Did you miss any of the OGN match ups? ggChronicle has you covered with a re-cap from the Korean Regional Qualifiers Day 1 Review – CJ Entus vs. LG IM
If today’s match between CJ Entus and LG IM is any indication, you may want to throw out all notions of the developed meta-game in Season 2, as the Korean teams are prepared to do whatever it takes to break the mold. The final spot at the Season 2 World Championship Playoffs for League of Legends remains to be taken by the victor of the Korean Regional Qualifiers. Both teams entered the scene this past summer with high hopes, but both marked their entrance in disappointing fashion. While neither team is favored to win the tournament, both teams put on an exciting show for spectators today in their series.
CJ Entus is a young team which formed after the conclusion of the OGN The Champions Spring 2012 tournament in South Korea. The line up featured some notable players within the Korean Solo Queue ladder, but doubts were quickly confirmed as CJ Entus made their exit from the Group Stage of the OGN The Champions Summer 2012 tournament in lackluster fashion. To top off their performance, CJ Entus shook up their roster by adding a new AP Mid (Dade) and moving their former Mid (Emboob) to the AD Carry Role.
The second team in today’s qualifier was LG IM. The full roster of LG IM is of similar age to CJ Entus, but the team features three commanding players from the former Team OP: a Lilac, Cornsalad, and Paragon. By meeting the 3 player requirement, LG IM was able to qualify for the Group Stage of the OGN The Champions Summer 2012, but quickly made their exit by being defeated by both CLG NA and CLG EU in the group stage. The fact remains that every player on this team is highly skilled, and many still expect that LG IM will blossom into a powerhouse if given the right motivation and time.
With the introduction of the single elimination style in the Regional Qualifiers, there has been much discussion regarding the popularity of “cheese-strats”. A term originating from the Starcraft: Brood War scene, a cheese is often a strategy that involves quick, cheap and easy-to-execute tactics, which will usually result in a loss if they are initially countered. As is evidenced, there has not been a clear example of what cheese is in today’s professional League of Legends scene. The few attempts presented so far have reached curd material at best, often out of bad planning or communication.
Today, CJ Entus reminded the world that cheese can be broken down to a science. Casters and audience alike were shocked to see a Malzahar locked in for the CJ Entus champion line-up in Game 2. As the game began, it was apparent that they had prepared this strategy, pairing Soraka with Malzahar in the mid lane. They started Soraka with a Mana Manipulator and Promote coupled with Malefic Visions and the Voidlings on Malzahar for a full out duo push. Meanwhile, an early ward behind the Baron pit by Malzahar allowed Lee Sin to infiltrate the enemy jungle and get first blood against Olaf, which led to a quick first tower in mid-lane at a mere 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Having found confidence past the all-in stage of their strategy, CJ Entus would fluidly change lanes and systematically knock down towers. To completely tip the game in CJ Entus’ favor, Cornsalad (on Vladimir) was too late to purchase a Quick Silver Sash against Malzahar, diminishing LG IM’s teamfighting chances. What this game showed the world is that CJ Entus does not rely on luck, but that they have prepared every detail for this strategic play. This is cheese: The sharpest cheddar.
If you follow the Korean scene at all, you know that both teams are complete with highly rated players from the Korean Solo Queue ladder. This leads to a major problem: As CJ Entus took the lead in Game 1, there was no sign of LG IM coming back. Communication had broken down within the team, as was seen when players of LG IM displayed scattered target focus in teamfights, leaving Dade’s Karthus to freely damage the entire LG IM line-up. Locodoco, former AD Carry for Startale, noted that he has observed several internal conflicts within LG IM when they play their matches. Pride and arguments would would weaken their ability to play as a team. In addition, Torch, one of the regular English commentators for the tournament, noted that even by 15-20 mins the silence within the team’s booth on stage was visible. This was apparent again in Game 2 when LG IM showed no sign of clear teamwork to combat the immense push from CJ Entus. Only in game 3 and 4 would we see LG IM return to form for the full duration of both games.
As previously mentioned, CJ Entus brought some good plays along with a solid cheese strategy. Yet in the end, their 1-3 loss would confirm one thing: Experience remains one of the biggest factors. CJ Entus had a much cleaner lane phase in Game 1, and had a satisfying victory Game 2. Unfortunately, both in Game 1 and in the entire series, CJ Entus was not aware of their own momentum. Locodoco put it perfectly when he stated that after Game 1, CJ Entus will most likely walk away from the game thinking they were behind in gold the entire time. The team lost nearly every team fight without answer. The truth is that in the early game CJ Entus had more kills, a visible statistic to all players and spectators, and actually held a notable gold lead. The gold lead is not a visible statistic to the players, but had CJ Entus noticed LG IM’s a Lilac owning no gold-per-10 items at the 12 minute mark, they could have safely assumed that the gold count was in their favor. Had CJ Entus been more experienced, these smaller hints would have bolstered their confidence and potentially helped maintain the momentum in their favor.
The same applies to the whole series: A cheese-strat often leaves the enemy frustrated and ashamed allowing CJ Entus to start Game 3 with an advantage in the mental game. Yet, a few misplays later, the players of CJ Entus retreated to their Solo Queue habits. Often times Longpanda (Malphite) and inSec (Dr. Mundo) would blindly dive in towards Paragon (Ashe) as Emboob (Graves) was left to fend for himself against Ring Troll (Udyr) and Cornsalad (Singed). The newest player of CJ Entus, Dade, may have presented the most examples of these careless mistakes, and not surprisingly so – this was his first ever offline event. His inability to break his habits of always buying an early blue elixir, or flashing into certain death just for a kill, was disappointing. Even when CJ Entus had the commanding map presence in Game 2, they showed their lack of confidence when LG IM’s Ring Troll flashed over the wall as Olaf for a failed attempt at a Baron steal. The trapped Olaf was a free kill, but all of CJ Entus initially dispersed and ran away. The offline environment, the new setting of teamwork, and the attention will affect any new players and teams in ways they could not have prepared for. In contrast, four of the players from LG IM have played on the main stage for the OGN The Champions Spring 2012 tournament. Despite the rough start, LG IM had an excellent display, showcasing their LAN experience, calmly taking Game 3 and 4 to secure the series in a 3-1 victory.
The Titans Remain
The journey has just begun for LG IM. Next up they will have to face the infamous MakNooN and his teammates this Friday, September 14th, as Najin Sword makes their stand for the second spot representing South Korea in the Season 2 World Championship. Whichever team wins, the innovative and aggressive Xenics Storm and impeccable play of Azubu Blaze await them. If their record so far is any indication, the outlook is grim for LG IM. Their best bet may be to take a page from CJ Entus and know that as the underdogs, you must be prepared to pull any and all stops to become the winners. From a spectator standpoint, that means we can all expect spectacular fireworks on Summoner’s Rift for the next month as the Korean Regional Qualifiers lead into the World Championship Playoffs.