After Frost avenged their Katowice Grand Final loss to Gambit Gaming in the IEM Hanover semifinal round and former Azubu “B-Team” Blaze tore up Anexis, these CJ Entus teammates face off against one another in the IEM Hanover Best-of-5 Grand Final. Which team will emerge from IEM Hanover as champions? Read ahead, but beware of spoilers!
Game 1 kicked off with former Azubu “A-Team” Frost showing why they were considered superior to their teammates Blaze as an early First Blood turns quickly into a 4-0 kill advantage for Frost. Before long, Frost holds a 1000 gold advantage for ADC Woong – on Ezreal – alone. By 7:30 in-game-time, Frost holds a total gold advantage of over 3000. The early advantage created by the tight play of Frost is not let up as an excellent play by MadLife – on Thresh – leads to another kill, bringing the total to 5-0 and the game’s first Dragon. From here, the game slows down a little as Blaze scrambles to protect what they have left. The next team fight results in 2 kills for Blaze… but 4 for Frost. As Shy – on Elise – chases Flame – on Nidalee – down to the Blaze interior turret on top lane, MadLife swings around from the top jungle creating a very loose fight full of chasing and late ignites. The tough fight for Blaze leads Frost to pick up yet another Dragon, further increasing their lead which by 15:30 in-game-time is over 7000 gold. Shy, who absolutely dominated Gambit in the Semifinal forcing Gambit to ban Singed in the last two games, was able to pick Elise (who was banned in all 3 contests with Gambit). With very accurate skillshots on Elise’s Cocoon and timely uses of Repel, Shy controlled game 1 very effectively, pushing top lane and drawing a ton of attention from Blaze. From this point in the game Frost continues to roll over Blaze, catching them out of position and forcing them into terrible situations, but it’s not until a very early uncontested 20-minute Baron Nashor that Frost puts the final nail in Blaze’s coffin who nearly immediately surrender after a completely dominant performance by Frost.
Blaze, now on blue side for game 2 starts by curiously not banning the Elise which so plagued them in game 1. After seeing Shy dominate the previous series and starting the Grand Final so effectively, it comes as a major surprise that Blaze chooses to skip on the Elise ban. Blaze does, however, pick two of Frost’s favorites in Singed and Lulu, leaving Frost to pick up Elise – but not for Shy. Instead, with Thresh banned and Lulu picked by Blaze, Frost elects to send the Elise pick to support player MadLife, while Shy picks Rumble for top lane. Like the final game of the semifinal, CloudTemplar ends up playing Skarner as a response to the Xin Zhao ban. These interesting picks and bans would end up having a major impact on the outcome of game 2, and eventually the entire series.
The game begins on a fairly typically with none of the crazy invades and tower-diving plays we’ve seen so frequently at Hanover this year. The only noteworthy development in the first 5 minutes is a lane swap where ADC and Supports for both teams face off in top lane with top laners in a 1v1 situation on bottom lane. The bottom lane 1v1 ends up being the stage for First Blood just around the 5 minute mark. A timely Vault Breaker and Flip from Helios and Blaze on Shy is quickly followed up by another kill from Blaze, putting the former “B-Team” up 2 kills to 1 early. The aggression on bottom lane doesn’t end there, when just moments later, Helios returns for a second gank on Shy who is more ready this time. Turning on Blaze, Shy secures the first kill of the game for Frost but eventually goes down to Helios’ Assault/Battery leaving the score 3-1 in favor of Blaze.
The story of game 2 ends up being the very effective play of Helios on Vi, who secures a third consecutive successful gank on bottom lane, killing Skarner after being pulled onto Frost’s tower. This play, more than any other might just prove that while Skarner is viable, Vi continues to be picked over him for the jungle role because her kit – while somewhat similar – simply packs more “punch”.
At 12 minutes in-game-time, Frost makes a move to close the kill gap, but remains several thousand gold behind. It’s at this point, as Blaze responds with a kill bottom and a tower dive and a second kill in mid lane that the game begins to look very grim for Frost.
Two consecutive fights over the Dragon objective help bring Frost back even with Blaze in kills, but after the second fight Blaze still maintains a nearly 5000 gold advantage, which proves simply too much for Frost who lets Blaze take Baron around 25 minutes nearly completely uncontested. It’s not until the second Baron of the game in which Frost pushes back, seemingly coming out ahead, when Flame crushes the Nexus turrets by himself with a full complement of super minions to end the game, evening the series up at 1-1. At the end of this game, I’m forced to wonder about the champion select choices of giving Elise to MadLife and not Shy who played the Spider Queen so effectively in game 1. Shy’s Rumble was simply not on par with the dominance he showed in game 1 as he was continually ganked and abused by Blaze jungler Helios.
SERIES TIED 1-1
After a spectacular performance by both teams in games 1 and 2, the series stands tied at 1 a piece. How did the series wrap up? You can check out the VODs here, or wait for part II of our full IEM Grand Final analysis tomorrow morning.