On Jun 7th, the second day of week two of NA LCS, all hype was around the classic match between TSM and CLG. However, before the reigning champions of NA took out the team of potential quite convincingly, there was a game worth of excitement. Team Liquid against Gravity Gaming. Both teams fought once under the same banner of Curse, the former as their flagship LCS Team and the latter as a Challenger team known as Curse Academy. At the start of Season 5, Team Curse was bought by Team Liquid and Curse Academy which successfully entered the NA LCS changed their name to Gravity Gaming. The stage was set for a rivalry. As all other organizations with sister teams, these two teams scrimmed each other and shared coaches, but all that in the past becomes meaningless in the light of competition. When one enters the rift, the only hindrance one has to surpass is the opponent no matter whom.
In 2015 Spring Season, Team Liquid finished the regular split as 6th while Gravity overtook their sister team with a 5th place. Team Liquid proves in the playoffs; however, to be a superior team by defeating Team Impulse in the third place match which Gravity could not overcome in the quarterfinals. The aftermath of the Spring Season seemed to be that Team Liquid is an elite NA team which has faltered in the early part of the regular split, but could become a contender for the first place in summer. Gravity in contrast is a solid team, although not more than a middle of the pack team.
Team Liquid started their season strongly, going undefeated. Their past sister team struggled in week one, losing to Team Dragon Knights but reclaiming their morale by defeating the renowned Cloud 9 in a convincing manner. Still, going into the match last Sunday Team Liquid was the clear favorite.
But they lost. And it was not a close loss, they were crushed by Gravity. Questionably they left Ryze and Alistar open and first picked Rek’Sai on the blue side for IWDominate. In the second round of the draft Team Liquid let Gravity have Sivir who compliments the lack of engage of Ryze, and Move, GV’s new Korean jungler, picked up Jarvan IV who is weak against Piglet’s Vayne, but synergies well with the area of effect damage of Ryze and Sivir. On paper Liquid’s team composition look solid, but the amount of engage and targeted crowd control from the Gravity side was horrifying. Even on Xpecial on Janna, there was no way Team Liquid could kite all the engage possibilities of GV.
The game actually starts slightly in Team Liquid’s favor. Move overcommits on a top lane gank and while they manage to get Hauntzer on Ryze ahead, they give up a dragon for it. The mistake, however, which probably decided the outcome of the game, was a doomed top lane gank from Liquid’s side. IWDominate stayed around the tri-brush of the top lane, not noticing the ward of Gravity and proceeded to gank Ryze without the vision of the opposing jungler. Move, of course, was just waiting for IWDominate’s gank next to Hauntzer’s tower. It turned out to be a disaster for Team Liquid with Hauntzer getting yet another kill and Keane on Urgot who roamed top cleaning up the other.
IWDominate waiting for a top lane gank
After Keane killed Fenix twice in the mid lane with the help of Move and Bunny FuFu, the team fight in the blue side jungle of TL turned to be the nail in the coffin of the game. Four members of Team Liquid grouped up to catch Hauntzer, but they couldn’t finish the kill quickly enough and Gravity collapsed onto TL making it to a four for one trade. Keane collecting all four kills in the jungle fight and with six kills on the mid laner they take the baron to close the game seven minutes later.
Desperate attempt of Team Liquid to kill Hauntzer
Team Liquid made mistakes, but it is undeniable that Keane is developing to be a strong mid with his performance in week two. It is also important to note the diversity that Keane has shown which is almost unparalleled. Keane is infamous for his champion picks since his introduction of Hecarim mid against CLG in the relegation match last summer, and he was the first to pioneer Urgot mid in NA. Even in this split he busted out Malphite mid against TDK’s Viktor. Beyond his pocket picks which have been effective and entertaining at the same time, Keane has a very solid champion pool playing almost anything his team needs.
Gravity shot calling seemed to lack in the first week, but they caught up in the second week. If they can keep up their individual performance and improve their shot calling, they might become the next elite team of NA and eclipse their big brothers of Team Liquid. For the Team Liquid’s fans, this loss should not be worrying. Their pick-ban phase were doubtful and IWDominate decision to gank top without vision carried too many risks, but these problems will probably fixed next week.
Photo credits goes to Riot Games.