Upon arrival in Germany, the first thing I noticed was the smoke coming out of my mouth from each fresh breath. It was a ice cold feeling and it was refreshing. It was a time to play the first international tournament of my life.
We were practicing with our boot camp schedule that we used for PAX. This involved playing around 6-10 hours of league everyday, watching VODs of other regions play (OGN/NACL/EULCS/KRSOLOQ), strategizing and theorycrafting, and playing hearthstone. I think everyone was nervous in some way as it was going to be the first time with our new lineup. I still remember Aphromoo asking everyone if we were ready. I thought to myself simply: no.
But even though we weren’t ready, I still thought we would do well. I was ready to play on the final 3.13 patch and prove to the world that I am a capable mid laner. My goal was to smash my lane as hard as possible. I moved on from the old mentality where all I have to do is well/consistent and not feed. I wanted to become better than that.
The Games We Played
We played our warm up games on EU SOLOQ (elo level: promotions). I handedly went 10-0 and smashed on the new 3.14 patch. It was hardly warm-up for me. I wish I could have played in the diamond/challenger elo. Oh well. Fortunately, we were able to find scrims vs team RED (the team to play versus Gambit). We stomped them the first two games I believe, but then lost the next two. We played these games without communication, because they were sitting right across the table from us while playing. Though they spoke Russian which we couldn’t understand, they also spoke English so we didn’t want to talk with them being able to hear us and know exactly what we were doing. I felt a lot better after playing versus these guys. I had a feeling team TTB would be easy, but I did not let my confidence overwhelm me. Playing vs Team RED did not reveal any possible information that I could utilize as what they played were quite different (Quinn mid/etc.) We were still going vs TTB dark.
Thankfully, using my research skills, I was able to figure out what team TTB was potentially going to play by going through their match histories on the Turkish/EU servers. We did not have a problem with a lot of the champions they played and only banned stuff that we were uncomfortable going vs (i.e. Blitzcrank). We decided to just prioritize the OPs that we thought we wanted and went for it.
Game 1: The game was close. Top lane enemy Kha’Zix was snowballing while me/bot lane were winning or going even. There was a close dragon fight where I lived with one hp but was able to stay relevant with Orianna and help Doublelift clean up on Jinx. This enabled us to gain control of the game and win after a baron.
Game 2 : I picked Ziggs this game. Prior to this game I believed Ziggs to be strong, but I felt uncomfortable on him in some way. I played him maybe 1 time total in scrims and 2-3 times in soloq. I played him once in my warmup game in EU soloq before the game out of a random lock in. There are times when a champion just fits the game perfectly and can counter the entire game. The heroes they chose were all low range and all kitable. The game was a complete solo q esque stomp as all three lanes won.
Yay we won! Onto Fnatic. Versus Fnatic, I had zero clue what they wanted to play or were going to play. All we had for information was just their last level 1s from worlds and pick priorities. We knew Elise was going to get banned and we knew what we wanted to ban. The other picks/grabs were all going to be reactive.
Game 1: They ran a full blown poke team comp which we failed to counter miserably. They took the Nidalee we were aiming for and ran Karma top, something Nien never played against. Our picks all around were bad and despite the first blood we got, bottom lane got double killed due to slight misplay. I was pressuring Xpeke in hard as Vlad vs Nidalee and managed to get him low, but due to miscommunication and miscoordination, I wasn’t able to get a Vi gank off mid. After a poke comp gets ahead, it is just a slow painful death waiting to happen.
Playing that match made me realize that we could easily win this set. It was simple what they were aiming for and how they played. Soaz aims to smash top and roam, Cyanide ganks nonstop, Xpeke farms nonstop to teamfight well (unless he plays assassins), and bottom lane farms waiting for the ganks. Their coordination is strong and we could bypass it with stronger picks and winning the laning phase. It’s what I aimed to do.
Game 2: They early picked Orianna and I knew that this was a Ziggs game. It would provide turtling power in case the game went sour and would control the game flow with his ultimate. Poke and damage would do well and me/Aphromoo’s synergy with Leona/X champion is incredibly strong. We outpicked their team comp and we proceeded to play the game. It was a simple solid win after winning our lanes. I was able to pressure mid hard and bottom lane smashed. By out-rotating and learning from our previous baron mistakes, we were able to secure baron and win the game through simple, clear cut movements.
After that game, my nervousness disappeared and I knew that we could win the Bo3 quite easily. It just meant we did not have to fuck up. Unfortunately, we did in a lot of different ways.
Game 3: Xpeke picked Morgana into Orianna. The matchup is a complete farmfest and both lanes should have no kill potential without a jungler (and if both play relatively safely). Knowing this, I went for the late game going double GP10 items. I planned on outscaling Morg and winning the game off team composition alone. Nien died level 1 to a facecheck and gave Rekkles a kill. It was unfortunate and changed our level 1 plans. Bottom lane could not 2v2 so they swapped which worked out fine. However, top lane lost and our bottom lane was doing well. Soaz played excellent with his lead and Fnatic as a whole outplayed and outmaneuvered us. After a 4v5 Dragon fight (which we lost hard), it begun to swing into Fnatic’s control. After some point, all we could do was try to make plays to swing the game, but could not. GGWP Fnatic.
As a player, I think I played just fine. Maybe I am being too hard on myself. But I want to aim to carry the team to victory. Smash so lane so hard and then win the game off of that. This is my goal every game. Playing vs Xpeke makes me want to play vs other renowned mids. It was a good experience. LAN games/experience will always triumph over scrim games. It’s a different tone and mood. It’s fun and exciting and I can’t wait for the Battle of the Atlantic.