IEM World Championships Hannover
3rd Place Final (best of 3): CLG vs aAa
March 9, 2012 (Nautilus Patch: post-hotfix)
I felt bad for aAa going into the semi-finals because I knew that if they lost they would have to face either CLG or M5 for 3rd place and I felt like either team was clearly better. aAa is a good team and they have not only proved that by getting this far in Hannover, but also events in the past, but I feel like they are a tier below some of the other "true" top-teams. Mayb I will do a post on power rankings after Hannover that shows where I rate the teams, if anything aAa would definitely be at the top of the tier that is under CLG, but we shall see if that is truely where they deserve to be.
The first game looked very much in favor of CLG who managed to first pick Shen who slipped through the bans, they also got BigFatLP on Cassiopeia, and DoubleLift on Ezreal who he had been having some good success with. aAa did manage to get Janna and Shyvana and ran a slew of other heroes that I haven’t seen them run before in this tournament. CLG had a monumental start when Mundo and Shyvana came mid lane to gank and Cassiopeia managed to get a double kill on Shyvana and Sion, it got even better when Janna and Kog’Maw came up from bottom and Cassio managed to get another kill on Janna and an assist on Kog’Maw who Sona killed, as Ezreal and Sona came up from bot as well. With 3 early kills on Cassiopeia CLG looked prime to snowball this game to an early victory.
In top lane Shen was having a pretty even matchup against Nidalee who forced him out of lane. Mundo came top to cover for Shen but was killed by Nidalee despite Shen’s Stand United to save him. When Shen finally arrived top Shyvana was also waiting and made quick work of him together with Nidalee. Nidalee then killed the top tower at 10:30. At this point lots of kills were traded around the map as Nidalee pretty much went roaming since Shen was allowed to free farm top safely on his side of the map. After gaining an advantage bottom lane aAa was able to take the first Dragon and bottom tower around 19 minutes. Some good ganks from aAa also allowed them to tie the kills up 6-6, overcoming the early 4 kill deficit they had issued CLG at the start.
The strategy behind aAa’s comp started to show through as Nidalee was AP and combined with Kog’Maw and Janna for disengage were able to poke CLG in all major engagements and take a lot of towers. Although CLG had a pretty suitable comp for diving they always gave in to aAa’s aggression and retreated all engagements. Through sieging and applying pressure in multiple lanes aAa was able to set up a Baron kill at 23:40 and get it for free. They then split pushed top with 4 and sent Sion bottom who eventually killed the inhib tower before dying to Sion and Ezreal. Even though Baron had worn off aAa managed to force themselves into CLG’s base and kill the inhibitor at 30 minutes. They then stole blue and swung around to top and middle, sending only Shyvana top while sieging mid lane. Shyvana eventually took the entire top tower and inhibitor by herself while the rest of aAa fled to do Baron after killing the last inhibitor tower middle. The rest of the game was comprised of aAa slowly sieging CLG and keeping all 3 of their inhibitors down as they were slowly whittled down by super minions and aAa was allowed to get every Baron for free. The game finally ended around 40 minutes when there were too many super minions for CLG to handle and Nidalee had over 600 ap causing her spears to become too deadly to fight against.
Game 2 was very similar to game 1 but this time it was aAa who racked up the early game advantage. Corki managed to get firstblood on Maokai and Karthus turned a gank top into a doublekill. From here aAa stole CLG’s blue and took Dragon at 8 mins. aAa then managed to get CLG’s next blue and kill Olaf in middle allowing them to get the next spawned Dragon at 14:30. Both teams managed to get some ganks in and kill 2 towers apiece before the next Dragon spawned at 21 which aAa got again. So the entire early game was in aAa’s favor which was also denoted by their 4k gold lead.
aAa began grouping up and pushing aggressively which signaled the end of the laning phase. They almost killed the 2nd mid tower of CLG but were forced to retreat due to lack of minions. CLG aggressively followed and a fight broke out in mid where CLG went 3-2, so despite the apparent lead that aAa had CLG showed they still had some fight left in them. This opinion was quickly changed as aAa came back at CLG in mid and they went 3-2 this time AND took the 2nd mid tower of CLG.
Then almost out of nowhere, despite being behind, CLG just rushed Baron when they saw Lee Sin bottom. Karthus, Corki, and Udyr tried to stop them but were all killed unable to stop CLG from getting Baron or killing a single person. From here CLG was able to kill the mid inhibitor, the remaining outer towers, and pick up Dragon, a massive swing in power putting them in control of the game for the first time. With the few seconds left on Baron CLG try and push into bottom lane to kill the inhibitor; they are then able to bait a fight outside the tower range and go 3-0 against aAa and take the bottom tower and inhib. When the next Baron spawn CLG bait it and aAa come rushing in and get ACED perfectly by CLG who then run up middle and destroy the Nexus before it is able to respawn. Onto game 3!
Game 3, as always, was played extremely close to the chest by both teams; there were some early kills but for the most part the first 20 minutes was very quiet. Janna came middle extremely early and used her Exhaust to get Veigar firstblood on Ahri, at the same time Mundo ganked Irelia top but some good plays from HotshotGG managed to get Wukong killed by the tower as well; from this point on there was only farming until Mundo successfully ganked Irelia once again at 16 minutes. Ahri managed to bait Veigar into the river around 19 minutes and kill him before he could successfully burst her which allowed aAa to take the first Dragon at 19:45. CLG didn’t mind aAa taking Dragon and just used the time to get as much of a damage advantage as they could on all the towers which paid off as they killed all 3 1st towers by the 24 minute mark while aAa had none.
At 27 minutes aAa gathered in the river to get Dragon which they did successfully, but CLG was waiting in the outlying brush and ambushed them after their kill. CLG managed to kill 4 members of aAa while only losing 1 which put them ahead in global gold by 1.5k. CLG then started to ward and bait around Baron. With strategic wards on aAa’s jungle ramp they were able to pick people off using Veigar’s Event Horizon and burst combo. Their first victim was Kog’maw and which prompted them to push the 2nd mid tower. While assaulting the tower they also caught Sona. CLG then went and stole the enemy blue and came back mid and were able to pick off Mudno.
After recalling to suit up CLG force Baron after seeing Ahri doing blue. Once they saw movement from aAa they set up their speed trap again and managed to catch Ahri, but failed to burst her down. Ahri getting caught did bait her team into a fight with CLG, who emerged victorious once again 4-1 losing only Veigar, allowing them to kill the last mid tower and inhibitor.
Despite losing the last few fights, aAa never gave up and kept contesting CLG at Baron. Bad positioning from CLG lead to them losing a fight 0-2 and rethink a winning strategy that didn’t involve the Favor of Nashor. aAa’s inhibitor respawned which quickly became CLG’s new prime objective to safely force fights. They initiated on aAa inside their base and went 3-1 rekilling the inhibitor. aAa once again successfully defended their inhibitor till its respawn while keeping CLG from doing Baron; but CLG showed up a final time to take the inhibitor. aAa fought valiantly but in the end were unable to overcome CLG’s superior team fight and once again CLG went 3-1 before pushing onto the Nexus and taking 3rd place in the World Championships!
Games 1 and 2 seemed like massive upsets to me. Both teams managed to get extrememly early advantages and then properly snowball them to landslide victories. I remember a few tournaments back I think it was SK vs TSM and Ocelote was on Cassiopeia and he got 3 kills early game and from there it was over, there was no going back because he utterly dominated the rest of the game. I was very disappointed to see that BigfatLP was not able to hold the same presence over aAa in game 1, especially laning against a Sion with jungle Mundo as back up. LP's performane has been under question a lot recently and I think game 1 is a good example of how he is still not at the peak of his former grandieur. Game 2 was the exact same thing with YellowStar no correctly snowballing his advantage by not immediately recalling and getting an item advantage over Ezreal (you think he would have learned from the game against Dignitas where he started with a double kill). After that mistake CLG was able to stay somewhat in the game. If Corki had properly snowballed bottom there is no way that Baron stunt CLG pulled would have even been possible. Game 3 really came down to aAa not getting enough wards and constantly falling prety to Veigar stuns. All together though it was a good and exciting series. Despite the fact that each game was an upturn by the team that was behind, it did make the games incredibly fun to watch.