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LCS Opening Day: NA Starts Strong

By Dan 'Danheim' Greeno
Feb 8, 2013 06:28


ImageThe League of Legends Championships Series began today, and with the opening of the most anticipated season to date it's time to take a look at the starting matches.

This is the moment eSports fans have been waiting for. Ever since the TW Azubu Taipei Assassins were crowned champions of Season 2 teams and fans alike have been itching to see what the competition had in store for the next round of tournaments. Private scrims, new challengers, items and balances, and everything else that's been done has all been in preparation of the unknown that Season 3 would bring. Teams have uprooted their entire lives to move out to Los Angeles to play under the pay of Riot Games, and their lives have essentially become all about being a professional player.

It's all come down to this, opening day of Season 3, so let's get straight into it and see who played and how the teams have faired thus far.

Game 1: US Team SoloMid versus US Counter Logic Gaming

Picks
TSM: Xin Zhao, Kayle, Elise, Ezreal, Sona
CLG: Taric, Lee Sin, Syndra, Urgot, Malphite


Bans
TSM: Nunu, Nidalee, Shen
CLG: Olaf, Maokai, LeBlanc


The opening match had likely been decided months in advance, pitting old rivals who go as far back as Season 1 against each other to launch the beginning of Season 3. TSM and CLG have a long history of coming head to head, and even with the NA scene being seen as the weakest region everyone from EU to Asia know of these two teams and what they're capable of.

Like all things though, time changes and people adapt. In a bold move CLG picked a lineup that likely nobody could have predicted: Urgot and Syndra were both selected, a fantastic and exciting way to start Season 3.

CLG started off playing an aggressive level one, dropping 7 wards in TSM's jungle before the jungle camps had spawned. Their aggressiveness was met with passiveness as CA Brian 'TheOddOne' Willey opted to start at his red, leaving his blue side open for CLG to do as they pleased. Syndra grabbed the blue as it spawned, and giving it to Urgot their dominance over the match had already begun. Urgot was beginning to get big, US Andy 'Reginald' Dinh was losing to the relatively unknown US Austin 'LiNk' Shin in the midlane, and outside of US Marcus 'Dyrus' Hill nobody for Team SoloMid was ahead.

US Peter 'DoubleLift' Peng abused his early blue buff, and after securing first blood was able to build his tear which would eventually become an extremely early Manamune. TSM would have no answer for the aggressiveness of the combined powers of Rush Hour, and the top tower would quickly fall to Doublelift and US Zaqueri 'Aphromoo' Black. TSM would answer with a tower of their own, but aggressive warding and throwing their weight around would continue to be CLG's manner of holding the advantage. Dragons were traded and farming was had with little action across the map as TSM tried to make up for lost ground, but they couldn't hold off CLG forever.

The first major team fight happened near the twenty-seven minute mark as the teams contested dragon, but the tankiness of Counter Logic Gaming proved too much and they came out on top in a four for two exchange. By the thirty-five minute mark CLG had accumulated a 7k gold lead, and the game was decided before forty minutes as TSM conceded the first match of Season 3 to CLG after they were aced in a five for zero exchange at Baron Nashor.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming
Danheim's MVP Choice: Doublelift on Urgot

Team Records
TSM: 0-1
CLG: 1-0


Game 2: US Team Curse Academy versus US Team Dignitas

Picks
Curse: Kayle, Xin Zhao, Caitlyn, Nidalee, Lulu
Dignitas: Elise, Nunu, Lee, Twitch, Gragas


Bans
Curse: Shen, Kha'Zix, Olaf
Dignitas: Akali, Katarina, Miss Fortune


Not as classic of the matchup as the first, but still a highly sought after contest considering the teams involved. The third and fourth placing NA teams from Season 2 go head to head to prove they have what it takes to best each other, and although there are no outrageous picks like the first there were some chuckles to be had when the team with US William 'scarra' Li on it banned out Katarina.

The game started off much less heated than its predecessor with both teams staying in their own jungles. Action was limited with the duo lane for Curse going to the bottom lane while the one for Dignitas went topside. Using the pushing power of Caitlyn it was Cop and CA Cody 'Elementz' Sigfusson that hoped to set the tone, and do so they did as they took the first tower in the name of Curse by the five minute mark. Scarra's typical aggressive play was used against him, and in an attempt to kill off CN Chenglong 'Nyjacky' Wang he was ganked and gave up first blood to US Brandon 'Saintvicious' DiMarco.

With the gold from first blood and the only tower of the game Curse sent their duo lane top to battle against Twitch and Nunu, but it proved to not work out in their favor as Twitch got a double kill, giving Dignitas a foothold in the game. The game continued on from that point in a stalemate, and by the fifteen minute mark Dignitas had secured themselves two dragons but had no answer for Curse's two towers.

By the midgame Twitch was relatively fed with a massive amount of creeps to his name, but putting all of your eggs in one basket would decide this match as Dignitas slowly learned that it doesn't matter how fed your slippery adc is when going up against a fed Xin Zhao.

Curse would dominate the next several teamfights and secure the first Baron of the match, but even as their gold lead grew Dignitas fought tooth and nail to stick with it. They counter warded and filled the entire map with pinks in hopes of catching someone out, but with US Joe 'Voyboy' Esfahani split pushing and Saintvicious and Cop keeping the pressure on other lanes Curse would find themselves up two inhibitors and six thousand gold.

One last glimmer of hope remained for Dignitas when Scarra stole Baron away with his ultimate, but it wasn't enough to stop the onslaught that Curse brought upon their Nexus. It was over before the forty minute mark, and Curse took home the win.

Winner: Curse
Danheim's MVP Choice: Saintvicious on Xin Zhao

Team Records
Curse: 1-0
Dignitas: 0-1


Game 3: Counter Logic Gaming versus US Good Game University

Picks
CLG: Xin Zhao, Ezreal, Twisted Fate, Cho'Gath, Leona
GGU: Katarina, Taric, Diana, Graves, Nocturne


Bans
CLG: Twitch, Elise, Olaf
GGU: Nunu, Nidalee, Shen


The game started in line with the second. There were no jungle invades to compliment CLG's first game against TSM, and instead of going out on a limb with out-of-the-ordinary picks the team opted for a more traditional team. The game was an early farm fest, with both teams opting to play it safe. It wasn't until eight minutes in that US Danny 'Shiphtur' Le teleported top to pull of a successful gank to secure GGU first blood, and not more than thirty seconds later did both teams take a tower at opposite ends of the Fields of Justice.

With some momentum both teams tried to push their advantage, but CLG soon had control of the first dragon. After that there were small skirmishes breaking out across the battlefield, but it wasn't until almost twenty minutes in that the first full fledged teamfight erupted. GGU came out on top in a 4 for 2 exchange, but the price was giving up a second dragon to US Steve 'Chauster' Chau and CLG. At this point CA Brandon 'DontMashme' Phan and Shiphtur were getting big, and the odds of CLG going 2-0 was started to become astronomical.

By the time the midgame rolled around GGU seemed unstoppable, DontMashMe at one point being 7-0 on Graves, but despite winning almost every teamfight they fought GGU was losing the objective war. Down in towers and dragons it was the experience of CLG that was keeping them in the game against the raw power of GGU.

After the first inhibitors went down in favor of CLG the game started to change pace. Counter Logic Gaming still couldn't win an outright fight, but with two and three waves of super minions they were able to tilt the game in their favor, eventually pulling out a win against the underdog Good Game University.

Winner: Counter Logic Gaming
Danheim's MVP Choice: DontMashMe on Graves

Team Records
CLG: 2-0
GGU: 0-1


Game 4: Team SoloMid versus US Vulcun

Picks
TSM: Taric, Miss Fortune, Kha'Zix, Jarvan, Malphite
VULCAN: Shen, Xin, Sona, Kog'Maw, Ryze


Bans
TSM: Elise, Kayle, Nunu
VULCAN: Leblanc, Maokai, Olaf


After their loss to CLG in the opener TSM was not content with just playing to their opponents strategies. They came out strong with a team composition to complement it, and playing the game we've come to know them by they secured first blood by the three and a half minute mark and the first tower shortly thereafter. Things seemed to be going in their favor in every lane, but in a play of aggressiveness Vulcan's US Zachary 'mandatorycloud' Hoschar took Reginald down in a 1v1 encounter mid. TSM answered by taking top tower, so even with the kill count being even Team SoloMid was up in gold due to the two towers to zero advantage.

TSM continued to push their advantage, lighting up Vulcan's jungle so the fog of war meant nothing to them. Team fights were scattered, but TSM continued to come out dominate in each one. Their gold lead had bolstered to 5k by the twenty minute mark, and soon Team SoloMid saw Reginald, Dyrus, and TheOddOne with their own Warmogs. The League of Warmogs was in full swing for Team SoloMid, and their aggressiveness was going unchecked by Vulcan.

At twenty-five minutes Team SoloMid began to throw, giving Vulcan the upper hand in team fight and losing their advantage in dragons. If not for Vulcan's poor positioning they could have gained the upper hand on TSM, but after giving up Baron to TSM it was soon over. With Baron buff Reginald was allowed to reign terror on Vulcan, and after getting a single inhibitor they were able to push in for the win.

Winner: Team SoloMid
Danheim's MVP Choice: Reginald on Kha'Zix

Team Records
TSM: 1-1
Vulcan: 0-1


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