For those of you who missed the final World Elite-Counter Logic Gaming EU match last night and the exciting semi-finals, we saw the last two Western powerhouse teams, CLG.EU and M5 being knocked out by Azubu Frost and Taipei Assassins, respectively. Today's blog is not a factual look into items or into builds, but a (biased) examination of the two teams remaining in the Season 2 World Championships. Not many people are surprised that we are seeing Azubu Frost in the grand finals, but the addition of Taipei Assassins instead of the heavily-favored Moscow 5 brings an element of change into our final matchup.
While many spectators have long favored Frost in the matchup, Taipei Assassins have had an unexpectedly strong showing over the course of the Season 2 championships. It is this strength combined with a few other things listed below which lead me to favor the underdog TPA team over the Korean powerhouse. Coming into the finals, I see 4 distinct advantages for Taipei Assassins over Azubu Frost that lead me to predict a Season 2 win for them on October 13th.
1. The world has only seen 5 games from Taipei.
Azubu Frost is coming into the finals as a powerhouse. The world has been following Frost and its sister team Azubu Blaze for months, and other teams have dozens of AZF replays against top Korean teams to watch and study. On the other hand, most public TPA games were stomps against weak Southeast Asian teams in the Garena league, and the games against stronger teams have not been played recently.
Frost has used all of their cards already. They have already played 8 games this tournament, with half of those games using team-tailored strategies to take out specific opponents. If they had any planned cheese or unorthodox team compositions, they have already used them. On the other hand, we have seen nothing but brilliant standard play from Taipei Assassins. Given how long the team has had to plan their strategies, there is still a possibility that they will pull out cheese strategies to take a game or two off their opponents.
2. TPA has knocked out top seeds from both Europe and Korea.
Azubu Frost has knocked out Najin Sword and Team SoloMid. Team Solomid came into the tournament without much confidence as vlogs from both TSM and Curse proved that they had not been a dominant force in scrims. Additionally, Azubu Frost already had extensive practice playing against Sword and similar teams, as they were from the same region. Sword was beaten with standard Korean play, and a weak North American Team was unsurprisingly outplayed by the Korean snowball meta.
Last night, Moscow 5 lost a Best-Of-3 set for only the second time on LAN in 10 months since debuting at IEV Kiev in January. By knocking out the most favored team of both spectators and professional players, Taipei Assassins have set themselves up to be one of the greatest threats of the tournament and beyond to Season 3. In addition to knocking out what many saw as the "team to beat," TPA also took out the #2 seed in the rest of Korea in Najin Sword. While it is debatable how strong iG really was at a team, Taipei definitely had to play through a more difficult bracket in the Round of 8 and the semi-finals to get to their final match; Frost only had to prove themselves with early-game invades against CLG.EU, a team that isn't renowned for their early game, and against a weak TSM.
3. CLG.EU/TPA have been scrimming non-stop all week, while Frost has only scrimmed other Asian teams.
Ultimately, a best of 5 series could go either way, and it comes down to practice to see who will win the championships. And this is where the difference lies. TPA has been scrimming a dominant team, CLG.EU, all week in preparation for the finals. On the other hand, there aren't any Western teams that will scrim with Frost, which means that they will have weaker practice opponents coming into Saturday's match.
In a series where one mistake can make the difference between victory and defeat, the caliber of scrimmage partners may make the ultimate difference in who will win the set. With Western teams willing to scrim Taipei Assassins, but not Azubu Frost, TPA has an automatic advantage by being able to play the best teams outside of their actual opponents.
4. AZF-Shy has only been playing LoL for 6 months.
No matter what your background is, if you've been playing for 6 months, you haven't seen the entire game. No amount of mechanical and team skill can save you if you are thrown against a team composition or a champion that you have never seen before. If the Taipei Assassins brings out something previously unseen in competitive play, inexperience can throw any player off their game. The top lane is where we may see the greatest possibility of cheese, as inexperience in any way will be a perceived weakness until proved otherwise.
Take Doublelift as an example. When he first burst on to the scene with his stellar Blitzcrank play, everybody in North America knew that he had a bright future in competitive play. Yet despite his mechanics, he was shunted from team to team until he had enough experience? Why? Because when he had to face something that he had no prior experience with (support Taric), he choked and failed miserably. It took him almost a full year to adjust fully into the competitive climate, when he moved into the AD Carry position for CLG.NA. TPA can use Doublelift as an example and throw something unorthodox at Shy. No matter how strong he may appear, unconventional play may throw him off his game, perhaps fatally for Azubu Frost.
In contrast with Shy's relative inexperience, Taipei has players who have been playing and making a name for themselves on the North American server for years. Lilballz was the original jungler for Counter Logic Gaming NA, and bebeisadog has been sitting in the Top 25 players on NA since the beginning of Season 1 despite his high ping. With their depth of experience, it is possible that they could bring back an old metagame to trick things up.
No matter what the result (or my predicted matchup), the Best-Of-5 series we will see from Azubu Frost and Taipei Assassins will be one of the closest sets of the series. Frost definitely has the teamwork and the strategy to take down yet another powerhouse on the world stage, and the series could go either way. But still, I feel in my heart that Taipei will reign supreme this season. And my prediction for the final? 3-1 TPA-AZF
Do you agree with me, or will Azubu Frost take the finals? Please comment below!
To be honest, the loss of both CLG.EU and Moscow 5 in the semi-finals broke my heart last night. The only event that I remember being on par with this "tragedy" was when ReginaId was banned for playing with someone who had hacked HotshotGG (which gave CLG an easy win in Preseason 1 finals). So in conclusion to today's blog, I'd like you to listen to the theme song for all of North America and Europe right now:
For more of my work: