Day 1 of IEM San Jose is officially in the books, and in some ways it left us with more questions than answers.
Team SoloMid's new start studded roster emerged victorious over an LGD Gaming squad that suffered a new low, while the methodical Counter Logic Gaming dismantled the Unicorns of Love's revamped roster. None of the games were pretty and not all of our questions were answered, but we did learn some lessons about what to expect tomorrow.
What happened to LGD? Can the Unicorns of Love get better with practice? Will Hauntzer continue to deliver for Team SoloMid?
Here are some of the takeaways from Day 1.
The Fallen: UoL and LGD’s Disasters
For every team that moves on, one must go home.
LGD Gaming continued their shocking fall from the top, and their last chance to save face was an unmitigated disaster. In terms of rotations and objective decisions, LGD Gaming looked completely lost on the map. The individual skill of imp and Pyl was evident at times, but overall there were next to no positives to take away for LGD's performance. Poor understanding of the pick-ban and flawed team communication were the twin failings of LGD today.
This latest loss all but signals that significant roster changes are on the horizon for the reigning LPL champions, who have gone from potential world champion contender to social media whipping boy in just a few short months.
It was a similar story for the Unicorns of Love, whose new roster’s debut was less than ideal.
First and foremost, their pick ban was a train wreck. They blind picked champions such as Kassadin and Gangplank into direct counters, completely ignored Gragas despite Xmithie’s top tier play on the champion and crafted poor team compositions.
Furthermore, the lack of synergy across the board was apparent. Granted, this roster is still very new, but it’s a point of concern moving forward. Hylissang, Vizicsacsi and Gilius tried to make plays, but it was at a stark contrast to the Fox and Steeelback's passive play. Even worse, the pairing of Hylissang and Gilius was completely out of synch, an unfortunate trend which has carried over from the jungler’s previous tenure on UoL. Multiple times Hylissang went to place deep wards all by his lonesome, and got picked off for his efforts.
So, it was an inauspicious debut for UoL and all but the final nail for LGD — not exactly the best way to start the off season.
Leading the Charge: The New and the Old
With so many questions surrounding the North American teams' new rosters, it was nice to get some early answers. Both teams emerged victorious, but for very different reasons.
For Team SoloMid, it was the new that proved their worth. Hauntzer was saddled with the unenviable position of taking over Dyrus' spot on a TSM squad which has a notoriously rabid fanbase. Well, never let it be said that he doesn’t rise to the occasion, because he did his job and then some.
Not only did Hauntzer combine with Svenskeren for back-to-back First Bloods, he didn’t so much as blink an eye when Flame was subbed out for Acorn, happily dominating lane regardless. Considering that TSM’s shotcalling was a bit of a mess and both Bjergsen and Doublelift had awkward moments (especially in Game 1), Hauntzer’s play was all TSM could ask for out of their new top laner — reliable.
His massive Gnar ultimate in the top lane of Game 2 onto imp and GODV, which slammed the door on LGD’s attempted comeback, was just the icing on the cake. Hauntzer’s 11/7/11 scoreline obscures the fact that for a debut performance on a new team, he delivered.
On Counter Logic Gaming, it wasn’t what was new that paved the path to victory, but what had stayed the same. Xmithie in particular was the standout on CLG, never wavering from his methodical style and allowing Stixxay and HuHi the opportunity to get comfortable on stage. His early ganks and map dominance set CLG up for success and his great Explosive Casks spoon fed kills to Stixxay and HuHi.
Darshan was also impressive, handily besting Vizicsacsi in lane and punishing UoL’s indecision with relentless split pushing. Finally, CLG was the most decisive and in-control team of the day in terms of shot calling, clearly staying vocal even in tense moments. The new players didn’t miss a beat in the turnaround fights in Game 2. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but at least they were all on the same page.
Looking to Day 2: The True Tests
Having just praised the virtues of CLG and TSM, it’s still worthwhile to take a moment to consider that today’s results are certainly not conclusive. Given the clear failures of both LGD and UoL to show up, both match victories should be taken with more than a grain of salt.
The event patch in terms of core strategy is nowhere close to what we will see moving forward in 2016, and there were clear flaws in both TSM and CLG. Facing Origen and the Jin Air Green Wings tomorrow should, in theory, be a much better test of both of the North American teams.
Both Origen and Jin Air's strengths should stack up qwll against their respective opponents. SoHwan will provide much stiffer competition for Darshan than Vizicsacsi did today, preventing him from snowballing in a similar fashion. Similarly, Niels is more than a match for Doublelift and sOAZ should keep a much better reign on Hauntzer, while the PowerofEvil/Amazing duo will provide a hurdle for Bjergsen/Svenskeren.
Hopefully, these similarities will make for a much more competitive day of League when Day 2 arrives.
Nic Doucet is a News Editor for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter.