NA LCS W2D2 Pick/Ban Recap
As always for ease of reference here are my Tier 1's for each role before we get to the recaps. (Patch 6.1)
Top Tier 1: Ryze, Gangplank, Lulu, Fiora, Lissandra
Mid Tier 1: Lulu, Ryze, Gangplank, Viktor, Zed
Jungle Tier 1: Rek'Sai, Lee Sin, Elise, Kindred, Graves, Nidalee
ADC Tier 1: Lucian, Corki, Kalista, Tristana, Miss Fortune
Support Tier 1: Bard, Alistar, Thresh, Janna, Trundle, Braum
As a quick note I normally write these reviews prior to watching the games in order to not let one highly variable result bias my thinking on the compositions. In this case I have already seen the games and while I will try to not let that influence my opinion it no doubt will have some effect.
TSM vs DIG
TSM (Blue): Elise, Ahri, Tahm Kench
DIG (Red): Ryze, Gangplank, Fiora
TSM (Blue): Graves; Corki, Poppy; Syndra, Braum
DIG (Red): Alistar, Rek'Sai; Gnar, Ezreal; Lux
TSM first pick Graves. This is just a gross overvaluation in my opinion to take him over Corki/Lissandra, perhaps they had reason to think DIG wouldn't take Corki but Graves remains at the lower end of Tier 1 Junglers for me and is not a worthy first pick even with his flex potential.
DIG take Alistar/Rek'Sai. These are fine standard picks, Rek'Sai's priority boosted by the Elise ban. I'd vastly prefer Corki to Alistar here however.
TSM grab Corki/Poppy. Love the Corki obviously, Poppy is fine but an overrated champion as well in my eyes. I'd much prefer to see them take Lissandra here as they would still have similar flex potential and just a more powerful champion who is also a major annoyance for the double melee's DIG has already selected.
DIG second rotation Gnar/Ezreal. Apollo clearly loves Ezreal as this is now three out of four games for him on the champion, so if he is just by far his best champion it's fine but in a vacuum Lucian is an easy pick for me. Gnar is both a safe blind and has a good matchup against Poppy, so he's a great safe pick here.
TSM last rotations Syndra/Braum, and I'm a fan of neither pick. Syndra is a fine blind pick but there are just more generically powerful champions available to blind here and she has no real game specific application here that makes her powerful besides having ok peel for double ADCs. Syndra is a pick that should be used to assassinate a squishy carry on the opposing side and so far the only target is Ezreal who can stay extremely far back in team fights. She is also a signiture champion for Bjergsen but for a player of his caliber who perform on anything this is a very minor consideration. Ahri/Viktor or even Anivia are just stronger blinds here for me. Braum is never a terrible Support but again his shield has little value against DIG's team so far, basically only being of use against Ezreal's ultimate, and it's not like he has some extra synergy with Corki in lane. Janna would be a far superior pick here to deny all three of DIG's engage champions, while having two ADC's to shield and peel for. Hell even shielding Poppy can be devastating. Just suboptimal picks by TSM here for me and honestly their composition just isn't that powerful in my eyes, but that's largely due to my difference in opinion on the strength of Graves and Poppy.
DIG last pick Lux. She's fine here as she has a substantial frontline with heavy AOE CC to set her up and can farm relatively safely against Syndra. I really would have liked to see a Fizz here, as if he can survive the pre 6 lane he has all the kill pressure in the matchup and multiple targets to assassinate with little resistance in this game.
Neither composition stands out here, TSM has a lot more snowball potential but also falls off considerably in the late game. DIG should look to try and snowball Gnar as if he gets ahead they can easily hold a 4/1 or even 1/3/1 with Rek'Sai splitting as well given their strong Lux/Ezreal waveclear.
NRG vs IMT
NRG (Blue): Elise, Lulu, Fiora
IMT (Red): Tahm Kench, Graves, Gangplank
NRG (Blue): Corki; Nidalee, Alistar; Varus, Maokai
IMT (Red): Lissandra, Lucian; Janna, Rengar; Zed
This is one of those games where Ryze falls all the way through, you can as always assume I would prefer him to almost every pick.
NRG first pick Corki. Love this pick as he is just the most powerful flex pick right now outside the three OP solo laners (Lulu/Ryze/GP).
IMT respond with Lissandra/Lucian. Fantastic picks here as well and this is in my opinion the correct valuation of champions on this patch. Perfect first three picks - if we remove Ryze from the equation - by both sides here.
NRG take Nidalee/Alistar next. NRG clearly is setting up for a siege composition here. I don't love semi-committing to it so early here especially when IMT already has a hard engage champion, just seems like an unnecessarily early tipping of the hand. It's not like Reignover is likely to take the Nidalee. To be fair just because you have Corki/Nidalee doesn't mean you have to play a poke composition, but you are giving up some of the champions power if you don't (especially in the case of Nidalee. Given that they do ultimate run a poke comp here I really think they should have taken Janna over Alistar given that she thatis both excellent for poke comps and the only champion Adrian has played so far in three games. My picks here in a vacuum would be Rek'Sai and a Support (Bard/Alistar/Janna).
IMT second rotation Janna/Rengar. Janna is clearly just a comfort choice for Adrian or in their opinion the strongest Support as this makes four out of four games for Adrian on her. She has always had strong synergy with Lucian so I don't mind the pick. Rengar is an interesting choice and one that I think makes a lot of sense here. There is still a decent chance NRG will run a double ADC composition here, and that gives Rengar multiple targets to try and assassinate (to a lesser extent Nidalee as well). Rengar also provides one of the best hard engages out of the Jungle position, boosting his value substantially against NRG's likely poke composition. The reason I really like this pick is that it has upside in both these fashions, and neither has to be committed to before you get a sense of the game flow. The option to build warrior assassin Rengar is there if he gets snowballed, but he can easily build tank and be an engage tool should he not get kills early. Great pick for the situation.
NRG last pick Varus/Maokai. Clearly they went all in on the poke comp here, and Maokai certainly is a strong peeler for this sort of team. I just don't think it was wise to do so, as IMT already have two hard engage champions with a Mid laner still to come. You are also blind picking Varus and taking Maokai to fill out the composition, and both are Tier 3 champions in my eyes. They really put themselves in a bind with their previous picks, as they now are in need of physical damage but picking a second ADC is risky into Lissandra/Rengar. For once I would have preferred a team take Poppy Top to bring physical damage and the much needed peel, and a more powerful Mid like Viktor/Ahri/Anivia. Ultimately none of their options are particularly appealing here and I think they really just allowed IMT to counter their composition too much by tipping their hand too early with the Nidalee pick.
IMT last pick Zed. This is a fine option here as he's hugely threatening against the double ADC's. The only reason it isn't a slam dunk pick is picking Zed against Maokai is always extremely annoying due to his point and click W root keeping you from escaping after using your ultimate. Picks like Viktor/Ahri/Orianna all would have been powerful as well in balancing their damage profile and bringing powerful followup to the initiation they already possess. I like the Zed pick though, and there is actually hidden synergy in their composition as they have 3 AD champions but the presence of Lissandra/Zed will force the opposing carries to build QSS causing them to waste a lot of gold on inefficient MR.
NRG's composition can do it's job, but I just don't think it's worth dipping as deep into the power pool as they did especially when you hint at it so early. Big edge to IMT here as NRG just have to play the map near flawlessly to escape being engaged on. IMT also just has far more powerful champions, especially in the solo lanes.
CLG vs C9
CLG (Blue): Tahm Kench, Lulu, Ryze
C9 (Red): Lissandra, Corki, Bard
CLG (Blue): Gangplank; Elise, Lucian; Leblanc, Trundle
C9 (Red): Alistar, Graves; Viktor, Kalista; Fiora
CLG first pick Gangplank, a no brainer and they aren't really giving up anything big to get him so this is a mistake by C9 in my opinion unless they just really don't think CLG is good at playing the champion.
C9 first rotation Alistar/Graves. These are fine picks as Graves is probably the best flex champion available here, and Alistar is always a solid choice with a little extra value in denying it from Aphromoo in addition to the Bard ban. I would prefer Lucian/Elise for pure power however.
CLG take the aforementioned Lucian/Elise, simply excellent picks.
C9 second rotation Viktor/Kalista. I love these picks as Kalista is the strongest ADC on the board and quite threatening to Gangplank, and they need a big magic damage source to balance their double ADC's making the blindable Viktor an excellent choice.
CLG finish with Leblanc/Trundle. While these picks make sense for assassinating and controlling C9's composition, this is another case in a trend I've noticed of team's just not setting up Gangplank for success. Gangplank really wants AOE CC from his team to set him up in teamfights, and yet teams keep picking these low CC skirmishing type compositions that do him no favors. This is just a poor use of your powerful first pick champion, and there are champions with similar positives to the ones they chose that could help GP as well. Malphite for example would combine with Trundle to provide huge zone control for the GP while being a major pain for the double ADC's to shred through. If they really wanted to dodge the disadvantaged but not terrible GP/Viktor matchup they could also have picked Anivia Mid which would have again provided huge zone control and major headaches for C9's short ranged and not very mobile carries.
C9 last pick Fiora, a great pick with a strong lane against Gangplank who can threaten through CLG's lackluster peel or split and leave C9's powerful 4 man core to themselves.
These compositions both have very powerful champions but C9's is just far more cohesive and synergystic. CLG's only real advantage is kill pressure in Mid and pick potential, so whether or not Leblanc gets rolling will have a huge impact on this game. Edge to C9.
FOX vs TL
FOX (Blue): Nidalee, Graves, Lulu
TL (Red): Poppy, Gangplank, Ryze
FOX (Blue): Tahm Kench; Kalista, Lissandra; Rek'Sai, Janna
TL (Red): Alistar, Elise; Gnar, Caitlyn; Cassiopeia
FOX first pick Tahm Kench, he's a fine pick but Lissandra is a more powerful flex to me. FOX does ultimately get Lissandra with their next rotation so if they had strong reason to think TL wouldn't take her then it's better, but that being said I don't really like the combination of Tahm Top and Lissandra Mid so it's still not great in my eyes. Corki is also up here and has similar power to Lissandra with none of the above drawbacks, so he would be my pick here.
TL first rotation Alistar/Elise. Strong standard picks, for me it's either Lissandra/Lucian or Corki/Rek'Sai but this is acceptable.
FOX take Kalista/Lissandra, and as mentioned above I don't really like Lissandra Mid with Tahm Top. This is because Tahm is at his best when he has multiple carries to protect and Lissandra certainly doesn't need this, as well as Lissandra just being generally a stronger Top than Mid. Kalista similarly isn't hugely in need of protection, and I'd rather they take Lucian. Given they already have Tahm, I'd really like to see Lucian/Viktor here as big threats for him to safeguard, or Lucian/Corki if you really want to deny TL's ADC pool.
TL second rotation Gnar/Caitlyn. I love Gnar is an AD top to balance with Elise who has a strong Tahm matchup. Caitlyn is interesting, she's rising quickly and I think she's strong but not enough so to select over Lucian in almost any circumstance. Their siege is very strong with Elise/Gnar/Alistar all making it tough to dive into Caitlyn, but FOX have unconventional engage tools in Lissandra/Tahm/Lissandra so I don't think this was an optimal time to try this especially with a power pick like Lucian on the board.
FOX finish with Rek'Sai/Janna. They already have a swath of engage options, so picking Janna to heavy deny Alistar/Gnar engage is perfectly fine. Ultimately however I don't like their composition as a whole because again Kalista is the only target for Tahm to protect, and this just isn't getting the most out a champion I think is already overrated to begin with. They really needed to take Kindred here to get the most out of both Tahm and Janna.
TL last pick Cassiopeia. Cass is fine here and makes sense for a siege composition where the opponent is forced to dive head on into you. I would slightly prefer more powerful picks like Viktor/Anivia who have a similar effect, but this is a fine opportunity to bring her out.
Ultimately FOX has the more individually powerful champions but TL has significantly higher synergy. Both teams also have quite poor wave clear so whichever team gets the upper hand early should be able to heavily snowball their lead if they play the map properly.
REN vs TIP
REN (Blue): Lulu, Lissandra, Lucian
TIP (Red): Thresh, Tahm Kench, Graves
REN (Blue): Kalista; Elise, Morgana; Ahri, Shen
TIP (Red): Gangplank, Alistar; Nidalee, Corki; Varus
REN first pick Kalista despite Gangplank/Corki being up. If Corki in addition to Lucian I could understand this pick but this is just silly to me, perhaps Kalista is just by far LOD's most comfortable champion but don't give up these power picks to secure it. Gangplank would be the pick for me.
TIP take Gangplank/Alistar. Alistar continues to be prioritized too highly for me, Corki is the easy pairing here with Gangplank in my eyes as premiere flex picks with complementary damage.
REN take Elise/Morgana. This is a classic siege combination so it's strange they would pick it with one of the worst siege ADC's in Kalista. I get that Morgana/Kalista can be a powerful combination but I don't think that's enough to justify the pick here, I'd rather see Bard/Thresh.
TIP second rotation Nidalee/Corki. These two combined with Gangplank are a heavy siege core, although once again we see a team with GP fail to provide much CC for him. A siege composition is the least problematic scenario for GP in this sense however, as the sheer number of skillshots that must be dodged provides him greater zone control and pressure. I would have preferred a more standard Corki + Kindred/Rek'Sai/Lee Sin here, but this is fine.
REN last rotation Ahri/Shen. This is a classic combination to provide hard engage and combined with Kalista they have quite a bit of mid-range engage. Alistar is fairly adept at denying Ahri here however, so this wouldn't be my preferred method of engage. I also worry about picking Shen into a composition that could easily pick Gnar as this is a terrible matchup in my opinion that can single-handedly lose you the game if it gets out of control. I'd prefer Hecarim + Ahri/Twisted Fate here, but RF Legendary may not even play the champion and I can appreciate the though process here. Ahri and Shen both have fine but unexciting lane matchups against the still flexible GP as well.
TIP last picks Varus. They obviously went all in on poke here, laning Varus into Ahri/Elise is risky but REN's engage options are suspect enough to make this a worthy gamble. This is a classic case where neither team's composition really has the tools to be able to deal with the other from behind, so whichever team can get ahead early should have little issue securing the win.