In the first series of the post-Doublelift era, Team SoloMid fell to Unicorns of Love in the IEM Oakland semifinal 2-1 Sunday. UOL swept INTZ e-Sports Saturday to make it this far, and now will face the winner of Flash Wolves vs. Longzhu Gaming in the final Sunday night.
After losing the first game, UOL took the next two for the reverse sweep (short version), thanks to the playmaking ability of Hylissang on Bard and the strong laning of Viziscasci on Kennen. In the first game, a loss, Hylissang played Miss Fortune while Viziscasci played Gangplank.
The loss will probably come as a disappointment to many TSM fans with high hopes against a relatively weak IEM Oakland field, but before the tournament, coach Parth Naidu told us the focus for the team was improving before the split and trying out WildTurtle at the AD Carry position, not winning IEM Oakland.
UOL’s manager, however, was quite pleased with the victory.
#IEM pic.twitter.com/9BXqb4WlgR— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) November 20, 2016
TSM controlled a bloody, 37-minute Game One throughout, taking an early lead through the solo lanes (especially through Bjergsen’s Zilean) and never looking back. TSM was up 9-3 by 11 minutes with Svenskeren’s Olaf 4/1/1, and the game had 21 kills between the two teams by 15 minutes.
The Unicorns of Love were able to stall out the mid game slightly thanks to strung ultimate synergy from a team that included Gangplank, Jhin, Viktor and Miss Fortune, but TSM never lost control. The reigning North American champions closed the game out 28-14 in 37 minutes, with a 10/4/7 final line from WildTurtle’s Ezreal.
In Game 2, UOL banned Zilean after Bjergsen’s overwhelming success in the first game. UOL looked significantly more prepared to handle TSM, winning the game in 29 minutes and evening up the series. This time, UOL was able to win the early laning phase, getting Viziscasci on a much more favorable Kennen vs. Ekko matchup (where he earned First Blood).
TSM was able to even up the game by 15 minutes, as Bjergsen regained control over the mid lane despite UOL winning side lanes, but WildTurtle’s Jhin was a clear weak point for the team compared to his performance on Ezreal the game before. His aggressive play style was consistently punished on a champion without any inherent mobility, and it was most apparent in the final team fight of the game.
At 28 minutes, UOL won a big fight, taking out every TSM member except for WildTurtle. Facing Veritas’s Ashe and Hylissang’s Bard, WildTurtle flashed in to delete Veritas with Jhin’s fourth bullet. It ... didn’t work, WildTurtle died and UOL ended the game 24-20.
In Game 3, TSM tried to take away some of UOL’s engage power by banning Ashe, but the European challengers still took an early lead after an early misplay from Hauntzer gave Move First Blood.
Hylissang’s playmaking on Bard earned the Unicorns a pair of kills in the bottom lane a few minutes later, spreading the lead around the map. Exileh, playing EU’s signature Kassadin, picked up a triple kill at 18 minutes to extend the advantage to 8-3.
TSM found its way back into the game with a miracle team fight at 25 minutes, as Bjergsen’s Viktor put out tons of damage and caught two UOL players with a perfect Gravity Field. TSM earned an ace, and then took Baron, and then ... found a still-ahead UOL team, who answered right back with an ace of its own, including another triple kill from Exileh.
TSM got another ace at 30 minutes as an Exileh flank came up just short of killing WildTurtle and Biofrost. But no real advantage came from it, and UOL broke two inhibitors four minutes later. A minute later, UOL earned yet another race to win the game 23-16.