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NALCS – C9 vs. IMT Week One Recap

June 6, 2016 - Esports

Immortals. The beast that was taken down in the Spring Split playoffs by TSM. They came back in the Summer Split with the same roster that worked out so well earlier, however it remains to be seen what happens when they are pushed back by the other top teams now, when the bubble of their might is broken. The first enemy they have to face in their journey towards the Summer Split Championship and Worlds? New and, hopefully, improved Cloud9 with Impact in Top lane, Meteos back in the Jungle, Jensen Mid, the always consistent Sneaky ADC, and finally, the Thresh phenom himself, Bunny FuFu, later replaced by Smoothie.

Game 1

On blue side, C9 banned Swain, Lucian, and Nidalee, while red-sided C9 got rid of Ryze, Kindred, and Maokai. While  Swain and Nidalee bans kinda make sense, Lucian is iffy. Yes, the champion is very strong and almost certain to be played well in Wildturtle’s hands, Turtle has played in LCS for many years, he is equally as comfortable on several other ADC champions. Another thing, why would you ban Maokai against Huni, who is notorious for his carry top lane playstyle? Even if the player agreed to pick Maokai, he wouldn’t be that good on it because it’s strongly out of his comfort zone. The dude doesn’t even build tank Ekko, when it’s the general consensus that it’s much better in the top lane. Huni does what Huni wants and Huni doesn’t want to play tanks. While most people worship the ground he walks on, I just find him annoying. Don’t get me wrong, the player is a beast. The mindset, however, not so much.

Going to picks, Impact got Gragas, Meteos took Rek’Sai, Jensen played Azir, Sneaky went with Caitlyn, and Bunny FuFu used Bard. On IMT, Huni played AP Ekko, Reignover didn’t fancy Elise or Graves, choosing to play Olaf, which is almost his signature champion Pobelter went with LeBlanc, WildTurtle surprised everyone by picking Ashe, and finally, Adrian showed something that’s not Soraka or Janna, when he picked Karma.

The game itself was a close nailbiter, with IMT having a gold lead for most of the game, despite C9 taking dragons and other objectives to not fall off too much. In the end, however, WildTurtle’s Ashe arrow initiations, coupled with the unstoppable freight train that is Olaf jacked up by his ult.

Game 2

After IMT won Game 1, I was interested to see the adaptations the teams would make before Game 2. The first one came as soon as the champ select screen was shown, when I discovered that Bunny FuFu got replaced by Smoothie. With these two players probably having different champion pools, it might have been a sign that C9 was looking to play a different type of game.

The bans were quite boring on both sides, with IMT banning Azir, Kindred, Lucian, while C9 got rid of Nidalee, Ryze, and Swain. Lucian and Azir bans were quite weird, considering that both Sneaky and Jensen have more champions they’re good at and the champions themselves aren’t THAT overwhelmingly powerful.

IMT picked a very hard to play poke comp of Ekko Top, Olaf Jungle, Varus Mid, Ezreal ADC, and Soraka Support. C9’s answer? Maokai, Rek’Sai, Fizz, Sivir, and Karma. The only chance Immortals had against that Cloud 9 lineup involved them smashing C9 early, while not making any mistakes. They had to be patient and calculated, getting small leads whenever possible and holding on to them, patiently snuffing their opponents out with poke, avoiding fights on C9’s terms as much as possible. Unfortunately, Cloud 9 had Maokai, Rek’Sai, and Fizz, sped up by Sivir and Karma. If the Immortals players we caught out even a little bit out of position, C9 had all the tools to smash them, unless IMT’s lead was truly huge.

While Immortals did make some great plays in the beginning of the game, they weren’t ready for C9’s answers on other sides of the map. Immortals kind of played their poke comp as if it could dive, according to Dyrus on the analyst’s desk. The problem was that Immortals COULDN’T dive. Not without proper setup. The players didn’t take that into account, diving top lane, turning it into a prolonged fight behind enemy lines. Is it surprising that the rest of C9 came and smashed them? No, it’s not.

Immortals lost. They lost because of several reasons already mentioned. First, they didn’t follow the essential rule of playing a poke comp – poke ‘em down, you can fight later. They did it versus a heavy engage comp too. Second, they were overaggressive, opening themselves up for counterplay in other lanes. All that with a team comp that can’t do ANYTHING when behind. Needless to say, they got behind and lost for it.

Game 3

In game 3, C9 banned Swain, Ekko, and Nidalee. The Ekko ban was a little bit weird because Game 2 proved that C9 could deal with it. Immortals banned out Ryze, Kindred, and Maokai. For their team comps, C9 had Trundle, Gragas, Lissandra, Lucian, and Karma, while IMT surprised everyone by picking up Riven, Rek’Sai, Viktor, Ashe, and Zyra, which used to be the signature bot lane duo for C9’s first split on the LCS.

Basically, IMT left Lucian open, C9 snapped it right up, IMT answered with Viktor for Pobelter and Rek’Sai for Reignover. Then, C9 picked up Karma and Gragas, while IMT locked in Ashe and Zyra. The Plant Lady made a lot of sense in my opinion. In lane, at least, Karma wants to poke the opponents. A well-played Zyra can do the same, just better. Ashe sucks when engaged upon, however, Zyra is an anti-engage support, making it a perfect fit for the frosty ADC. The next round of picks had C9 rounding out their comp with Lissandra and Trundle. The Trundle pick was quite iffy to me. Yes, it’s very strong, however, it does rely on the stat stealing from tanks. Usually, teams have a top lane tank. Huni doesn’t usually play tanks, so picking Trundle doesn’t make a lot of sense vs. Immortals. It could be that C9 expected to force Huni into playing a tank by banning Ekko and then abusing him with the troll. What happened, however, was… different. Huni went all in and picked Riven. Now, everything depended on how top lane was going to play out. If Huni got fed, gg. If he got behind, gg too.

While Huni didn’t actually get too fed, C9 didn’t actually shut him down either. It could have been worse if Huni got a kill instead of assist at 8 minutes into the game, when Impact had to push down a tower alone and got caught by Huni and Reignover. At 9 minutes, Jensen and Impact got caught in top lane by 4 Immortals players. Huni got one more assist when Pobelter finished off Jensen, while Trundle got killed by Rek’Sai. The bad thing was that Trundle had 18 CS to Riven’s 44 at the time. Even though Huni had two assists instead of two kills, he was still much stronger than his fellow Korean.

C9 kept trailing behind by several thousand gold for most of the game. A bright spot happened when Meteos managed to steal an Elder Dragon, however, Sneaky more or less threw a winnable game a couple of minutes later by dashing into the IMT team to try and kill Ashe. All he got was a facefull of Viktor burst. IMT took advantage and ended the game soon after.

Summary

All in all, this series was one of the most exciting this Split. Both teams could have won all three games if only they made some different decisions. Watching matches like that will make you happy if you like some great League of Legends.