OGN Playoffs Preview - CJ Blaze vs CJ Frost
OGN Playoff previewCJ Entus Blaze vs CJ Entus Frost
Matchup overview: The song of fire and ice as it's called in Korea, these two teams have met each other in every OGN playoffs and before last season, it was said that the only team who would be able to knock off Blaze or Frost would only be each other. With such a rich history of competition between the two teams, it's clear that the clash between the two titans of KR LoL will be a guaranteed spectacle. Coming into the match, both Frost and Blaze have looked like two teams destined for the finals but with KT B throwing their last group stage matches, Blaze and Frost will now only have to be content with one of them advancing to the finals.
Historically speaking, a match between these two teams have been as close as it gets with each team having tasted victory multiple times with the most recent encounter coming at the IEM World Championships where Blaze was able to dispose of Frost in a convincing fashion. Since then many things have changed. Woong is no longer on Frost and both CloudTemplar and RapidStar have seemed to regain a bit of their form. While on Blaze, Flame has suddenly transformed into a god in the top lane and the trio of Helios/Jack/LustBoy have all regained their form in differing amounts. Even though all members of the CJ Entus team are close friends, they will like nothing more than a victory against their sister team in their special scrim match come Friday.
Top lane matchup: Flame (5.2 kda) vs Shy (4 kda)
The battle for the title of best top laner in KR, perhaps the world will commence when these two superstars face off against each other in the lonely island called top lane. Both of these top laners are immensely talented with superior mechanical ability, game sense and extreme versatility. Added to the fact that these two know each other better than any other top laners in the world makes this matchup that much more intriguing. In many of the interviews, both Shy and Flame cite the other as being the best top laner that they could have as a practice partner and it is no wonder that these two were able to develop into top tier talent after having disappointing showings when they were first introduced into the scene. The long drawn out discussion of the best top laner in KR may finally come to an end when these two face each other.
When you look at the two players, Flame was always praised for his strong laning presence while Shy was praised for his team fighting presence. This season however, Flame was able to develop his team fighting skills while Shy was able to improve his laning skills. What this means is that this matchup has become much more even compared to when they faced each other back in the IEM WC and this lane may very well come down to the pick/bans, strategy and jungle intervention. As such whoever come out on top of this matchup very well may end up carrying games and having a huge impact on the match.
This is why picks/bans and lane matchups will mean much to the lane dynamic between the top laners. In the group stages, both of the top laners have used Kennen, Jayce and Ryze many times and it would not be a surprise if a pick like Jayce becomes a perma ban between the two teams. If such a case arises, Flame could also opt for his Diana or Khazix while Shy can opt for something like a rumble. Whatever the picks and bans end up becoming, one or both of these players will definitely bring a new champion out which will tip the scales in their favour. However, since LoL is not a 1 v 1 game, it will also be interesting how each team morphs their strategy around their key players. In recent times, it is not a stretch to say that both Flame and Shy have assumed the main carry roles on each team and as such, the teams will need to make sure that each laner can have their share of farm/kills to be relevant in all of the games. How Blaze and Frost manages to do that with the opposing team trying to prevent them will be something to watch for in their series.
Is Flame better? Or is Shy better? We may never get the answer to this question but we sure can enjoy the show.
Jungle matchup: Helios (3.4 kda) vs CloudTemplar (3.6 kda)
The two most criticized members on the CJ Entus team and two players who always do their job without much spotlight will match their wits for the 4th time in the Champions stage on Friday. When you look at the course of these two junglers careers, they are very similar in many ways. In the Spring and Summer seasons, they were once considered the top junglers in the scene and they helped their respective teams to numerous podium finishes and tournament victories. However, since the Summer season and the S2 WC, things have gone downhill for both of these junglers. They were often singled out as being the weak link on their respective teams and many pundits were left wondering if their supportive style of jungling was not well suited for the current meta. To each jungler’s credit, both of them were able to find a happy medium between adapting to the current meta and maintaining their jungling styles. The way they went about doing it was somewhat different.
In the beginning of the season, Helios looked as bad as ever when he played Jarvan against SKT T1 #2. Helios made many mistakes in the two games and he remained to be quite disappointing in his performance. Then something miraculous happened after the first game, Helios suddenly got better as time progressed. Even though Helios basically only played Lee Sin after the T2 game, he was able to be very effective in most of the Blaze games. Unlike a typical Lee Sin, Helios did not affect the outcome of a game through map-wide roaming and aggressive ganking but rather he was able to cover lanes very well and make good decisions in team fighting especially when it came to peeling with his ultimate. With this transformation, it no longer mattered that Helios did not have much ganking presence since he allowed the laners not to lose their lane too badly by playing a roaming support role during laning and he remained useful by playing a utility role in team fights.
On the other side, Templar also suffered the same type of the problems that Helios suffered. Templar did not have much lane presence early on and it was hampering the laners quite a bit. The solution that Templar came up with was to also spam a champ and unlike Helios, Templar’s choice was Rammus. With Rammus, Templar was very flexible in how he went about playing the game. Sometimes, he would become an unstoppable ganking ball by rushing the boots of mobility but other times, he would act as a secondary support player by covering the lanes facing a 2 v 1 situations rather extensively. By doing so, it is true that Templar lost out on farm but he was able to foster the laners’ growth and knowing that a champion like Rammus did not need much farm to be effective, he was willing to sacrifice for the team.
The other area of the game that Templar focused on was keeping a strict control over the early objectives, especially dragon. The positive side to not ganking often was that there were rarely any moments where Templar would die while ganking and allow the opposition to take objectives freely. As it was seen, Templar was always around dragon and when given the chance, he was able to steal the dragon which was able to serve as the turning point in some games. With improved objective control, Frost as a whole was able to have an improved laning phase and with the members of Frost excelling during team fights, this new approach that Templar was definitely a success for the whole team.
One question still remains however, who has adapted better in the end? The answer to this question may not be answered this time around but it is for certain that each jungler will do their utmost to leave their imprints on the game likely through objective control and during the team fights where they will try to neutralize the main damage threats. Which one will come out on top? Stay tuned.
Mid lane matchup: Ambition (3.2 kda) vs RapidStar (4 kda)
Historically speaking, the winner of the mid lane matchup has ended up carrying the whole team when Frost and Blaze played. This is why a lot will be on the shoulders of these two players when Frost and Blaze play in their never ending epic battle. Throughout this season and in the past seasons, Ambition was always considered to be the better laner compared to RapidStar. This was because Ambition is a CS monster who would quietly but surely get his farm around the map and become a monstrous being in team fights. RapidStar on the other hand, is a unique type of a mid laner in Korea in that he is very aggressive and he will actively look for kills both in lane and through roaming. This is why Ambition is considered a more consistent and safe pick since CSing remains consistent in all games while getting kills could vary from game to game. The fact of the matter is that even though RapidStar is considered to be lower in stature compared to Ambition, he knows how to play the game and he knows how to perform on the big stage.
So what will it come down to with these two long time teammates?
For Ambition, he will need to focus on what he does best which is consistently out farming and not losing his lane. If Ambition can do what he does best, then there is nothing that Frost can really do to combat both Flame and Ambition while also trying to deal with Jack during tem fights. However, if Ambition falters like he did last season against Frost, then Blaze will be in a tough spot against an arguably stronger team fighting team. This means that Ambition can’t be caught out like he did last season and it will lead to good things.
For RapidStar, his theme for the games will be uncertainty. RapidStar needs to create uncertainty for the opposition right from the pick/ban phase and throughout the game. For a player who was cited for not having a large champion pool for much of his career, RapidStar was able to surprise everyone when he brought out picks like Lux and Diana on to the fray last year and he may look to replicate that level of surprise when he faces Blaze. The problem that RapidStar will have when facing Ambition is that even though he is highly skilled, Ambition is better fundamentally so if everything goes normally, Ambition would have the advantage but if RapidStar can conjure something up, then the chances of him catching Ambition off guard will increase.
As such, the pick/ban phase may end up being crucial, just like it was with the top lane. It’s been said before that Ambition is able to play all the champions with some proficiency but obviously he plays the strong champions of the time. With Zed being disabled, Ambition will still have Jayce, Khazix, Karthus, Orianna, Ryze, Diana and TF to choose from his staple of champions while Kennen could also potentially in the mix after he stated that he would further study the champion during all star weekend. As for RapidStar, he may opt for the Khazix, Karthus, Orianna, Diana or TF like Ambition assuming those survive bans. On top of those, he may also opt for Gragas against an AD mid, Anivia in a pick comp and he may even surprise everyone by bringing out a pick like Evelyn which he used to play quite a bit. Whatever, the pick may end up being, the one certain thing will be that each team will try to fool the other by playing champs who could interchangeably play mid/top or even and the players’ respective ability to play a large selection of champions will serve them well.
ADC Matchup: Cpt. Jack (3.4 kda) vs Hermes (4.7 kda)
The tale of two ADCs who have largely remained anonymous behind the great performances of their teammates describe the status of Jack and Hermes. While both Jack and Hermes are quite capable ADCs in their own right, they have remained in the state of mediocrity in terms of individual performance. Jack has suffered from the weak lane phase ailment that has haunted him ever since his debut and Hermes has largely remained almost a non-factor in most of Frost’s games after the laning phase ends. Both of these players will try to remedy that when they face the other in the semi final tilt.
For someone who was once considered the best ADC in KR, Jack has fallen quite a ways since then. Jack’s weak laning phase and inexplicable derp moments when he gets caught out have left many shaking their heads and wondering if he would be able to fix his errors and go back to being his dominant self. While Jack is still an amazing team fight carry, the team no longer revolves around him and it was sad to see Jack being relegated to basically a better version of a siege minion. Facing a team fight oriented team like Frost may exactly be what the doctor ordered as Jack will have the chance to shine as he did about a year ago when his Graves play captured the hearts of many. If he and Lustboy can withstand the wrath of God in the laning phase, Jack will be able to let his solo laners do their magic as the game progresses and be provided with an environment where he can deal freely. However, if he and Lustboy gets suppressed in lane as they did last season, things may quickly go downhill for Blaze who will likely lose a lot more than their tower after the duo laners die.
Frost’s newcomer and ADC Hermes will have as much to prove as Jack when he comes to play on Friday. On MVP Blue, he was arguably their best player and he was able to make a number of flashy individual plays that got him his current job but on Frost, he has not been able to have the same amount of success. Part of it is the fact that Frost doesn’t put a heavy emphasis on the ADC to carry and part of it is that they value team co-ordination much more than individual skills. The key for Hermes will be to prove that he can integrate his great individual skills within the boundaries of the great team play that Frost aspires for. This while sounding simple is a much more difficult task and this is why Hermes has looked out of sorts in some games. If Hermes has found a way to integrate better into the team and express his true colours, then Hermes and Frost as a whole will be a scarier entity to deal with. The first step to show everyone that he has indeed improved in this area will come when Hermes has to compete in his first Blaze/Frost derby. With the games being expected to be very competitive, Frost will definitely need Hermes to step up and prove that he is better than Woong was in his own right.
Who will have the chance for redemption? Will it be Jack who has gone from THE hypercarry to merely a tower destroyer? Or will be Hermes who has gone from THE man to being an outsider?
Support matchup: Lustboy (4.1 kda) vs Madlife (5.5 kda)
Man vs God. Can the man bring down the God and finally receive the spot light that he deserves? Ever since the beginning, Lustboy has lived in the shadows of Madlife. Even during the times when Blaze was the dominant force in Korea, everyone still believed Madlife to be above Lustboy in many ways. While undoubtedly Madlife IS the star player and his play making ability is second to none, Lustboy isn’t all too shabby either when it comes to making plays especially with his favourite pick Lulu.
The fact of the matter is even if Lustboy out plays Madlife and Blaze goes on to the finals, everyone will still rate Madlife over Lustboy because of how great Madlife is and that is why Lustboy will need to just play to his full capability and help his team win. As for god himself, he will need to carry on what he did all season long and during the all star game when he made great plays with his Thresh. If Madlife is left alone to make plays, then Blaze will surely be in trouble as they were last season when Madlife’s Blitz single handedly won the games for Frost.
The two points to watch with this support matchup will be in the picks/bans and during the laning phase. With Shy, RapidStar, Flame and Ambition likely to be the target of bans, it will be interesting how Blaze and Frost will go about the support selection. The main point of contention will be with Thresh and Lulu for both of the supports. Blaze will likely try to either pick the Thresh or ban it while Frost may just try to pick Thresh but not ban it against Lustboy. The other interesting pick may be Blitzcrank who Madlife has recently played and if Blitz ends up drawing bans, then it would create a lot of strategic advantages for Frost during picks and bans.
The second point to watch will be the laning phase where depending on the picks/bans; Madlife will surely try to take advantage of Lustboy/Jack’s weaknesses. Lustboy will need to do all he can to try and prevent deaths from happening in the lane and try to take his ADC to late game where he can shine brighter compared to Hermes. Madlife on the other hand, will definitely try to make plays and win the lane outright. By doing so, Madlife could also bring Helios down frequently which would free up his solo lanes to be more aggressive than they normally are.
It is a given that both Lustboy and Madlife will make plenty of plays for their respective teams so the little things that the supports will do could actually end up being the difference when the teams meet each other. Will it be God who triumphs once more or will the man thwart god’s plans.
3 Keys to Blaze victory
1. Play as they have all season long
If you look at the season as a whole, it would be difficult to find a team that has performed better than Blaze in all areas of the game. From laning to game management, Blaze has really never faltered behind in any aspect of the game (aside from their match against T2) and their 10 win streak since their last loss is testament to their resurgence. If Blaze can continue to play like they have, there is no reason to believe that even their sister team Frost will not be able to handle Blaze in a bo5 series.
2. Air plane pilot Flame and co-pilot Ambition
During this season of play, Flame and Ambition have tagged up to carry Blaze on their backs. From laning to team fights, these two individuals may be the most complete package not only in KR but also in the world currently. This is why the rest of Blaze will need to provide Flame and Ambition the chance to carry them to victory. This means that even with limited farm, the remaining members of Blaze will need to remain useful in team fights. If they can do that, no doubt Flame and Ambition will be able to engulf Frost with their tremendous playing ability and impressive champion pools.
3. Attack against the God
If you look at last winter semis and the IEM WC, one thing is noticeable. Madlife was on form during the semis and during the IEM WC, he was playing rather normal for his standards. For Blaze to win against Frost for the second time in a row, they will need to keep Madlife down as they did during the IEM WC. How they can do this is by doing a couple of things. One of them is that Lustboy can maintain a good control of the map and force Madlife to take over use oracle’s which would mean that he wouldn’t be able to make the same number of plays as he would if he had more items. The second method would be to force aggressive team fights so that Madlife will not be able to make his signature engages and create advantageous situations.
3 Keys for Frost victory
During the picks/bans and even in game, the Frost team will need to bring something special to the table. In the two teams’ current form, a standard matchup would result in an inevitable Blaze victory. This means that players like RapidStar, Shy and CloudTemplar will need to play a champ that even members of Blaze has never seen before from them. By creating an element of surprise, Frost will hopefully be able to close the gap that exists between the two teams and make the playing field even. At the same time, bringing something new, especially in BO5’s create a huge strategic advantage in the picks/bans which may free up some of their familiar champions that Frost may not have had the chance to play normally. Whether or not Frost is able to succeed in their endeavour will likely decide the outcome of the game.
2. Play as a team, win as a team
With Frost, they win or lose as a team. Yes, there are moments of individual brilliance and yes there are definitely moments when one person can carry a game but overall, each member of Frost is given a specific task and they are expected to execute it. This means that each member can be likened to a gear inside of a watch. If one person doesn’t function properly, then the whole watch will just stop working because the gears will not turn properly. This is true for Frost as well, if one member underperforms, then the whole team will not do very well and falter. This is the true strength and weakness of the Frost team. They can win games when they are quite behind by utilizing the high level of teamwork and unparalleled team fighting ability. Whether Frost will be able to show off their characteristic team fighting ability and team coordination against an opponent who knows them as well as Blaze does remains a huge mystery but if past games are any indication, Frost can be very successful against Blaze given the right situation.
3. If worst comes to worst, force a Blind Pick death match
In the history of the OGN Champions competition, Frost has never lost a blind pick to any team. This could likely continue should frost force a deciding game 5 against their friend and foe Blaze. The reason for this is that Frost is vastly superior when it comes to mental strength and since they have been in many different high leverage situations, they know how to deal with the pressure. In addition, since they know that they have not yet been beaten in a single blind pick game in Champions, the pressure will also be on the minds of Blaze if they were to play a blind pick game. With the experience and psychological advantage on their side, Frost will feel very confident going into the blind pick and they will increase their chances of a victory significantly if they do end up forcing a fifth and final game. Of course, Frost would love nothing more than winning before the final game but with Blaze’s current form, Frost’s best chance for victory will be in the blind pick.
Game expectation: 3:1 Blaze.
With the level of play that Blaze has shown this season, it’s hard to look beyond them from not only winning this match but winning it all this season. Being an in-house matchup, it is always difficult to call these games as often the winner ends up being who can cheese the most but Blaze will ultimately come out ahead.