Regional Qualifer: TL vs C9 Review
On August 31st, 2015 Could 9 played Team Liquid in the Regional Qualifier for North America’s 3rd seed for worlds. Team Liquid had a very heartbreaking series against Cloud 9 where they once again failed to qualify to worlds. This time around TL had three different ways they could of gone to worlds and missed all of them. Counter Logic Gaming won the Summer Split, Team SoloMid had the most points, and Cloud 9 won the Regional Qualifier. I wanted to review this series but a lot of it was awful drafting from TL. If we looked at different picks and bans we can’t say what would have happened but we can get an idea of possible fixes. C9 did have their own mistakes but their drafts were much solid so they got a lot of leeway in game compared to TL. Each team did have their own misplays and faults in shot calling and I’ll make note of it once it has more relevance over the draft. For the most part this series was a decided mostly through drafting.
(I did decide to back to Excel Sheets because I like it more)
Team Liquid lost the first game completely from picks and bans. First off they use two of their bans very poorly on Karma and Elise. Karma has a negative win ratio so it surprises me this was even banned if anything you would want Cloud 9 to take the Karma because they are willing to pick it. The Nidalee ban is up for debate but I think leaving Elise up and banning Nidalee is a better option. If you are going to first pick a jungler Elise is much more valuable as she can go damage but can also be a front line if needed. Even if C9 wants to ban the Elise instead you still open up first pick options for the Braum or whatever ban C9 decides to drop if any. C9 does go on to win the draft because TL only gets one damage threat in Vayne and they don’t even lane swap to make sure Vayne can make it too late game. Draven and Braum run over Vayne and Alistar in the early game because Vayne and Alistar need levels to become stronger whereas Draven and Braum are strong in the early levels. If TL really wants to run a Jugger Vayne composition I would have swapped out two of their picks. Nautilus and Alistar could have been swapped for Shen and Janna. We see C9 is opting for a team fight composition in their draft so getting Shen and Janna adds to the peel for Vayne. You just add more healing, shields, disengage, and buffs for Vayne. Their composition does not want to straight up team fight C9’s team. The way TL composition played out in game one was a mix of engage attempt to fight then lose because Braum blocked all of Vayne’s damage while C9 just jumped onto the opposing members of TL. TL doesn’t even try to split push during the game even though they know they can’t win straight up team fights. If you want to run a Jugger Vayne you need to play to kite and protect the Vayne so she can actually do damage. Another idea would be to but Quas on a top lane champion like Fizz because it is known that Balls is struggling. Quas has the ability to beat Balls so why isn’t he getting some type of bruiser or lane bully to play against Balls. A Fizz pick would also dive a 2nd damage threat so Gragas can’t just camp bot lane the entire game.
This time around both compositions are well made by both sides. Team Liquid has a nice control team fight and Cloud 9 has more of a pick styled composition. I’m still not on board with the Nidalee ban over an Elise ban. The one thing I would debate changing is grabbing the Shen before Corki on TL’s side since C9 already had a marksman and you can pretty much guess C9 wants Shen. Shen would also allow them to match C9’s global pressure with the TP on Diana. The one thing TL did have was the fact that their lanes are stronger early game compared to C9’s picks. That early power did help them secure a win because they could turn fights while C9 was trying to scale. A good bit of this game was C9 trying to make a play and over committing so TL would punish them and get kills. For the most part I think C9 had the right idea because Hai wants to snowball his mid and top lane to create global pressure but would over force. Incarnation would over extend and he got three man ganked and Hai tried to get a pick top and it went poorly. Balls didn’t use Shen ultimate to join the fight but Incarnation teleport so TL was able to burst out Hai before he could much of anything. If Hai had gotten that Shen ultimate maybe he would have lived longer to do more damage but that lack of Shen ultimate shows some miscommunication in C9.
This time around Team Liquid drafts the same champions and Cloud 9 goes back to a team fight composition. TL plays draft really poorly again. The first thing is they ban the Draven but they don’t first pick the Vayne. Kalista is permanently banned and you got rid of the Draven from first game so why wasn’t Vayne first picked for TL. They got rid of the early pressure and just gave up Vayne. Also there is an issue of running the same team composition because C9 knows how TL wants to play their composition. That first game gives them so much information on what to abuse about the way TL plays this composition. C9 does a good job of grabbing a lot of zone control to zone off the front line of TL so Sneaky can use Vayne to just free fire on the front line. The Equalizer and Parallel Convergence do a good mix of damage and CC to make sure the front line also takes a lot of damage. TL for some reason doesn’t even try to pick up a split push or death brush to try and avoid team fights where they won’t be able get the Vayne. This is more of a problem with NA in general where they always group and almost never try a different strategy. TL draft is weak because they failed to adapt to the new C9 team composition that is built to deal with TL composition. There was also miscommunication on TL’s side in this game. There were also scenarios where TL was sieging 2nd tier tower and Gragas knocked Orianna into Corki and out of the Gravity Field so Corki died. There was also poor priority on target picks. Xpecial would choose knock back Orianna over Vayne. Even though Orianna is the middle lane carry the problem is her shield also gives her defensive stats and she will more than likely get Zhonya’s Hourglass to keep herself alive. Vayne on the other hand does not have those options so she is more likely to die to Viktor and Corki immediately.
This game is another where Team Liquid loses from the draft. TL does not ban the Draven this time and they still pick Vayne early on even though they know the Draven is still open. This is the opposite of what should have happened like Vayne should have been picked for TL last game and waited on this game. I’m also not entire fan of the Lulu top either in this composition because it makes sure Rek’sai has to be a tank or Draven will shred this team. This Lulu pick hardly helps Fenix get good Orianna Shock Waves because it require Rek’Sai to be in a spot to know up three to four people or it relies on Cloud 9 to ignore it or over extend into the ball. Lulu is more or less there just to help Vayne stay alive but it doesn’t help if Vayne has no front line peel. Then the only thing stopping Draven is the Braum wall and Rek’Sai but you have the issue of C9 having more than one damage threat so they kill people very fast on TL’s side. This time around they don’t even have decent lane match ups for lane phase either. Before most of TL’s lanes in other games could at least go even but Lulu can’t bully out Sion, Orianna does have a little bit of trouble against Viktor until chalice, and Draven and Morgana can kill Braum or Vayne early with their damage, a two to three second snare, and spell shield blocking Braum’s passive. TL’s composition as a whole this game does not function well together because each champion just wants to do something different but the champions can’t balance themselves out. It is another game where the win condition is more in split pushing but they never try and their composition does not split push well.
To sum the series up we saw the inconsistent Team Liquid show up for the Region Qualifier. TL’s poor drafting shines through even hard in best of five formats. They default themselves to a team fight style but the way they play picks and bans does not help them accomplish their in game goal. It puts them in a position where they can lose games in draft phase. These bad drafts also lead them to struggle in game through communication and play. C9 on the other hand was willing to pick different champions to fully expose TL’s poor drafting. They knew what their objective was and picked a team that could accomplish what they wanted to do. TL fans now have to wait another year to see if they can finally make it to a world championship and C9 gets to go onto a trip to worlds.
(I would have gone into detail about different draft possibilities and the games but I did not want the article to be 10 pages. I'll keep the articles decent length so it is not a chore to read.)