Cloud9 served Team Liquid their first series loss of MSS, as they dismantled them in a 3-1 victory Saturday. Through draft superiority and better in-game execution, Cloud9 move onto the finals and Team Liquid drop to the MSS loser’s bracket. They will play the winner of Sunday’s TSM-100 Thieves series, and the winner of that one will join Cloud9 in the finals.
Top and mid lane were the focus of Game 1. Team Liquid drafted Urgot for Alphari into Fudge’s blind pick Renekton. Jensen took his Ahri into the Sylas match-up versus Perkz. Moving into the game itself, Cloud9 secured First Blood by rotating Blaber to dive Alphari with Fudge. The Renekton-Nidalee combination is well-known for this strategy. Santorin tried to salvage the situation, but charged the wrong target under the turret.
TL struck back with their own dive in mid lane, but Perkz was able to Hijack Onslaught of Shadows and keep it a 1-for-1. Cloud9 then attacked mid lane with a roam-Hexflash from Vulcan’s Alistar. Again, Santorin tried to avenge Jensen’s death, but the damage wasn’t there. Zven died in bottom lane during the roam, but Blaber repeated the top dive on Alphari to get another kill and drop Rift Herald for 1.5 turrets. Perkz roamed top to kill Alphari a third time by 14 minutes.
The big play happened near mid lane when Team Liquid tried to secure complete river control. Third dragon was spawning, and Cloud9 already had two. Santorin pushed for an engage, but as the rest of the team followed through the choke point, Fudge Teleported into the Blue Buff alcove. TL tried to retreat, but it was too late. Fudge Slice and Diced over the wall, activated Stridebreaker on several members, and the rest of Cloud9 took the fight and mid lane tier-one turret. The match truly spun out of control from there, and Team Liquid never recovered.
Some of the draft for Game 2 played out the same way. TL came away with Hecarim and Seraphine, while Cloud9 drafted Nidalee, Sylas and Kalista. This time TL flexed Seraphine mid and gave bottom lane Senna-Tahm Kench. This time, Blaber made the first blunder, jumping deep in mid lane so Jensen could root him with Beat Drop. Santorin secured the kill and moved on to invade his jungle.
Alphari got caught for another early death at Blaber’s hands, as he was overextended in the lane. Santorin tried to answer with his own gank later, but Fudge perfectly timed the Sion Unstoppable Onslaught to immune the Hecarim knockback. A little while later, Team Liquid won out on a top-side river fight involving both teams using Onslaught of Shadows. Cloud9 circled back to start Rift Herald and lost the fight again.
The game-winning fight occurred in mid lane, as Fudge and Vulcan found an Unstoppable Onslaught-Magnet Storm combo. However, CoreJJ was able to Devour Jensen to set up a big Encore that charmed three. After one more pick on Perkz, TL turned to secure Baron. They closed out the game with no issues from there.
Both teams changed their drafts for Game 3. Cloud9 took the Hecarim, while Team Liquid locked in Sylas and Kalista. Beyond that, several players drafted new champions for the series: Ryze, Jinx and Thresh for Cloud, and Volibear, Udyr and Nautilus for Team Liquid. This draft set up Cloud9 to have a hyperscaling composition, while Team Liquid brought the laning advantages.
Cloud9’s scaling composition won out. CoreJJ did roam mid for an early kill on Perkz after Jensen traded a 1-for-1 from a Blaber gank. And Alphari did roam for another turret dive on Perkz shortly thereafter. But it wasn’t enough for Team Liquid to snowball. Cloud9 chipped away TL’s lead in the mid game, before securing back-to-back Quadra Kills for Zven and Perkz.
Setting up for drake number four, Team Liquid made a beeline for Zven on the backline. While they killed him and Blaber, Perkz machine-gun-maged his way to killing all of Liquid’s members. At 31 minutes, Cloud9 and Team Liquid jockeyed over Baron control. When C9 started the objective, Alphari dove onto Zven, died in the process, and got him Excited. The rest of TL could not break through to the back line, and Zven cleaned up another Quadra Kill. C9 took the Baron and ended.
The fourth and final match saw Tactical pick up the Jinx and Alphari take the Renekton, while Cloud brought Lucian mid, Ashe bot and Braum support. The game itself started in fiesta fashion, as Jensen died level one for First Blood and Fudge died seconds later. Cloud9 got their next kill from an over-committed Alphari failing a dive on Perkz mid. Blaber took advantage of the Flashless Renekton by instantly ganking top for another kill. Despite the early loss, Alphari continued pushing his champion advantage over Fudge. Santorin secured Rift Herald and dropped it top to take First Turret, but Blaber revisited the lane and killed Santorin.
The big game-changing fight broke out around second Rift Herald. Both teams had four members towards top, and Team Liquid engaged onto Perk. Zven’s Crystal Arrow locked down CoreJJ and Fudge’s Teleport-Unstoppable Onslaught locked down Tactical for another kill.
From there, Cloud9 just had to control vision. The crowd control and front line from Sion, Braum and Crystal Arrow made it difficult for Team Liquid to face check any jungle corridors. CoreJJ’s Tahm Kench could Devour one target, but Cloud9’s follow-up kept landing. C9 used their advantage to secure a Baron buff at 26 minutes, then forced it down mid for the win.
Team Liquid could not get much going against Cloud9 in this series. Cloud9 got away with giving Fudge weak side in three of the four games, while Alphari never manifested those big early leads he has become known for. Perkz came away as Player of the Series, as he constantly dictated what happened out of mid lane. Blaber was everywhere–constantly keeping TL on the back foot, while many of Santorin’s early attempts fumbled. And while Tactical did not have any “Malphite ult” moments this series, the lack of Tristana and lack of aggression were clearly lacking. Team Liquid straight up got outplayed in this series, from draft to strategy to gameplay and mechanics. They have a lot to polish before their next series.
Listen to The Liquid Lowdown Episode 6: https://www.spreaker.com/user/10719087/liquidlowdown6