Given what we’d seen of each team coming into day two of the play-in stage, no one would have guessed Infinity Esports would have been capable of taking down the long-time Chinese representative. Yet, after two great team fights, they managed to do it. So how exactly did they beat the team from arguably the greatest region, and can they use those same tools to beat G2 in a best-of-five?
How they did it:
Team compositions, and how it should play out
Infinity Esports –
Relic – Top Sion
SolidSnake – Jungle Nocturne
Cotopaco – Mid Irelia
Renyu – Bot Xayah
Arce – Support Rakan
Edward Gaming –
Ray – Top Fiora
Haro – Jungle Gragas
Scout – Mid Galio
iBoy – Bot Kai’sa
Meiko – Support Leona
Infinity’s lineup looks like it wants to 5v5 team fight a lot. The strong engage from a Sion, Nocturne, and Rakan work great for diving the enemy backline; a pretty vulnerable Kai’sa. They also drafted to have two winning lanes; a Sion should have the shove advantage against a Fiora, and the legendary Xayah and Rakan duo is wonderful at all points in the game. These should help the Nocturne farm safely early, until he reaches level 6, and can impact the map.
Meanwhile, EDG took a very different approach. They also have a strong team fight, with a strong frontline, engage, and finally backline Kai’sa. However, rather than 5v5ing, they would like to run a 4-1, and have Fiora pushing in a side lane, allowing for either free turrets, or a forced engage from Infinity. They could even run a 1-3-1, with Galio pushing, always ready to jump in with his ultimate. Each lane is also built for scaling. The Fiora should get hit hard early game, but should scale to 1v1 the Sion, and pretty much anyone else on Infinity’s lineup. Galio should go even, but with his ultimate, and large amounts of crowd control, should scale well into team fights. And finally, a Kai’sa into Xayah + Rakan will most likely not win. They did take the smart approach to take Leona, however, guaranteeing a strong counter-engage to deter the enemy bot lane. Zeyzal and Cloud 9 proved, against a Pyke + Lucian lane (that should theoretically crush lane), how strong Leona and Kai’sa can be against an engaging bot lane. I will say I was slightly surprised they placed Scout on such a supportive role, but it makes sense that they would try to win through bot lane, and their young star, iBoy.
Looking at these compositions, I would imagine an early game slightly favored for Infinity Esports. The lanes should more or less win by themselves. Haro on Gragas should look to make some early ganks happen, whether to lower the pressure on his laners, or maybe even look for early kills. It’s his job, as the better early game jungler, to make sure plays happen, and they don’t get destroyed early. Mid and bot would both have decent gank set-up, but top lane probably isn’t worth going to that often. And if a gank goes well, they could maybe look for a dragon.
After laning phase, going into the mid and late game, I don’t think one composition wins over the other. The game should come down to how well EDG can execute the split-push, and how Infinity react to their side lanes being constantly shoved. Although I can imagine a world in which it simply comes down to who team fights better.
What Actually Happened
The incredibly skilled players on EDG showcased this throughout the early game. Ray’s Fiora actually managed to gain an early CS lead on Sion, Scout bodied Cotopaco’s Irelia, and Kai’sa managed to stay a little ahead in farm for most of the early game, before taking a large lead following the two-kill bot lane play at six minutes. In fact, it was almost mirroring the beginning of the last game they played on Tuesday. Nocturne was able to get ahead of Gragas in experience, but that wasn’t enough to stop his team from consistently dying early. This all left them with about a 1.8k gold lead at ten minutes, which is a pretty substantial one, as well as an infernal drake.
Right after that, there was a good play for Infinity in the bottom lane. Xayah was able to grab two kills, and Sion grabbed another. Towards the end of the play, Ray’s Fiora was able to pick up two clean-up kills, but it was still advantageous for INF, and allowed them to drop that gold deficit to only 700 gold.
Sadly, after the play, they were unable to match the lane swap top lane in time, allowing EDG to get a free Rift Herald, which they would eventually use to push down the mid outer turret, and get a 2k gold lead once more. Finally, a botched engage from Sion, and nice ultimates from Galio and Fiora led to a four for one team fight in favor of EDG, netting them a 4.5k gold lead at around 15:30 into the game. So while it wasn’t the 6.5k lead from game 1, they were incredibly ahead in the early game, with a team composition that I believe should have lost the early game.
At about this time, laning phase devolves and this turns into a battle of rotations. Which goes disastrously for INF… Infinity decides to bring all five into the bottom side of the map, and entirely abandon top for about two minutes. They end up being rewarded the infernal drake because of this, but they allow Scout to simply walk top lane and take the tower. Similarly, when they send everyone top lane to trade outer turrets, they leave bot lane completely open, and they lose tower there. Nocturne even loses his entire bottom side jungle, because no one was there to answer. Typically, when you’re 5k behind, you want to stop the bleeding, reset waves, and stall the game, but instead they continuously over-allocated people to certain plays, and lost more because of it.
They then simply start losing 1v1 fights. They attempt to match the 1-3-1, but their champions are so far behind, they can’t fight them. Sion almost dies to Fiora, under tower, which eventually turns into a fight where they go two for one, for EDG. Meanwhile, Irelia tries to fight Galio top, expends flash and cleanse, and still loses because she’s an item down. Galio only had to burn zhonyas. I wouldn’t say they were over-aggressive, but they didn’t know how to step backwards, and clear waves. They tried to act as if they were on an even playing field, when they were about 6k gold behind. Infinity finally begins to understand what to do, as they dance around baron with EDG, and battle for vision. However, at this point, Fiora is too strong for Sion to handle, and begins winning fights and getting free turrets bot side. And every time they force a fight, Sion misses his ult, and EDG backs away.
Luckily for them, THE team fight happened. And although Rakan missed his original flash ultimate, Nocturne ultimate, plus Irelia stun, plus a Sion, equals a dead Kai’sa. Without Galio for the first half of the fight, they had no solid tank, and everyone got blown up by the damage of Irelia and Xayah. By the time Galio came in, the fight was over, and there was no chance for a clean up. They got chased down, and it was a five for zero in favor of INF. After that, it was a free baron, and time to see what INF could do with some pressure.
Well… this game there almost wasn’t a late game. The baron was used to hard shove mid lane, as a group of five, and then there was the tower dive. Irelia was once again allowed to get onto the Kai’sa, quickly kill her, and the rest is history. The result was another five for zero team fight, and the game for INF. While it wasn’t a long, or necessarily impressive out-macro of EDG, the fact that they were able to finish off potentially the best play-in team that quickly is something to be proud of.
The Winning Play
The winning play was simply that one team fight in the middle lane. The lack of Galio, who had a lot of their damage, peel, and tankiness, wasn’t there to help the struggling Kai’sa. Combine that with the fact that Leona wiffed her ultimate, and you get a dead EDG. It was good awareness from INF to take the fight when they did, but even worse from EDG, who knew Galio was out of range, and didn’t bring him in, when they knew baron was up. Everything after that was just standard play. If they’re going to have someone in the side lane, it should be Fiora. Because at the very least, if their team gets four for zeroed, the Fiora can get a tower or inhibitor in response, and continue pushing their objective lead.
How does INF stack up against G2?
While I’ve been negative on how INF did against EDG, they cleaned themselves up and pretty cleanly destroyed Dire Wolves after that game. Also, it is a feat in and of itself to take down a power house like EDG, which may boost their confidence. I actually like how they match-up with G2, if they make some slight tweaks to how they played Thursday in their second day of play-ins.
While Relic didn’t impress me with anything I’ve seen so far, he doesn’t seem like a point of weakness for INF. Wunder is one of the best European top laners, but in the games he’s played recently, I don’t think what he’s done is incredibly impressive. He crushed Rockky, but I think Relic is stronger than Ascension’s top laner, and I don’t see him getting crushed by Wunder. The fact that he’s comfortable pulling out akali top lane scares me a bit, but if they put Relic on a tank, or maybe Urgot, I don’t see top lane swinging anything. I believe Wunder will probably farm better, but kills won’t be too prevalent up here if they don’t challenge him with Relic on a carry.
This is where I see the difference being made. Jankos was the sole reason G2 beat Supermassive twice this Thursday, and it’s because they didn’t respect his Olaf. Jankos has recently been going crazy with these early-game playmakers, destroying the 2v2 with Perkz, and carrying his team to victory. If INF doesn’t pick up on this, and ban champions like Olaf and Skarner, I think this could be a clean 3-0.
However, I was incredibly impressed with SolidSnake of INF. His pathing was very smart, and he was great at playing the power-farming Nocturne. He almost solo carried the first twenty minutes against Dire Wolves, and he looked like a madman, beating Haro in experience, even when they were far behind. I think if they eliminate the early playmakers for Jankos that I discussed earlier, SolidSnake could easily outfarm, and outmaneuver Jankos in the jungle, and pick up an advantage here. This is where I see most of the work being done, and potentially the deciding factor between a 3-0 and a competitive series.
As expected, I think Perkz will smash laning phase, but I think Cotopaco can work his way around him. If he plays passive enough, his team fighting and playmaking in the mid to late game seems insane. So while I don’t think it’s a competitive laning phase, he can make up for it if he allows himself to get strong, and doesn’t try to challenge the European’s throne.
Bottom Lane Duo
I’m going to pair these two roles together for the time being. Although I believe Hjarnan and Wadid are better than a lot of people say they are, I do think INF might win this bottom lane. While they faltered against iBoy and Meiko a little bit, Xayah was still able to stay relevant, pick up several kills, and carry some of those fights and skirmishes. They seem to team fight well, and make good decisions, as well as go at least even in lane. Meanwhile, Hjarnan looked good on Jhin today, but I don’t think that was because of his own performance necessarily. He lost lane constantly, being down in farm, and the support of his teammates raised him up. So I’m not quite confident in his abilities to win the lane and beat this enemy bot lane. I find this lane even or in slight favor of INF.
Overall, I think it is in favor of G2. The solo laners they have both outclass their opponents, and if Jankos can push those advantages, I think it’s just about game over. I think in an ideal world, where everyone plays their best, G2 wins, but I don’t think it’s as big of a difference as most people see it. G2 struggled early in day one, and if it weren’t for Jankos, I think day two would have been similar. If INF can pinch the jungle pool, and force Jankos off of one of these signature picks, I think INF can win through their jungle and bot lane. If they stall long enough, or push their slight advantages, I can easily see them out-team fighting G2 in the mid to late game, and taking a few games, or the series. But if they get behind, I don’t see them coming back. G2 probably won’t try to split push, and if they do, Perkz will be quicker to respond than Scout was. For these reasons, I think that G2 will take it 3-1 in the series. But INF has a strong chance to prove some people wrong.