By nature of their secure 1-2 placement throughout last season, INTZ e-Sports and Vivo Fibra Keyd Stars had developed somewhat of a rivalry. It was hardly a long-standing or deep-seated affair, but a bit of jostling for position nonetheless.
Augmented by Revolta’s transfer from INTZ to Keyd in the offseason, the narrative was primed for their meeting in the first game of the CBLoL 2015 Winter Split. However, the set left many wishing that their meeting had been fated far later in the season, after both teams had improved.
This sentiment resonated throughout the quality of games opening weekend.
Vivo Fibra Keyd Stars 2, INTZ e-Sports 0
Revolta and his uncanny ability to apply early pressure – even on the supposedly less aggressive Sejuani – was Keyd’s greatest asset Week 1. Another pleasant surprise from Keyd was Leko’s overall performance with the team, and Keyd seems invested in giving him more resources. As a unit Keyd needs work, from teamfighting to the most basic macro play. In their two prior CBLoL iterations, Keyd began to look like a team only towards the end of the season. The next season would bring roster changes, and the team would start anew. It remains to be seen whether Revolta will accelerate their learning curve.
INTZ looked hesitant during the majority of their time on the rift, especially in comparison to the last time these two teams met in the CBLoL Summer Final. This indecision is to be expected as Jockster continues his transition from support to jungle and the rest of the team molds around him. These players have adapted before – when Revolta first came to INTZ – and their malleable nature suggests that they’ll be able to do it again.
Moments of brilliance were few and far between for both teams, only showing up in flashes. If the preliminary timetables for these teams are followed throughout the season, they’ll surely meet again in the playoffs, both fully awoken and truly ready to put on a show.
CNB e-Sports Club 1, INTZ Red 1
Arguably the best set all weekend, CNB e-Sports Club and INTZ Red. Both teams entered each game with specific plans in mind, even if their respective execution was sometimes lacking.
The first match was a deliberate affair from both teams in the early game. While this is nothing new for CNB, it was surprising to see such patience from INTZ Red, typically known for their hyper-aggressive dives and teamfights. The action kicked off with an ill-timed engage from CNB’s Nappon in INTZ Red’s jungle, giving three kills to Red. Red made up for this later when AD carry SacyR hit a Hyper-Kinetic Position Reverser that pulled CNB YodA’s Cassiopeia into his own team, allowing the opposing mid to land a two-man Petrifying Gaze onto Eryon and Brucer. CNB had already demonstrated superior side wave management, and with their late-scaling composition built around Skyer’s Jinx, were able to control the game.
Following another evenly-matched early game in match two, INTZ Red grouped up as three or four, choosing advantageous skirmishes to take both turrets and dragons. The final kill score read 23-5 as CNB’s Nexus went down, proving that Red remains a team that will push their advantages aggressively once they have them.
While it’s easy to point out flaws in both teams, the CNB versus Red set was an enjoyable one. These are two teams that are still growing into their respective playstyles, and this match should serve as a reminder of how far they have come at season’s end.
G3nerationX 2, KaBuM! e-Sports Orange 0
The playstyle of KaBuM! e-Sports Orange has hardly been refined or precise, more resembling beating an opponent with a blunt instrument. They want to fight, but don’t always choose the best possible times, or terrain, to do so. While maintaining an often substantial lead throughout their first game against g3nerationx, KaBuM! gifted their opponents the win by positioning poorly in a series of late-game teamfights.
Game Two, g3nerationx set up Taeyeon’s Kassadin with an early First Blood against TinOwns’ Azir. With an Urgot and Maokai, KaBuM! was without another carry, and g3nerationx turned this advantage into a 30 minute victory.
In comparing the setup of these two teams, it’s interesting how the roles of their respective mid laners and AD carries are reversed. Orange’s mid, TinOwns, is an exemplary player when he’s not the primary carry of his team. Now that Minerva has returned to KaBuM!, he provides an aggressive distraction for opponents to fixate on, giving TinOwns the breathing room he needs to succeed. On g3nerationx, it’s mid Taeyeon who draws enemy aggression, allowing TheFoxz’s more defensive teamfight positioning to clean up kills.
Neither team had a good grasp on macro play or objective trading compared to middle of the pack compatriots in CNB and INTZ Red, let alone INTZ or Keyd Stars. If either of these teams want to make a playoff run, they’ll need to address their decision making, or lack thereof, especially in the case of KaBuM! Orange.
paiN Gaming 1 KaBuM! e-Sports Black 1
Even with a new top and mid laner, KaBuM! e-Sports Black has shed neither their penchant for teamfighting, nor their love of splitting sets 1-1.
Able to position themselves well enough in the first game, KaBuM! Black used their red-side jungle terrain to their advantage. While new mid laner Vash lacks Goku’s teamfighting sense, he was able to do enough sustained damage and zoned out opponents on Anivia. This allowed Matsukaze and Element to clean up on Jinx and Gnar respectively. PaiN seemed insistent on fighting Black in choke points that were disadvantageous, allowing Black to chain crowd control and come out ahead.
A vastly superior laning team, paiN decimated KaBuM! Black in the second game. In spite of picking up First Blood, KaBuM! Black was completely overwhelmed by paiN, fighting a losing creep score battle across all lanes. By the 20 minute mark, paiN had pushed deep into Black’s blue-side bottom jungle. Continuing to starve Black of resources while winning teamfights, it took paiN only 10 more minutes to close out the game.
PaiN Gaming has the ability and talent to be the best team in their region, if only they could harness that talent in the most effective way possible. The team showed glaring weaknesses in their coordination and teamfighting, as well as a distinct lack of knowing where to engage on their opponent. Their lanes remain strong and, as shown in their second game against Black, when they play to these strengths, paiN will win.
Meanwhile, Black has a lot of work to do if they want to avoid relegation, especially in their ineffective early game and overly passive laning style.
From this first weekend of matches, it’s obvious that the competition in CBLoL is stiffer than ever. Unfortunately, it’s also apparent that these teams are all still in transition, primarily due to roster changes. Weeks will pass, teams should able to put a better product on the Rift, and Brazil’s regional strength will only move forward from here.