Now that poke sieging and heavy wave clear mids have become so big and Sivir is often banned, 1-3-1 and 1-4 splits are becoming more common. Mid laners like Viktor, Jayce, and Varus (or even one of the last Azirs we'll see before his kind become extinct as a result of patch changes) are incredibly hard to siege against as a single group. Picks like Shen and Twisted Fate make it so you don't have to.
The problem with that is that not every team in the European LCS looks completely comfortable with the transition. So many catches and back and forth games resulted from poorly managed splits, and the first couple games ended under somewhat hilarious circumstances.
ROCCAT made the mistake of not pushing out the bottom side wave before going for Baron. Not only that, but they went for Baron while Shook had Smite, making the trade a risk. Steve could have prepped the bottom wave before attempting the Baron trade, since he had Teleport available and ROCCAT committed to the dragon. Instead, the Wolves had a massive wave built up, which enabled Lenny to Teleport and push after Shook stole Baron. The result was a pretty hilarious, successful 1v5 base race.
Despite choosing a split push composition to play around the Unicorns engage-heavy draft, Werlyb's usually-strong Jax spent a lot of time just not split-pushing. Giants chose to just not opt into something that is usually their strength and continued to group with the Jax pick. When Giants finally did attempt these plays later in the game, they didn't coordinate their map pressure, and Werlyb simply got picked off.
As a result, the Giants seemingly got frustrated and opted into a base race. Despite having a positional and minion advantage as well as a strong Jax, Unicorns used their champions effectively to win the race. Annie could ult to tank tower while waiting for the minions to catch up, and Gragas' disengage shoved the Giants off at the proper time for a Unicorns win.
Instead of referring to the Fnatic composition as experimental, I'd rather say it went all-in on split-pushing. Outside the Trundle support, it really isn't too surprising to see most of these champions. Fizz and Twisted Fate have strong synergy in 1-3-1 scenarios, Rek'Sai and Twisted Fate have strong synergy in global compositions. I prefer Tristana in split pushing scenarios, since I think the nerfs to her base damages and range and the fact that you can merely cleanse her Explosive Charge make her less optimal in team fights.
As to the Trundle pick, Trundle works quite well as a top lane split pusher. Almost all of his abilities allow him to act as a strong duelist, and he can use his passive for sustain and Pillar of Ice and Frozen Domain for disengage. He's appeared as a support champion in other leagues before like Champions Korea or LMS.
It might be interesting to see teams build a strategy around simply not fighting 5v5s and running a split push support, though there are definitely problems that need some fine tuning, and that's not exactly how YellOwStaR was used.
YellOwStaR aided the grouped aspect of 1-3-1 and made it possible to hold mid with pillar disengage and using Frozen Domain to pressure primarily, though he did do a lot of work in the side lanes when he made his presence known. Keeping him mid also allowed him to dot the entire map with wards.
Even with this composition devoted to splitting, Fnatic's tendency toward Baron fixation cost them an inhibitor and extended this game a little longer than it would have otherwise. There is some room for improvement.
In H2K vs Origen, probably the best mid game splitting of the day was on display, though Niels did make a crucial error in splitting bottom at awkward times. This was especially strange since almost any other member of his team had a global option (Teleport, Rek'Sai ult, Stand United).
So many picks in this matchup occurred as a result of smart global usage and split-pushing. When you talk about base races and splits, you know it's the meta Origen's solo laners have been waiting for, but ironically, they won out in a full 5v5 near Baron with xPeke's massive Viktor play.
Elements vs Gambit was perhaps the worse offender of the day. Both teams went back and forth on devastating objective trades that gave me terrible flashbacks of the fated Fnatic vs OMG Group Stage game at the 2014 World Championship.
Inhibitors and Barons went down willy-nilly when players failed to keep side waves in check. A lot of this came down to both supports going to war with Banner of Command with mixed results. Finally, this item is seeing a lot more play.
Ultimately, the biggest takeaways of the day are that teams are working to improve side wave control. Dragon matters a lot less with everyone striving to play around each other. Ward the flank.
Most importantly, there's still a tie for fifth place. Four teams now stand in contention for two lingering Playoffs spots. Tomorrow will be a long day.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore eSports. You can follow her on Twitter.