Why third place matters: Invictus Gaming vs Snake

by Kelsey Moser Apr 24 2015
Thumbnail image courtesy of LPL / LPL screengrab

Given how the points system works for the World Championship qualification at the end of 2015 LPL Summer, the difference in placing third or fourth is pretty negligible. The quarterfinalists received 50 points, the fourth place team will receive 80 points, the third place team will receive 100 points, second place grabs 200, and first gets 300. There is the least incremental incentive for placing third over fourth place.

Both Invictus Gaming and Snake went 0-3 in their semifinals matches against Edward Gaming and LGD Gaming. In iG's case, it seemed almost as if they just gave up halfway through Game 2 after Clearlove got a quick succession of ganks. Snake had every obvious weakness in their strategy exploited by LGD until they were left clinging to the husk of their top laner.

Third place matters because of the way the quarterfinals played out. Vici Gaming misplayed their preferred compositions, and nearly fell over due to the discrepancy in the mid lane. Snake and King's war of attrition lasted five games and played out like an illogical blood bath, but with King's champion select eliminating all wave clear, Snake's victory was still a foregone conclusion. IG and Snake seemingly placed top four for free and failed to make waves after that.

The only chance they have of wowing an audience now is in vying for third place. This third place match is our chance to see how much pride matters in the LPL, or if LGD and Edward Gaming won because iG and Snake were never going to hack it.

Snake's sendoff

Snake wasn't supposed to be good, at least not by my expectations. During the offseason, they showed synergy growing pains, and their Korean imports didn't measure up to the power pickups on other teams like Edward Gaming or LGD.

When it gets down to it, they still aren't cutting it. Their playstyle is one dimensional. They can't figure out how to play lane swaps without sending their top laner far behind. Invictus was the first team to punish their protect-the-Kog'Maw composition by picking Vayne and multiple lockdowns.

Snake's AD Carry, kRYST4L, is the center of Snake's compositions, but camping his lane isn't the easiest way to dismantle them. Snake's first contingency is their powerful front line. Debilitating Flandre in either a 1v1 or a lane swap is how most teams have started to whittle down Snake. Without a powerful front line to protect him, kRYST4L's over-extensions and mis-positioning are far easier to punish. A lot of this matchup will hinge on iG getting the lane swap and Zzitai getting ahead of Flandre.

BAKA has been discussed surprisingly little among Snake's players. He's likely the weakest member of the team, but he's also the safest. His champion pool, though small, allows Snake to stall out games. If Xerath is banned, he'll likely go for the Lulu. If iG ban both, we might see him pulling out Ziggs, which has cropped up internationally. Ziggs used to be BAKA's LSPL power pick.

One of Snake's biggest pain points lately has been vision control. While Beast and Ella usually work in tandem to spread wards, Snake has been laying out vision less and less. It's unclear why this would happen since the meta seems to favor more farm heavy junglers that prefer warding to ganking frequently. If Snake wants a chance against iG's powerful jungler, KaKAO, they'll want to correct this lapse.

Invictus' second chance

As Flandre is the key to Snake's success, Invictus' power hinges on Rookie. Since BAKA does tend to favor safe mid laners, he'll be harder to punish than Hetong in the quarterfinals (that isn't saying much). It's likely both sides will focus a lot of mid lane bans: on BAKA to punish his champion pool, and on Rookie to keep Azir and Ahri out of his clutches.

Kid and even, on a couple of occasions, Zzitai have had carry performances, but usually only when Rookie is also ahead. It's extremely rare that Rookie doesn't find a lane lead. The recent three losses to Edward Gaming stand out as one of the only times when Rookie hasn't been ahead. His general consistency pegs him as the best mid laner in LPL still, despite his faltering. Clearlove knew to target Rookie to bring iG down, and the heavy camp brought the team to their knees.

In general, Invictus tends to be susceptible to camping. KaKAO favors purchasing damage over wards. This could be his one pain point in the current meta. Otherwise, he has adapted better than the other carry junglers in LPL. On the new patches, KaKAO can play Gragas or Nunu with ease and still function as one of his team's main threats. Last week, he looked like the best jungler in LPL on the new patch next to Spirit who wasn't playing meta picks and Clearlove and DanDy who were hit-or-miss on selections like Nunu and Gragas.

While Rookie and KaKAO are usually primed to get massive leads in a game, Zzitai and Kid and Kitties will go even. Zzitai's ability to out-CS has transferred well to his top lane role. Kid and Kitties play a patient lane. They can carry when called upon, but usually serve to last hit in team fights or set up zones.

This matchup really comes down to Rookie and Flandre. Whoever can get a larger lead over their opposite will carry the day. Expect iG to look for a lane swap and for KaKAO to camp the mid lane. Snake's reactions to lane swaps have not been strong, and it's rare any lane gets camped but kRYST4L's. Snake needs to adapt to stand a chance.