Article:Season 3 European LCS Quarterfinals - A Look Back
|Season 3 European LCS Quarterfinals - A Look Back|
After two days of International Wildcard and Challenger action, it was time for the LCS teams to shine! The first rounds of the European LCS Playoffs were played with the prospects of job security throughout the Spring Split of Season 4 and a 66% chance at taking the trip to Los Angeles for the winners, and the risk of being forced into the relegation tournament for the losers.
On one side, we have a well-established team within the community’s heart in the form of Evil Geniuses. Their showings failed to live up to their Season 2 success, until they added nRated and Shacker to their lineup. Immediately, with their new additions, EG returned to their winning ways and their general enjoyment of the game, rekindling of flame in the community.
On the other side, Team ALTERNATE was not going to let Evil Geniuses fly by. This is a team that started very strong early in the Summer Split, but narrowly qualified with their tiebreaker win against SK Gaming. Composed of some of the most skilled solo queue players, Team ALTERNATE has proven that they play with a team spirit that can not be fended off easily.
Team ALTERNATE sent a strong message to their opponent by denying the two members of the power duo from reaching their hands; not only would Zac not be available, but Aatrox was claimed by Araneae. Evil Geniuses built a dive composition, but in doing so, it meant that either their frontline or backline would be left vulnerable to ForellenLord’s 3000-ELO Ball.
The tone was set from the beginning. EG’s every move was met by an ATN countermove. A first blood onto Creaton would be met by ForellenLord and Jree picking an overextended Yellowpete. A dragon was met by a top lane turret takedown. A takedown of two bottom lane turrets was mett by a fight in the middle lane and some split-pushing. EG’s movement towards the dragon’s den ultimately exposed them to a preview of things to come: the Sona/Miss Fortune/Vladimir area-of-effect combination.
The game almost slipped out of control from Araneae and his teammates after an EG engage turned into a 4 for 2 trade in favor of EG, but they retaliated by biding their time while some of their structures fell. ForellenLord’s purchase and usage of Zhonya’s Hourglass proved to be the catalyst for ATN in regards to taking control of the game, as they got four kills and a Baron despite being engaged upon..
ATN took bold steps in hammering down EG. A critical Aatrox dive was combined with loads of bullets from Miss Fortune and a Hemoplague. The ensuing chaos allowed them to destroy the middle inhibitor. From then onwards, they either forced EG to cater to the growing minion waves (and let them claim more structures) or to force fights.
EG chose the latter option. At first, they obliterated Sona before she could lock them down and go on to earn a 5-2 ace that they could not convert into objectives. However, with ForellenLord’s purchase of a Guardian Angel and Miss Fortune’s stumbling on a Banshee’s Veil, the tides turned for good. A 3-0 fight near Baron would net ATN the coveted objective. They followed up on that by closing out the game after one last siege to takedown the one remaining inhibitor before moving onto the Nexus.
It was time for Evil Geniuses to bounce back from their Game 1 loss. They went on to pick an area-of-effect composition that possessed both offensive and defensive strengths. Jarvan IV and Sona’s massive lockdown power was coupled with a load of AoE damage from Kennen and Orianna. Team Alternate’s dive-heavy composition had quite a lot to worry about in that regard.
Kerp’s Singed could only stand and witness the obliteration of Jree and Creaton in the bottom lane from an EG gank that happened just before he teleported into the fray. That teleport proved to bear huge consequences as Wickd’s Kennen left no breathing room for Araneae’s Aatrox, picking a kill in the process. EG went on to claim the bottom tower and the dragon shortly after.
With EG securing an early advantag, ATN was hard pressed to make moves to stop the snowball, but every move backfired; ForellenLord’s attempt to roam to the top lane was fiercely met by a Shockwave and a Cataclysm. Upon his respawn, his team decided to slay the dragon, but poor positioning inside the pit would allow Kennen and Orianna to light the sparks and increase the size of the snowball.
Krepo proved to be instrumental in EG’s dominance as his Crescendos created favorable situations for his team, even at the cost of his champion’s life. Singed’s attempts at split pushing were met with an even faster destruction of ATN’s turrets at the hands of EG, as the destruction of a tower by the Mad Chemist was met by a tower, a dragon, and some kills as a result of ATN’s attempts at contesting the lost objectives..
The nail in the coffin came in the form of Kennen’s distraction of both Singed and Diana in the bottom lane while the rest of EG would start Baron. This forced ATN to rush to Baron’s den outnumbered, in two 2v5 instances. EG claimed four kills, Baron Nashor, and the game.
ATN tried in vain to fend off EG’s onslaught of their buildings, but a ForellenLord Lunar Rush alongside two destroyed inhibitors proved to be their downfall.
It all came down to the wire. On one side, the crowd favorite; on the other, the only team that could stop them today. Evil Geniuses would resort once again to Kennen’s electrifying presence in Summoner’s Rift, but the ELO Lord took Orianna away for their own dive composition. Team Alternate stuck to preventing both Zac and Aatrox from reaching Evil Geniuses’ hands, but it was at the cost of Shen. Shen is extremely dangerous when coupled with an assassin and EG selected Ahri and her devastatingly fast burst to complete the 1-2 punch.
The early game was not the most eventful, save for some counterjungling on Araneae’s behalf and some forced Flashes on Snoopeh’s. The farm game was in ATN’s advantage in the bottom lane and in EG’s favor in the solo lanes. Both teams traded objectives, but Krepo’s sudden Crescendo resulted in the first kill out of many.
EG was on a roll. A low-health Karma was caught by Ahri while she was escaping from Kennen’s grasp. Shortly after, Orianna’s tower-pushing endeavors were met witha fierce dismantling of her robotic members. Jree pulled Jarvan IV as both teams were posturing for dragon, and the result was a scorching 3 for 1 as Kennen and Sona synchronized their lockdown tools perfectly.
The momentum abruptly shifted on the next dragon fight as ForellenLord’s Shockwave echoed through the venue. The 4-2 trade and subsequent dragon kill put ATN back into contention. It did not stop there though. As EG pushed towards the inner top turret, yet another 3000 ELO Shockwave stunned the crowd and yielded yet another 4 for 2 outcome in favor Araneae’s teammates. EG tried to make picks to catch steam, but ATN’s objective control allowed them to aggressively posture in the middle lane. The ball was angry yet again as it claimed both Kennen and Ahri, resulting in a free inhibitor for ATN.
However, EG’s next move decided the outcome of the game and the series as both mages invested in Zhonya’s Hourglass and the promise of invulnerability. The next Shockwave only caught golden statues, which allowed Wickd’s Kennen to electrify not only his opponents, but also the crowd; EG had just turned the game around to the tune of a 5-2 trade and a follow-up Baron. They slayed Aatrox off the back of it and storm ATN’s base from the top lane.
ForellenLord’s next Shockwave against EG would be the last; once again, it was met with Zhonya’s invulnerability component. ATN could only witness the follow-up engage tear them apart and then their Nexus (as well as their chances to go to the Season 3 World Championship) from the grave.
It was time for the other crowd favorite to make their appearance. Coming off of a bootcamping session in Kiev and off of a 5-3 Super Week, Gambit Gaming were looking to prove that they were back in top form. To that effect, they would have to take down the Ninjas in Pyjamas, a team that looked extremely strong before Extinkt’s retirement, but has since struggled to find the same success they once had. Would Bjergsen’s team upset the hierarchy in Europe, or would Gambit Gaming prove they were still a Top 4 team despite their past struggles?
If there is one thing that should be known concerning the roster of Gambit Gaming, it is Darien’s inclination to dive his opponents into reckless abandon. The last champion that any team would let him lock in would be Aatrox, given how he fits Darien’s playstyle. However, Ninjas in Pyjamas had a plan: they would pick Zac to lessen the threat of an instant obliteration, Talon to burst down Alex Ich’s Orianna and [[Genja|Genja’s] Kog’Maw, and some AoE synergy in the shape of Jarvan IV, Zyra and Miss Fortune’s ultimates.
Malunoo’s skill on Jarvan IV were on full display in Game 1. Not only did he force Flashes left and right, he would also follow up on Voidle’s and claim first blood on the trailing Thresh. He would then move on to set Darien’s Aatrox behind. However, his control over the early game would come to an abrupt halt in the hands of Alex Ich’s Orianna and Diamondprox’s Evelynn, after Bjergsen decided to go for the Widowmaker.
Despite being the focus of Jarvan, Aatrox’s true early game strength awakened as he claimed both top tower and the Zac defending it. That alone forced NiP to shift focus towards him, leaving the mid and bottom lanes vulnerable. Darien did not go down without a fight and always ensured an opponent would follow him to the grave.
Gambit initially seized the momentum by splitting during NiP’s engage and obtaining 4 kills and a dragon, but they saw it wrestled out of their hands upon overextending as a group. Bjergsen and his teammates aced their opponents, claimed more objectives, and allowed the NiP mid laner to buy a Guardian Angel. One more engage by NiP forced a 3-0 trade, followed by the middle inhibitor and Baron Nashor.
However, there is one fact about Gambit Gaming as a team that you can never discount: they are one of the most resilient teams when faced with such adversity. Their reaction was swift: they hustled for picks and objectives and were rewarded in two instances, the first being their takedown of the second bottom turret, and the second, a 3 for 2 fight where Genja was left to his devices, free to attack NiP’s members.
Bjergsen then committed a critical mistake by engaging on the tankiest member of Gambit, Darien. Immediately, the Russians spread out and Alex Ich set up a Shockwave that allowed his teammates to come back into the game with a vengeance. A 5-3 fight and a Baron later, Gambit Gaming were back in control.
It did not stop there though. Voidle and his teammates baited Bjergsen into engaging in a 1v3 situation. The commotion that ensued left NiP wondering why they were scattered in the first place. The resulting 3 for 1 fight paved the way for Gambit to claim inhibitors, the Baron, and the game off of one final team fight.
It was time for Shen and Zed to wear “Pyjamas” as Bjergsen and Mimer selected the ninjas in hopes of wreaking as much havoc as they did against MeetYourMakers during Week 8. Malunoo’s Aatrox tagged along with the dive, while Caitlyn and Zyra were left to their own devices.
On the other side, Alex Ich reacted to the assassination potential by picking Kayle and her nullifying kit. Some old comfort picks emerged in the shape of Miss Fortune, Evelynn, and Renekton. Gambit was intent on preventing NiP’s team composition from reaching its final form, stopping it early by swiapping the top and bottom lanes in order to deal with Shen. If that failed, they still had the possibility to push and capitalize on Kayle’s 1v1 skills against assassins.
The game started off as Gambit Gaming hoped, or so they thought; Shen was shut down early by an Evelynn/Kayle combination, but that left the dragon open for grabs. The Ninjas slew it and then disappeared as fast as they appeared. Later on, Malunoo did not only contribute to the takedown of the outer mid turret, he also counterganked Gambit’s dive and yielded two kills for his teams. NiP claimed yet another dragon, but it was time for Darien to shine. He traded the bottom lane for his life, and then moved on to assisting Alex Ich in taking the middle turret down. The Ninjas’ initial 3-man opposition resulted in a fast 1 for 1 trade in a 2v3 situation. Paradoxically, Darien emerged mostly unscathed and destroyed the turret.
Both teams started trading objectives. An outer turret in NiP’s favor was traded with a Dragon for Gambit; NiP’s full takedown of Gambit’s outer turrets signaled the start of Alex Ich’s split pushing adventures, which led to several 1v1s against Zed in his favor.
NiP were spread out too thin by the Russian powerhouse. Lanes were pushed and counterpushed and that led to Gambit’s successive pick opportunities on Shen, Caitlyn, and Zed, leading to an uncontested Baron takedown. Darien went on to lead his team to the middle inhibitor turret and forced NiP out of the vicinity.
NiP’s only option was stalling until they got stronger. That plan initially worked and even allowed them the opportunity to try and go for Baron as it respawned. However, two successive fights left them on the back of their heels. Despite getting the better of Gambit, NiP’s base was in shambles. The Russians were well aware of that and capitalized on the open Baron opportunity. Voidle’s Death Sentence landed on Aatrox, and that would be the death sentence on NiP’s chances to advance to the World Championship.
At Stakes On Day 4
Lemondogs will be putting their dreams of first place in the championship on the line against the most dominant EU team in 2012. Gambit always came up big in events involving Bo3s and Bo5s and have a natural edge over the relatively inexperienced citric canines, but those canines’ teeth might prove too dangerous for the Russians to handle.
In 2012, Counter Logic Gaming Europe denied Fnatic the opportunity to go the the Season 2 World Championship. Since that traumatic elimination, Fnatic has been one of the most powerful and consistent teams in Europe. Will they fulfill their prophecy, or will Evil Geniuses keep their edge on Fnatic (3-2 in Summer Split confrontations)? Only the games tomorrow will tell.
After Team ALTERNATE nearly defeated the fan favorites on the big stage, the Ninjas in Pyjamas suffered a heavy blow at the hands of a solid Gambit Gaming squad. There is no time for either team to dwell on what happened as they will both clash for a chance at securing their jobs for Season 4.