LJL Week 3 Round-Up - Everyone Loses to Everyone, and in the End DFM Wins Feat. AXIZ
A re-upload of an article I wrote covering Week 3 of the LJL 2020 Spring Split. The original article can be found here.
Initialise here with a (very delayed) round-up of Week 3 of the LJL!
Things got pretty spicy in the third week of this split with a number of massive upsets and under-performances... apart from DFM, who continued to jump from strength to strength.
Week 3 came after a 4-day turn-around from Week 2 due to a massively compressed early schedule, and it was certainly interesting to see which teams picked up the slack and which didn't. There was definitely a fair heaping of surprise results.
Week 4 kicked off yesterday at the joyous hour of 4am GMT, but the English broadcast will be happening tomorrow due to the need for sleep and significant internet issues (which are now resolved!).
As usual, some context: The LJL has 8 teams in its league, is franchised, and those teams play each other in a double best-of-1 round robin - not a triple round robin as in previous splits.
The LJL generally has 8 matches on a game day, which means broadcasts can be upwards of 9 hours with pre and post-game content. In practice that works out with teams being split into two brackets on a game day, then playing two other teams within their bracket on that day. i.e. teams play two games v. two different teams on a game day.
For those of us casting the LJL in English, we split the game day in two because we are all too mortal and require functioning voices to create content. That means we cast the first 4 games on game day and the last 4 around 24 hours later.
As always, there's a TL;DR at the bottom.
AXIZ 1 - 0 Rascal Jester https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306256?gameHash=525c62ed501e689a&tab=overview
The biggest upset of the day. The back-to-back last place team of the LJL took down Rascal Jester, who had been making the top 4 sweat over the last couple of weeks, even if they had ended with a 1-3 record coming into Week 3. Hoglet's early top-side pressure on Elise lead to strong laning stats from Uinyan and especially Gariaru on LeBlanc, who was also the recipient of a well-orchestrated gank onto Ninja's Sylas that netted AXZ first blood - a shout out to Corporal using his back timing to find his way mid on Braum and truly sealing the deal with Elise.
From there the Sylas never truly recovered, and with viviD's uninspired performance on Tahm Kench not helping matters with some notably late Devours and Summoner Heals, the Jesters capitulated to a much improved mid-game performance form AXIZ in around 31:30.
Crest Gaming Act 1 - 0 AXIZ https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306271?gameHash=d22ffebd7a60506d&tab=overview
With the fires of success lit beneath them, AXZ took the fight to CGA with a team-fight combo of Lissandra mid and Jinx bot, even if top-performers Aria and Gango got their hands on LeBlanc and Aphelios as a result. And power picks be damned, AXZ came out of the gates roaring with a 2-1 trade in the bot lane, courtesy of Hoglet's assistance on Rek'sai, and then proceeded to out-skirmish CGA's ace carries in nearly every engagement. In one notable exchange, Grendel's Nautilus was caught out by a blind hook from Corporal's Thresh, and was then cc'd to death with no chance of reprieve, while the Lissandra and Rek'sai assassinated Aria further up the river. Corporal's Thresh in general was worth praising: great lanterns, great hooks, and some very stylish plays (including one near escape via a scuttle crab hook taxi).
By 29 minutes, AXZ were upwards of 8k gold ahead and armed with Baron Nashor, and with Yoshi's Trundle and the aforementioned Nautilus piloted by Grendel getting caught out and eviscerated by AXZ at every opportunity, it seemed a second victory was a near certainty for the underdogs. But then CGA pulled out some magic. Desperate to regain some semblance of vision control having repelled the Baron push of AXZ, Grendel delved too far and too deep into his red-side jungle and ran into the Balrog of AXZ. He was swiftly destroyed for his 8th death of the game alongside an all-too squishy Trundle. Now in a 3v5, and with an excited Jinx ready to unleash hell, AXZ piled in onto LeBlanc... and didn't kill her. From there it was the Nap and Gango show. It turns out you don't need a Balrog when you have a Cho'Gath who's hit critical mass and then body-blocks for his very relevant Aphelios.
The turnaround was as swift as it was brutal, with clutch moonlight vigils and positioning from Gango alongside Nap earning CGA a Baron into a death push off that one fight. AXZ tried their hardest, but CGA were just too good in the clutch... and Aria still managed to have a fully stacked dark seal at the end of the game. You Shall Not Pass indeed - near enough 37 minutes and recommended.
Crest Gaming Act 0 - 1 V3 Esports https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306283?gameHash=d9f8bef23ebdebc1&tab=overview
We saw it nearly crack CGA in their previous game, it certainly did in this one. Grendel and Yoshi’s questionable positioning continued to plague the team, and this time Aria and Gango couldn’t carry hard enough.
CGA had drafted a heavy early-to-mid spiking team with heavy objective secure - a redux of Nap’s Cho’Gath and Kallista for Gango to top up execute damage on neutrals - but despite early drake stacking, CGA struggled to snowball off their gains due to V3 constantly claiming kills off mispositioning and strong early play from Bugi on Elise. And where Kallista fell off, Archer’s Xayah certainly did not. Alongside Raina’s Thresh, V3’s bot lane had a stellar performance, in stark contrast to CGA’s where even Fate’s Call wasn’t enough to keep the Nautilus alive. With crit scaling well and truly online, and Zoe’s poke barely tickling their front-line, V3 claimed victory in 36~minutes.
V3 Esports 0 - 1 Rascal Jester https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306323?gameHash=cf7ee286a9674b6b&tab=overview
The second of our Jinx/Lissandra games, this time piloted by Rascal Jester, and with an Ornn, Sejuani and Nautilus as additional support to back up the Loose Canon, V3 were tearing their hair out to try and get on top of Piltover's number one menace... to little success. She ended 9/1/3 with vastly higher damage than anyone else in the game.
While V3 enjoyed a significant gold lead for large portions of the game, including a nice team-fight victory that netted them a Baron, apart from that one solid win V3 were struggling to ever stand toe-to-toe with the Jesters. Instead, they tried to play for towers (hence, the gold advantage) but the moment they were forced into team-fight scenarios, Jinx was free-firing behind a wall of cc that V3 simply could not penetrate. Perhaps most tellingly, V3's Bugi performance on Lee Sin was a far cry from his previous Elise game, and despite pulling out every ward-hop, flash, flank maneuver he could, no amount of good timing and waiting out cool-downs gave him the space to reach Jinx through the onslaught of the Jesters' cc, impotently ending 0/4/3. Rascal Jester's rocket-fueled trail of destruction earned them a win in under 39 minutes.
DetonatioN FocusMe 1 - 0 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Gaming https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306348?gameHash=07547ee19676f055&tab=overview
I warned you all last week that Ceros still had pocket-picks to unveil, and this time he pulled out his Ziggs. And what a game he had: while Ramune roamed top on Rumble to dive Evi's Aatrox*, Ceros* took control of the mid lane and never let it go, opening up a 50 cs lead and shredding tower plates. It wasn't just good numbers either, there was a lot of style in his Ziggs play, executing some eyebrow raising dash-cancels with his Satchel Charge and blowing flashes left, right and center with the follow up Mega Inferno Bombs. And it was a good thing too, as while the Hawk's early dive onto Evi had been a little sloppy with a lot of burnt flashes, it did earn them first blood and advantage for Dasher's Camille (even if Steal traded straight back on his Qiyana), and down in the bot lane Yutapon got caught by a nice hook from Pooh's Nautilus.
The tight early game became anything but at just after 16 minutes, when DFM crushed a fight around a mountain drake. Tussle secured the drake to ensure soul-point for SHG, and Camille went careening towards Ziggs in the back-line and did manage to kill him... but not before he deleted Ramune's Rumble. All the while the Hawks were fixated on that Ziggs, Steal pulled off a huge Supreme Display of Talent, and Evi - down, but never out - found an excellent flank onto Honey's Miss Fortune and claimed a double kill out of SHG's bot-lane.
With DFM seizing control, and the Aatrox suddenly back in the game, the Hawk's were looking to Dasher to carry them with side-lane pressure on his fed Camille (who'd picked up an early solo kill onto Evi to add insult to the injury of the tower dive). All well and good... until you factor in the semi-global Mega Inferno Bomb culling any wave Camille pushed in. Once Aatrox picked up Death's Dance, even that was not a surety either. As Camille was frustrated in a side-lane, DFM aggressively pushed in others, finding beautiful combos between Aphelios, Qiyana and Ziggs' R buttons to level any resistance. Poor Honey spent most of the game desperately trying to flash out of Mega Inferno Bombs only to end up in the waiting arms of an Aatrox with World Ender running. With a hard-carry out of the early game from DFM's mid/jungle, they ended convincingly in 33 and a half minutes - recommended watch.
Burning Core 1 - 0 Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306371?gameHash=cd34b8e1db41ba8c&tab=overview
From the opening, top-of-the-table challenging bang of their early weeks, to a rather insipid whimper, the Hawks had another mediocre game where they struggled to have any mid-game control. Draft at least started the match up with some spice. Much to my fellow caster u/Nymaera_'s initial excitement, Ramune last picked himself Ahri... then proceeded to drive my colour commentator to despair with his runes, build and general play (1,000,000 mastery points btw). It's probably best I let him do the talking in the comments about that...
On the other side, this was a return to week one form from RayFarky, who's Mordekaiser picked up raid boss status over the course of the game. The BC top-laner laughed his way through 4-man ganks in the later stages of the game, and took to imitating Thresh: his ult was less a realm, and more a Death Sentence. Between Mordekasier and a step-up game from Yuhi, Burning Core won in 37~ minutes - bonus.
Burning Core 1 - 0 Sengoku Gaming https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306395?gameHash=f86fb88a6b7bbfe1&tab=overview
Another win for BC, who took the fight to Sengoku's immobile carries and never allowed their pick comp to start dictating terms. Pirean's Malzahar was paired up with Yutorimoyashi's Ashe, but neither ever hit a pointy where they could output enough damage to win a team-fight. Nor was turn around pick potential ever really an option, with very early QSS buys from both Roki on LeBlanc (quite literally his first item) and and Yuhi on Apehlios, meaning the powerful ults of Malzahar and Ashe were largely irrelevant. Even RayFarky, who put in another carry performance on his 8/1/7 on Gangplank, was immune with the cure-all power of oranges and their high potassium content.
For Sengoku though, this was a game of frustration. There was nowhere that Pirean could go that he wasn't being harassed by Once's Jarvan IV and a roaming LeBlanc, and Yuhi's Aphelios Gravitum-infused Moonlight Vigils were making team-fights a walk in the park for Burning Core. Even the normally stalwart apaMEN missed some crucial R2's on Ornn in fairly ignominious fashion. With their pick tools invalidated and team-fight damage never given space to be implemented, they were relying on miracle Baron steals. But with Blank 3 levels down to the enemy Jarvan by the end of the game, that had less than a snowball summoner-spell's chance in the magma chamber of panning out. Burning Core shot themselves right back into the mid-table with a 2-0 week, ending this one in 35~ minutes
DetonatioN FocusMe 1 - 0 Sengoku Gaming https://matchhistory.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/#match-details/ESPORTSTMNT01/1306413?gameHash=e260052aeed3dee7&tab=overview
Our last game of the day, and one of its most interesting. Never afraid to pull out new drafts, SG went towards the now infamous Olaf/Soraka duo, with the rest of their team offering some powerful team-fighting back-up with Orianna, Miss Fortune and Nautilus. DFM felt they had an answer though. While Evi got a hold of Sett once again (not a great match-up into Soraka), Jarvan, Syndra, and Ezreal/Thresh were the rest of the draft.
In-game the stylistic battle plans could not have been more opposed. SG indexed hard into early neutral objective control, while DFM spread the map wide and looked to turret plates and full tower takes in response. Where SG would try to force DFM into contesting their death-ball and Soraka infused Olaf, DFM would disengage. Cataclysm's into flag-and-drag escapes; Syndra being whisked away to safety with Dark Passages; Ezreal Arcane Shifting out of the clutches of Nautilus hooks and sprinting Olafs - SG could not find their picks. And as SG would attempt to force in one lane, Evi would be pushing a tower in another. With Soraka taking her usual secondary summoner of Barrier, it was left to Pirean's Orianna to try and maintain side-wave control and be in place for team-fights.
The stylistic mismatch led to stark divides in advantages: DFM had the gold lead, splitting the map and taking turrets in a 1-3-1, trading drakes for heralds and forcing waves to die to the bot-lane inhibitor turret that SG couldn't collect. SG had the team-fight advantage - DFM wanted nothing to do with a grouped up SG for huge swathes of the game, leading to drake control and an uncontested infernal soul. In the end, DFM's clean 1-3-1 (something that we casters have much maligned in the LJL) and gold-lead gave them edge needed to finally contest SG in a fight. With Ezreal online and all lanes equipped with Grievous Wounds, DFM turned on the aggression, murdering Olaf through a beleaguered Soraka's heals and dancing around any attempted re-engage with their superior mobility. Thus armed with an Elder Drake and a Baron as the spoils of victory, the 1-3-1 switched to a 1-2-2, with Thresh holding behind the immobile Syndra to Lantern her to safety, SG had run out of options. An extremely accomplished win for DFM, going 6:0 with this victory in just under 40 minutes - highly recommended watch.
Standings as of Week 3
1 DFM 6:0 2 CGA 4:2 3 BC 3:3 - SHG 3:3 - V3 3:3 6 SG 2:4 - RJ 2:4 8 AXZ 1:5
AXZ 1 - 0 RJ CGA 1 - 0 AXZ - watch CGA 0 - 1 V3 V3 0 - 1 RJ DFM 1 - 0 SHG - watch BC 1 - 0 SHG - bonus BC 1 - 0 SG DFM 1 - 0 SG - highly recommended watch
DFM continue to grow from strength to strength, while the rest of the league is in flux. SHG and SG both went 0-2, and looked like they were taken a little off-guard by other teams' mid-game synergy and control; CGA's carries can only hold so much weight, and poor positioning from their jungle/support finally cost them a game; BC silence the haters with good performances (and no Darius... hint, hint); V3 continue to live and die by whether Bugi has an impact; RJ went 1-1 too, and while blindsided by AXZ, looked much better vs V3 with the new Jinx/Lissandra tech; speaking of AXZ, there's life in this team yet - don't count them out when Corporal's Thresh is willing to pull them across the line yet!