Our first live game of the NZGC on Sky Sports took place this past week and the pressure had never been higher for our Underdog team, Decode, as they faced up against the reigning champions, Villains. Both teams had something to prove.
Villains were looking to maintain their dominance on the Rift and to show the other teams that they hadn’t lost a step since last years tournament win. Meanwhile, Decode was looking challenge the strength of the Villains and to prove to themselves and their fans that they are a team not to be taken lightly.
Game one was full of action with three of Villain’s players ending with a ‘perfect game’ (i.e. surviving the entire 25 minute match without a death). Things started with high aggression by Decode’s jungler and captain, Pune. Playing on Rek’Sai, Pune provided several early game ganks using anything and everything to try and get an early lead for his team. However, Villains was able to answer this aggression with their impressive mechanics, outplaying their opponents with ease and allowing them to rack up an extremely high kill count for a competitive game so early in the round.
While the Villains were running out to a quick 11-0 lead in kills, it wasn’t the only facet of their game that was dominating. This was compounded by a CS lead of almost 70 by Kenste on Vladimir over Shiv’s Malzahar during mid game. Decode’s deficit in kills and CS was a huge detriment to their upset bid.
This CS lead was also present across the map in the top lane with Hi Im Bode being 50 cs behind bunbun. Because of this massive gold lead built up by Villains, they were able to prioritise their builds with heavy magic resistance, effectively negating any damage output that Decode’s top and mid laner could provide.
To sum up the first game, Decode had fallen behind and the climb back to win was too steep for them to face. It was a fast and furious game to say the least, with the Villains closing the game with 20 kills to Decode’s 2 kills, resulting in a shocking surrender vote being called by Decode to end the game at 25 minutes (a rarity in professional play).
Game two had a similar story to game one in the sense that Villains were able to gain a large lead early in the round due to some brave dives bottom lane and two early infernal drakes. They then were able to transition that lead into a victory.
While technically not as clean as their game one victory, there were still two players on Villains that managed to record zero deaths throughout the entire game. This win can be attributed to Villain’s ‘steamrole’ composition – having such a strong frontline that if any of Decodes members got in the way they were slain to make way for the backline of Villains.
With bunbun on Shen, Dolfs on Hecarim, and Purcle on Karma, the speed that Villains had was a massive difficulty to overcome for the frontline of Decode until they reached late game. While Decode put up a good fight and were able to close the gap in CS seen in the previous game, the kills and map pressure provided by bunbun’s Teleport and Stand United ultimate on to Hecarim was too much to overcome. They simply lost control of objectives, and unfortunately for them, Villains had the momentum they needed to close the game at 27 minutes.
After a successful teamfight mid lead to a quick and easy baron, Villains simply walked top and pushed into the Nexus, closing the game and putting another notch on their belt to increase their win streak to 11-0.
Overall, both teams played their hardest and the games were incredible to watch, however Villains were just able to bring it harder than Decode on this night. They came in with momentum and their pedigree reputation, and they simply removed any doubt from people’s minds of their ability to perform, securing the NZGC’s first 2-0 series sweep.
If the Villains didn’t have a target on their back before they definitely do now. They’ve also given Decode a lot to think about before their next game.
Replays of this game are are currently running on SKY Sport and will be rebroadcast on www.twitch.tv/letsplaylive at NZT 7pm and AEST 5pm on Thursday.