NA LCS Semi-Final Recap: Team Liquid vs. Counter Logic Gaming
The series started out with very little action between the two teams, as both had compositions focused around kiting back in team fights and lacked any consistent form of engage. Due to the lack of fighting, the only death early on came from an overextension by Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaya, who was trying to secure some side lane farm. The game was based around map movement and objective play with Team Liquid taking all of the early dragons.
With no action forthcoming, Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett and Chae "Piglet" Gwang-jin were also able to farm up on Kindred and Caitlyn. Through some solid map rotations, Counter Logic Gaming was able to secure the first baron and only gave up one kill. With that baron they were began a team split push and pressured all three lanes at once, but TL was able to wave clear well and held off the baron push to then collapse onto the dragon and catch Choi "Huhi" Jae-hyun alone.
On his Ryze, Huhi tried to hold off the dragon which would result in a team fight. TL would get to the dragon first as a team and CLG walked single file to their deaths as Piglet went huge on his Caitlyn to secure a quadra kill. TL would turn the tables off the back of that fight and began running CLG around the map. Another fight broke out by the baron with TL coming out on top due to fantastic positioning by Kim "FeniX" Jae-hun on Leblanc and a great re-engage by Samson "Lourlo" Jackson on Poppy. Piglet’s Caitlyn would also go nearly untouched as he provided a lot of DPS from the backline. That clean ace at the baron allowed TL to close out the game.
After a very slow start to game 1, game 2 provided a lot of early action. CLG ran double teleport while TL ran a composition with three AD carries. TL was very patient in the first game and waited for their opportunities to strike, but in the second game they would constantly try to force the action. They would try an early gank in the bottom lane but would over-pursue and fail to secure a kill. With both top laners using their teleports and Huhi collapsing from the mid lane, CLG enjoyed a 5v4 advantage and secured three kills including the first blood.
This early lead continued to build as CLG continually used their double teleports to counter and collapse onto TL any time they tried to be proactive. Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black would be much more impactful in this game as he brought out his Soraka and provided a lot of health in prolonged fights, as well and improving his shot calling and making better decisions in this game. Jake "Xmithie" Puchero also secured superior vision with his Elise as Dardoch once again went with his Kindred pick and was caught out trying to farm.
CLG were able to continually punish TL’s over-aggression and Darshan built a huge lead on his Ekko, actually upgrading his Dark Seal to a Mejai’s Soulstealer to get it fully stacked. With his tank build along with the Mejai’s stacks, he was unkillable and a large damage threat. After breaking the TL base, CLG was a bit shaky taking down inhibitors but with such a large lead they were able to brute force through the base and claim the victory.
CLG dominated this game from beginning to end. A botched early invade from Matt gave the first blood to Huhi. With that gold lead, he gained the advantage on his Anivia over FeniX’s Ryze as they both tried to stack items in the md lane. An early gank from Xmithie also put Darshan well ahead of Lourlo in the bottom lane solo matchup.
Dardoch, once again on Kindred, struggled to make an impact on the game as Xmithie was providing pressure and vision. Although TL eventually adapted in this game with their own double teleport composition, the early deficit made CLG’s teleports more effective. After building a large lead through turret sieges, CLG began baiting TL into fights at the baron. This time it was Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes on Caitlyn outputting the damage in team fights as CLG won a couple of baron fights and ultimately secured it, using the buff to siege TL’s base and close out the game.
TL moved away from some of their previous picks as Lourlo secured Ekko for himself in this game and gained the advantage over Darshan. Without a strong carry champion, Darshan was somewhat neutralized as he was forced onto a tank Maokai. Dardoch also finally went away from Kindred and was much more impactful on Rek’Sai. Matt was also a huge factor in this game on Bard, as the bot duo would move into the mid lane towards the mid game.
Most of the action would take place in the mid lane with multiple ganks from Dardoch and constant teleports and fighting. Matthew "Matt" Elento was excellent at using his Bard ultimate to catch CLG members. After losing Piglet in the mid lane due to a CLG teleport, Matt’s Bard ultimate was a key factor in a 4v5 team fight in the mid lane where FeniX got a quadra kill, securing TL the team fight win. After amassing a large lead in kills and turrets, TL was able to force through the mid lane taking kills and turrets.
Their lead turned out to be too much for CLG who were trying to play for the late game with a Ryze and Tristana scaling composition. Some of CLG’s build paths were also quite questionable as Darshan tried to build a Rod of Ages on his Maokai and Stixxay building a Rageblade on his Tristana. CLG’s early loses made it so that their composition never really got off the ground and TL would easily break the base and win the game.
This was easily the closest and most exciting game of the series. There was constant fighting early on with both teams meeting in side lanes and trading kills back and forth. Darshan on Poppy and Piglet once again on Caitlyn picked up most of the kills on their teams and would go on to have a large carry presence in later team fights. In the early game TL ganked side lanes to get kills but CLG managed to counter and get kills back making the game neck and neck.
In the end, a couple of kills and an overextension from Darshan in the top lane gave TL an edge, which they used to constantly pressure at the baron trying to bait a fight or secure the objective. CLG was very good at using blue trinkets to maintain vision and chasing TL off the baron without engaging into fights. The baron baiting would continue for quite a while as the two teams would meet at the pit over and over and trade kills without either being able to actually claim the baron.
The slight advantage TL had gained was whittled away with the constant kill trades at the baron and the teams were once again dead even, but as the game progressed, Huhi’s Ryze got stronger and would eventually make the difference in team fights. His Ryze was strong enough to output damage and tanky enough to jump into the enemy backline to root Piglet’s Caitlyn. Darshan’s Poppy was also a nuisance in the enemy backlines and TL could no longer protect Piglet well enough for him to carry the fights.
After winning a crucial team fight, CLG finally secured a baron and pushed in the top lane trying to break the base. A fight at the inhibitor turret would see Piglet go off as he could DPS from behind the base wall and CLG would be forced back. While trying to push out the mid lane, Piglet would get caught off guard by a double teleport from CLG. Darshan and Huhi would port onto the same minion and catch Piglet who thought he could get away safely. They would jump onto him, and with his death CLG was able to push up the mid lane to end the game and the series.