NA Quarterfinals - A Post-Mortem
If you'd told me two months ago that Urgot would be a top pick in the LCS, I would have said you were crazy. But so it has come to pass, and Urgot had a 100% pick/ban in the NALCS Quarterfinal games.
This fact is indicative of a broader one: that we are currently living through what might be the best competitive meta in League's history. The addition of Cinderhulk was a masterful stroke, and by opening up tank junglers and therefore altering the ways you can construct your team - alongside a slew of buffs to weaker champions - the amount of choices you can make presently in formulating a team comp is dizzying. The last few weeks of games have been my favorite to watch since getting into League.
But enough fanboying over 5.5/5.6, let's talk about the quarterfinals. I have entitled this analysis a 'post-mortem,' because this weekend really did mark the end of two compelling regular season narratives: that of a renewed chance for a #goldenage, and of a team of veterans rising to the challenges of a new season.
CLG vs. TL
It's been said a lot, but truly, CLG just seems to choke when it really matters. The first game was very entertaining to watch, featuring great tension between CLG's split-push comp and Team Liquid's teamfighting capability. This game was by far the best in the series, and both teams had a strong chance of victory right up to the end.
However, after their loss in game 1, CLG just looked defeated in their subsequent games. Much like they have done in the past, a setback in one game manifested itself in all the games that followed. And so, CLG was swept and their Spring Split ended with HotshotGG making his posts that "changes will be made."
At this point, it's honestly a little hard to know what to do. I don't believe CLG suffers from a lack of player skill, shot-calling, or any traditional areas of weakness in a League of Legends team. They seemed to defeat themselves: through questionable individual plays and by tilting as an entire team once they face a single setback.
By comparison, Team Liquid showed up in a way their fans have been saying they will all season long. Liquid looked phenomenal, showing a breadth of strategic play with 3 different team comps, and Piglet finally stepped up to the plate and became the carry his season 3 worlds credentials might indicated he could be. I especially loved their comp in Game 2. Seeing Piglet play a front line Kog'Maw was awe-inspring and I would love to see the damage stats for that game.
I'm not sure if TL has the consistency to beat C9, but this season shows they have real potential to go big during the Summer Split. By contrast, regarding CLG....I don't know. If you ever read this Doublelift, don't retire, I was to see you overcome your Leo DiCaprio syndrome. I just don't know what CLG can do to bounce back from this.
Gravity vs. Team Impulse
Gravity has consistently been my favorite team to watch this split. Between Keane's off-meta picks, Saint's early-game jungling and their innovative team comps, they consistently deliver a show. And going into this series, I gave them an edge over the inconsistent Team Impulse. However, in this assessment, I think I forgot the raw skill at the disposal of TIP. The calculated aggression and mechanics from TIP seemed to be the deciding factor in this match.
This series saw the first double smite of the NALCS on Hauntzer's Shyvana in Game 3, and Rush's super-aggressive brutalizer rush in Game 2. Neither was super-convincing in its respective game, but at least showed a willingness from both teams to try new things in a competitive setting. Game 2 was by far the best of this series, featuring numerous back and forth teamfights and stretching out to over 40 minutes. During the other three matches, TIP got ahead early and stayed ahead.
Still, I have to give mad props to Gravity for their performance this split. For Curse's B squad to go from Challenger to top 6 in the NA LCS is quite a feat. While I'm not sure they can make it out of NA next split, I think they're going to be a fixture in the NALCS for quite some time.
I have a really hard time seeing TIP defeat TSM, XiaoWeiXiao is going to have to show up in a way he hasn't since his LMQ days if TIP is going to prevail vs. TSM.