This week in the North American LCS, we see just how Balls deep Cloud9 HyperX can extend their first place lead over the the rest of the league, how TSM can mount their inevitable comeback that will lead them to championship form again, and whether Counter Logic Gaming can actually take a lead before the 40 minute mark.
Week 5 started out with TSM pulling an odd play out of the playbook by laning Xin and Annie together against Caitlyn Sona. TSM’s gambit was foiled fairly quickly by Vulcun however, with Caitlyn and Sona’s passive play preventing any early aggression The play that really broke TSM’s chances in this game occured around 5 minutes in the game, where Reginald’s Zilean was caught out by Vulcun roaming top after some failed aggression by Turtle/Xpecial and Oddone. The 3 attempted to save Reginald in the river, which led to a 4-0 cleanup by Vulcun and basically ended the game for TSM at this point, disallowing their strategy to reach the point of Cailtyn being denied farm and levels. The 4-0 trade never really allowed TSM to get back into the game, letting Vulcun roam around the map and take objectives on a whim. With a 10,000 gold lead at 22 minutes, Vulcun found an overextended Dyrus’ Shen and the insuing fight caused a 5-0 Ace and a 24 minute end to dominant performance by Vulcun over TSM.
|C9 Bans||CLG Bans|
|C9 Picks||CLG Picks|
The second match of the day was C9 vs CLG, where C9 came into the game at 10-2. However, one of those defeats was at the hand of the wily veteran group of CLG, so this game was set to be a real test for C9. The game started with both teams warding deep into each other’s jungles, with CLG taking the C9 red and attempting to gank Balls’ Rumble bottom when he was still level 1. However, an amazing flash by Balls’ through Jiji’s J4 E-Q combo saved him from having a hard lane and giving up first blood. Meteos, while denied his siginiture Zac pick, was still pressuring the map incredibly hard, burning summoners and ultimates with simple Nasus wither ganks at proper times. The vaunted combo “ChauLift” on Thresh and Caitlyn seemed to have met their match again Sneaky and Lemon’s Ashe/Zyra combo, with the C9 duo trading blows very handily with CLG’s combo. The failed gank on Balls’ early came back to haunt CLG as he began to manhandle Nien’s Shen, taking his tower early and generally bullying him in the Rumble style that everyone is familiar with. The real story of this game however, was C9’s incredible tower siege and their counter intiation to CLG’s dive comp. Every 5 man teamfight resulted the same way for CLG, Shen and Jarvan would dive into C9’s back line, only to meet Zyra/Rumble ultimates and being evaporated by Jayce and Ashe before C9 would continue their objective pushes. One such teamfight at botlane in defense of CLG’s open inhibitor sealed the deal, leading to a fairly easy Cloud 9 victory.
|VES Bans||Dig Bans|
|VES Picks||Dig Picks|
Velocity and Dignitas possibly played the most vanilla game of the day, with one of the most notable facts of the game being the fact that Jayce was not a pick or ban in the game. Early game was a fairly tame farm-off with the junglers having minimal effects on the lanes outside of Crumbz’ first blood gank on Cris’ Renekton top. This game was the first game Velocity decided to bring out ecco in the mid lane, with his Twisted Fate helping to keep Renekton in the game in top lane. However, Velocity’s botlane struggled against Dignitas’ seasoned pair of QT and Patoy, having some mistimed aggression which led to the lane snowballing in Dignitas’ control after an 0-2 exchange. Dignitas’ map control in this game was much stronger than any game they had last week, controlling and taking every Dragon and Baron in the game. A strange call by Nk Inc to attempt a split push on Shen as Dignitas pushed in their top inhibitor cost them said inhibitor. The following skirmish turned sour for Velocity as they were aced by Dignitas 5-0 and handed another loss in their heartbreaking and disappointing season.
|Coast Bans||Curse Bans|
|Coast Picks||Curse Picks|
Curse started out this game by intiating 2v1 situations due to the Riven pick of Coast. However, with Saint going top to help his duo lane attempt to topple the tower backfired horribly for Curse. Losing both the tower bottom due to Jacky’s inability to hold it 1v2 and giving up first blood top in a 3v2 situation, Curse put themselves on the backfoot early for map control. Curse’s inability to recover from this snowballed the game quickly in Coast’s favor, giving their Vayne plenty of time to farm as Coast sieged 4v5 and took objectives from Curse after catching out Curse members near objectives from apparent miscomminucations. Coast took this advantage that Curse gifted on them and proceeded to assert map dominance in every area, from towers to Dragons and Barons. Taking four dragons, ten towers and the only baron of the game compared to Curse’s 1 tower in the entire game, Coast’s dominance in this game led to a fairly easy victory on the back of their massive global gold advantage, ending the game with a brutal fight inside Curse’s base.
|TSM Bans||VES Bans|
|TSM Picks||VES Picks||
Another round of the Oddbowl began with a long farm fest and the two junglers basically being secondary lane supports, staying in the long lanes and making them 2v2. The game was definitely not a barn burner out of the game, with very little things of interest happening before 8 minutes outside of the use of Karthus ult and some aggression from Turtle/Xpecial to pick up first blood and take the tower. This game for Velocity was a story of miscommunications and missed opportunities. TSM could have been punished much harder at one point when they grouped as 4 to push mid, but Velocity failed to capitalize on it. A potentinal miscommunication by TSM at Dragon makes it more costly to them than they would have liked with Turtle appearing to back out from the fight prematurely. However, once again Velocity failed to transition into mid and late game, with some shaky positioning in mid causing them to be caught out in a 0-4 exchange which led to two towers getting knocked over. To end the game, they were defending their open middle inhibitor, but landed their key CC/Intiation abilities on Dyrus’ tanky Renekton and Reginald’s farmed Karthus, which led to a 5-1 ace and another victory in the Oddbowl series for TheOddOne and TSM.
|C9 Bans||Vul Bans||
The highpowered slugfest between seeds #1 and #2 in the LCS really lived up to the hype that it had and it lived up to the hype that it should have had as well. Vulcun starts the game by dropping double pink wards in the river, Zuna and Bloodwater steal Meteos’ blue and then gets a first blood on Hai with Xmithie’s help. Both long laners get dove by the AD/Support duo and jungler early. After a 4 minute dragon, this game is shaping up to be a high powered slugfest. Mancloud and Xmithie’s presence on the map is crushing on C9, leading out to an 8-1 game by 8 minutes on C9, including Hai’s Zed being crippled at 0-3. After catching Meteos at dragon in a pink ward war, Vulcun gets another 3-0 exchange and takes the dragon, extending their lead to nearly 5k at 12 minutes. A questionable tower diving TF ult is made to a moot point due to Vulcun’s tankiness, resulting in them taking C9’s mid tower for their Shen and TF ults. Vulcun’s split pushing and map dominance is extending their lead in objectives and gold. Vulcun’s aggression is causing huge problems for C9’s playstyle where they are not used to playing off the backfoot. Vulcun’s slow push strat into C9 is slowly putting a stranglehold onto them. C9 manages to turn the game around at the 30 minute mark slightly by picking off Xmithie and then winning a 5v4 teamfight due to Zyra and Nunu ultimates. Vulcun commits to a very sloppy fight infront of C9’s mid inhibitor tower, which leads to a 4-1 exchange in favor of C9 and their second baron.Vulcun, on the back of an amazing save by Bloodwater, takes the top inhib of C9. However, C9 responds by wiping them 3-1 in mid and shoving down mid and taking the inhib as Hai destroys Xmithie bottom and prevents an inhib trade. A longdrawn and hectic battle in Vulcun’s base results in their inhibitor going down in a 2-2 trade that involved 2 GA’s and the use of homeguards to prevent C9 from basing Vulcun. Mancloud decides to split bottom for the inhibitor while the rest of his team goes for baron, which unfortunately results in C9 winning the fight 4-0 and pushing down middle, winning the game.
|CRS Bans||CLG Bans|
|CRS Picks||CLG Picks|
The Grand Skyfall: or CRS vs. CLG was one of the more epic games of day 2. It started out with a level 1 vision war that allowed CRS and CLG to effectively trade blue buffs. From that point on CLG brought out their new secret weapon: a strong early game. To begin with, Chauster and Doublelift bullied Voyboy and acquired the first turret of the game in just minutes. Moreover, at just 8 minutes and 23 seconds into the game CLG slayed the first Dragon uncontested with the help of Chauster’s superior vision control. In addition to their early objective control, which put them up 1.2k gold in just under 9 minutes into the game, the rest of CLG’s early game was defined by Bigfatlp’s jungle Pantheon. In what seemed like the twinkling of an eye Bigfatlp began to fall from the sky: everywhere. Obviously missing his mid lane, Bigfat began to terrorize NyJacky as he dropped onto him twice in conjunction with Link’s Zed ult; adding 2 deaths to Jacky’s KDA. Moments later he would fall from the sky yet again, only this time with the help of a ninja, as all of CLG tower-dove Cop and EDward: netting themselves 3 kills and CRS’ 1st tier bot turret. Seemingly in control of the game with a 5k gold lead, CLG begins a merciless split push campaign with their ninja duo; Link’s Zed who can’t be 1v1’ed split pushes bot and Nien’s unkilled Shen begins his methodical push down top lane. In response to the map being choked out by CLG, CRS tries to go aggressive by pressuring mid and with the help of Stand United and Grand Skyfall CLG Aces CRS. Unwavering in their aggression CRS attempts to take Baron and are thwarted when Saint gets outsmited by Bigfatlp, luckily for CRS they’re able to pick up kills onto Bigfatlp, Chauster, and slay the next Dragon.
In a surprising turn of events CRS is not only able to defend against the Baron buffed CLG, but turn the fight in their favor as Cop cancel’s Nien’s Stand United with a clutch Stand Aside: soloing Nien and allowing the rest of CRS to win the team fight. Made all the more brave by their first team fight win of the game, CRS continues to push back against CLG and are able to pick up Bigfatlp for free as both teams disengage after his death. Following Bigfatlp’s respawn CLG positions themselves for Baron, but are met head on by CRS who’re forced to retreat as Nien’s Shen gets in position to take their bot Inhibitor. After disengaging CRS yet again forces a fight mid, routing CLG in a 3 for 1 team-fight and taking Baron. In one of the more confusing moments of the game Shen and Zed continue to split push, as CRS quickly collapses onto CLG’s nexus turrets. Unable to hold off CRS, Shen finally joins the fight but Link continues to try and take bot inhibitor as CRS takes both Nexus towers and Jacky solos the Nexus in the midst of CLG’s desperate defense. CRS picks up the win as CLG’s split push keeps them from defending their own nexus: an epic comeback victory for CRS and a Grand Skyfall for CLG.
|DIG Bans||CST Bans|
|DIG Picks||CST Picks||
Dignitas vs. Coast is a story of early aggression and mid game domination, as right out of the gate both teams tried to establish early vision control by invading the other’s jungle; Dignitas warding Coast’s Red and Coast warding Dignitas’ blue; allowing for both teams to see each other’s jungle route. Ironically, even with vision of Nintendude’s route it wasn’t enough to stop him and ZionSpartan from picking up First Blood on Kiwikid. Moreover, NintendudeX immediately followed that gank with another, and with the help of DontMashMe and Daydreamin picked up his second kill of the game onto imaqtpie. Although this would be the end of Coast’s early game dominance as Dignitas would score a 2 for 1 in the next team fight and secure the first Dragon of the game. After the first Dragon, map control belonged to Dignitas, Kiwikid took top lane and continued to bully Zionspartan’s Shen while Scarra, qtpie, and Patoy pressured Coast out of their own bot lane. As the second Dragon spawns, Coast attempts to contest it but NintendudeX is immediately blown up by qtpie’s burst; which cancels Shen’s Stand United and leads to the death of Draven and Thresh; allowing for another easy Dragon for Dignitas. Consequently giving Dignitas a commanding lead in the mid game which would only be furthered by a third uncontested Dragon, giving Dignitas an 8k gold lead, allowing Dignitas to mercilessly steamroll Coast.
|C9 Bans||VES Bans|
|C9 Picks||VES Picks||
Cloud 9 vs. Velocity is another testament to why everyone is jumping onto the Cloud 9 hype train and quite possibly one of the more painful matches to watch for Velocity fans. This isn’t saying much, however, as only CLG, VUL, and TSM have truly given Cloud 9 a run for their proverbial money. Thus it makes more sense to focus more on how good Cloud9 is rather than how supposedly bad Velocity is. With that said, Cloud 9 outmaneuvered Velocity for 95% of the game, in the opening minutes they won the vision war as Meteos’ Lee Sin pillaged Nk_inc’s blue buff. Besides losing control of their own jungle early on, most of Velocity’s early kills were picked up off of Kogmaw and Zyra’s death passives. Most of C9’s early kills were picked up due to members of Velocity committing to fights without flash and being unable to escape them after C9 turned them back in their favor. C9 punished Maple for this after losing his flash to a beautiful Death Sentence from LemonNation killing both him and Evaniskus after they overcommitted. Similarly, Meteos and Balls punished Nk_inc and Cris for continuing to fight them after they had both blown their flashes in the same skirmish: picking up 2 more early kills for C9. Subsequently giving C9 an early 2k gold lead, and further proving that they’re not a team one can make mistakes against. Due to their early lead and Hai’s dominance over Ecco in lane: Hai was able to effectively roam top and bot picking up kills on both Evaniskus and Cris. Not to mention Hai was able to take 1st tier mid turret with ease, further snowballing the game and leading to an 11 minute uncontested Dragon for Cloud 9.
From here on out Cloud 9 would appear almost unstoppable, as they stretched their 11 minute 5k gold lead into an 11k gold lead at 18 and half minutes. Ultimately confining Velocity to their base and forcing them to defend their inhibitor turrets. Ironically, however, when C9 had their biggest lead of the game was when they started to make uncharacteristic mistakes. Firstly, Meteos tower-dove VES at their top inhibitor turret and was left to die by the rest of his team: something we’ve never seen in a C9 game. Secondly, immediately following the loss of Meteos, Balls gets caught out by Nk_inc and blown up by Ecco’s Lux. Thirdly, LemonNation then gets caught out and it appears as though VES is beginning to claw their way back into the game on the back of C9’s overconfidence. Nevertheless, C9 finally reels themselves in and realizes that in order to end the game they must bait VES out of their base with Baron: a plan that works perfectly and finally allows C9 to close out what initially started as an easy win.
|CLG Bans||TSM Bans|
|CLG Picks||TSM Picks||
CLG vs. TSM is the North American version of El Classico: the quintessential eSports rivalry between two longstanding North American powerhouses vying for the right to be the best in their country. The question, however, on the minds of all the CLG fans when this game begun was if CLG could recover from throwing their previous game against CRS, or if they were going to be on tilt in this game. On the other hand TSM fans were concerned whether or not TSM would show up today, or if they would continue to struggle as they have been the last two weeks. The early game gets off to an interesting start, as Nien and Bigfatlp punish WildTurtle and Xpecial for being pushed up too far in lane by drawing First Blood onto Xpecial. Similarly, Doublelift and Chauster waste both of their ults trying to kill Dyrus, but he pulls off an amazing flash and dodges Doublelift’s Trueshot Barrage managing to survive their all in with sub 200 health. Dyrus is forced to back and Doublelift and Chauster pressure the 1st tier top turret, but TSM responds and takes 1st tier bot turret and the first Dragon of the game a little under 11 minutes in. Regi continues to try and apply pressure by roaming top to snowball Dyrus, instead he finds Nien in the river who uses his ghost to try and kill him, but Regi is saved as the Oddone appears and turns the tables on Nien, luckily for Nien Chauster shows up just in the nick of time and uses Dark Passage to save him. TSM pursues CLG as they disengage to Dragon where Regi gets caught out and the Oddone dies trying to steal the Dragon. On top of that Doublelift is able to pick up 1st tier bot turret, furthering CLG’s lead. In what seems like the moment after Regi respawns, he initiates into CLG with his ultimate and immediately pops his Zhonya’s Hourglass; causing link to miss his Shockwave, and allowing WildTurtle to kill Link and take their 1st tier mid turret uncontested. TSM continues to push up mid lane and put damage onto the 2nd tier mid turret before disengaging and bringing the game to almost even gold 23 minutes in.
Following their successful push TSM positions themselves for the next Dragon and quickly burn it down as Nocturne initiates with Paranoia: Regi dies, Turtle kills Link’s Orianna and Xpecial finishes off Nocturne, as TSM come out ahead with 2 kills to 1 and their 2nd Dragon of the game. Moreover Regi decides to start another fight and pops Destiny and uses Gate to drop onto Nien, but despite TF’s Gold card and Renekton’s stun Nien is able to survive, as TSM then commits to one of their worst fights in the game. Dyrus dives into all of CLG under tower and gets focused down, as the turret agro switches it nearly kills WildTurtle and after Regi’s intiate he’s already taken some damage: leaving a healthy CLG to blow up Dyrus and chase down the rest of TSM and systematically Ace them. TSM essentially handed the game to CLG with this team-fight as shortly after they’re Aced again, which allows CLG to take their mid inhibitor and 4k gold lead 32 minutes into the game. 6 minutes later TSM surrenders after CLG outplays them by baiting Baron and then pushing down top lane and essentially leaving TSM with nothing to defend other than their Nexus and it’s two towers.
|VUL Bans||CST Bans|
|VUL Picks||CST Picks||
With one of the more memorable openers in the NA LCS: Vulcun open their game with one of the earliest First Bloods onto Nintendude, as they chase him away from his own red buff and into the deadly arms of Mancloud’s Ryze. On the other hand, Coast attempts to put the pressure back onto Vulcun by taking the first turret of the game. Zuna and BloodWater try to repay the favor by taking the 1st tier top turret, as NintendudeX, DontMashMe, and Daydreamin try and take Vulcun’s 2nd tier bot turret. In the mid lane, Shiptur picks up a deceivingly epic kill as even the announcers think that Mancould is going to survive as he nonchalantly walks back to recall and is killed by the last tick of Ignite. Although Mancloud died, he finally got to spend his First Blood money and comes back to lane fully stacked with a Tear and Catalyst to boot. Shortly after Mancloud returns to lane, Zuna and BloodWater dive and kill Daydreamin and DontMashMe under their own turret and they take the 1st tier bot turret before they recall for good measure. In response to Vulcun’s aggression ZionSpartan secures the 1st tier top turret to try and keep the game close.
After their top turret falls Vulcun takes the first Dragon 8 minutes into the game. Soon after Mancloud falls in mid lane as he gets caught up in a 4v2 in favor of CST, but Xmithie seeks out vengeance as he flashes and grabs a kill onto NintendudeX to make it an even trade. In a whirlwind of beautiful support plays Daydreamin sacrifices himself to pull Zuna under mid turret with his Rocket Grab, but BloodWater responds just in time and sweeps Zuna back to safety with his Dark Passage. Although kills are traded back and forth Vulcun continues to pressure the map and forces CST back into their base. Sid continues to lead extended pushes against CST using Jayce’s Shockblast to bully them off of their towers and eventually destroying their mid inhibitor. The poked down targets allow Xmithie to initiate over the wall with his Elastic Slingshot and although Shiptur kills BloodWater, and DontMashMe kills Zuna, Vulcun take CST’s top inhibitor and Baron Nashor on the way out. On their subsequent push, Sid takes vengeance as he racks up a double kill onto Blitzcrank and Orianna, Mancloud takes down DontMashMe’s Draven and seals the win for Vulcun.
|DIG Bans||CRS Bans|
|DIG Picks||CRS Picks||
In the last match of the day Voyboy channels his inner Bruce Lee, as he takes his favorite Lee Sin skin into the top lane. 3 minutes into the game Dignitas is already putting the pressure onto Voyboy as they attempt a failed 3 man dive on him underneath his own tower. In response to Dignitas’ pressure Saint, Cop, and EDward take down DIG’s 1st tier bot turret. DIG continues to push top lane and they take CRS’ 2nd tier top turret 4 minutes into the game. Saint, Cop, and EDward decide to take a 4:10 Dragon instead of taking DIG’s 2nd tier bot turret. Ironically enough both teams end up even in gold after exerting so much pressure to take the lead. Cop and EDward then head mid to try and push KiwiKid’s Twisted Fate out of lane. Nyjacky heads bot to farm in a 2v1 and as soon as Saint goes bot they all in imaqtpie and nearly kill him before Kiwi’s TF Gates into bot lane to save him. EDward attempts to save their 1st tier bot turret, but after Saint and Jacky’s failed offensive he can’t hold it against qtpie, Patoy, and Crumbz. 10:20 CRS goes for their 2nd Dragon, as Jacky gets caught out in the river bush but gets away, qtpie is able to steal the dragon out from under CRS but Voyboy gets First Blood on Crumbz as nobody on his team follows him into his paranoia initiation.
Unable to create any map pressure via consistent pushing DIG returns to their pick strategy as they attempt to combo TF’s Gate and Zed’s Death Mark onto Voyboy, but he’s able to flash away and then safeguard over the Baron pit to safety; burning 2 incredibly important ultimates on DIG and netting them nothing. Immediately after Crumbz uses Paranoia to engage onto Nyjacky in the mid lane but is unable to get ahold of Ahri, and instead CRS and DIG trade back and forth resulting in many low life bars but no actual kills. Minutes later SaintVicious and Voyboy go for a two man gank of their own and pick up Scarra with the use of Dragon’s Rage and Catacylsm, netting them not only the kill but DIG’s 1st tier top turret. CRS take their 2nd Dragon of the game entirely uncontested. Crumbz 3rd Paranoia initiation is the charm, as he’s able to lock down Nyjacky under his own mid turret and kill him, picking up the 3rd kill of the game 18:34 in. Saint and Edward initiate onto Kiwikid and Crumbz with Catacylsm but Kiwi Gates out just before he dies and Crumbz is able to simply walk away, however, it gives CRS the opportunity to take DIG’s 1st tier mid turret.
28 minutes in CRS baits Baron and catches Scarra out of position, they lose Nyjacky but kill qtpie, Patoy, and Crumbz and come out even further ahead by slaying Baron. CRS follows up their Baron by grabbing their 3rd Dragon of the game. In the next engagement, Voyboy gets killed by KiwiKid but Cop goes full Draven and kills both Scarra and KiwiKid. Jacky solos qtpie and Patoy as they try and take CRS’ 2nd tier bot turret and grabs a double kill; he then gets Nocturne ulted, but Saint saves him as they chase down Nocturne and Ace Dignitas. After KiwiKid respawns Edward uses Shurelya’s and all 5 members of CRS chase down KiwiKid as Jacky last hits him for the kill. Immediately after, Scarra gets caught out by Jacky and dies, KiwiKid teleports in to save Scarra and gets killed by Edward. Lastly, SaintVicious and Voyboy tower dive qtpie and kill him to close out the game.
|1.||Cloud 9 HyperX||13-2|
|3.||Counter Logic Gaming||8-7|