Hey friends and fellow eSports fans!
It can be tough to keep up with competitive league of legends in every region, especially those completely in different time zones. But the Garena Premier League has some incredible talent, even having multiple members of professional teams in and around Korean Challenger on the solo queue ladder. Some of the names include marksman and jungler GoDJJ and Winds (respectively) from the Taipei Snipers as well as Flash Wolves support SwordArt and ahq mid laner Westdoor. So I’ll be putting together recaps of the best games every week here on cloth 5!
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TPS vs AHQ
In the opening game of the season the Taipei Snipers, disappointed after a crushing 2-3 loss in the Championships to their sister team, would look to show a strong performance in a rematch of the semifinals against the AHQ esports club. Sure to be looking for revenge against the Snipers, who had handed them a disappointing 3-0 loss, AHQ would be out to prove themselves a strong contender in the 2014 Spring season.
Picks and bans yielded some interesting results right away, with AHQ’s GreenTea opting for support Malphite over the highly contested Annie. If you’d like to read more in-depth about this, read my article here. Interestingly, TPS would be the team to opt into the 1v2 though AHQ had the unconventional weak early game support. This would lead to TPS picking up the first tower of the game. TPS would use this advantage with the 1v2 in top to invade the second AHQ red buff rather than rotating to bot lane to potentially save their tower. Through superior numbers and vision control through pink wards, AHQ would lose not just their red buff, but also give up a death on Naz, putting him behind in levels and delaying his level 6 for just a bit longer.
AHQ would make TPS think twice about leaving Westdoor’s Twisted Fate open as they answered with a second roam of the game to bot lane, taking out Zonda’s renekton for his third death of the game. While this kept Zonda behind, it crucially opened up side lane towers for easier ganking opportunities from AHQ’s globals in the longer lanes. However, TPS would again answer with a transition to mid lane and gain the first significant gold lead of the game after taking the now undefended tower.
Continuing the superior rotations and early game aggression on the back of TPS jungler Winds, the Snipers would attempt to create a convincing gold lead moving to take the first dragon of the game. In a bold move, Naz would Grand Skyfall directly onto the dragon securing the steal on a missed smite from Winds, trading only the life of Twisted Fate and propelling AHQ back into the game with a slight gold lead.
Continuing to put emphasis on controlling the map through global presence, AHQ forced a gank on the TPS bot lane. The setup from the long-range initiation of Malphite was exceptionally potent followed up on by the Twisted Fate and Pantheon global ultimates. Bot lane quickly turned from a 2v2 into a 4v2 and GoDJJ and Awei stood no chance. This would lead to a total of two towers, opening up an inhibitor in the bot lane.
This use of globals would set the tone for the rest of the game. Though TPS would attempt to answer, they would never find the straight 5v5 teamfights they desired that lead to objectives afterward. Showing their mastery of objective control through global presence and abusing the incredible amounts of dive in their composition, AHQ would keep TPS on the back foot.. Eventually OhReal’s Ziggs was caught just a bit too far out of base farming and the long range initiation and catch from Prydz Rengar and GreenTea’s Malphite would setup the globals leading to a downed inhibitor. Though the rest of the game was sloppy, and took a bit too long to close out, AHQ would use the pressure in bot lane and snowball that advantage to the rest of the map to eventually secure baron and the game.
TPS is a strong team but is probably still working out some of their in game shotcalling and on the fly adaptation after the retirement of team captain MiSTakE. TPS games tend to rely a lot on the synergy between Winds and OhReal where Winds will outpressure the enemy jungler getting his mid laner ahead and transitioning into a midgame where they litter the enemy jungle with wards and look for their skirmishes and 1v1’s. AHQ created a situation where TPS could not divide and conquer the map that way. They simply did it better by putting globals on their jungler and mid laner, despite Winds setting back Naz on pantheon. And Westdoor may simply be the best competitive Twisted Fate player left in the world and is at least as much in the GPL. You might just want to keep that as a respect ban.
TPA vs YFW
In GPL Winter champion Taipei Assassins first game of the season, they looked to take on the newcomer Yoe Flash Wolves. Though the team name may not be familiar to you, you may be familiar with a few players on the starting roster as Steak, SwordArt and NL previously played at the World Championships for the no longer existing Gamania Bears, who beat both TPA and AHQ in the qualifiers for the world championships, both considered to be 2 of the top 3 teams in the SEA region.
Picks and bans clearly spell out what each time is trying to accomplish with their respective team compositions. With Jax and Jinx, the Assassins are aiming for lategame teamfights after both complete at least 3 items. While Jax notoriously loses most lane matchups, he outscales almost every other pick and becomes an unstoppable late-game monster. The Flash Wolves composition spikes hard in hte midgame. Picks like Riven, Sivir and the combination of Lulu with Shyvana are all extremely strong in 5v5 teamfights in the midgame.
Looking to set the tone of the game with his aggressive jungle Riven, Mountain invaded DinTer’s blue jungle at about 5 minutes into the game looking to catch him doing a camp. Not able to convert a kill, Mountain was caught on his way down the blue buff ramp by the veteran Assassins players responding quickly to come to their junglers aid. This would result in first blood for Morning, giving him the upper hand on the inexperienced REFRAIN, having just transition to midlane from the jungle in the prior months. REFRAIN would also blow his flash while retreating from the failed invade.
Though the invade went the way of TPA, Mountain would severly outfarm DinTer all game on his Riven having almost double the cs for the majority of the game. This cs lead led to a huge level disparity where DinTer was level 4 to Mountain’s level 6. In an insanely aggressive move, DinTer invaded Mountain’s red buff while two levels down. Through superior positioning and vision provided by his lanes, he would not only push Mountain out and secure the red steal, but also rotate to take the first dragon when his bot lane caught SwordArt trying to transition through the tri-bush to help his jungler.
While Mountain would focus his efforts on denying farm from Achie’s Jax in the top lane, DinTer would lend his services to Morning helping secure a second kill on REFRAIN while his flash was still down. This would give Morning a commanding lead in the mid lane that would lead to a cs lead of 40. Though mid lane would continue to win into the midgame, Bot lane would land kills on death sentences from SwordArt’s Thresh and Shyvana would continue to out waveclear jax and consistently push him in. This would lead to TPA towers in both top and bot going down closing the gold defecit created from the mid lane and the earlierdragon taken by the Assassins. Soon after, both teams would take advantage of back timings and rotations to trade the second dragon to the Assassins for the mid tower to the Flash Wolves.
The Flash Wolves, hesitant to initiate against a Gragas with a significant lead, would remain quiet until almost 24 minutes into the game. On a roam from Steak, YFW invades the Assassins blue buff and forces a 4v5 engage. Using the Lulu ultimate to engage on Shyvana, the Flash Wolves take the blue buff, a 2 for 0 teamfight and bot tier 2 tower. Meanwhile, Achie answers with a tier 1 tower and free farm in the top lane.
WIth their first significant gold lead of the game, the Wolves quickly transition to getting up baron vision. In a crucial mistake, Steak would get caught out attempting to protect a pink ward from Dinter and Jay while NL and Mountain were both bot lane. Using just an explosive cask, The assassins would force out the absolutely crucial Wild Growth and Dragon’s Descent as well as a flash from REFRAIN. Without these initiation tools, and after being poked down by Morning, TPA immediately turned to baron. Though NL was able to trade with bot inhibitor turret, Bebe and Morning were able to recall in time to save the inhibitor itself. TPA would once again even up the gold with their late game team composition ever closer on the horizon at 27 minutes.
While attempting to start a dragon before TPA could respond, an Explosive Cask from Morning would once again find a high threat target in the out of position NL leading to yet another dragon for the Assassins and setting the tone for the rest of the game. The next several minutes would follow the same theme as the seemingly flustered Flash Wolves would be caught out of position time and time again, giving up picks and losing free objectives. The Wolves would even lose a 4v5 fight in the bot lane while Achie’s jax beat away on top lane taking waves of free farm in addition to an unanswered inhibitor turret. Opening up bottom and top inhib would make ending the game easy work after TPA secured their second baron. In the last fight of the game, the Flash Wolves would force a desperate engage, executing the same teamfight that gave them a definitive lead just 10 minutes earlier. However, this time the gold defecit would prove to be too high and their composition outscaled as Bebe cleaned up the fight for an easy Quadrakill and a 4 for 0.
The Flash Wolves show a lot of promise. And the left over members from the previous team performed well, at least in the early and mid game. Individual skill is up to par here. However their jungler and mid laner looked quite shaky and inexperienced. You can’t really blame REFRAIN for losing mid lane, but Mountain did almost nothing with his jungle Riven pick the entire game. While he accomplished almost nothing top lane to put Achie’s Jax behind, DinTer made repeated trips to mid. When he was 2 entire levels up on DinTer (level 4 to 6) he got counterjungled due to lack of vision and lost his red buff, got his teammate killed and lost dragon. If the Flash Wolves want to be more than second class team this season Mountain is going to have to step up his game and the Flash Wolves are going to have to clean up their sloppy late-game decision making.
TPS vs SAJ
The Snipers initiate a laneswap and send their marksman and support into the top lane. What makes the most sense to me is that they saw a disadvantage in the 2v2 bot. While they both take towers around the same time, SAJ emerge with an advantage rotating straight to securing the first dragon of the game. The fast tower pushing and objective focus permeates every decision made by the Saigon Jokers in the early game. This would come to clash heavily with the heavy skirmish and high pressure duo in OhReal’s Riven and Winds’ Khazix.
On a roam to bot lane, OhReal would capitalize on the early advantage Zonda’s Mundo had gained on QTV’s Warwick and dive the tier 1 tower. Safety would rotate into the mid lane and answer with a tower of their own. Trying to save the mid lane turret, Zonda would burn teleport to try to catch the Jokers out. Not only would this result in nothing but equally burning flashes, but SAJ would out-rotate TPS and 5-man the dragon as soon as it respawned taking it uncontested. While SAJ were leading on objectives, significant cs leads of at least 15 in the top, jungle and bot lane would keep TPS less than 1k gold behind.
After a misused teleport from QTV, Zonda would use his teleport to appear unanswered on the top side of the map catching Safety out of position. Blowing his flash and forcing him to base would lead to a tier 1 mid tower for TPS clearing out every tier 1 tower from the Joker’s side of the map. TPS, using this to their advantage, began to play classic TPS league of legends. At one point they had a total of 9 wards on the map, every single one in the enemy jungle. What this does is allow Winds and OhReal to roam around and create skirmishes and picks on their own abusing their strong duelist champions. While the Snipers did have a slight lead, the Jokers actually did an admirable job not allowing the picks to happen from the Leona/Sivir hard engage and survived without giving up too much other than a tower or two for the first 20 minutes of the game. The early dragons also kept the gold lead somewhat even.
At around 21 minutes into the game, A chaotic brawl would turn into a full 5 on 5 teamfight in the top lane above baron. Both top laners used teleport to get to the fight. Though the Saigon Jokers fully arrived at the fight before every member of the Taipei Snipers, their execution of the fight left a lot to be desired. Where wukong ultimate hit only Winds and Awei, the Orianna shockwave that followed hit only Awei who didn’t even die by the end of the teamfight. With these key ultimates down , Sivir and Leona arrived backed by the front line of Dr Mundo and cleaned up the fight for a 4 for 2. Transitioning immediately to a mostly uncontested baron, this would hugely swing the gold lead and give the Snipers the tools to press their advantage.
On the back of pinpoint solar flares by Awei, TPS would catch Optimus’ Orianna out at the beginning of almost every fight the rest of the game. Their second baron would bait SAJ out into a 5v5 fight out in the open while down in gold. This would prove fatal and result in a 4 for 1 in the Sniper’s favor. TPS would end the game pushing through the top lane inhibitor to the nexus.
It’s no secret how TPS plays. OhReal is a fantastic midlaner, while Winds is absolutely exceptional at dishing out early game pressure in the jungle. TPS will almost always rely on this duo to create an advantage and use that to gain superior midgame vision control in the enemy jungle. TPS played the map well, rarely grouping as 5 except for objectives like baron and creating situations for Winds and OhReal to be able to get their duels and skirmishes. Sharply contrasting the potent synergy between the TPS duo, Optimus and Safety consistently had poor execution in teamfights and rarely landed ultimates on multiple or the right targets. In addition, there was absolutely no pressure from Safety after simply sitting in lanes to push down turrets early game. SAJ’s bright spot is their bot lane, but they’re going to have to find their own identity and take some risks rather than passively trying to hold on to games if they want to take games off of the best teams in the GPL.
At the end of two weeks, two teams each stand on top of their groups undefeated. Putting up extremely strong performances in Group A is AHQ eSports club. Their teamplay and crafting of team compositions is second to none in their group. Many players and analysts would have predicted the Taipei Snipers to be on top of the group, but so far TPS hasn’t been able to find a way to adequately punish Westdoor’s outdated champion pool or capitalize on the early mistakes and deaths often made by Naz. Second, the Taipei Assassins are also undefeated on top of group B. Though DinTer’s early ganks and map pressure have proved to be fairly lackluster, no team has been able to convert an early advantage into closing out a win. When taking into account their considerable experience and superior teamplay in the lategame, I doubt we will see them drop a game until the bracket stage. Then, the two top teams from group A in the Snipers and AHQ will eventually have a shot to take them down.