Going into today's matches, a few bet Vici Gaming would come out on top based on the fact that they were performing well in the LPL regular season, while all other teams participated in "Oscar Week."
I won't gloat because I'm wrong an alarming proportion of the time. This is well-documented.
Today, Invictus Gaming not only overpowered Vici Gaming in laning phase, but also beat them at the rotation game, something I didn't guess would happen.
Meanwhile, in the LPL Promotion — let's just say that you probably shouldn't go out of your way to dig up the VODs if you haven't already.
AmazingJ carried into Promotion semifinals by AD Gaming's bottom lane
I thought the matchup between AD Gaming and Energy Pacemaker would come down to who gets the edge in the battle of carry top laners. Today's wins and losses had a lot to do with whether or not AD Gaming's bottom lane could find a way to be effective.
AD's AD carry repeatedly gave up kills before important objective fights or failed to use his ultimate. Ray had two impressive carry performances on Kayle before it was removed from the table in Game 5, but there was only so much he could do.
If only the AD Gaming/Edward Gaming organization had previously played with a certain AD carry legend. If only.
Vici Gaming is limited
Vici Gaming's style is impressive, but straight forward. In the first game of the Bo5 today, they managed to get positional advantages in niches on the map that let them layer their team fight abilities. Invictus Gaming, unable to execute their own composition effectively, got run over.
Invictus Gaming adapted quickly and could pick team fighting compositions with counterpicks that won lane and prevented rotations. Or, they straight up out-smarted VG in map movements.
Until VG upgrades their mid lane (Twisted Fate plays, anyone?) deficit and considers an AD carry upgrade as well, they'll be limited to a style that avoids fights and relies on their ability to out-smart the opposition. If they can't execute both of those requirements, they're dead in the water.
Vici Gaming didn't play like Vici Gaming
Vici Gaming usually gets their large leads in lane swaps. Mata's ability to zone, and Vasilii's followup on the likes of Lucian and Graves is a deadly combination for denying the opposing top laner his cs. They rarely got the lane swap this series, and when they did, they didn't execute with the same finesse.
While part of this is iG taking appropriate early steps to get the lane matchups they want, VG also didn't place early wards to scout for lane swaps. In doing so, they couldn't play their strongest strategy, and iG took the win.
Azir or Gragas
For the first three games of the series, Vici Gaming chose to ban Rookie's Azir, and with good reason. The last time a team made the mistake of letting the pick into Rookie's hands, he took a mid lane turret at nine minutes against Star Horn Royal Club.
In the second and third games against Vici Gaming, KaKAO proved himself a formidable nuisance on Gragas. He was nearly unkillable, and his disengages combined with Kitties' disengage on Janna allowed iG to execute a composition around two hyper carries without escapes.
VG banned Gragas in Game 4, and the Azir came out. Needless to say, it didn't go well.
As iG continues to advance, they reveal that they have a wide variety of power picks at their disposal. Teams will have to choose between letting through Gragas, Azir, Leblanc, Kalista, and perhaps Irelia after Zzitai's oppressive performance.
This completely ignores the fact that iG banned powerful jungle picks, Nidalee and Lee Sin, that other teams usually have to ban against KaKAO.
Having a strategic identity is important, but so is a talent lineup with wide champion pools and an array of ban-able power picks. iG has that in spades.
The continued underrating of Kid and Kitties
There seems to be an inherent bias against bottom lanes that don't win lane. Kid and Kitties won lane in Game 4, up by around 40 cs against Vasilii in the end, but overall this has not been their strong suit. Kid's team fight positioning has been one of his calling cards, and he's excelled with self-peeling Trinity Force AD carries like Ezreal and even managed to perform on Vayne against Snake with minimal resources from his team.
For some reason, there's a debate regarding the individual skill of Vasilii relative to Kid. Kid's carry performances today in the second and third games iG played set some of the debate to rest — at least until Vasilii can impact a late game team fight on the same level.
Kid isn't an elite AD carry, but he may be the fourth best in LPL.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. She is surprisingly looking forward to the semifinals faceoff between Edward Gaming and Invictus Gaming. She'll probably tweet about it here.