Aug 2 2015 - 6:24 pm
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[NACS Semi-Final Playoff Preview] LA Renegades vs. Team Imagine

Analysis and breakdown of the upcoming tie between LA Renegades and Team Imagine
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Background: LA Renegades (8-3 record)

LA Renegades, formerly known as Misfits, was established with the vision of creating a player-centric organization spearheaded by veteran LCS players Alex Ich and Crumbz. Support player Remilia would also join the team after impressing both Alex and Crumbz in solo queue. To fill out the remaining spots, the team recruited popular Twitch streamer and challenger top player RF Legendary and ADC Intense on a trial basis, but the latter was replaced by former Team 8 player Maplestreet. With this roster, Renegades comfortably qualified for the North American Challenger Series (NACS) going 8-1 against three different opponents. 

After qualifications, Renegades announced the signing of EU challenger ADC Jebus, as well as the addition of prominent esports figure and LCK caster MonteCristo as the organization’s co-owner. 

Background: Team Imagine (6-4 record)

Team Imagine has gone through several roster shuffles before settling on the their current team. The organization first competed in the challenger qualifier series under the name Team Magnetic, which was formed by ex-TSM Darkness members Arcsecond, Big Ol Ron, and Indivisible alongside challenger players ShorterAce and Moonway. However, Magnetic would make three roster swaps before participating in the qualifiers by replacing ShorterAce, Arcsecond, and Moonway with amateur players Dardoch, Wolfe, and themassacre8. This iteration of Team Magnetic would successfully qualify for the challenger series after beating CLG Black in the third-place match. The same roster would also compete in the NACS, but under a new brand: Team Imagine.

Four games into the split, however, the team would undergo a roster overhaul. The new Team Imagine: Former Fusion and Odyssey top laner Chunkyfresh, highly rated challenger jungler Moon, LCS veteran Mancloud, former Renegades ADC Intense, and one time CLG substitute support Baby. One week later, former Fnatic member Steeelback would join the team as their starting ADC. 

Player Matchups

Note: The latest iteration of Team Imagine has only played 6 games in the NACS (4 in Steeelback’s case).

Top lane: RF Legendary vs. Chunkyfresh

altAKP = Average Kill Participation  DPM = Damage Per Minute GD@10 = Gold Difference at 10 minutes EGPM = Earned Gold per Minute 

The two top laners are comparable in most areas, but differ significantly in the damage department. RF Legendary is known for his top lane Nidalee in solo queue, but has since expanded his champion pool to fit the competitive meta by playing tank tops, such as Shen and Maokai. However, RF has preferred to play damage top laners in the form of Rumble, Kennen, and Fizz. 

On the other end, Chunkyfresh excels in the tank role for his team, going 3-0 on his main champion Sion. The Imagine top laner has found less success on carry champions like Fizz and Yasuo, which limits his team’s strategy. 

Matchup Edge: RF Legendary

Chunkyfresh’s playstyle makes it predictable for Renegades to prepare for this matchup. Meanwhile, RF Legendary’s ability to play different styles at a competent challenger level gives Renegades a variety of strategy to implement, and his pocket picks also add an element of surprise to this matchup.

Jungle: Crumbz vs. Moon 

altAKP = Average Kill Participation  DPM = Damage Per Minute GD@10 = Gold Difference at 10 minutes EGPM = Earned Gold per Minute WPM = Wards Placed Per Minute

Crumbz was the first jungler in North America to prioritize early vision and deep warding during his time with Dignitas in the Season 4 summer split. This led to much of the team’s early split success before the rest of the league caught on. As evident in his stats, Crumbz still prioritizes vision. The Renegades jungler places 1.03 wards per minute, which is the highest out of any jungler in the NACS. Crumbz’s supportive style jungling is perfect for the team because it facilitates Renegade’s star player Alex Ich's ability to carry.

Crumbz’s counterpart is Moon. You likely do not know the player unless you pay attention to the challenger ladder. Moon is North America’s latest solo queue star that is now top 20 in challenger – having only placed diamond last season. Moon is an aggressive style jungler who prefers champions like Nidalee and Evelynn. In Imagine’s second game versus Winterfox, Moon was the team’s biggest damage dealer with his full AP Evelynn. His aggressive style is a breath of fresh air in North America's stale jungle climate.

Matchup Edge: Even

Old blood versus new blood. Compared to Crumbz, Moon has higher raw mechanical skill and is a bigger damage source for his team. However, what Crumbz lacks in mechanics, he makes up for with in-depth game knowledge and experience. Expect an interesting stylistic matchup between the two.

Mid Lane: Alex Ich vs. Mancloud

altAKP = Average Kill Participation  DPM = Damage Per Minute GD@10 = Gold Difference at 10 minutes EGPM = Earned Gold per Minute 

As one of League of Legends best midlaners of all time, Alex Ich needs no introduction. The former Gambit star has continued his carry play style with Renegades by dealing 656 damage per minute (2nd highest in NACS) and 38.8% of his team’s damage (2nd highest in NACS), while playing a variety of champions, such as Yasuo, Varus, and Irelia. However, Alex has not favored top meta picks Azir and Viktor in his time with Renegades (going 0-3 with both champions). While not too troubling in this matchup (especially due to the Azir nerf), this could hurt Renegades in the long run since Viktor has become a top priority pick.

On the other end of this matchup will be the well-travelled Mancloud. The former Vulcun midlaner has not been able to replicate his season 3 form, but his experience and versatility is valuable at the challenger level. Additionally, Mancloud’s stats hover around average and, unlike his counterpart, is able to play Viktor and Azir at a competent level. 

Matchup Edge: Alex Ich

Mancloud is a safe reliable midlaner, but he does not provide enough pressure in the midlane. On the other hand, Alex Ich has the ability to singlehandedly carry his team at this level of competition, especially on high DPM champions like Varus or Kog'maw.

Fun Fact: This will not be the first time these two midlaners battle on the rift. Back in Season 3's World Championship, Alex Ich and Gambit Gaming took two games off of Mancloud and Vulcun. 

ADC: Jebus/Maplestreet vs. Steeelback

alt AKP = Average Kill Participation  DPM = Damage Per Minute GD@10 = Gold Difference at 10 Minutes EGPM = Earned Gold per Minute 

Renegades initially signed Jebus with the intention of trying him out for the starting ADC spot. However, visa delays barred Jebus from joining the team until mid-split. Fortunately for Renegades, Maplestreet performed well as a substitute, and when Jebus finally arrived, the team hesitated to bench Maplestreet due to the valuable synergy the squad had already built up. Therefore, both players were used in scrims and in Renegades’ remaining games. One ailing stat for Renegades is that both ADCs have been dealing below average damage, which could hurt the team's chances in the playoffs. 

Meanwhile, their counterpart will be Steeelback. Team Imagine are undefeated with the former Fnatic player in 4 games. Steelback has the highest kill participation in the NACS at 83.9% (albeit in only 4 games), as well as the highest damage per minute in his position (609 damage; 176 damage above the average ADC). His damage numbers are particularly impressive in a non-ADC meta. Unfortunately, Imagine’s poor early game strategy puts them behind consistently, which sets Steeelback behind early on (-132 gold difference at 10 minutes).

Matchup Edge: Steeelback

Steeelback is undoubtedly the team's primary carry and is the reason Imagine are a strong playoff contender. In addition, Steeelback is the team’s shotcaller and is instrumental in the team’s victories despite being set behind in gold early on. 

Support: Remilia vs. Baby 

altAKP = Average Kill Participation WPM = Wards Placed Per Minute WCM = Wards Cleared Per Minute

Remilia is renowned for being one of the best Thresh players in the challenger scene that it often leads to the enemy banning it (Remilia is 3-0 when Thresh is available). Remilia is also proficient on Morgana. On those two champions, Remillia is a LCS level support. However, outside of those two champions, Remilia’s impact is reduced because there is less playmaking involved. Moreover, the Renegades support player is not known for her Alistar, which could hurt Renegades due to the champion’s strength in the current meta. 

On Team Imagine, their support player Baby is most known for subbing in for CLG last year when the first team boot camped in Korea during the last week of the LCS summer split. In terms of skill, Baby is an average challenger player with limited experience, but has found some success as an engager for the team.

Matchup Edge: Remilia

On a skill level, Remilia is far ahead of Baby. However, this matchup will be heavily influenced by the ADCs. With that said, I believe the duo of Steeelback and Baby is far superior than the duo of Jebus/Maplestreet and Remilia.  

Early Game Team Differences

altGD@15 = Gold Difference at 15 Minutes FT Kills = First Turret Kills FT Time = First Turret Killed Time

The table above presents how effective both teams are collectively in the early game. Renegades are one of the two teams in challenger that understand laneswaps and how to play out the early game (the other being Team Coast). On average, Renegades are the Fastest Turret Killers in the NACS (8.6 minutes) and possess the second highest Gold Differential at 10 minutes (+1259 gold). This does not come as a surprise considering the team is lead by Crumbz. What is worrying for Renegades is that the require this lead in order to get Alex Ich in a position to carry. This is primarily because the midlaner is overwhelmingly the team's largest damage source, and if he does not receive a lead the whole team suffers. 

Before Steeelback’s arrival, Imagine had a poor track record of taking down the first turret in a game (17%) and were usually playing with a huge gold deficit at the 15 minute mark (-1650 gold). This reactive style of play did not change with the addition of Steeelback, even though he has assumed shot calling responsibilities. While the gold deficit at 15 minutes decreases with Steeelback on the team, it is important to note that Imagine with Steeelback has not faced the top 2 teams in the 4 games he has played (Team Coast and their semi-final opponents, Renegades).

With such a limited amount of data, it is hard to gauge exactly how Imagine will do against a tougher opponent. However, considering that the team still struggled strategically versus lower placed opponents in the early game, it is safe to say that this trend will continue versus Renegades. 

Conclusion

Team Imagine have an exciting line up with Steeelback and Moon, but the whole team lacks the experience and synergy that the members of Renegades have accumulated over the past few months. Imagine's best chance of winning will be to to reduce Alex Ich's impact by preventing Renegades from snowballing a gold lead. This won't be an easy task, however, due to Imagine's sub-par early game.

Overall, Renegades have shown signs of growing pains with the arrival of Jebus, and they are not without their glaring weaknesses. If Imagine avoid a huge early game deficit, I can see them taking a game off of their opponents. Additionally, the tie will be a best of 3, so the chances of an upset exist. However, I highly value experience and Alex Ich's ability to carry at this level of competition.

Players to Watch: Alex IchMoon 

Prediction: LA Renegades/Team Solo Ich (2-1)

 

You can catch the semi-final between Renegades and Team Imagine Tuesday (8/4) at 6pm PST/9PM EST

If you have any comments or questions about this article feel free to tweet me @Empyre19

Stats provided by OraclesElixir.com

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