After three intense rounds of play, Counter-Logic Gaming wins the first ever gold for North America, and Team SK Gaming playing for Europe takes the silver. Playing for Counter-Logic Gaming (NA) were Bigfatjiji, Elementz, Chauster, HotshotGG and Kobe24, and for Team SK Gaming (EU) were Zylor, Severus, Osaft22, SleazyWeazy and Reyk.
Game One Pre-Game In the first round, the play-styles for each region were on obvious display even starting from the initial picks. A cookie-cutter Tier 1 composition by North American standards versus some very effective counter-picks from Europe resulted in a surprising Team SK Gaming victory. Some amazing Twisted Fate play is definitely worth mentioning, played by Reyk. On the North American side, some poor Amumu play by Kobe24 resulted in the loss of some vital team-fights later in the game.
Bans: (To be announced) CLG: Taric, Morgana, Garen, Miss Fortune, Amumu SKG: Kassadin, Twisted Fate, Shen, Soraka, Ashe With each team confident that they out-picked the other team, no major conflicts were found. Each one of these champs are amongst the most valued in their separate regions of North America and Europe, and created a very interesting reactionary stretch of time where both sides examined each other. The three melee champs on Counter-Logic Gaming versus the singular tank on Team SK Gaming is worth noting as well. The compositions also best represent both each region’s meta-games with North America sporting their traditional, AoE survivability team, and Team SK Gaming representing their squishier, mobile damage-dealers.
Game One Play-by-Play In the initial laning phase, both had a similar idea in attempting to five-man gank middle, resulting in a very tense level one situation for both teams. No one died however, and everyone headed to their respective lanes.
In the top lane – Morgana versus Ashe In the middle lane – Miss Fortune versus Twisted Fate In the bottom lane – Garen and Taric versus Kassadin and Soraka Junglers - Amumu and Shen.
Some evenly matched lane compositions overall, with the top lane being about evenly played, middle lane with Twisted Fate having some amazing laning play versus Miss Fortune, and the Garen/Taric having some great zone control and last hitting.
As the mid-game approaches, a gank attempt by the jungling Amumu on the bottom lane results in first blood for Kobe24. Very soon after however, a counter gank by Team SK Gaming with the Ashe landing a perfect arrow followed immediatly by Global Ports from Twisted Fate and Shen result in a quick Garen death. The Europe team then went straight for dragon, but some patient North American play resulted in two kills, and a dragon steal.
The Gameplay slowed down as everyone returned to their lanes to farm. It isn't until much later into the game that a great Twisted Fate ultimate into middle clears out Miss Fortune, though Amumu manages to get into middle fast enough to stop the potential push. As Ashe clears out to attempt to get some more buffs, an interesting Amumu versus Shen lane starts to come into play – this also happens in the later rounds.
The first real turret push begins shortly after with a five-man attempt on middle by the North American team, though is initially unsuccessful due to a great Shen taunt combined with Fortify. Very shortly after, however, some amazing overall play by Counter-Logic Gaming results in them winning a team-fight by the Team SK Gaming turret. In all, four European players died, and all North American players survived. Some huge momentum for the North American side at this point in the game. They then decide to recall the weakened champs to heal, and which leads to the EU turret standing.
This is where the play-style of Europe really begins to dominate. Up to this point, it has mainly been about larger team-fights with the American side traveling as a pack. With a Team fight oriented composition, this heavily Favored the North American team.
If you look at the massive mobility of the European team composition with Kassadin's Rift-Walk, the ultimates of Shen and Twisted Fate, Soraka being able to heal no matter where the allied champs are, and Ashe being able to get a potential slow and damage from anywhere on the map, this breaks down into a much better counter versus the primarily AoE North American team. The soft-pushes of Europe by having one or two champs pushing a lane hard on multiple fronts begins to overwhelm the North American team, who are more used to the hard-pushes of four or five champs pushing with massive team-fights. Of course, the mobility of the European team combined with the effective map awareness that is in all good games allows them to effectively soft-push without much fear of ganks or even Counter-Logic Gaming being able to defend the turrets.
In the top lane, Twisted Fate manages to soft-push the first turret kill of the game, resulting in the entire North American team coming up at once to gank. Of course, Twisted Fate simply Gates to bottom, resulting in a very distracted Counter-Logic Gaming team, as Team SK Gaming is able to jungle, farm, et cetera. They then approach middle lane, and eventually bottom, but decide to get Dragon instead as Twisted Fate was probably already out of there (and they were right).
Shortly after, the European team actually denies Baron by allowing the North American team to see them place a ward in the area. This scares off Counter-Logic Gaming, as they wouldn't want Baron to be stolen, or them to be involved in a large team-fight when they were weaker. They then move to attempt to hard-push middle with no luck as a result of the minion wave they were riding on being wiped out. Huge European minion waves continue along the top and bottom lanes, threatening the North American turrets.
Team SK Gaming then baits Counter-Logic to go for Baron, which results in a massive team-fight taking place in middle as North America attempts to quickly hard-push again while the European team is seemingly disorganized. Amumu actually Bandage Wraps in and uses his ultimate, but only really gets two of the opposing players in the stun. Counter-Logic Gaming had to commit, Amumu gets focus-fired down very quickly, Team SK Gaming pops Fortify, wins the team-fight, and ends up having four champs to one at the end of it all; a massive shift from the five and one victory for Counter-Logic Gaming earlier on in the game. Europe then gets Baron quite easily, while coming full-circle from the bait.
A few soft-pushes by Twisted Fate on the top side results in the inhibitor turret going down, the outer North American turret going down, and the bottom inhibitor turret going down. The mobility of Team SK Gaming just completely dominated here in these multi-lane attacks and movements. Counter-Logic Gaming desperately attempts to all push middle, taking down the second European middle turret. However, after another European team-fight win by their inhibitor turret, this one ending five to one in terms of champs left, they are able to completely push middle to their inhibitor. They then quickly destroy the open top and bottom inhibitors, get another quick Baron, and end the game. Silence fell over the North American crowd as Europe got a 0-1 lead.
Game One Recap/Lessons Though it may have appeared at the start of the game that Counter-Logic Gaming would completely dominate with their team composition consisting of what North American play would consider as a huge number of tier one champs, the mobile counter-picks of the European team resulted in the victory. Counter-Logic Gaming had their hard-push strategy set in stone until the end of the game, as it had worked earlier on, and out of desperation in the later parts of the game. Team SK Gaming however knew around that vital half-way point of the game that they wouldn't be able to directly counter the Counter-Logic Gaming AoE team-fight abilities, and began to use that overload strategy to their advantage. They were also able to counter any other North American push as well with effective use of Fortify, and their ability to immediately get back as soon as possible.
Another point to mention is that North American players tend to place emphasis on pushing middle as well, where as European players place emphasis on the sides more than the middle lane. It wasn't until the very end of the game that Europe even tried to attempt any sort of middle push, and that was only after they had almost completely pushed the side-lanes as well.
While by typical North American players standards this European victory will initially appear as a giant shock when considering the team compositions tier-wise, they must realize that every champion and strategy can be countered. Obvious preparation won the game for Team SK Gaming, as they were able to anticipate the North American style of play effectively.
This also leads into a separate tangent of the issue of live-streams and replays, where other teams could easily view the Counter-Logic Gaming site and view their play-style due to the popularity of the site. While everyone loves League of Legends replays, you must consider that not only will your fans be able to see it, but any potential other team will be able to view that stream to learn your play-style as well. You must anticipate this, and work on a way to counter the counter of your initial style off-stream. By doing so, the opponent will come into the match expecting your typical game-play style, but soon find out that you will have thought ahead and countered them. Of course, they might counter your counter of a counter, but that will just keep the game and styles fresh and interesting as neither team will know what the other team is thinking or planning.
Overall a great game that effectively displays the direct comparisons of typical North American play versus typical European play. It also demonstrated effective counters to the current North American meta-game, as well as just how effective the selected European champs actually are in competitive play. A short break between the games allowed each team to discuss with one another the strategies for the next game in a more clear-state of mind when compared to communicating while playing. Counter-Logic Gaming definitely used this time to their advantage for game two...
MVP: Reyk (Twisted Fate). Amazing Twisted Fate play results in some great, subtle pushes, as well as a very healthy contribution to those critical end-game team-fights. Almost single-handedly taking out both the top lane and bottom lane by himself, Twisted Fate became an obvious 'need to ban' situation for Counter-Logic Gaming in the next two games. His early game must also be praised for some great laning ability against the tough opponent of Miss Fortune.
LVP: Kobe24 (Amumu). While his early jungling game was great with effective ganks and first blood to boot, he really began to drop off in his middle and late game play. Barely any use of his summoner abilities of Ghost and Smite was apparent, though the biggest issue this game was his awful initiations, which led to massive team-losses in those vital team-fights late game. Hostility and a loss of confidence towards Kobe24 by the rest of his team was very apparent in Game Two in particular.
Moments of the Game: Anything with Reyk, and how ecstatic the commentator was as he read out the team composition for Counter-Logic Gaming.