First Blood of NA
The NA LCS season opened with the historic matchup of Cloud 9 vs Team Solo Mid. Coming in after a dominant performance at IEM San Jose, C9 was expected to beat a TSM which was still settling in with their new jungler Santorin. But this game, much like others on this day, went against all expectations.
Target banning Bjergson and Wildturtle, C9 knocked Tristana, Nidalee, and Leblanc out in the banning phase, leaving up the FotM picks Rek’Sai and Gnar, suggesting C9 was either comfortable playing against these picks, or setting themselves up to trade them. With TSM grabbing Rek’Sai, C9 grabbed Gnar and Sivir, locking in a heavy engage composition. After TSM grabbed Janna for Lustboy, it seemed like C9 backed off their composition by grabbing Elise instead of J4 for Meteos, which was weird given his success with the champion at IEM and the synergy with Gnar and Sivir.
The game remained passive for the first few minutes, with a lane swap playing out in C9’s favor as Balls and Sneaky were both out farming Dyrus and Wildturtle respectively. Meteos invested into vision control, clearing both River Scuttlers early on for his team, not putting out any early pressure to capitalize on the advantage his lanes had.
The game cracked open for TSM once Bjergson, in fashion suiting his reputation, solo killed C9’s Hai in lane, netting him the first kill in the 2015 NA LCS. Further trouble brewed for C9 as Wildturtle and Lustboy consistently out-traded Sneaky and Lemon in lane. TSM used their advantage of a well farmed Jinx, pushing down both outer and inner middle towers at the fifteen minute mark after forcing Hai to retreat. C9 responded by taking top tower, but the map was now opened for TSM.
From there, TSM continued to focus on towers, rotating well enough to claim several more. C9, meanwhile, focused on collecting Dragons, but TSM ignored C9’s plead to the late game because the first Dragon had been taken at 17 minutes—too late to reasonably get the five stacks.
The crippling factor for this game, aside from C9’s mistakes in picks and bans, was their mechanical misplays: several hooks from Lemonnation and ults from Hai completely missed their target, allowing TSM to win fight after fight. Balls looked inexperienced on Gnar, failing some ultimates while also diving too far into the back line without support only to die to Wildturtles Jinx. One wonders that if had C9 had taken J4 to give Balls walls to throw TSM into how the fights would have played out.
Itemization also played a role in C9’s defeat, as no one had built a Locket of the Iron Solari to mitigate Bjergson’s damage, a Mikael’s to cleanse any CC, and a suboptimal Thornmail buy from Balls and Rigtheous Glory from Lemonnation. The only shining star for C9 in this game was Sneaky, who still managed to out CS WildTurtle and only perish once. With this win, TSM seems to show more comfort with Santorin, and Bjergson has started to look like the star player we recognize him as.
Coast Dignitas’ Dignitas
Playing with a new ADC and Top laner, Dignitas sought to start off strong against the newly requalified Coast in their first game of the split. Crumbz was obsessed with counter-jungling Impaler’s Rengar, placing deep wards as early as four minutes in and taking whatever camps he could. This resulted in Crumbz being comically caught out a few times, burning his flash at Coast’s Raptors to escape, and later being killed at their Krugs.
Coast aimed to murder Dignitas with aggressive plays, with varying success. In bottom lane, Sheep and Impaler both flashed to jump onto KiWiKid and Core, but netting nothing. Throughout the game though, Coast were successful in getting several picks, with Sheep using Leona ultimates in tandem with Impaler’s Rengar and Mash’s Caitlyn’s ultimate to net kills in the river bed and under towers. Coast would take these kills and transition them into objectives, getting towers, Dragons, and even a Baron after picking off Crumbz.
Dignitas would answer these objectives with their own, getting towers while Coast took Dragons and punishing their first Baron by chasing into the jungle and killing two of Coast before taking the mid inner tower and inhibitor tower. However, Dignitas would push their aggression too far in several cases, getting chased by Coast after the taking of the inhibitor tower.
Impaler showed strong Rengar play, not only assisting his team with picks, but even stealing a Dragon from Crumbz and using the newly added base gates to flank with his ultimate. That, along with Coast’s good rotations and steady pressure, looked to set Coast up for their first win of the season.
At 36:30 in game time, Jesiz got picked off on Ahri by all of Dignitas, and the team began to run down the mid lane to the open inhibitor. Coast, rather than recalling to defend their base, made a call for Baron, either thinking they could kill it quickly enough to get the empowered recall and defend their base, or that Dignitas would not move down the mid lane so quickly. This was the throw which lost them the game, as Gamsu’s Irelia stopped every one of their recalls with his ultimate, and Dignitas took Coast’s Nexus.
Speaking of Gamsu, the top laner replacing Zionspartan for Dignitas, he seems like a strong pick-up, not only for his win-securing play, but also for his laning. Using his superior sustain with his Estus Flask, Gamsu traded heavily with Cris’s Gnar, even forcing him out of lane early on. Gamsu seems to be a top laner to keep an eye on for now, and it will be interesting to see how he compares with the other top laners in Na.
After all the roster changes, it seems like with have the same old Coast with the Baron throw. One hopes that Coast will tighten their shot-calling, because as it stands, Coast should’ve had this game with how it played out for the first thirty-six minutes.
Due to visa issues with their Korean starters Avalon, Helios, and Imagine, WFX had to use subs in top, jungle, and support (Flaresz, Shorterace, Gleeb). It seemed that Gravity would have an easier time winning due to this, but that would not be the case.
Focusing their bans on Pobelter, GV banned out Leblanc and Zed, as well as banning the current strong jungle pick Rek’sai. WFX decided to go with more standard bans, taking out Lissandra, Kassadin, and J4. Both sides let Gnar, a strong FotM pick, through. Winterfox first picks Sivir, and nn return, GV lock in Lee Sin and Janna, signaling a disinterest in the prehistoric yordle on both sides.WFX then picked up Rengar and Annie, telegraphing a possible hard engage composition through the use of chained ultimates and CC. After GV picking up Cop’s comfort ADC Corki, as well as Azir for Keane, WFX rounds out their composition with the newly buffed Renekton and Fizz. As a final pick for GV, Sion gets locked in for the top lane.
The game started out with GV initiating a lane swap, invading on the WFX blue side jungle. Flaresz decided to recall from lane and take Raptors, while Shorterace and Gleeb took Gromp and went straight to GV’s blue, before going to mid and burning Keane’s flash. Overall the game was still even, but when Shorterace and Gleeb roamed mid again and successfully killed Keane, the gates were open for WFX. Shorterace continued his train of aggression on the map, killing Cop right after in the top lane with Flaresz. On the other hand, Saintvicious seemed to flounder on Lee Sin, trying unsuccessfully to make a play happen top.
Winterfox kept the pressure high on Keane, repeatedly multi-man ganking him in the mid lane with GV very slow to respond. Even when it seemed like GV could turn around a fight to win, WFX was one step ahead and came out on top. The game was solidified for WFX when, after taking their second dragon at the 24 minute mark, full-on engaged Gravity in the mid lane and took a win in the scattered fight that ensued. From then on, WFX had good objective control, taking towers and inhibs and not letting a dragon or baron slip through their fingers before ending the game.
The biggest issue for GV this game was the slower rotations from Bunny and Saint compared to Shorter and Gleeb, as well as the execution of their picks. Also the Sion and Azir picks did not pan out as expected for GV. Azir was shut down through the engage and Sion’s ults were subpar. Overall, WFX dominated all over the map, not leaving a gap for GV to come back. This left questions in the minds of Gravity fans, as well as made people wonder how much better the full roster of WFX would be.
Credit to @AGamerNamedZen (twitter) for writing this recap.
Debuting in the LCS, TiP put their money on Xiaoweixiao carrying them like his days on LMQ by first picking Leblanc for him, then setting up a pick comp. Team Liquid constructed a team which would deny TiP their dives, grabbing Gnar, Janna, Lulu, and Nunu for peel, and then grabbing Kog’Maw for their substitute ADC, KEITHMCBRIEF.
Xiaoweixiao drew Fenix’s flash early in lane with his aggression on Leblanc. Looking to capitalize, TiP’s jungler Rush dove Fenix under tower, but died after missing his skill shots on J4. He redeemed himself in part by helping substitute top laner get a kill on Quas, but Team Liquid matched the play some time later by getting a kill on Adrian in bot lane and then rotating for their first Dragon at ten minutes. Following that, more fights occurred around the mid lane, with both sides usually trading kills. Adrian demonstrated great Thresh, holding TL back with sequential Death Sentences.
The stalemate broke when Xiaoweixiao overextended chasing a kill on Fenix. He died, TiP didn’t get the mid tower, and TL were able to pick up their second dragon. TiP did manage to get the mid tower in the meanwhile, but TL were setting up a strong Dragon advantage with IwillDominate’s Nunu. Eager to fight, TL fought for TiP’s mid tower a minute later, losing three people for it.
Fenix seemed to work as a lure for TL this game, baiting in TiP time and time again. Chasing him into the top lane, TiP was decimated as they ran into Nunu’s ultimate, and Rhux and Rush died after diving too far into the backline of TL without any back up.
At twenty six minutes, the third dragon spawned and TL started it, confident with their Nunu. Quas engaged the TiP with Gnar while Xpecial’s Janna kept TL topped off and allowed them to win the fight, only losing Fenix. The “Protect the Kog’Maw” comp was working as intended, with Keith outputting the DPS he needed to. He was even engaged on at the thirty-one minute mark, but survived with the shields, heals, and peels from his team.
TiP, losing ground while TL was able to get a fourth Dragon, tried to stall out by grabbing Baron after TL was forced to back with low HP. A minute later, the fifth Dragon spawned, and TL stood to take it, forcing a Baron-empowered TiP to contest it or lose the game. Chunking down TL with poke from Corki, it seemed like TiP might win the fight and hold on, but Xpecial popped his ult to heal the team, baiting in TiP to the game ending fight, getting Aced while only killing Quas. With an open base filled with Super Minions, Team Liquid left the Dragon alone and ended the game.
Team Liquid issued a warning to all of the LCS teams with this game—they’re strong, even without their star ADC Piglet.
Doublelift Got Ahead on Tristana. GG.
Team 8 dropped the ball hard in picks and bans, giving CLG Lissandra, Jarvan, Gnar, and Janna, four of the strongest priority picks which also work well with each other. If there was a team in the LCS who could possibly mess this up, especially given how upset heavy day one had been so far, it was CLG, but that would not be the case.
Doublelift and Aphroomo immediately stood out, as always, in the bottom lane, out trading and CSing Maplestreet and Dodo in an unfavorable matchup. CLG tried to secure the snowball with a dive, but T8 retaliated effectively, reversing the situation to net a kill onto Doublelift. T8 were able to make pressure plays, taking both bottom and middle outer towers within a minute of each other, but with a farm advantage in mid-lane and bot, CLG were not out yet.
Team 8 continued to press their advantage, using their tanky Sion to zone out CLG, claiming two kills off of them and Dragon at 22 minutes. CLG were able to grab T8’s middle tower in response, but things were still tense with CLG as Doublelift sat halfway between two items and a BotRK. Seeing a pick, CLG chased Dodo into T8’s jungle, getting him and Porpoise while being taken low themselves by Maplestreet’s Corki safely firing from behind Sion. Doublelift, showing why he’s talked about as one of the best ADC’s in NA, was able to clean up the fight, getting himself a triple kill and immediately completed his Infinity Edge. Tristana had been unleashed.
Using this power spike to full effect, CLG punished any miss-position by T8 with towers, starting more skirmishes with kills going to Doublelift and Link. With their comp reaching fruition, CLG were able to win back to back fights 4v5, missing Doublelift, getting themselves a second Dragon the first time and a Baron the second. T8, having little tower damage with the Trifoce Botrk Corki, were unable to capitalize on any man advantage with objectives, and CLG were able to close out the game at 34 minutes.
Credit to @gallexlol for the graphics!