LMS Playoffs: Quater Finals
LMS playoffs are finally here, and this morning we saw our first match Hong Kong Esports vs AHQ - Esports. I want to spend some time breaking down the games, the results, and also give some context to each team.
Before we get into spoiler territory about the game, here are the teams and a bit of story lines.
Hong Kong Esports - Formed this year taking veterans from the Taipei Assassins/Snipers, and the main narrative of this team is not unlike what Alliance was, a "super team" of old veterans. Forming this year they had cemented themselves as one of the strongest teams of the region.
- Stanley - Top Lane
- DinTer - Jungle
- Toyz - Mid Lane
- GoDJJ - ADC
- Olleh - Support
ahq E-sports - Having combined with many of the best players from the other ahq organizations, Snipers and G-Fighters, Ahq was a team that was set up with the best that organization had to offer.
----------From this point on Spoilers ------------------
Game 1 - Winner AHQ
HKES: Maokai, Kalista, Rumble
AHQ: Morgana, Sejunai, Nunu
Stanley - Yorick vs Gnar - Ziv
DinTer - Rek'Sai vs Gragas - Mountain
Toyz - Karthus vs Cho'Gath - Westdoor
GoDJJ - Sivir vs Urgot - AN
Olleh - Thresh vs Nautilus - Albis
For me this game was lost pretty much just through pick ban phase. HKES locked in an early Rek'Sai, while AHQ locked in Urgot Nautilus. That should tell you that AHQ is planning on running a full tank comp, which if you look at the champions HKES put together, no one on that team is going to kill tanks. Karthus might be able to put burst down, but Sivir is not a tank killer unless she is extremely far ahead.
What secured the win though was I think an outstanding performance on Mountain, the jungler, and Albis on support. The entire early game they were both roaming the map, and camping Toyz since he would be the only one to cut down tanks. DinTer on the other hand looked lost and out jungled the entire game, Rek'Sai, especially since he built full tank, needs to create pressure early in the game before you fall off since you build no damage. DinTer was caught out numerous times, or was late for counter ganks which gave AHQ a huge lead with over 8 kills to 1 and 4 towers to 1.
Here though we see a problem I see AHQ having, and could be a problem running against TPA and Yoe, is that they are not very good at closing a game out. They have the giant tank line but then proceeded to take a bunch of really bad team fights that were giving gold back to HKES and turning this game into a drawn out 42 minute slug fest. It took a huge team fight to win, but a game that started with AHQ being 8-1 with a 3 turret advantage, ended 26-14 with a 8-3 in turrets and a 5th dragon. I do need to give props to HKES for showing signs of life and showing potential for battling back while being down, but AHQ needs to be able to secure games cleaner.
Game 2 - Winner AHQ
AHQ: Morgana, Nunu, Yorick
HKES: Kalista, Nautilus, Maokai
Ziv - Gnar vs Vladamir - Stanley
Mountain - Sejuani vs Rek'Sai - DinTer
Westdoor - Zed vs - Lulu - Toyz
AN - Urgot vs Jinx - GoDJJ
Albis - Kennen vs Thresh - Olleh
Game 2 I think was much cleaner on both sides, HKES got Jinx to be able to deal with the tank line AHQ put together and DinTer had much more of an impact early on, and AHQ couldn't just camp mid and win. On the other hand AHQ understood when to push in and keep it clean when they got the lead, instead of giving kills back to HKES.
Although this game was very back and fourth with HKES winning a for the majority of the early game, it was a beautiful team fight around the 24 minute mark that I think secured AHQ the win. What started with AN landing a great Urgot ult on Toyz, putting him under the tower, AHQ were able to then chain the Gnar and Sejuani ults together, and gave AHQ 4 kills a tower and them some. This game did continue to swing back and fourth, and it took another huge team fight at the end around the 40 minute mark to give AHQ the win.
Overall a much cleaner game on both ends, AHQ were able to close the game and control the game better when they got the lead. Once again though we see HKES be able to push back from when they are behind, and be able to take good skirmishes but are unable to take the lead and close the game.
The problem I noticed with HKES at this point is that they looked extremely uncomfortable in the new meta. DinTer picked a full tank Rek'Sai for the second time and had such little impact on the game with it. Olleh we see not going for a tank style support, which he is known to play the more finesse supports like Janna, and also Stanly, trying to be the big carry, going onto things like Vladamir and Yorick. These are all signs for me that HKES went into the playoffs not fully having a grasp on the meta, with everyone going for big tanks and having tank killers in your back line. AHQ on the other hand was picking those up and in this second game showed a much cleaner use of those picks
Game 3 - Winner AHQ
HKES: Kalista, Urgot, Gragas
AHQ: Morgana, Nunu, Sejunai
Stanley - Hecarim vs Maokai - Ziv
DinTer - Rek'Sai vs Jarvan IV - Mountain
Toyz - Karthus vs Fizz - Westdoor
GoD JJ - Graves vs Sivir - AN
Olleh - Nautalis vs Janna - Albis
I chalk this game up to Westdoor making gigantic plays on Fizz, he ended that game 12-3-5 on Fizz, and was able to bait ults with his E and Zhonya's. This game similar to the second game showed a lot of growth with AHQ, being able to snowball leads and end games quicker and cleaner, mad props to them because they do look like a team that might be able to challenge Yoe.
However I want to spend this ending bit talking about what happened to HKES. My first though is that I think DinTer really dropped the ball this game, playing Rek'Sai all three games and not finding success with it, and playing a similar style all three games. When you compare that to Mountain to had a fantastic three games, showed very different picks and an understanding of the current tank jungle power. Also if you look at AHQ, they banned out his other strong pick in Nunu, which begs the question of how prepared was DinTer's champion pool coming into this tournament? Both Toyz and Stanley had great showings on multiple picks that do fit the current meta, but AHQ had the better strategies and executed them well.
Ultimately this is where I see HKES failing this series, a poor understanding of the current meta and power picks. Above I mentioned DinTer and how he seemed to only have 2 picks, and one of them was always banned out, but also we never saw HKES try the ultra tank style, or a Jugger'Maw, or anything that we've been seeing around the world in other playoffs. I don't think HKES is a bad team, but I think they came in under-prepared for AHQ.