IEM Katowice (pronounced "Cat-a-vee-za") produced some enjoyable games, but one game stood out above the rest. If you have friends who might enjoy e-Sports, I'd encourage you to fire this one up and watch it together. It was an amazing game with an amazing ending. For those with ADHD, watch the last 4 minutes because that's when it gets really exciting.
Notable moments and observations (times are based on the youtube time not the game time for ease of navigation):
The early blue invade from SK was poorly contested by Soaz (8:45). I'm not really sure what he thought he was going to accomplish (maybe he thought help from Mid was closer) but he nearly got killed, and was forced to flash. Rather than force Cho'Gath and Janna back, they got Soaz low enough that they were able to get out and steal Wolves on top of Blue. This had affected both Soaz and Rammus for the next 20 minutes.
The battle for gold
Dragon control by Fnatic kept the game unnecessarily close. SK dominated the game for 50 minutes but only managed to kill one dragon in the entire game while Fnatic got 4 (and the SK dragon came very late in the game meaning it had little to no impact on the game). This was an unfortunate tactical move by SK and kept Fnatic 3-4k closer in gold than they should have been while they were otherwise pretty beleaguered.
Towers and strategy
Methodical tower destruction may not be the best strategy. SK's strategy was to get a lead and then lean on Fnatic to try to turn up the pressure slowly. The problem with this strategy at a professional level is that the team under siege will still be able to farm, unlike online games (even high ELO non-team games) where a team that is dropping towers tends to become starved of farm fairly quickly. It seems like the pro team games tend to not see that farming curtailment until after an inhibitor gets dropped. The super minions require too much time to kill and give too little gold to continue to farm efficiently. Prior to that, however, most good pro teams will continue to farm sufficiently into the late game.
The ending. Oh wow, the ending. If you're just going to watch the ending, do yourself a favor and start a little earlier at 56:00. It features a chain of events that results in SK's loss.
- SK gets a kill on Rammus (56:25), but their tanks (Cho'Gath and Olaf) are so low that they are forced to disengage. Fnatic chases them to the river then splits one to top and one to bottom to push the lanes before porting back (rather than staying and split pushing).
- While sieging the Fnatic middle Nexus tower, Ezreal gets caught out and almost gets killed (58:20). Again, this forces a disengage. SK then circles around at river and flanks Fnatic, splitting Soaz's Kha'zix off while he was chasing Cho'Gath. Having no support, Kha'zix gets killed. SK then does a full team engage on Baron.
- While they're doing Baron, xPeke sneaks in and takes down the middle Nexus (59:25). He gets caught but not before leading all five members of SK on a merry chase along bottom lane. That's about 45 seconds where all five members are fully committed to chasing down a single kill and accomplishing nothing else "productive" on the map.
- SK then takes down the bottom inhibitor, the middle tower and middle inhibitor and rolls up to the top tower (1:00:20). A note here. It's not always necessary or wise to take down every inhibitor. At this point, taking down the middle inhibitor made sense because they'd lost their own middle inhibitor, but rolling to the top was probably greedy. They had a small minion wave and xPeke was still dead. It may have made more sense to go knock on a Nexus tower, kill the middle tower and inhibitor on the way out and disengage. Instead, they moved to top and lost their APC and ADC in quick succession. This left them with a support and two hyper-tanks.
- Fnatic then drives through the middle and knocks down both Nexus towers before Ezreal and Elise respawn (1:02:00). They retreat with both Kassadin and Caitlyn alive and Kassadin manages to sneak his way to the jungle. Rather than recall, he notices that the entire SK team was pushing up so he teleports to a minion in the base. It might be easy to fault SK for not recognizing the danger, but truth is Olaf was already about to be back in the base and the damage literally occurs over 15 seconds of game time. Cho'gath does eventually recall for the last 3 seconds or so, so Cho'gath's decision could possibly have occurred a couple seconds earlier but it's unclear whether that would have made the difference or not.
- xPeke then proceeds to kite Olaf (1:03:00) around the Nexus flawlessly, a must, because he was sitting on about 400 health the whole time but he eventually managed to take down the Nexus against Cho'Gath and Olaf in a pretty incredible display of micro-control.
Some more thoughts
One other note here, a lot was made of the "build giant's belt" shift in the meta. In multiple parts of this game, the over-emphasis of giant's belts hurt Olaf and Cho'gath just enough that SK ultimately stumbled.
- The Baron fight took longer than it needed, allowing the Middle inhibitor to fall.
- The big chase of Kassadin took longer then it should have because Cho'Gath didn't do much damage when he caught him.
- Losing the ADC and APC left them with essentially no damage capacity.
- xPeke again escaped from Cho'Gath into the jungle with a sliver of health after taking out the Nexus towers.
- Olaf and Cho'Gath leave xPeke with the barest sliver of health allowing him to get a single last hit on the Nexus.
A very reduced emphasis on their survivability might have swung this game the other way.
Olaf's final build was Warmog's, Sunfire Cape, Merc Treads, Spirit Visage, Randuin's.
Cho'Gath's final build was Giant's Belt, Chain Vest, Randuin's, Boots of Mobility, Spirit of the Ancient Golem and Wit's End.