Photo via Riot Games/Flickr (Licensed)
C9 won the series by attacking Immortals main strength—top laner Heo “Huni” Seong-hoon. Despite being the nearly-unquestioned best top laner in NA, C9 sensed weakness in Huni.
In a pre-match interview played on Riot’s broadcast of the series, C9 AD Carry Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi said that Huni takes “oddball picks that are sometimes abusable.” Indeed, C9 won the games in which Huni reached out of the S-tier top lane meta with Riven, Kennen, and Lissandra picks.
After failing to capitalize on early advantages in game one, C9 turned around the series in game two by overcoming a fed Riven and a 4.5k gold deficit at 31 minutes to equalize the series. The objective trading and constant team fighting made game two one of the most chaotic and entertaining games of the entire season.
Top laner Jeong "Impact" Eon-young's Gangplank absorbed an incredible amount of pressure from Immortals all-star jungler Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, which allowed the rest of C9 to play with a numbers advantage elsewhere on the map. Impact won a one-vs-one skirmish against Pobelter’s LeBlanc to save an inhibitor at a key juncture in the game.
The momentum carried over into game three as C9 built a 10.7k gold lead at 33 minutes.
It seemed like C9 might cruise to the series win when they took an early lead in game four, but Immortals was able to absorb the pressure and turn the match around during a few mid-game team fights.
C9 took a page out of the Immortals playbook in game five by mitigating early kill pressure from Immortals by taking objectives elsewhere. After a massive win in a chaotic teamfight before the 24-minute mark, C9 immediately moved onto Baron to secure a significant lead.
It was none other than Huni who pushed up a little too far that allowed C9 to win yet another crucial team fight at the 36-minute mark. This allowed C9 to secure another Baron.
Immortals made a valiant attempt to stall out the game, but C9 locked up the series at 47 minutes after taking a third Baron.
C9 moves moves onto in the finals next weekend to face the winner of Sunday’s series between Counter Logic Gaming and Team SoloMid. C9 needs to win in the finals to secure a spot in Worlds without having to go into the regional qualifier.
Immortals can still qualify for Worlds without going to the regional qualifier if CLG wins the championship, and if Immortals beats TSM in the third place game.
Here are the pivotal moments of Saturday’s series.
Pobelter used Taliyah’s Weaver's Wall and Huni criss-crossed Rumble’s Equalizer to split up C9. Immortals picked up three kills and lost none in the team fight. They immediately ran across the map to pick up Baron before C9 could regroup.
Honestly, there was no one pivotal moment from game two, which was one of the most uniquely-chaotic games of the season. The teams traded objectives and skirmish after skirmish. Pobelter’s LeBlanc jukes in the clip below made C9 look how the rest of us felt while trying to follow all the action in game two.
Impact snowballed this first blood solo kill into a massive lead over Huni. He eventually helped the rest of C9 build a big lead that eventually carried them to a hard-earned win at 46 minutes.
Like game two, there was no single turning point in game four. It was a back-and-forth game with skirmishes across the match. Here’s the team fight that allowed Immortals to secure the match.
Immortals had the kill lead but C9 had the gold lead when Immortals initiated this team fight at 29:30. Initially scattered by the Taliyah wall, C9 regrouped to pick up kills on both ends of the fight. The win allowed them to pick up Baron, an infernal drake and several turrets.