Battle Report: LCS Week 7

March 10 2015

Week 7 of the NA LCS was high-stakes for Team Liquid. Piglet will have returned to the line-up, replacing substitute ADC Keith who helped TL in their 3-1 record during week 5 and 6 and securing the uncontested 4th seed. Keith’s performance essentially painted a target on Piglet’s back and the expectation was high for the Korean World Champ.

Unfortunately for the Team Liquid squad, their efforts as well as the changes in the line-up were no match for a re-surging Team 8 and dominating Team Impulse; both teams coming off great win streaks. That’s not to say we aren’t either, having beaten TSM and CLG in past week. This time, we’re actually using our real ADC in Piglet which translates to: yea we just did a roster swap; we go 0-2 this week, a performance... well, many people somewhat expected, but was not what we were going for.

Day 1: Team Liquid vs Team 8

Going up against Team 8, Team Liquid opted to build around constant aggression and opted to keep Quas and FeniX on strong carry-type champions. Piglet got his hands on Kalista who could mechanically position himself for success in sticky situations. Team 8 on the other hand, opted for the usual “Kill the Piglet” composition with good dive picks (AKA the Vi that every team picks against Piglet) and Rumble for that pesky Equalizer.

Team Liquid: Kennen, Jarvan IV, Zed, Kalista, Thresh
Team 8: Rumble, Vi, LeBlanc, Graves, and Janna

Team Liquid played the early game fairly poorly on this one. FeniX could not catch a break against LeBlanc and went on to try and split-push to catch up and hopefully gain some map pressure along the way. Unfortunately for him, he just kept dying in the solo lanes. While FeniX had little threat on an assassin, Quas did not do as well this time around on Kennen and couldn’t make the game-defining plays we’ve seen from him when he’s even an ounce ahead of his opponent.

Team 8’s lead slowly inched higher and higher and even with decent fights in, we couldn’t come out ahead in team fights in the mid-early game. IWillDominate’s Jarvan had little map pressure and the chance at victory really did come down to Piglet and how well his squad could initiate fights.

Team 8 blew two fights in the mid lane as well as TL’s blue-side jungle. Piglet showed he can position himself for success and follow-up on Quas and Dominate’s initiation, helping his team secure much-needed kills and buying more time. After two successful fights for the TL squad, there was hope. The game was stalled and the huge advantage T8 had over TL slowly began to diminish. This was what Liquid wanted, to push the game into late game and rely on Piglet’s incredible positional mechanics; it was all or nothing no matter what.

Team 8 had four dragons and the fifth dragon was nearing spawn—surely, securing a 5th dragon would mean Team 8 could end the game. Team Liquid was hesitant with Quas’ slicing maelstrom (ultimate) down for a few short seconds. Despite having vision of the other team as they began to take out the dragon, Team Liquid did not engage and Team 8 took advantage with an engagement of their own with The Aspect of the Dragon Buff.

While things were looking hairy, our team fought the good fight and immediately took out two of Team 8’s members, seemingly winning the engagement. Unfortunately, LeBlanc never actually left the fight despite being zoned out and came back to annihilated what stood left of Team Liquid, resulting in a midlane push to end the game.

Day 2: Team Liquid vs Team Impulse

The Team liquid vs Team Impulse match-up would re-unite former SKT1 teammates Impact and Piglet… except on opposing forces.

Team Liquid: Kennen, Jarvan IV, Lulu, Jinx, Braum
Team Impulse: Vi, Karthus, Graves, Leona, Maokai

Ok, are you for real with the Vi aga--- Ahem, teams really like to run “MOAR DIVE” compositions when a world champion ADC is on the other time. Leona, Maokai, and Vi and an unavoidable ultimate in Karthus (bar Banshee’s Veil)? Behold, the ultimate combination of dive the piggy champions.

This game was never good for us. XiaoWeiXiao on Karthus is dangerous as-is and the team’s confidence around that pick showed. As soon as Karthus hit level 6, a 3(and a half)-man dive was initiated on Xpecial and Piglet, under tower I might add. No amount of epic gameplay mechanics could save us from that massacre and despite burning exhaust and flashes with Vi tanking tower, TL could not get a single return kill to alleviate the damage.

After that, it was all downhill from there. Impulse dove onto Quas’ Kennen in the top lane and Dominate just could not keep up. FeniX’ Lulu could do very little. Impulse was ahead. Team Liquid was gold starved. The lead grew and simply, fights just could not be won.

Team Impulse would massacre us in every team fight and secure every objective, eventually pushing to win at the 27-minute mark. Team Impulse played out of their minds and there was very little we could do.

Quas should play different champions

See here, Quas ran Kennen both day 1 and 2. We all know we only win games when Quas cycles through champions no one has seen him play before. Now, a theory I have is when other teams prepare to fight Team Liquid, only two things go in their mind.

       1) Is Piglet playing? If so, more dive. If not, go to number 2.
       2)Guess Quas’ champion

I mean, if Quas pulls out the top lane Gankplank, the other team will be so mind boggled, they’ll just straight lose focus, giving us an advantage. Remember the first time he ran Kennen? Hauntzer didn’t take flash and he just straight died right away. Coincidence? I think not.

Dominate and FeniX did not perform

With Piglet in the line-up, Dom and FeniX didn’t do as much to impact the game… And nooo they’re not doing it on purpose. Dominate did get some good ganks off but didn’t capitalize on any burned flashes after initial gank presence. FeniX just can’t catch a break in-lane and was never really able to utilize his natural aggressive playstyle.
Despite being down, Team Liquid’s team fights were pretty solid in-terms of positioning but they were just never ahead… or even for that matter in the game. They played well in fights that were one-sided in-terms of champion power but only playing well from behind does not get you wins.

The Piglet Debacle

Quite frankly, I don’t know what to say. Obviously, things work when Keith is in the line-up, but Piglet as a player really can’t be blamed. In sports however, you do have to go with what works, but will Keith continue to perform in a World Championship setting, a goal we are striving to make? We don’t know.

On paper, and even just watching these games (I mean, really, when are we ever ahead with Piglet in the line-up?), Piglet has extremely top-notch team fight mechanics and is a much better player than Keith and yet, the substitute ADC can run a “farm and shoot rockets” strategy, go positive, and still win.

If having Keith in the line-up makes Quas and Dominate perform better, then so be it; Keith really isn’t that much worse than Piglet (some say he’s better, but he did get splattered by the CLG bot lane before hitting his power spike). But it boggles my mind how swapping between two players with similar defensive play styles has such a huge impact on the overall performance of the team. I guess chemistry really is everything.

Writer // Ken Serra
Graphics // shiroiusagi
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