Minions Have Spawned

a League of Legends analysis blog

Swap till You Drop: CLG vs SKT, MSI Finals

Maybe you liked game 1 and game 2 having the same exact picks from both teams, maybe you liked the team fighting this series, or the surprise CLG plays around Baron, or handing Faker the champion you should never hand him in game 3…or maybe you just liked the hype of NA vs KR—a match-up none of us expected at the MSI 2016 finals.


A lot has been said about CLG’s growth going out of the NA LCS as champions into contenders of the MSI trophy. SKT’s so-called ‘slump’ in the group stage has also been well opined. Nonetheless, I called it 3-0 and SKT delivered. As much as men ‘don’t show emotions’, you could tell from the beginning they were brimming with relaxed confidence.

What I found most interesting was SKT’s adaptation to CLG’s lane swap which they intentionally modified over 3 games to great effect. While these games weren’t clean, SKT made obvious progress throughout the series:


Game 1


Game 2

msifinals_g3graphGame 3: A more typical SKT gold advantage graph

For first game of the series perhaps ‘punishment’ is a more appropriate word. At the 3 minute mark CLG made more mistakes than the entire finals put together.

Counter Logic were looking for the lane swap and moved as a unit into SKT’s top jungle to place down the standard 3 trinket wards (mid lane, top lane & bush at raptors) to identify SKT’s lane assignments so that Poppy wouldn’t have to face Duke’s Trundle. SKT’s bot lane followed, laying down trinkets in CLG’s bot jungle.

Then, the shenanigans happened: Instead of starting at his own blue to mirror Nidalee’s pathing, Blank went for an early level 1 counter jungle at CLG’s raptors and got caught out. Why? Because CLG’s bot lane did not port back to base and to rush to bot, which is the ‘standard’ thing to do after securing wards in the enemy’s top side jungle.

You can see Duke had half a mind to head over to help, but instead stuck in his lane where SKT’s advantages elevated exponentially as:

  1. Stixxy’s Lucian went to lane later
  2. Darshan’s Poppy engaged 1v1 Bang’s Ezreal in an unfavourable wave: 11 to 6 minions, and died giving Bang free farm/lane because
  3. Xmithie’s Nidalee joins aphromoo in the persistent invade trying to deny Blank his blue but gets collapsed on by Faker’s Azir and Duke
  4. Huhi burns teleport for nil

While this opened up many windows, SKT failed to keep the pressure up. Grabbing opportunities and punishing SKT’s own mistakes, CLG surmounted gold advantages and were almost even in kills…until SKT decided to pull the trigger at the half an hour mark.


Game 2 saw a wash, rinse, and don’t repeat: The exact same compositions were reenacted with CLG hoping to put on a better performance, opening with a calm, regular lane swap. Both sides take a tower each at top/bot, and though Faker gives up first blood, Duke’s Trundle again gains quiet returns as Poppy’s teleport turned into an over-investment.

Stark differences appear when tier 2 turrets are pressured. CLG is in a much better position to claim it because Lucian has BF sword, a mobile healing fountain and a favourable minion wave as they crash onto Duke who is all alone…and dead.

Up 17.9k to 15.4k with a kill and tower advantage, I’m sure kkOma had something to say about that because Game 3 SKT came prepared. Here, CLG increased their tempo, setting up an early 3-man push while Duke was still hanging about top instead of joining Wolf and Bang at bot.

Unlike the standard 2nd rotation where bot lanes swap to take the tier one tower on the opposite side of the map, CLG moved their bot lane back to top.

Their intent was crystal from the start—duo lane stick to top, control the wave, reset, pressure; meanwhile send the jungler bot to draw Blank’s attention as well so that unlike the last 2 games, the top laners won’t have such a disparity.

Once Darshan managed to acquire almost equal CS with Duke, CLG coordinated a top-side wave push into SKT’s 2nd tier tower. 9 minutes into the game is when SKT revealed they were not at all buying into CLG’s old tactics.

It’s not like CLG didn’t sweep vision. Aphro with Kindred moved up into SKT’s top side via mid and placed a pink ward in the choke to clear out vision on the side of the tower that CLG intended to siege.


They even had a ward behind SKT’s turret threatening a dive. But then a combo of Darshan cancelling TP + the one standing ward behind CLG which wasn’t detected = Disaster! CLG handed SKT the clear 4v5 advantage served on a platter. Interestingly, the key ward was placed by none other than Bang at the 4 minute mark early in the game.

msifinals_pinkMVP pink ward

This time SKT did not let go of these advantages as they steadily played out their methodical game with superior teamfighting.

Last team fight in Game 3: Breakdown with Jatt
(Source: LoL Esports YouTube channel)

MSI 2016 was such a treat. Watching various regional teams figure each other out and adapt to both the tournament’s and patch’s meta was refreshing. I wanna give a huge shoutout to Riot’s wonderful production of the Music of MSI 2016, Shanghai—it’s the best soundtrack they’ve made thus far because it’s tastefully ‘globally-local’: They captured elements of each region but at the same time also made the tracks distinctively Chinese. Not an easy feat to accomplish in music composition. Have a listen!


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This entry was posted on June 4, 2016 by in objective control, vision and tagged , , , , .
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© Tania Mae & Minions Have Spawned, [2016]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Tania Mae] and [Minions Have Spawned] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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