Mid Split Crisis

Week 5

This instalment of Tracking Liquid will depart from the previous format slightly, with the sole focus being on their recent game against Dignitas, which I believe highlights some of their key flaws but also contains some hope for the team overall. Whilst this match-up seems fairly one-sided on the surface, a closer look at how both teams play the series gives us a clearer indication of the difference in level between them.

Looking Back

Overview.

Team Liquid currently sits in last place alongside Team Envy, with an overall series score of 2-8 (20%) and a total game score of 9-17 (34.6%). team-liquid-week-5-ranking

A look at the overall rankings table for NALCS Spring Split provides us with some context to these rankings, and in particular the total number of games that Team Liquid as played. Having played 26 out of the total 30 games possible we can postulate that Liquid often win at least 1 game in their series despite their poor win record. Compared to Team Envy, who are also sitting in last place, we see that they have both less games and wins hinting that they often fail to pick up even a single win in their series. This presents a small nugget of hope for Team Liquid fans in that they are able to at least take a win in each of those series, and depending on how lopsided the subsequent matches are could indicate that Liquid have simply not found their identity as of yet.

In fact a further look at how the two bottom series-outcome-between-tl-and-nvteams stack up against each other shows that NV has a higher level of variance, winning and losing in extremes far more often than TL. This at least shows TL to be the more consistent team, which will benefit them more if they are able to fix some of their current problems. It
should be noted that one of the series in which
NV scored a 2-0 was against TL, and so series-outcome-between-tl-and-nv-other-teams-onlyremoving that set of data causes the graph to look a little differently. Here we can clearly see the less high-end variance for NV and less low-end variance for TL.

This establishes that although TL have not been performing as expected, with each series being somewhat disappointing in terms of the level of play, there is still at least the potential for growth.

TL vs DIG.

Despite winning the first game TL were unable to close out this series allowing for DIG to bounce back 2 games in a row. Throughout this series we see TL slowly start to collapse, from Botlane picking Caitlyn 3 games in a row despite Ashe being available, to Goldenglue having a particularly poor performance overall.

Game 1

TL vs DIG Game 1 P&B.jpg

Coming into the draft we see Liquid first pick Leblanc, followed by Rengar + Maokai. This sets them up with an immediate front-line from which they can start teamfights and skirmishes, in which both Rengar and Leblanc excel. This then allows DIG to secure a priority ADC in Jhin, and also both the Corki and Graves to provide poke and waveclear. Since TL currently have 2 damage sources compared to the 3 from DIG, we can expect them to look for a strong botlane combo that scales well. DIG has the beginnings of a siege comp, but currently lack the tanks/disengage to prevent TL from simply running them down with Maokai/Rengar.

TL vs DIG Game 1 P&B #2.jpg

After the second phase we see TL secure a fairly rounded composition, with a mixture of damage types and some decent scaling in the Caitlyn. At this point we can begin to identify which lanes are going to be the focus of this game, with TL focusing botside, whilst DIG look to play topside. However Reignover also has the option to look for a gank topside in the early game, with Maokai being able to provide the setup and wanting to put the Camille behind as much as possible. Looking at the composition DIG has formed shows that they have doubled down on a poke/pick comp with the later inclusion of Thresh and Camille who want to isolate targets or force a pick around an objective. This type of glass cannon composition requires a lot of teamwork and synergy in order to be played successfully, and having not seen much of that from DIG recently seems fairly risky.

During the early game we see Reignover path towards botside in order to provide vision for the early push that Piglet and Matt are developing, in exchange for this Chaser looks to get Ssumday ahead with a gank onto Lourlo, forcing his flash and the tp from Goldenglue. Because of this early TL botside push, they are able to take first turret at just 5 minutes into the game, and netting themselves a kill in process. And because Reignover spent the rest of this time topside, DIG were unable to get anything in return.

TL vs DIG Game 1 Early botlane rotation.jpg

Having taken botlane T1, TL then rotates their botlane to topside in order to start clearing up some of the gold stored in these outer turrets. At 12 minutes we see a rather clever play from Goldenglue in using the Leblanc clone to scare DIG away from that topside T1 in case of a dive, allowing TL to secure it with no trouble. TL now have a 3k gold advantage + mountain drake all from their botlane advantage, which they then use to force DIG off the next cloud drake, taking that for themselves as well.

At this point TL are trying to chip away to secure the midlane T1, and despite a number of kills traded back and forth as people get caught out of position, they are able to set up a TP play topside which allows them to then rotate back to the midlane in order to finally take the T1. With these outer turrets gone the game reaches a stalemate, with TL pushing in both mid/topside whilst contesting vision around that topside jungle. At this point they are trying to force DIG into checking baron so that they can make a pick or force a teamfight whilst they are ahead.

Eventually they are able to pick off Chaser trying to contest vision, which leads them to secure Baron and an extra kill onto Ssumday. TL are able to then push 1-4 across top/midside with Goldenglue forcing DIG to send at least 2 people to deal with him. At this point DIG are too far down in gold to win teamfights, and the scaling of Caitlyn/Maokai allows them to easily win the final teamfight around the drake pit.

Liquid 1-0 DIG

Game 2

TL vs DIG Game 2 P&B.jpg

During the draft for game 2, we see an interesting adaptation from DIG as they ban the Maokai away from Lourlo, and first pick Jayce as a flex pick for mid/top. We then see TL also adapt by moving to a more supportive jungler in the form of Ivern, which suggests strong solo laners for him to work with. They secure this initially in the form of Caitlyn again, plus the poppy which has a fairly strong laning phase. At the end of the first draft stage we see DIG again with multiple sources of damage, whilst TL are looking to build on the success of the botlane from last game.

TL vs DIG Game 2 P&B #2.jpg

At the end of game 2 draft phase we see TL with a slightly toned down version of their previous comp, removing 2 damage sources in the Rengar/Zyra and looking towards a more supportive based comp with the Ivern/Nami. This reduction in damage however is of concern though, as DIG have built a high damage comp with plenty of poke/siege, and now TL no longer have the threat of Rengar with which to contest vision battles around objectives. The early game pressure from the Nidalee pick also threatens to snowball multiple lanes, already forcing TL to think about how to survive the upcoming early game.

TL vs DIG Game 2 first 5 minutes.jpg

A brief snapshot at the 5 minute mark of game 2 shows early leads for DIG across the topside of the map, with botlane down in cs (as expected against Caitlyn). However shortly after we see Keane get an early recall, and using his tp is able to return to lane with an item advantage over Goldenglue.

TL vs DIG Game 2 Jayce first blood.jpg

Here we can see that DIG have already spotted the incoming gank from Reignover, and Chaser begins moving towards mid in order to support Keane. At this point DIG have the stronger duo and so should win the fight, but an incredible 1v2 from Keane means that doesn’t even need the help from Chaser. If you haven’t watched the first blood I would highly recommend you doing so here and slowing the speed down to 0.25/0.5 in order to understand how he plays this fight.

TL vs DIG Game 2 keane is a god.jpg

At this point we see that not only does Jayce still have all his abilities ready, but Leblanc has missed her cc and is not yet 6 in order to cast the mimic on the chains. This means that Reignover not longer has a guaranteed stun, and exhaust is almost about to run out. The moment exhaust is finished we see Keane turn the fight, hitting a two-man accelerated shock blast, he then switches into hammer stance and q-w comboes onto Reignover killing him and dropping Goldenglue low enough to secure the double kill with flash. The fact that Keane was able to land 2 aoe abilities onto both Goldenglue and Reignover, plus the early item advantage, allows him to turn this gank into an advantage for DIG.

TL vs DIG Game 2 Piglet brainfreeze.jpg

At 11 minutes we see a recurring theme with TL botlane, Piglet getting caught whilst still having his summoners up. There are a number of possible reasons for this continuing mistake; such as underestimating opponents damage, overestimating his ability to outplay the situation or simply not processing the situation fast enough to react. This kill for DIG botlane means that TL are going to struggle to convert their only lane advantage into something more tangible, as LOD will now be able to catch up in cs and xp.

Another gank from Chaser onto the midlane allows DIG to follow up their earlier advantage netting a kill onto Goldenglue, and giving them the gold for first turret which goes onto Keane.

TL vs DIG Game 2 x9 Botlane.jpg

With Xpecial landing key snares onto TL botlane, we see the only winning lane for TL begin to crumble with a pick onto Matt translating into a kill and eventually the botside T1 turret. At this point the game should be easy for DIG to close out, all their lanes have a gold advantage and their full damage composition has an early lead.

From here DIG are able to rotate around the map and use their siege comp to force TL away from defending their outer turrets. With all outer turrets down, DIG are able to copy TL from game 1, by clearing vision in topside jungle and forcing them to check Baron blind. This enables them to get a pick onto Goldenglue which allows them to further siege TL base, taking mid and botside inhibitors. Ultimately because DIG damage composition was allowed to get an early lead through Keane’s early double kill, plus TL botlane playing far too aggressively. This early lead makes a siege comp highly obnoxious to play against as they are able to either poke TL off their turrets, or force them to try and engage at a gold disadvantage.

Whilst these early plays led to TL losing this series, I feel that they had already handicapped themselves in the draft phase, losing 2 damage dealers in exchange for putting all their eggs in that botlane basket.

DIG 1 – 1 Liquid

Game 3

TL vs DIG Game 3 P&B.jpg

Straight away we can see TL looking to replicate the success they had in game 1, this time with a scaling midlaner and splitpush/peel oriented champion in the toplane. DIG is also looking at another heavy damage composition, with neither side changing things up a great deal. It should be noted that Ssumday and LOD have both played the same 2 champions the whole series, and it’s interesting to see that TL seem quite happy with giving away the Camille pick.

TL vs DIG Game 3 P&B #2.jpg

This time we see DIG pivot away from the siege comps that they have favoured this series, into a more pick reliant composition with Elise and Malzahar being taken in the second rotation. The overall composition from DIG has huge zone control potential, in which they can control large areas in which TL are unable to walk around objectives. This forces TL to be able to engage with either the Poppy, or to have enough vision control to make a pick onto someone from DIG. Overall I think that TL have a strong late game teamfighting composition, which is somewhat reliant on vision control in order for Lourlo to make a tp engage to set up the fights. If TL are unable to do this then they will have trouble contesting the vision required to set up for teamfights at the neccessary objectives.TL vs DIG Game 3 Malz cheese.jpg

Immediately we see DIG botlane look to secure an advantage for themselves by using the voidlings to tank red buff, allowing them to potentially steal it away. However TL have placed a ward by the red buff in order to check for exactly this, causing Piglet and Matt to leave TL vs DIG Game 3 Cassio priority 2.jpgbotlane and contest the steal. In the second picture we see another case of TL botlane playing overly aggressive, with both Piglet and Matt flashing into the drake pit in order to kill LOD who had secured the red buff. From TL perspective they feel pressured to succeed in their only lane winning match-up, and so LOD having red buff would prevent that. Despite the understandable rationale for wanting to win the botlane match-up, they should know that Cassiopeia will have an early push against Ryze, and so Keane is already zoning Goldenglue from joining the fight, whilst being in position to take a 2-1 trade himself. At the end of it all we see Keane once again with a double kill, plus the red buff, whilst the laning phase has barely even started.

TL vs DIG Game 3 First turret.jpg

Despite the early advantage for DIG, TL are still able to capitalise on their botlane in order to secure the first turret and burning the exhaust from Xpecial. This trade prompts TL to back, during which time DIG manage to just sneak the Infernal drake at the cost of two members due to a tp play from Lourlo.

TL vs DIG Game 3 TL understand their comp finally.jpg

This play from Liquid demonstrates that they understand how to play to this comp, as Reignover was able to place a ward by redside blue buff from taking the T1 botside. This allows for Lourlo to make the tp play necessary to start the teamfight that TL needs. With Chaser being low from taking dragon he attempts to be a sacrificial lamb in order to allow the rest of DIG to make it out, but Lourlo is able to flank and also take out Xpecial in the process. With the two kills for TL, DIG doesn’t come out of this trade too good, despite picking up the best drake for scaling and also furthering the cs advantage for Ssumday as he opts to not follow Lourlo’s tp botlane. With a 1.8k gold advantage on a decently scaling composition, we see TL set up for success and confident in the knowledge that they are able to successfully make their overall composition work.

TL vs DIG Game 3 TL vision battles.jpg

At around 14 minutes an example of why contesting vision in this game is so important for the success of TL’s comp. TL had been unable to clear the pink ward line past the river, and so when Reignover moves past that to contest vision we see that DIG is able to make a pick with multiple forms of cc. Because Keane is closer than Goldenglue to this skirmish, he is able to provide another form of zone control which prevents additional TL members from joining this fight. Without sufficient support and knowledge of where DIG members are, it is fairly reckless of TL to push up like this and risk getting engaged on. Even with another infernal drake about to spawn, Reignover needs to wait for both Goldenglue and Matt to be in a position to support him gaining deep vision for another tp flank from Lourlo.

TL vs DIG Game 3 TL forced tp play.jpg

This leads to DIG being able to contest infernal drake 4v5 as rengar is unable to join the fight in time. Here we see Ssumday match the tp from Lourlo to ensure that they do not lose another fight, this means that whilst both teams burn tp, TL suffers most from it as they are reliant on it for starting their teamfights as a method of avoiding the zone control from DIG.

TL vs DIG Game 3 TL Goldenglue gets caught.jpg

Here we see TL attempting to make a tp flank with Lourlo, as a preclusion to securing baron. However straight away we see that the core of DIG; Chaser, Xpecial and Jhin are already engaging onto Goldenglue in order to force a 4v5. With Malzahar ult down TL are still determined to force the tp play, despite only Malzahar ult being down. The resulting fight is a disaster as TL lack the damage provided by Ryze, and Reignover dies almost immediately upon attempting to pick of Xpecial, wasting a Lulu ult in the process. This allows DIG to secure the Baron and push in to take the lead in turrets and gold.

TL vs DIG Game 3 TL vision is key.jpg

During the final teamfight we see how important having vision control is for DIG, as they are able to make sure that any deep wards from TL have been removed, denying Lourlo the opportunity to make the tp engage that TL need in order to set up for a successful teamfight. Because TL are unable to split the zone of control from DIG, they are forced to all channel in from one direction.

TL vs DIG Game 3 TL zone control to major tom.jpg

The delay in teleport from Lourlo means that TL main source of damage is already dead before he even gets there, with Lulu ult also having already been used. This forces him to walk at DIG through the zone of control from Jhin/Cass/Camille, i.e. he can’t enter the fight at all.

Throughout this game we see glimpses of understanding from TL, prioritising deep vision at drake in order to allow Lourlo to tp engage so that they can set up their teamfights. However towards the late-game they seem to lack the coordination or synergy in order get this deep vision against the pick comp from DIG.

Series overview

Ultimately this series bodes well for both teams, and despite TL also losing their next series against CLG it shows that they have glimmers of understanding of how to play their compositions. The main troubles that emerge from this series is that TL drafted the same composition 3 times in a row, with the second one just being a slightly worse version of the rest. And whilst we also see that DIG doesn’t switch up their composition a whole lot, they are often thrown early leads by TL being far too aggressive or not understanding how to play their composition in the late-game. A prime example is the 3rd game in which TL were unable to secure deep vision for Lourlo to set up the teamfights with a tp flank, which then prompted them to run into DIG 4v5 with Reignover immediately dying. To other teams this says that TL will eventually hand you win either with miscalculated early aggression or poor decision making late-game. All this seems rather harsh on TL, and I do commend them in actively making these aggressive plays, the lack of consistency in how and when they make these plays really hinders their overall performance. In the game that they did win TL were able to transition their lead botlane into global gold from all the outer turrets. From here they successfully controlled baron vision topside which forced DIG to blindly check into them, eventually securing them the victory. This victory was fairly clean and was actually a rather impressive performance from TL, and so I look to them in the coming weeks to establish how and when they can continue to make these aggressive plays that allows them to generate their leads.

All stats are taken from Oracleselixer.com.

 

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The Prediction Addiction – FNC vs SPY

Friday  – Fnatic vs Splyce

Today I will be focusing on the toplane match-up between sOAZ and Wunder, with particular attention being given to the differences in champion pool and how that might affect the overall draft between the two teams.

SOAZ

B_N M_OK_I.

Immediately we see a trend emerging in the sort of composition that FNC like to run, sOAZ most played champion this split is by far the Maokai at 5 games in total with some overall impressive stats to back it up.

sOAZ champion pool.jpg

With an 80% winrate, and his only loss being to G2, Maokai has played a key role in helping FNC to win those late-game teamfights. A closer look at how sOAZ compares to the rest of EULCS identifies that he is not just a KDA player either, with the 3rd highest kill participation, highest DPM and second highest in share of overall team damage. In fact sOAZ tops most of the numbers when compared to other EULCS toplaners on the Maokai and is one of the few to not be down in gold, xp and cs at the 10 minute mark.

sOAZ Maokai.jpg

Even more interesting is that once the 15 minute mark is reached sOAZ then receives even fewer resources with which to operate, and still manages to top the charts in overall DPM. In fact the only other laner who really matches sOAZ on this pick is Alphari, and we can see from the 25% FB rate that he receives more jungle pressure in order to do so.

SOAZ definitely has experience playing these low economy picks, with Lulu being his most played champion of all time. And so it is somewhat unsurprising that he is able to get the most out of these champions. As a result I expect to see Splyce either come prepared with a pick for Wunder in order to bully that match-up, or to simply ban out the Maokai completely.

SOAZ on carry champions.

A look at the carry oriented champions he has played this split reveals of mixed bag that doesn’t really allow any definite conclusions to be drawn. We have seen that sOAZ is not adverse to playing more carry oriented champions, having played Gnar, Gangplank and Illaoi with a 50% winrate across 4 games with them.

A closer look at the scenarios where sOAZ is put on these carry champions begins to shed a little more light on the situation. With each of these carry oriented toplaners being played against GIANTS!, ROCCAT and Vitality. In other words when playing against teams that FNC believe they match-up well against, we see sOAZ put on champions that can either carry, or exert pressure through splitpushing.

FNC toplane carry picks.jpg

It also strikes me as interesting that when the games against both GIANTS! and Vitality went to 3 games, we saw sOAZ revert back to the Maokai pick, and whilst he did play a carry during the 3rd game against ROCCAT it will be interesting to follow how 3rd game draft for FNC look at the end of the season.

It is difficult to draw a conclusion as to how sOAZ performs on the carry champions, partly due to the limited number of games but also due to the inconsistencies in results. We have seen a standout performance on the Gnar and good overall laning from the 2 Gangplank games, so it would not be surprising to see these two picks make an appearance if sOAZ is able to get his hands on a carry oriented champion.

A side note is the lack of Rumble games from sOAZ so far, with it being his third most played champion of all-time it is somewhat peculiar that he has yet to bring it out this split.

SOAZ on non-Maokai tank champions.

The rest of the picks for sOAZ this split have been tanky initiating champions, with 2 games apiece on Shen and Nautilus, and just the 1 game on Poppy.

infographic sOAZ champion pool spring 2017 pre week 5.jpg

However if we then compare that to the overall winrate of these picks, we begin to see the bigger picture coming into view.

infographic sOAZ games won spring 2017 pre week 5.jpg

With only 1 game win on a tank that wasn’t Maokai we being to see that sOAZ has been struggling overall when not on that champion, with an average-poor laning phase, low jungle attention and the worst share of allocated CS post-15 minutes.

sOAZ overall stats.jpg

In a meta where toplaner/jungle resources are some of the most important to allocate we see that FNC are simply not dedicating sOAZ the same resources that other teams would for their toplaner, which may indicate as to why sOAZ seems to be struggling some games.

FNC resource allocation.jpg

A broader look at FNC’s resource allocation shows that not only does Rekkles finish the game with the most gold% of his team, but post-15 minutes he is also given the most CS of his team by a wide margin, with Caps coming in second. This focus on the botside of the map may be why FNC as a whole have struggled to win some of their games this split, as more resources are required to win through the botside, than the topside of the map ¹.

Final thoughts on what to expect from sOAZ.

Ultimately I expect Splyce to have already figured out the when sOAZ does well it tends to be on the Maokai pick, in which he is able to generate advantages from his experience in the laning phase. I also expect that if the series goes to 3 games we will see sOAZ default to a tank pick, again preferably Maokai if it’s not taken away. In terms of carry oriented champions, I would not be surprised to see either the Gnar or Gangplank pick as both are able to generate either their own lane advantages or passively acquire gold (GP). I also think we might see the Rumble pick from him, however I would have serious reservations about the ability of FNC to play around toplane and set him up for success.

Wunder

Allowing Splyce to Stand United.

Conversely we have seen Wunder opt for Shen over the Maokai, playing 5 out of his 11 games on the champion, or 45.5% overall. Wunder’s stats have been less impressive on his most played champion with quite a poor early laning phase pre-10 minutes.

Wunder Shen.jpg

Losing in both gold, xp and cs during that early game doesn’t bode well for Wunder, however his KP on Shen is one of the highest, and we see him rank top for allocated resources post 15-minutes at 28.4% and 3rd for overall DPM amongst other toplaners who have also played Shen. This trend of being allocated resources is still noticeable once we remove Shen as a parameter and consider how we matches-up amongst toplaners overall, with him ranking 4th for both CS post-15 minutes and overall gold% of his team overall.

In order to find out why Splyce invests so heavily into this Shen pick we cannot consider him in isolation, as the reason to pick him in the first place is derived from his global ultimate that allows him to effectively splitpush in a 1-3-1 formation whilst threatening to tip the scale in any skirmish or teamfight that emerges during that point. For this purpose we shall look at the the overall team compositions that Splyce pick Shen alongside, and see if there are any overarching trends to observe.

splyce-shen-game-1splyce-shen-game-2splyce-shen-game-3splyce-shen-game-4splyce-shen-game-5

Apart from the 1 game against H2K we see that Shen is always picked along with 3 major damage dealers, and especially paired with Kobbe on a more damage based ADC.

damage sources with shen.jpg

Here we see that the favoured combination for Splyce when picking Shen is Kha’Zix, Corki and Caitlyn. In fact both midlane and jungle run high damage threats with Shen, with ADC typically picking damage but able to flex with utility as well.

victory lanes with shen.jpg

Narrowing it down to the exact composition used by Splyce during a winning game shows that Kha’Zix and Corki have been staple in making the Shen pick work, with a high damage ADC preferred, but not essential.

For Splyce this means that if they want to draft the Shen as a comfort pick for Wunder, then they need to plan these other 3 picks in advance, with special consideration given to Jungle and Midlane champions.

Wunder on carry champions.

wunder-champion-pool

A cursory look at the number of champions played by Wunder this split show 6 unique picks, with a 33.3% winrate overall on champions that aren’t Shen. In terms of carry champions Wunder has only played 2 games compared to the 4 from sOAZ. Despite the small sample size for Wunder, we can see that even though Wunder gets a greater CS share post-15 minutes overall he outputs less DPM than sOAZ and does less of his teams overall damage as a percentage.

Wunder vs sOAZ.jpg

However Wunder did have a standout performance on Rumble against UOL during week 3, and so we have seen that he is able to translate those resources invested into a win.

Ultimately we see that Wunder has spent most of this season on tanks, with Shen being a priority pick for him.

Comparison of sOAZ and Wunder.

Both toplaners are currently prioritising tanks, with sOAZ heavily favouring Maokai whilst Wunder opts for Shen. We have seen both of them put on carry performances, and demonstrate that they can play carries to some degree. In terms of resource allocation we see that Wunder receives a greater CS share post-15 minutes and generally ends the game with a greater percentage of overall team gold than sOAZ does. However Wunder on average outputs roughly the same amount of DPM as sOAZ and does less damage as a total percentage of his team. This shows that despite both toplaners currently opting for tanks, sOAZ is able to “do more with less”, allowing more resources to be channelled into the rest of his team.

In order for Splyce to win this series I think that Wunder is going to have to step up his performance regardless of whether he is playing tanks or carries, and provide a greater return for the amount of resources that are being invested in him. That being said, Wunder has been having success on the Shen pick as it enables Kobbe to play the higher damage ADC’s that he prefers including the Caitlyn pick. If Splyce choose this as their game-plan then they are going to have to dedicate less resources to Wunder in order for Kobbe to match the investment that Rekkles receives from FNC.

For FNC one of two things needs to happen for them to win this series, either sOAZ needs to be placed on a carry whilst actually receiving the resources and jungle attention in order to allow him to succeed, or the mid and botlane that are currently receiving the bulk of the resources need to really increase their performance.

Prediction

Overall I think that Shen and Maokai are going to be highly contested picks, and with sOAZ performance on the latter champion I would be very surprised if he gets to play it even once. I give the edge to Splyce simply because they are already investing their resources in the most likely part of the map to succeed, and if Wunder is able to find his form then I can see them making taking the entire series.

I think the series will go to three games regardless of the toplane match-up, but I predict Splyce to take the series 2-1 based on the toplane match-up.

[¹] – Check out the amazing work done by Tim Sevenhuysen for a more in-depth look as to why this is the case – http://oracleselixir.com/2017/02/effective-resource-allocation-fly-fox-msf-others-solving-spring-2017-meta/#more-6165

All stats are taken from Oracleselixer.com.

Week 4 – TSM vs EF

Communication Breakdown

In this article we are going to take a look at the Week 4 match between TSM and Echo Fox, looking at the breakdown in communication specifically for TSM in Game 1 of the series. Before we begin, if you haven’t done so go and watch the game, I recommend muting the video so that you only leave with your own perspective on what happened rather than how the casters saw things unfold. When watching the video try to look for where you think communication on the side of TSM breaks down, and if you think I’ve missed anything please let me know in the comments at the end of the article.

Watch Game 1 here on Lolesports.

Draft Phase

In order to understand some of the context around any upcoming miscommunication, we are going to quickly run through the draft that TSM put together, and how we expect them to interact during the game.

Game 1 Pick-Ban.jpg

One thing to note is Echo Fox taking the Ivern away with their first ban, meaning TSM either have to ban both Rengar and Kha’zix or accept that they won’t get a top jungle pick. This could also indicate that they aren’t comfortable playing the Graves counter matchup, as although we have Akaadian play Graves, he has a 33.3% winrate overall on the champion, and in his previous matchup against Ivern chose to play Kha’zix instead. The rest of the first ban phase is fairly straightforward with kha’zix coming out as the only top tier jungler remaining, prompting Echo Fox to immediately first pick it, with Akaadian having a 71.4% winrate over 7 games on it. Looking back to the TSM draft we see them grab the Varus, Maokai and Graves in the first rotation, indicating a strong late-game teamfighting composition with Varus for mid-game waveclear and poke. This then prompts the two support bans from Echo Fox, removing the Taric to prevent TSM from combining him with the Maokai and diving them over and over again. Then in the second ban phase we see TSM take the MF support pick as a counter to the Malzahar support, and then the final rotation Orianna to cement their teamfighting composition.

Looking at TSM’s team composition as a whole, we can expect plenty of late game teamfighting ability, Maokai with Orianna ball is going to be the prime candidate for TP flanks into Shockwave plus Graves. The Varus pick plus MF gives them some decent mid-game waveclear and the late game lethality from Varus will shred through the squishier picks of Echo Fox. This style of composition is heavily reliant on synergy and timings, in order to make the full use of cooldowns in these teamfights, a missed Shockwave or wasted TP could severely hinder how TSM is looking to play this game.

Pre-5 Minutes

At 4 minutes we can see a snapshot of how TSM are setting up for success during their early game.

4 Minute snapshot.jpg

From the above snapshot we can see 3 areas of interest; points A, B and C on the mini-map.

A

Looper has pushed in Hauntzer early on, allowing him to deny some early cs. At this point Akaadian is looking to maybe dive the toplane, however an early ward from Hauntzer, plus Svenskeren recognising that danger, prevents Akaadian either diving or forcing Hauntzer out of lane entirely.

B

Keith has had to take an early back as Jhin and only picked up an extra longsword in the process, on top of already being down 18cs in that matchup. This provides TSM the opportunity to accelerate the Varus mid-game spike.

C

Not only have Turtle and Biofrost developed a cs lead, but they also have the wave shoved under turret, denying Keith a bunch of cs and preventing him from freezing it.

First Blood

Just after the 5 minute mark we see the first signs of a breakdown in communication from TSM as Svenskeren gives up first blood in the midlane.

You can see the first blood kill here – Sven giving up first blood

At 11 seconds into the clip we see that TSM are trying to shove the midwave under turret. However TSM know that both Akaadian and Froggen have already had their first backs and so will have an item advantage during the next fight. Plus we can see that Bjerg has also used a full spell rotation, and so if a fight was to occur he would be waiting on those cooldowns before being able to fully commit. At exactly 12 seconds into the clip we see the first break in communication, right as Bjerg is already moving back to avoid the Q from Froggen we see Sven move forward to push the wave rather than moving back with Bjerg. This slight misstep, combined with Bjerg still not having his cooldowns means that if Akaadian is around then he can force a fight with Froggen as they are the stronger duo. This is exactly what happens as Akaadian jumps over the raptor pit and is able to make use of that first back by using blue smite to slow Sven and pick him off. Whilst it is difficult to exactly pinpoint why Sven kept walking forwards without listening to their in-game chat, it is fairly safe to assume that he thought he had more support than he did.

However this clip also shows that Echo Fox are also not on the same page, as their botlane ping Biofrost as missing twice before the pick onto Sven, but Akaadian still steps to far forward after killing Sven which allows Bjerg to get the return kill. In fact we see Akaadian begin to turn away right after getting first blood before trying to turn go back in onto Bjerg, despite Biofrost already being there with the exhaust and to prevent the damage from isolation.

This first blood clip identifies that communicating cooldowns and potential cross map plays from other lanes is crucially important, if Sven had known Bjerg was waiting on all cooldowns he may have not stepped up to Q the wave, and if Akaadian had know that Biofrost was immediately roaming on him he may have been more cautious about flashing for the kill on Sven, causing a significantly different outcome to occur.

Botlane Advantage Pre-10

In the next clip we see a misplay from the botlane for TSM, in which they take an extended trade without respecting that Jhin has just hit 6 and has summoner advantage.

First botlane death for TSM – Turtle gives up a kill botlane

At the start of this clip we see Gate come down from the river bush where he had been waiting, and hits a two man silence on both Turtle and Biofrost, leaving MF silenced and so unable to clear out the voidlings with her E. At this point although Keith is still level 5, he knows that he will now hit level 6 first thanks to the recent trades giving him the opportunity to take the lead in xp. And since TSM botlane decide not to back, Keith knows that at the very least he can force summoner spells to be blown from Turtle, as Biofrost is already down his own summoners from earlier trades. Once that level 6 is reached we see great communication from the Echo Fox botlane, Keith immediately begins his ult, whilst Gate steps up to pressure Biofrost to stop him from returning damage directly onto Keith. At this point Turtle is forced to dodge the shots from High Noon as Biofrost does not have flash and is not close enough to block them for him. This actually nets EF a kill, and I’m not overly sure why Turtle doesn’t expend any summoners to avoid dying, he had a reasonable lead on the lane and it seems odd to just give that up to avoid burning his Flash or Heal. In the end it’s more of a misplay on the side of TSM, but there is still a distinct lack of communication between the duo as Biofrost should be moving to block the shots for Turtle the moment that Keith begins his ult, or at the very least be telling Turtle to Flash behind him if he is unable to reach him in time.

First Corki Roam

Shortly after picking up his first package, we see Froggen looking to make an immediate play. Since they’ve just seen Bjerg shove the wave forward in order to back Echo Fox know that they have a numbers advantage especially with Corki having just picked up his Sheen. Moving to deny the blue buff for Bjerg serves two purpose, reducing his ability to spam his spells in order to waveclear vs the Corki but also looking to make a pick on Sven who will be looking to help Bjerg secure that buff.

The clip can be found here – Double kill in TSM botside Jungle

We first see Corki with his own blue buff able to shove the midlane in order to look for that roam, or at least deny cs to Bjerg if the roam is unsuccessful. Because of their recent kill EF botlane is also free to roam, with Gate being close to 6 as we know that Keith is already 6. This allows Gate to roam into the botside jungle where TSM now have zero pressure and check to see if Sven is at the blue buff. Gate again plays this really well, predicting Sven will dash away the moment he spots the package from Froggen, and hitting his silence negating a lot of the potential return damage from Sven. At this point EF get an easy kill onto Sven, and because Gate is the recipient he hits 6 and immediately ults Biofrost for another kill.

This botside fiasco really sets the tone for most of this game, and the impact that a lack of communication can have. We can see that TSM are not communicating effectively as Sven walks into his botside jungle whilst neither mid or botlane are there to support him, having recently backed. Bjerg see’s that Corki has both blue buff and package plus Sheen and so knows that Froggen will most likely be looking to make a play. TSM even see Corki move botside as he finishes clearing the midlane minion wave, and knowing that they have no vision in either the river or their own jungle they should be moving as a group rather than heading in 1 by 1 to get picked off.

At this point Bjerg should be telling botside to watch for Corki roams towards dragon and blue buff, and if Sven wants to walk into that botside jungle he needs to have both Turtle and Biofrost there with him in order to contest any vision or attempted picks from that Corki package. And whilst we do see Biofrost and Turtle begin to move towards Sven once he has been caught out, it is far too late for them to help and they should immediately back off once Sven has died. What really stands out about this play from EF is that TSM actually spot Gate on a ward moving towards their blue buff, and so they know that both Gate and Corki are able to engage that fight, so why Sven kept walking in without waiting for support is something of a mystery.

This play is also a good example of how the previous miscommunication botlane has a knock-on effect for that side of the map. Now that EF have shoved the wave they are free to start roaming into that botside jungle as they know both Turtle and Biofrost have either just got back to lane or are still in base and so unable to respond to their roaming.

This chain of events then allows for Looper to start proxying toplane, and presenting a window to move through TSM topside jungle in order to make a play onto the midlane. This prompts a TP response from Hauntzer to ensure that EF are unable to dive Bjerg and take the midlane turret.

Hauntzer TP waste.jpg

EF Have TP Advantage

Having forced the TP from Hauntzer, EF are able to shove botlane and make use of the ward they were able to place from their previous catch onto TSM botside. TSM botlane at this point need to ask for Sven to be there, as they know Hauntzer is at a TP disadvantage, and that EF have had plenty of chances to place a ward for him to TP onto.

Beautiful TP play.jpg

This play by EF is superbly timed, as they know that TSM will be looking to make a return play, and so they preempt it by having Looper shove the wave and then using his TP advantage to target botlane again as they have a perfect ward from the previous time they caught TSM out.

Keith and Gate start this play by combining their ults to ensure that at least one shots hits Turtle and slows him, at this point Looper completes his TP and is able to just run in and cleanup from there. Because EF have planned this play out well in advance, they are also able to secure dragon as a bonus, as Akaadian is also botside ready to follow up if Sven is there.

Ultimately this play is possible due to continued lack in communication across the whole of TSM. Turtle should have spotted the ward Gate placed during the last skirmish, and knowing that EF have TP advantage should be calling for assistance to avoid a dive, or at the very least be backing off. And whilst EF may have still got dragon and a turret at least they would have avoided handing over extra kill highlighting that more communication between TSM might have made a bad situation a little less worse for themselves.

Ace at 14 minutes

Unbelievably this game is still pre-15 minutes, and EF are once again able to catch TSM split forcing another favourable fight.

Overall teamfight clip – 14 Minute Ace by Echo Fox

Ace at 14 minutes.jpg

Again we have three key components to this teamfight, and how EF are able to capitalise upon the miscommunication from TSM.

A

Hauntzer has already been forced to ult and is being zoned from the fight by Akaadian, plus we can see Looper already starting to head down to help finish him off. At this point the main method for Bjerg to hit his ultimate is already down, and the primary tank for TSM is unable to enter this fight. Looper’s position also indicates that he is looking to dive the mid T1 turret from behind, and so should TSM stay where they are then Looper is still going to be looking to execute that dive. This part of the teamfight is where the lack of communication for TSM really shines through, as Hauntzer is a key part of how they win their teamfights, and him not being able to enter the fight due to multiple members of EF zoning him realistically loses them this fight outright. At this point TSM should be looking to fall back and minimising their loses as much as possible, and whilst losing that mid turret does open up the map considerably for EF there is no way they can now defend it barring a miracle ult from Bjerg.

B

TSM are still under their turret trying to defend it from being taken despite being zoned by the ult from Keith and although Gate does not have his ult the death of Biofrost means that both Bjerg and Sven on two short range champions have to step up in order to clear out the wave. Once Hauntzer has died Bjerg no longer has a delivery system for his ult, and so there is almost no way that they can defend that turret and so instead they should be looking to move back and make sure that EF cannot push in and take the mid T2.

C

Keith hits the root onto Biofrost and immediately starts his ult in order to not only try and secure the kill but also to force the rest of TSM away from that mid turret. Here we actually see Turtle able to stop the rest of High Noon through ulting Keith and preventing possibly another kill for EF. Because Turtle is off to the side in this fight it is difficult for him to land the relevant poke needed to disuade EF from diving, this means that despite stopping the rest of Keith’s ult he remains ineffective for the remainder of the fight.

Ultimately once Haunzter has been caught the fight is over for TSM, they no longer have a tank and their waveclear is all limited by range. During the whole fight we can see that Hauntzer still has TP, and so there is no reason for him to simply be walking down when there are a number of wards on the right hand bush in midlane that he could TP onto which would enable him to lockdown EF backline.

Conclusions

After the 14 minute ace the game is pretty much over, despite a few picks from TSM they are unable to win teamfights due to that early gold deficit caused by miscommunication. This miscommunication in the early game gave EF too many advantages and allowed subsequent plays to be made that snowballed from the kill onto Turtle. Whilst EF played the overall game extremely well, and recognised that they were able to actively make these plays, it was a mixture of poor decision making and lack of communication that meant TSM couldn’t find an answer to stem that early gold advantage.

I should point out that without access to how the teams communicate in-game a number of assumptions have to be made, such as late communication being mistaken for no communication whatsoever. And although Turtle by no means played badly this game, the possible shotcalling provided by Doublelift, alongside him being a more vocal player may help fill the gap that TSM currently seem to suffer from. And so I would not be surprised to see Doublelift return to TSM either fairly soon depending on how badly their next games go, or at the latest by the end of the spring split.

I know this article was a fairly lengthy one, so if you are still here then thanks for toughing it out until the end. I’d like to have embedded the actual video clips rather than just link them, but at the moment that requires an upgraded account and I think it’s a little too early for that yet.

Until next time!

 

 

The Prediction Addiction – G2 vs H2K

Thursday – G2 Esports vs H2K

Today we will be looking at the upcoming match-up between G2 and H2k, and more specifically the midlane battle between Perkz and Febiven.

Perkz

Our returning man in the midlane coming in with an overall game score of 8-2 and undefeated in a series, features Perkz. G2 ended last week having won all their games, taking a 2-0 over Giants. Over the course of the weekend we saw Perkz play 2 different champions, and rack up a total KDA of 5/4/9.

Perkz weekend stats.jpg

If you want to check out the Prediction Addiction article for last weeks game then follow this link.

Since we last looked at his performance 2 weeks ago, Perkz has shown a slightly better early laning phase in the series against Roccat, now only averaging -106 gold and +18xp at the 10 minute mark.

Perkz week 2-3 comparison.jpg

Here we can see that Perkz was able to lane well against Betsy, reducing his overall gold deficit and actually boosting his xp differential into the positive. He did see a minor drop in cs difference, down from +2.0 to +1.1, but the overall improvement is definitely notable.

Whilst post 15 minutes we begin to see Perkz numbers start to normalise, as his overall damage share drops to 27.2% and an overall DPM of 536. Despite this his overall share of gold post 15 has risen to 28% which saw his overall cs per minute also rise to 9.2. This fall in overall damage numbers isn’t overly concerning as we saw him play Ryze and Ekko, two champions that deal most of their damage in skirmishes and teamfights rather than the more poke heavy champions such as Corki/Taliyah or late game monsters such as Cassiopeia. Due to this Perkz now ranks 4th and 3rd in DPM and percentage of team damage respectively.

Perkz did however spend a lot of time getting caught out on Ryze during his second game last week, something that could potentially be punished by a stronger team than Giants. And whilst he was able to scale up and contribute to those late-game teamfights that we expect Ryze to dominant, giving up needless kills should always be avoided.

Febiven

Coming in with a game score of 7-3, and overall series score of 3-1, we see H2K look like possible contenders to challenge the current dominance of G2. And of all the midlaners to do so Febiven is looking like the most likely to lead that victory from the midlane. Over the course of last weekend we saw him return to the Viktor pick, before winning back-to-back games on Corki racking up a KDA of 13/7/16 in his 2-1 victory over Vitality.

Febiven weekend stats.jpg

Where Febiven really shows his advantage is during the laning phase, where he tops the charts for stats at 10 minutes, boasting a whooping +222 gold, +224 xp and +7.9cs advantage over his lane opponent and dealing a massive 602 DPM.

Febiven stats @10.jpg

This output of damage is partly due to Febiven’s recent champion pool, playing 3 games of Corki plus a Jayce and Cassiopeia game. These champs form heavy poke compositions, wit the exception of Cassiopeia who acts as a late game hypercarry.

Despite his high output of damage we see that Febiven only deals 25.8% of his teams total damage on average, actually placing him 5th in terms of EULCS midlaners. Whilst this might suggest that Febiven struggles to translate his advantage into the mid-late game, we can see that both Odoamne and Jankos play fairly high damage dealers as well.

H2K damage comps.jpg

Comparison of Perkz and Febiven

Perkz Febiven comparison.jpg

Despite Perkz making improvement towards stabilising his laning phase, I expect Febiven to be able to continue his overall dominance and head into the post 10 minute mark with a sizeable advantage. At this point in the game it’s difficult to treat the midlane as a vacuum, and each midlaners performance very much depends on the current state of the map at that time. However the priority for Febiven on those heavy poke champions means that I expect him to be able to deal consistent amounts of damage whether his overall team is ahead or behind, whereas Perkz playing for more teamfight oriented champions may find it difficult to contribute once behind.

Prediction

Ultimately I expect Febiven to push his lane advantage and I think how he extends that to the rest of the map will be crucial, and I am particularly looking for him to influence the botlane match-up if he gets his hands on the Corki pick as G2 is definitely favoured for that 2v2 match-up. Because of this difference in style I also expect Corki to be a heavy priority, either for G2 to ban or for H2K to first-pick. Based on the midlane match-up alone I would expect H2K to win, but if G2 are able to pick their teamfights then I fully expect Perkz to outperform his counterpart.

An overall prediction is difficult, as G2 have looked very dominant and H2K have somewhat of a reputation for unfortunate shotcalling. I think it’s going to be a very close series, but I predict H2K to win 2-1 based on that midlane match-up.

All stats are taken from Oracleselixer.com.

Third Week Blues

Week 3

This week we will be taking a quick look at Team Liquids performance so far, whilst continuing with the trend of looking at the most recent games with a view to determing whether progress is being made, and what to expect of them in next weeks games.

Overview

The last 3 weeks have been a mixture of ups and downs for Team Liquid, and whilst the mood is fairly sombre with their overall score of 2-4 there are a few silver linings that can be taken away from recent performances. In fact their overall game score  of 6-9 indicates that things might not be so bleak, indeed this places them 6th amongst all NALCS teams.

However this optimism needs to be somewhat tempered, a quick glance at the overall rankings, including a look at those teams below Liquid, shows a less comforting picture for their fans.

week-3-team-rankings

Unfortunately for Liquid, their current standings may simply be a by-product of the concurrent collapse of both Dignitas and Immortals, combined with CLG’s trouble adapting to the current meta. In fact the only team that Liquid can reasonably be happy about defeating has been the recently surging Echo Fox, who have been riding the surge of momentum following Akaadian having some standout performances. However, whilst this all sounds particularly grim, and it should do, Liquid can take some comfort in taking both TSM and FlyQuest to 3 games during those series. In fact Liquid are currently the only team (apart from Echo Fox who took a series from them) to have not been 2-0’d by the rampaging FlyQuest squad.

What does all this mean for Team Liquid? Well really it all falls down to patience, the upcoming week will really cement Liquids identity as either a potential contender with some kinks to iron out, or as a team struggling to make it out of the bottom of the pack. For me personally I want to keep an eye on how Piglet and Matt develop as I feel like they are still an uncharacteristically weak point for Liquid. Piglet is still dying way too often during these games. He currently ranks second in total deaths out of all NALCS ADCs, and is only 2 deaths from becoming the category leader. Even for the current meta in which ADCs are having a rough time, Piglet really needs to adapt and show proficiency on the more utility based champions such as Ashe, Jhin and Varus.

Week 3

During this week Team Liquid played both Team EnVyUs and Echo Fox (NV, EF). They went a total of 1-1 on series, and had an overall game score of 2-3. team-liquid-game-score-comparison

A quick comparison of their current performances week-by-week shows a huge dip in performance for week 2, with a moderate recover for the third week. As mentioned earlier further data will allow for us to determine whether their upward trajectory will continue, or if more inconsistencies are to come.

NV (0-2)

What to say about this series for Liquid? Simultaneously handing NV their first win, whilst bringing back that familiar feeling of despair to those who thought maybe Liquid could bounce back from week 2.

Game 1

Game 1 started with a promising draft, Reignover got his Olaf pick and we saw the possibility that Piglet was starting to pick up these more utility focused ADCs. The second round Shen pick indicates their plan to play around botlane again, combined with the shields from Orianna and Karma. However we see NV put all their eggs in the mid-game basket with Corki, Varus and Rumble which ultimately allows them to run straight through Liquid during that time frame.

In the early game we see a rather clever rotation from NV’s botlane, where they move top alongside Seraph using the blasting plant, from here they can easily dive Lourlo to secure both the first blood and turret, giving them a 1.8k gold lead at around 8 minutes.

Game 1 early NV lead.jpg

From this early game lead we see Liquid take some decent teamfights to stall out through the NV powerspike, but an unfortunate teamfight from Goldenglue sees NV secure a 4-1 fight followed by the baron. From here NV simply push up lanes and are able to bait Liquid again once the baron respawns, catching Piglet and wining the teamfight, and the game.

Overall the first game was fairly close during the mid-game, something that I was not expecting. Liquid have shown that they are able to effectively turtle up once they find themselves at either a gold disadvantage, or overwhelming map pressure placed on them. Ultimately the carries for Liquid just didn’t perform that game, both Goldenglue and Piglet had some less than optimal performances, with missed Shockwaves and Piglet prioritising summoner spell usage during the final teamfight.

Game 2

During this game we see Liquid pick a fairly similar comp to last time, taking both the Olaf, Shen and Orianna, whilst swapping out their botlane for Varus/MF. One thing that I think is important to note about this draft is that often we see the Varus paired alongside the Corki in order to provide an extra damage source during that mid-game spike. This allows teams to poke people off towers and to have a diverse range of waveclear, and I feel that taking a safe pick like Orianna with this comp just doesn’t capitalise on the overall strength of that Varus. And especially during the second game in which Corki was available for Goldenglue, it would have allowed for an all-in mid-game powerspike that we have seen yield results elsewhere. Instead NV take Corki as their last pick, which rounds out their Jayce siege composition.

Early game is fairly uneventful for both teams, NV secure the first blood gold with a kill on Piglet, and Liquid return with an immediate kill onto Seraph. The rest of the game is fairly even with both teams trading kills, and TL botlane once again playing really aggressive and often burning summoners on both sides in these continual trades they seem determined to force. Around 15 minutes we see a number of key plays happen, in which NV take 2 turrets and kills despite losing a turret and kills themselves. This all stems from the pressure that NV has with two pushing lanes, allowing them to get chip damage onto top and mid turret which converts into extra gold for them to hit their mid-game spike early. We also see Reignover focus the botlane during this exchange picking up a kill and turret for Piglet, but the problem for Liquid is that Piglet is on Varus who’s job this game is to provide poke with the lethality build and force people off turrets. This basically comes full circle to Liquids draft, because the only winning lane they have is botside we would have to see Piglet rotate into other lanes in order to try and siege those turrets. But because neither of Liquids other lanes are winning, Piglet and Matt are simply stuck botside trying to force a 3v7 with Reignover.

Game 2 midgame push.jpg

In the end this game highlights that kills don’t win games, with NV demonstrating some really effective wave control, combined with their understanding of how to play their siege comp. This basically denies Liquid almost any opportunity to push turrets against the waveclear of Jayce and Corki. Despite Seraphs typical late-game tendencies to get caught out, NV are able to utilise their comp to push down Liquid to secure turrets and ultimately bleed Liquid out of the game.

Ultimately I felt this series was quite disappointing from Liquid, not just because they lost but because of how they lost. The first game is lost through Liquids carries just getting either caught out or not doing anything in teamfights, and the second game we see Liquid just sit around whilst NV are allowed to fully utilise their team comp. I think from these games we really need to see some more proactive plays from Liquid, both games we see Lourlo on the Shen pick with his ults being used retroactively, rather than combined with the Olaf to force fights.

EF (2-1)

Coming off a difficult loss, it was good to see that Liquid were able to stand up to the surge of Echo Fox. Ending the week on a win will definitely improve the overall team atmosphere as they look to spend the upcoming week trying to iron out their challenges.

Game 1

During the draft phase I was really relieved to see the Corki pick from Goldenglue, as I had concerns from the previous game vs NV that he simply hadn’t picked it up yet. We see here that Liquid heavily prioritises this Jayce pick for Lourlo, and even hand over the Kha’Zix in order to make sure they get it, resulting in Reignover falling back to the Olaf pick once again. As a strategy I like putting Lourlo on a lane dominant champion, as it shows a willingness from Liquid to move away from the previous botlane priority they used to default to.

However the game immediately gets off to a poor start, not only does Lourlo get caught out whilst warding with Reignover, but it’s Akaadian on Kha’Zix who picks up the kill. Lourlo even burns his flash trying to escape, forcing him to play safe during the early lane rather than push the inherent advantage that he should have. Instead Looper punishes this safe play by pushing up the lane against Lourlo, allowing for Akaadian to revisit through the toplane without being spotted by any wards.

Game 1 early EF lead.jpg

We can see here that Lourlo is still flashless, and both Looper and Akaadian are able to commit their flashes if required. More importantly Looper has been able to shove the Lourlo into tower, and so he knows that none of the top bushes are warded allowing Akaadian to walk through lane just as the wave begins to push back against Echo Fox.

Game 1 EF punish Lourlo.jpg

During this time we see Liquid make a failed attempt to gank botlane, and I’d argue that Reignover should never have been botlane in the first place. Liquid should know from reviewing EF previous games that when Akaadian gets ahead, he is able to snowball that lead, and so leaving a stranded Lourlo on an immobile champion against a Maokai that can easily set up ganks seems a rather interesting choice to make. Ultimately I think Liquid should have stuck with the “play around Lourlo” strategy that their draft indicated, and it seems a little unusual for Reignover of all junglers to not predict that Akaadian would head straight for toplane.

From this a failed toplane dive by Reignover all but secures the victory for EF, with Jayce being placed in a massive deficit and both Akaadian and Looper having 2 kills apiece. The rest of the game is dominated by this early advantage for EF jungle and top, and despite their botlane have some unfortunate plays we see the fights quickly turn once laning phase is over. Liquid then spend the rest of the game getting caught out and led around the map from some smart rotations by EF, with the final toplane push simply overwhelming them.

Whilst this game was pretty rough for Liquid it did show a willingness to draft priority picks for Lourlo, it just needed the in-game follow up from Reignover to make sure that this Jayce pick was not abused following the disastrous lvl 1 kill.

Game 2

The first pick rotation from Liquid already promises good things, as Reignover is able to get a top tier jungler in Kha’Zix, whilst I know he has had previous success with the Olaf pick it just doesn’t seem to be working out for Liquid at this point in time. This Kha’Zix is also a takeaway from Akaadian who has been having enormous success on that pick as demonstrated from the previous game. Overall I liked the final draft from Liquid with the priority on a dueling jungler for Reignover and the Corki/Ashe as secondary carries.

At around 6 minutes we see Liquid finally make a proactive play in swapping their botlane top having shoved EF botlane to turret and forced the recall from Gate.

game-2-ef-liquid-make-early-play

This allows Lourlo to shove the lane up, especially with Reignover also moving towards the blueside top jungle to provide vision/counter jungle.

Game 2 EF Liquid first tower push.jpg

A number of factors allow for this first turret to be taken by Liquid, as mentioned before Liquid botlane has shoved up to turret then recalled, from here they move top right as Lourlo also begins to shove up the wave he has had frozen with Reignover moving to support. This has meant that both Gate and Keith have been forced into a difficult back time, especially as Varus wants to pick up his tear as soon as possible. This means that a counter push by EF in botlane is not possible, and Froggen is unable to push the midlane against the waveclear offered by a Corki. For Liquid to be able to create and recognise this early advantage bodes well for future games if they are able to reenact it.

At this point EF try to balance the gold by having their botlane shove up and try to take a turret in exchange, but the topside of the map hasn’t changed and Akaadian is not in place to support the Shen from yet another shove by Liquid, who take 2 turrets toplane in exchange for nothing as Keith is unable to take the turret by himself. This nets Liquid a 2k gold lead based on map rotations alone.

This early game opens up the toplane for Lourlo to shove a couple of waves and roam towards the midlane whilst Shen either has to match and lose cs, or allow Liquid the opportunity to transition their advantage to other lanes. At 12 minutes we see Liquid take advantage of this with Lourlo pushing top in before rotating towards dragon in case EF try to contest.

From here Liquid is able leverage the advantage that mid-game Corki provides by securing two kills and an inferno drag just before the 20 minute mark. Despite a couple of picks from EF, we see a beautifully coordinated teamfight from Liquid in order to secure the Baron buffGame 2 EF Liquid mid game catch.jpg

Matt flashes in order to get a 3 man snare, this is followed up by Reignover immediatlely flashing in to get an evolved w +q to force Froggen into his passive, from here Looper tries to taunt into Reignover to buy time for Froggen, but the rest of EF are far to low to reengage the fight, leading for a 2 for 0 + Baron for Liquid.

This allows Liquid to transition into the mid-game where the Corki hits a major powerspike, allowing them to push down lanes and clear up a lot of the available gold on the map from turrets. This leads into an attempt by EF to force Liquid off the Elder Drake but once again beautiful team fighting from Liquid allows them to pick up an Ace plus the Elder.

At this point the game begins to fall apart for Liquid due to the EF scaling composition, and they struggle to push against the Anivia/Varus waveclear. This is further compounded by Froggen and Keith also landing constant poke against the Liquid composition. From here the game devolves into a minor fiesta with both teams getting caught and trying to push too far. In the end Liquid is able to brute force the EF base open and secure the win.

Liquids ability to make proactive plays during the early game bodes well for them, and they adapted to rotate their botlane top in order to start snowballing with the first turret gold. However they take far too long to close out the game, with individual members getting caught out during pushes into EF’s base presenting them with multiple opportunities to make a comeback. Whilst it’s understandable for Liquid to be nervous about late-game decisions as coming off the loss to NV they will be desperate to start putting some wins on the table, in order to establish themselves as a top team they will need to decisively close games once they have gained a lead.

Game 3

Once again we see Liquid being able to draft for success, grabbing Reignover the first rotation Kha’Zix and Goldenglue the Corki. With the Lulu and Jhin also being grabbed to give Liquid a stable botlane.

Unfortunately the early game is once again highlighted with Liquids botlane forcing trades and blowing summoners, ending in them conceding first blood to EF. Early game woes continue to plague Liquid as Akaadian is able to secure another kill onto Reignover, this time being on a jungler that is able to duel the Kha’Zix in the early game and with Looper having the push and so able to roam down to assist.

By 15 minutes Liquid are down both 5k in gold and 3 turrets. At this point they recognise that they need to play around the mid-game Corki in order to halt them leaking gold, with Goldenglue landing key poke to force EF off their mid outer turret.

Game 3 EF Liquid Interesting Baron call.jpg

However at 21 minutes we see EF make an interesting Baron call, looking at the above picture it’s already obvious that EF should just get out of the Baron pit and look to reset their lead. Their main source of poke, Varus, has been killed and the main tank Looper is also already fairly low from initially tanking Baron. We can also see that Gate expends his ultimate on Lourlo, perhaps concerned about the disruption threatened by him.

At this point we see Goldenglue make possibly the biggest play of the game.

GOLDENGLUTES.jpg

As EF are about to take a 3 man Ryze portal out of the Baron pit, Goldenglue uses the Corki package to knock both Froggen and Gate out of the portal allowing Liquid to pick up 3 return kills and the infernal drake. From here EF continue to lose teamfights at the most inopportune timings, i.e. Baron spawning, allowing them to secure a final uncontested Baron and push into EF’s base to secure the victory.

This last game was somewhat anti-climatic for a number of reasons, the chief of which being EF just losing teamfight after teamfight. Despite watching Liquid dig themselves another early game hole they are gifted multiple opportunities to comeback into the game as EF really underestimate the damage from Goldenglue. I feel like this game was more EF throwing away their lead and so it’s difficult to determine whether Liquid where able to fix their late game issues from the previous games, but I remain concerned about their early game deficits that are usually the result of a poor botlane trade.

Week 3 Summary

This series showcased my continuing overall concerns with how Liquid is playing, in the first series Liquid both dig themselves an early deficit and sit around late-game almost waiting to lose. In the second series we see Liquid start their first draft to play around Lourlo, but don’t follow up with the jungle pressure required to help him after the early first blood. The second game begins with a beautiful early game from Liquid, as they net an early game turret and make crisp rotations in order to start stacking dragons. Unfortunately they are unable to quickly capitalise their early game lead and the late-game turns into a minor fiesta with both sides getting caught until Liquid once again triumph in a teamfight to secure victory. The final game can be summed up in a simple phrase – “EF and Objectives”. So many teamfights are lost at either Baron or Dragon until Liquid have the game almost gifted to them.

I will however concede that Liquid really stepped up their teamfighting in that second series, with Lourlo often soaking up enormous amounts of damage or having key ultimates wasted on him. For next week I really want to continue to watch Liquids botlane, they seem to continue to prefer a lane dominant style regardless of which champions they are playing, and their continued extended trades in lane to burn summoners just seems to dig them into a deficit.

All stats are taken from Oracleselixer.com.

The Prediction Addiction – GIA vs G2

Friday – Giants vs G2 Esports

Today I will be looking at the Giants vs G2 Esports match-up, specifically focusing on the midlane, where we will see NighT face off against against Perkz.

NighT

First some context for his team, Giants come in off a hard fought 2-1 victory over Roccat with NighT going 8/2/18 and playing 3 unique champions in Ryze, Orianna and Taliyah.

night-stats-from-w2-g2

NightT currently sits at a respectable +28 gold difference @10minutes and averaging 0.2cs above his opponents. Whilst not the hallmarks of a monster laner, it at least shows he can go even against the likes of PoE, Caps and Betsy.

However whilst his early laning is serviceable, a look at his overall team contribution amongst midlaners highlights some clear flaws, sitting at a mediocre 56.1% kill participation he ranks join bottom 2, and although he also has the lowest share of his teams deaths it rather implies that NighT needs to step up his overall contribution and presence during Giants games. Now admittedly NighT also receives one of the lowest gold shares at 22.6% which might explain his particularly poor damage per minute and overall damage contribution which both rank in the bottom 2 of all EU midlaners.

night-stat-comparison

However as Giants only has an overall win rate of 1-3 (33.3%), it’s understandable that NighT doesn’t put up the greatest numbers, and so I thought a comparison of how NighT performs when Giants win vs when they lose.

Giants win vs Roccat – W2 G3

NighT finished this game with a perfect score of 5/0/5 on Ryze. During this game he dealt 21.7k damage to champions over the course of the 40:46 minute game, which translates to 22.5% of his teams total damage and 542.5 damage per minute. The lack of increase in % of teams total damage can be explained by the team composition that Giants ran that game, featured a high damage support and jungler.

night-win-vs-loss-dmg-comparison

However the sharp rise in damage per minute, a whooping 155.5 more than his current average, can be explained by taking a closer look at his income during that game. During the game against Roccat, NighT earned 17.6k gold or 22.1% of his teams gold. This doesn’t make sense right? How can NighT earn even less gold and still put out even more DPM? In order to understand this further an eye test of the actual game must be done to determine at which points NighT was strong, and whether he was generating his own gold lead or simply doing well because his team is winning.

During the early game we see NighT pick up an extra kill, however this doesn’t equate to any extra advantage in lane as he opts to save his extra gold for the first back. However it is important to note that Giants ADC HeaQ is able to purchase an extra longsword for lane, as he secured the kill onto the support.

giants-vs-roccat-w2-g3-early-advantage

Then at the 4:30 minute mark we see NighT push in the midlane and join Memento in his roam toplane following a TP from Phaxi back to lane.

night-roams-top

NighT and Memento converge toplane, despite Maxlore sensing them with Rek’Sai, at a guess I would presume that he was focused on setting up the gank onto Flaxxish.

night-and-memento-converge-toplane

This gank results in NighT netting himself a kill, putting him at 1/0/1 by the 5 minute mark.

night-first-kill

From this point NighT can accelerate his build as he his able to back and purchase his tear, allowing him to stack it earlier than normal. The earlier longsword purchse from HeaQ allows him to have the botlane shoved 24/7, freeing up Hustlin to invade the bottom side jungle which in turn delays Maxlore allowing for NighT to safely push the wave into the turret. This chain of events has the knock-on effect of allowing Memento to clear the red side bottom jungle and keep tabs on Maxlore, letting NighT safely play aggressive in lane. The next kill for NighT comes from following Betsy’s roam toplane and catching him out after a failed flash.

From here the game devolves somewhat into a bit of a fiesta, but the overall point shows that while NighT did not develop his own gold lead through his dominant laning, he instead made intelligent roams alongside his jungler after being able to push his lane in. We then see that once he survived the laning phase he was able to facilitate his team in pushing their victory conditions, kiting around teamfights and generally maintaining his lead.

The big problem I see with NighT during this example, is that he simply maintains his lead, rather than extending it. The flip-side of this suggests that if he doesn’t have a lead, he won’t create one either. Overall I think this makes him a very team-reliant player, he won’t necessarily be a super-star carry, but he won’t lose you the game either. In order to find out whether this will impact the Giants vs G2 series, we must examine his opponent in the midlane, Perkz.

Perkz

G2 currently sit with a series record of 3-0, and an overall game record of 6-2. Having come off a 2-1 victory against Misfits in which Perkz went an overall 9/2/15 playing 3 unique champions in Corki, Ryze and Cassiopeia.

Perkz stats from W2 vs Misfits.jpg

In terms of his performance against other EU midlaners, Perkz leaves the midlane with a whopping -134 gold difference and -90xp @10 minutes, although he averages +2cs over his opponent in the same time frame. This points to a fairly weak early game from Perkz, however once he gets past those first 10 minutes Perkz is able to really turn things online.

perkz-15-minutes

Post 15 minutes we see that Perkz is actually a major recipient of his teams gold receiving 27.9% of the cs, pushing his overall cs per minute to the top of all midlaners at 9.1. However Perkz definitely repays the resources that are invested into him, ranking second in overall DPM at 577 and third in team damage at 28.7%.

With these numbers we can draw up a rough picture of an expected performance from Perkz throughout the game:

0-15 minutes

Relatively weak laning phase, down in gold and xp on average with a minor cs lead. A point to note is Perkz high first blood rate, which stem from him either shoving in a wave and roaming toplane, or from Trick ganking mid. This means that whilst Perkz doesn’t solo kill his lane, he does find other ways to impact the map in the early game where possible.

15-25 minutes

Here is where we see Perkz having resources invested into him, and he repays this with an average of 82.9% kill participation by the 25 minute mark. It is this stage of the game where we really see Perkz begin to power up, transitioning his gold lead into grouping and having a high impact in teamfights.

 

Comparison of Perkz and NighT

Perkz and NighT comparison.jpg

The graph above really highlights the importance of the early game, NighT currently leaves lane with a slight advantage, whilst Perkz leaves with a substantial disadvantage. However our previous examination of NighT shows that he doesn’t tend to generate his own leads or punish poor laning, which is ideal for Perkz who is looking to ramp up into the mid-game where he heavily outperforms NighT in terms of damage output and kill participation.

Prediction

NighT really needs to transition his lane into an advantage for himself, he cannot enter the mid-game having only gone even with Perkz. If NighT can call for jungle assistance, Perkz having shown he likes to push up his lane and roam, then he may be able to net an early gold lead not just for himself, but Memento who has shown he can put on carry performances. If NighT is unable to step up and abuse the poor early game, then I see Perkz having a much bigger impact mid-late game with better roaming and teamfight positioning.

I predict the overall series to go to G2 Esports 2-0 based on that midlane match-up.

All stats are taken from Oracleselixer.com.

 

The Prediction Addiction – SPY vs UOL

Thursday – Splyce vs Unicorns of Love.

Today I will be looking at the Splyce vs Unicorns of Love match-up, specifically focusing on the top half of the map where we will see Wunder/Trashy play off against Vizicsacsi/Xerxe. Both of these teams come in with some serious momentum, Splyce having previously bulldozed their way through a rather apathetic Vitality, winning both of their previous games last week and UOL coming in with a 3-0 winstreak.

Toplane:

During Splyce’s last series, it was Wunder that really impressed me, going a combined 6/0/12 over the 2 games, and  ranking 2nd and 1st in damage dealt respectively, whilst playing Shen and Nautilus.

wunder-damage

Wunder also has a 68.3% kill participation over the 2 weeks which places him 3rd amongst EU toplaners, although it should be noted that he has only played 4 games, which may account for a slightly inflated score. The real test for Wunder this week will be whether he can withstand the pressure from Vizicsacsi who ranks 3rd in cs differential at 10 minutes, and also tops the charts in terms of kill participation.

wunder-vs-vizi-comparison

The graph above really highlights the difference in laning between the two, whilst we are still early in the split, we can already see Vizicsacsi outperforming Wunder in the first 10 minutes of the game. Generating a significant gold lead and outfarming his lane opponent.

During the top lane match-up I would expect Shen to be the most contested pick, potentially seeing it either banned by Splyce, or left open in order for Wunder to counter-pick. Whilst I don’t expect to see Wunder return to the Kled pick, Renekton has been making a resurgence, being played in the LCK by Marin, and so it will be interesting to see whether he opts into a more lane dominant champion to try and pressure out Vizicsacsi.

Jungle:

One of the key areas that I expect Splyce to exploit will be the jungle match-up, as a closer look indicates that Xerxe’s early game could potentially be exploited.

trashy-vs-xerxe-comparison

The graph above highlights the difference in early game between the two junglers, with Trashy generating more gold and xp in the early game, whilst Xerxe has the lowest gold difference at 10 minutes amongst all junglers. This match-up will really test whether Trashy can convert his early game leads into snowballing his lanes and taking objective control. I also expect Splyce to prioritise Rengar, having picked him in both their games against Vitality last week, and to take away the Ivern pick that Xerxe has been having success with.

However if Trashy is unable to convert this early advantage, Xerxe has the lowest death count for junglers and ranks 3rd in kill participation, showing that he is able to facilitate the mid-late game teamfighting that the Unicorns are currently known for.

xerxe

Prediction

Looking at the top lane match-up, I have to give the advantage to Vizicsacsi who has been looking on top form during lane, TP plays across map and late game teamfighting. Whilst I think Wunder will perform during teamfights, the difficult laning phase for him means that he will be at a deficit from quite an early stage. However if Splyce are going to take a game from the Unicorns it will be in part due to Wunder being able to match Vizicsacsi in lane, and keeping up with him in mid-late game relevance.

The jungle match-up I predict the early game to be in the favour of Trashy, with a big question mark as to how he can convert the lead he generates. If he can convert his own lead into a team advantage and snowball from there, we have seen Splyce being able to close out with a lead. If Trashy falls behind or doesn’t convert his lead, then I think the superior teamfighting from Xerxe and UOL as a whole will simply bleed out Splyce during the mid-late game.

Whilst I think Splyce may be able to take a game if Trashy performs, and their lanes hold out, I just don’t think that they can generate a lead consistently enough to challenge the superb teamfighting and rotations coming out of UOL early in this split. Based on that, I predict UOL to take the series 2-1.

All stats are taken from Oracleselixer.com.