundle and Vel'koz failed to work both games, although they seemed fascinating to watch at first. Trundle lacks enough hard CC to dominate the lane before level 6, while Vel'koz is squishy as hell. Neither pick went well with Kalista, but another AD pick may be the solution to this bot lane's puzzle.
They looked really good against KLH though, showing their laning strength and winning off that. I suspect JaeYoong not being as good a jungler as Kuremento is helped, but KLH definitely came in with the wrong plan in Week 1.
KLH managed to recover from their 0-2 loss to 2-0 Impiety in return, once again role-swapping after JaeYoong's weak champion pool was exposed. At least QaspieL can play junglers like Sejuani, and at least JaeYoong can play hyper-carries like Tristana. And hyper-carry he did. The team placed a larger emphasis on the bot lane once he returned to ADC, and he repaid that faith with a stellar performance.
Most shocking was the inability of PessChap and Skarm to completely dominate their lane with Kalista and Thresh. You're up against two guys who have previously played jungle for the SAME team, albeit JaeYoong's original and best role has always been ADC. Surely more is expected out of iMp's bot lane.
iMp really needs to figure out who they want to get ahead, because at the moment their lineup is a clusterfuck of people who SHOULD carry (ly4, PessChap) but aren't getting enough resources to do so. They have no clear focus, and a complete inability to push their leads - at one point they were 5k up in gold, had 3 dragons AND a baron, but failed to get even one inhibitor.
Then they got a 2nd baron, only for PessChap and Skarm to get caught out while the rest twiddled their thumbs and fucked around in the jungle.
Compared to them, KLH actually knew what they had to do - let JaeYoong carry. This was to the point that OzoraVeki, who normally plays carries, played Lulu and Orianna in the series. They also knew to stay in their base and not get caught out while they had a disadvantage. Since iMp insisted on split pushing, catching 1 or 2 of them out was a simpler matter than expected. Props to KLH for their win, but we really have to question iMp's decision making, for the umpteenth time.
Bangkok Titans is on track for advancement after defeating their strongest adversary in Group D, Boba Marines - but the lives of everyone else hang in the balance.
The true Vietnamese kryptonite gained another victory pelt in what has been the best series in GPL so far. If you're going to watch one series, you should make it this one. Lloyd provided a masterclass on how to carry, and increasingly we're seeing that the performance of a team's bot lane is paramount to whether a team will do well in GPL. Optimus played his heart out, but ultimately Lloyd had the better team behind him.
That's not to say Boba Marines is a bad team - far from it. Although, perhaps their strategy of "not dying for the first 15 minutes and then group up and win lololol" needs a little refining.
Go To Sleep is actually a better team than anyone thought. They've even started to gain fans thanks to their logo:
...but they were caught out by Mineski's oddball AD Poppy top pick.
They looked confused in teamfights as well, as they never seemed to know who to target against Mineski - probably a result of bad shotcalling.
The problem with Mineski is that they aren't particularly great when it comes to playing standard, as their Game 1 against GTS showed (even their Game 2 wasn't the best, although they did take their lead and ran with it in a good team performance) but more surprises like that and who knows? Chances are slim, as always, but we've seen weirder upsets from Mineski before. Remember Tgee was the guy who pulled out a top Lee Sin pick against Akali to win their shot at World's in Season 3.
Group D doesn't play this week, so we'll have to wait another week to see if Mineski or GTS can pull off another surprise.