2 - The Longest 3 Weeks Ever

4.26.2013 - CLG vs Vulcun 1:2
5.12.2013 - CLG vs Azure Cats 3:0

The weeks leading up to playoffs and promotion have been some of the longest weeks I have ever lived.
After playing 8 hours of scrims everyday starting from January, I got burned out from the game. It never happened to me before and it just felt both mentally and physically exhausting.

Vs. Vulcun
When the Spring season ended and we saw our bracket, we knew we had the hardest bracket. The seeding in the LCS season meant absolutely nothing minus TSM. There was no such thing as a bottom 4. It was literally TSM + the bottom 7. Any of the bottom 7 teams can beat each other on any given day. Some teams just looked worse going into playoffs (CRS/DIG).

Vulcun was going to be no easy opponent and we all knew this. The team consists of 3 of my former teammates so I knew their strength. They are incredibly versatile, which meant they could pull out any team composition they wanted. It just depended on their mood. What made it scarier was that Vulcun only showed 1 specific team comp during super week and didn't play in week 9. This meant that Vulcun could surprise us quite easily. We knew we were going to be playing dark.

Scumbag Benny (Sycho Sid) and Chris (Zuna) removed me from their friends list :( (to prevent me from seeing what they play)

All we could infer from was what they were playing in solo q and that is how we planned. That entire week, we played a variety of different champions. Hotshot learned Diana top and practiced only that in scrims. Chauster stuck to his roots with Jarvan, Lee sin, and a little bit of Volibear. Doublelift practiced Tristana because we wanted to first pick Tristana in all of those games. I played my Orianna/Lux all day everyday. I was well versed with those two champs and was confident into any matchup.

But what happened?

The day before the game we psyched ourselves out and this is something we always do. We changed our plans and had no intention of first picking Tristana, but instead focused on taking away their Sona/MF/Jarvan combo. We thought of a level one that we never practiced. Our picks became stale and well, we tunneled on picks.

Game 1
Because we never practiced the level one and they got vision from a Jarvan flag, our invasion went sour. The time ticked 1:30 and it was too late for Doublelift and Aphromoo to base and they put themselves in a matchup where they could get infinitely camped by Jarvan + Thresh lantern while in a counter matchup (Sona/Vayne vs Thresh/Tristana). Everything went bad and one mistake with our Orianna/Malphite teamcomp can snowball the game. With Karthus global pressure and Jarvan camping our strongest asset, we gave up constant kills and this snowballed the game.

Game 2
The game went relatively well. Top lane (our duo lane) drew pressure and managed to bait Mancloud's flash. This allowed me to pick up a first blood and I was able to completely snowball off of this. One kill allowed me to get wards to play up and I farmed hard. By having control over mid lane, I was able to push in Karthus and roam bottom as a play was happening bot. I arrived at the right time and was able to win the fight. With this advantage, we pressed our lead and won the game.

Game 3
Our biggest mistake came from us forgetting what we've learned. I was being 2v1d by their bot lane and I was doing fine if not well. Our bottom lane smashed Diana into the ground, but instead of taking the tower, they denied the creeps and left them in a weird position where they could not take the tower anymore. Chauster came middle instead of staying bottom to take the tower and our mid tower died. Because of this, their bottom lane roamed top took more towers, roamed bottom, took a dragon along with a tower, and Diana caught up. All because of 1 simple mistake. Many inexperienced players probably won't understand the importance of just being able to take 1 tower faster. To put it simply, by winning the tower race, it allows you to move around the map and you get to choose where you want to create pressure. If you can't take a tower, you are simply a placeholder, if not useless in the early game. We outplayed ourselves and lost the game.

We lost and we were sad. We were on the verge of losing everything we worked for.
We had a 4-5 hour long talk about what to do and what we just learned from losing those games. We knew not to tunnel on picks anymore. We knew to pick up more champions to create a more diverse playstyle. By understanding our mistakes and learning from them, we became stronger.

Vs. Azure Cats
Azure Cats beat us like 7-2 or something the day before our Vulcun match. They were our scrim partners. Knowing this, I was afraid. I knew they were a good team, but I knew we can outsmart them. Despite the mental pressure, everyone on the team expanded their hero pool (by this, people revisited old heroes that we used to play - Diana, Nidalee, Urgot, etc.) I did as much research as possible and drew up a list of 20 heroes they could possibly play and drew up a list of 10 heroes they most likely were going to favor and pick. Their match vs Double Buff allowed us to adjust some of our information and prepare accordingly. We had them read.

I was nervous. I haven't been nervous in a long time. I learned how to deal with pressure and overcome most of my choking I dealt with during the first half of the season. I practiced breathing and calming myself down before and during the game. By staying level headed, I was able to focus and play properly.

Game 1
The picks and bans went solidly. The only thing that caught us slightly off guard was the Rammus pick. We knew they could potentially pick it, but it did not faze us. With a strong 4 man comp and a Nidalee, we were able to win our teamfights strong. Our team comp straight up countered their dive comp and were able to snowball our win from the first teamfight quite easily.

Game 2
We were all smiling and making small jokes. The pressure lifted. Picks and bans happened and everything went perfectly. Almost too perfect. We got absolutely everything we wanted and Aphromoo said "Pick me Blitz". Instawin. With our invasion, we were able to get deep wards along with a first blood that allowed us to secure me blue. Chauster counterjungled his heart out only to buy two boots (h4h4) and our map control simply extended. We waited for our core items to finish and by playing the game correctly, we took objective after objective and forced teamfights when they had a positional disadvantage. We won game 2.

Game 3
We were laughing now, but we were still cautious. Chauster said that all it could take was one game to swing the momentum completely around. I sat there during the break mapping out everything that could possibly happen. What will they pick? What will they ban? What are we gonna do? We were going to do what we came here to do. Win. We pick a really strong mid game lineup and dominated the early game laning phase. Come mid game, we outplayed in teamfights and sieged our way to victory. It was a smooth win. It was a damn satisfying win.

We dominated those games.

I was happy. I hate losing. Losing to ourselves is a large part of the equation as to why we are so inconsistent. But damn. We played some good league and we intend to do it again. The whole season was just a way to expose our weaknesses. A lot of our attitude problems have been solved. Next season is going to be a fresh new start and if we make new mistakes, we will learn from them. I am always learning when I play this game. To get better. To win.