NALCS Summer Split 2018 Finals
Team Liquid vs Cloud9
This finals was one of the most talked about, hyped up matches of all Summer. Cloud9, who at one point in the split was in dead last, was in the finals. They were to face Team Liquid, the powerhouse team and defending champions. Add to the mix that Team Liquid had already lost to Cloud9 twice in the regular season. All together, the ingredients make up a rapturous finals.
The beginning of game one looked anything but hopeful for Team Liquid fans. The draft phase looked to confound Team Liquid. Cloud9 picked both Twitch and Hecarim, for Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Robert “Blaber” Hoang respectively. These are picks that rarely come out, and they were not in the previous series or even seen earlier in the split. The thought process behind picking these champions were clear, Hecarim would be picked for early domination of the jungle based on his impressive clear. As Hecarim would naturally fall off later in the game, Sneaky’s Twitch would pick up the slack, as he would be more farmed.
If Cloud9 was looking to put Sneaky ahead, they definitely did so when Sneaky got a kill on Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng four minutes into the game. Surely, Doublelift dying in lane to Sneaky would spell the end of Team Liquid’s dominance, right? It seemed so, as the game raged on, Sneaky would pick up another kill or two and be supported by the Hecarim in his jungle, who was able to pick up farm and begin pressuring other lanes. However, as late game began to peek out, the team fighting prowess of Team Liquid was enough to turn the tide of the game.
Team Liquid was able to get the almost perfect engage into Cloud9. They engaged and played the fight well, going for Cloud9’s damage dealers, who were out of place because they lacked a solid frontline. Team Liquid was able to chew through the damage dealers and push into Cloud9’s base. In the end, it was the definitive tanks on Team Liquid’s side of the map that secured the win in game one.
Game Two came around and what did Cloud9 do? They subbed in what was dubbed “the Swole Bros.” That was the double substitutions of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer. The idea behind subbing in this duo was to change things up and give the team a fresh breath of air. These players had not just played a hard game and lost, instead, they were fresh off the bench and were able to provide different viewpoints on the game.
The substitution did almost nothing for the game as Sneaky and his support Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam chose the same exact champions. In addition, Goldenglue played the exact same champion as the player he was replacing Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen did the game prior. As mentioned, the draft stayed mostly the same for Cloud9, and did not change much for Team Liquid either. Three out of the five champions on Team Liquid’s side stayed the same. The change for Team Liquid came in the form of Irelia and Sejuani. This has got to be one of the best mid-jungle duo champions in the game right now. They synergize so well together and it makes sense to pick them for Team Liquid.
This game was all Eugene “Pobelter” Park. From the moment he secured the first blood on, he was in control of this game. He outplayed Goldenglue in every aspect and carried Team Liquid on his back this game. In addition to Pobelter’s carry performance, one of the hidden strengths of Team Liquid this whole series was the vision control they commanded. Team Liquid was able to see Cloud9 moving across the map where they didn’t expect to be seen. This then allowed Team Liquid to play safe when needed and go aggressive when able.
In a team fight twenty-four minutes into the game, Team Liquid is able to get the upper hand in what appears to be a disastrous team fight. Team Liquid lose two members in a skirmish and most of the rest of the members are low. One member, however, is able to heal up and burn through the rest of Cloud9. Doublelift jumps into the enemy team and bypasses the Braum shield, knocking down Cloud9.
It wasn’t all Team Liquid all game however, Cloud9 had a few moments in the game where they looked poised to come back. One of the later moments was when Svenskeren “Insec’d” Doublelift into his team’s waiting arms. What he essentially did was dash to a ward by Doublelift and flash behind him. Svenskeren then used his champion Lee Sin’s ultimate to kick Doublelift back into his team. A player from back in the early days of League of Legends perfected this move. His moniker was “Insec” so when anyone does this move, it is referred to as being “Insec’d.” This play from Svenskeren was enough to relieve the pressure being exerted by Doublelift and Team Liquid and gave Cloud9 more time to potentially scale.
However, as Team Liquid were simply too far ahead. They were able to win the next couple of fights, pushing Cloud9 into their base. They then won a team fight in the middle lane where Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong was able to get an initiation on to Cloud9’s backline members. He was able to stun them long enough for them not to be a factor as Team Liquid dealt with the rest of Cloud9. This fight would then end the game in favor of Team Liquid.
The draft phase just before game three was interesting. Finally, Cloud9 dropped the Twitch and gave Sneaky something less feast-or-famine. He was given Ezreal, a safe pick that can carry if it is built correctly. Team Liquid had to also change it up in the draft phase, as Doublelift’s Kai’Sa was banned out and instead he played Ashe. This was almost more advantageous, as everyone on Team Liquid’s side of the map had some kind of crowd control. This meant that no one was safe and that there was going to gold spent on the items to remove crowd control.
The game began with Team Liquid focusing the top lane match-up. Team Liquid was able to get Impact’s Sion ahead and transfer that lead into the other lanes. Essentially, Team Liquid was able to neutralize Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and stop him from influencing the other lanes. Soon after the first blood, Team Liquid was off to a commanding lead and looked on point to win the third game of the series.
From there, Cloud9 was so far behind that there was almost no coming back for them. At a point thirty-one minutes into the game, it looks like there is hope for Cloud9. They burn down Impact, but they spend almost everything on burning him down. They then get another kill onto Jake “Xmithie” Puchero but the backline of Team Liquid is still alive and kicking. Team Liquid follow up with a second kill for them in the fight, but push Cloud9 back to their base.
All it takes is one fight to end it all. That fight comes at the Baron pit, thirty-four and a half minutes in to the game. Team Liquid secures the Baron and transitions that into a fight onto Cloud9. Running directly at Cloud9, Team Liquid take down the front line of Cloud9 first, losing Doublelift in the process but killing the members of Cloud9 that matter. From this fight on, it is simply a formality for Team Liquid to knock down the Nexus. In the next team fight that breaks out, it looks as if Cloud9 have given up. They give up their last inhibitor and give their Nexus to Team Liquid. This is a back-to-back finals in which Team Liquid 3-0’d their enemy.
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