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IEM Season VII World Championship: A Look Back

The IEM Season VII - World Championship in Hannover is behind us, but the events are still freshly imprinted in our minds. Four EU LCS teams, three rising star EU teams, four Korean teams, and one up-and-coming Brazilian team (for a grand total of 12 teams) made it to Hannover with the intent to win it all. The competition spanned four very eventful days. During the first two days, three juggernauts fell to their knees - leading Joe Miller to label Hannover “Upset City”.

The Group Stages: Wednesday and Thursday
On Wednesday, March 6, Group A was on display and Gambit Gaming (5W-0L) plowed through the competition, placed first in Group A, and maintained the momentum they acquired from the latest LCS Super Week. Group A was also the theater of Fnatic’s (1W-4L) debacle; their lone win was against PaiN Gaming (1W-4L). In the meantime, the European team Millenium(2W-3L) eliminated Korean team, Incredible Miracle (2W-3L), thanks to winning the direct confrontation game between them. Millenium placed third in Group A behind the ever-solid CJ Entus Blaze (4W-1L).

Thursday, March 7, brought Group B to the forefront. Evil Geniuses (2W-3L) lost their first three games before causing the downfall of SK Gaming’s (1W-4L) – making SK the second European LCS team to fall victim to Upset City. By a strange twist of fate, EG’s win over SK Gaming also nearly guaranteed that EG would be knocked out of the competition. Thus, EG became the third EU LCS casualty of Upset City. However, one man’s struggle is another man’s success. Anexis eSports (3W-2L) made their mark and placed third behind SK Telecom T1 (4W-1L) and CJ Entus Frost (4W-1L). Meet Your Makers (1W-4L) rounded out Group B with a sixth place finish.

The Quarter Finals: Friday
While SKT-T1 and Gambit waited on their semi final opponents, the two CJ Entus teams made very strong showings in the quarter finals on Friday, March 8. The first quarter final's overall score (2W-0L in favor of CJ Entus Frost) failed to show how close the games were and how valiantly Millenium fought. M’s tenacity in the face of Frost should boost their confidence as they eye a place in the LCS Summer Season.

The second quarter final showed the outrageous strength of CJ Entus Blaze (2W-0L). Blaze escaped the stickiest situations and converted them into unrecoverable leads. Anexis gamely grappled for their right to qualify for the semi finals, but Blaze generally outplayed them. Nevertheless, Anexis exited the tournament with their heads held high. Their gutsy performance against Blaze established that they could be very heavy contenders to elbow in on the LCS Summer Season.

Semi Final #1: Gambit Gaming GambitLogo std.png vs. Logo std.png CJ Entus Frost
Later Friday, Europe’s last hope was to face the Season 2 World Championship finalists in a best-of-three. Gambit Gaming was intent on snagging their ticket to the finals, but so were their opponents.

Game 1:
The appearance of EDward’s ThreshSquare.png Thresh, Alex Ich’s Kha'ZixSquare.png Kha'Zix, and Diamondprox’s VolibearSquare.png Volibear, meant that Gambit fans anticipated the game with much hope. However, Frost’s team composition jelled well, and SingedSquare.png Singed belonged to Shy – a recipe for GG trouble. CJE Frost came out on top in nearly every confrontation in the game. On paper, Gambit’s first blood and first dragon would seem to be in their favor. Instead, Frost transformed these opportunities into disadvantageous situations for Gambit. Shy’s survivability and Frost’s relentless pursuit of map control yielded a CJE Frost victory at near the 28 minute mark.

Game 2:
Gambit banned Singed and Diamondprox opted for a jungle NasusSquare.png Nasus. Darien’s DariusSquare.png Darius rounded out the team composition. On CJE Frost, Shy's switch to JaxSquare.png Jax was the only variation. Gambit were well-prepared to square off against Frost’s strategy and lane composition. They flipped Game 1 upside-down, handily converting Frost’s plays into Gambit’s profitable counters. The Russian’s methodically reaped the benefits of their hard-earned advantages and netted a victory, which guaranteed a Game 3 between the two powerhouses.

Game 3:
CJ Frost threw Gambit out of the loop by securing two champions which Gambit had selected in their last two encounters: MissFortuneSquare.png Miss Fortune and Kha'Zix. They then added LuluSquare.png Lulu, OlafSquare.png Olaf and SkarnerSquare.png Skarner. Gambit’s composition (Thresh, Nasus, Twisted FateSquare.png Twisted Fate, Xin Zhao, and Kog'MawSquare.png Kog'Maw) appeared less advantageous. Gambit came out swinging, but an error in judgment regarding Xin ZhaoSquare.png Xin Zhao in the top lane resulted in a domino effect that set the tone for the game. Roles were switched and lanes were repositioned. Gambit’s extreme aggression was ill-suited for these changes. By the eight minute mark, Frost had a 3k gold lead. Gambit doggedly struggled to stay in the game for the next 23 minutes. However, in the end, no amount of grit could redeem giving up a lead against CJE Frost – but no amount of struggle prevented them from fighting back. Nevertheless, Frost was the stronger team in Game 3 which secured their ticket to the finals. Gambit finished their IEM World Championship in third-fourth place.

Semifinal #2: SK Telecom T1 SK Telecom T1logo std.png vs. Logo std.png CJ Entus Blaze
The second semi final, on Saturday, featured a contentious Korean matchup between Reapered’s new team, SKT-T1, and his old team, CJ Entus Blaze.

Game 1:
The game started with a lane swap and cautious play until after first dragon when VarusSquare.png Varus was taken down for first blood. SKT-T1’s JarvanIVSquare.png Jarvan IV and LuxSquare.png Lux responded by knocking out Ambition’s Zed. This was followed by a successful Blaze countergank against Jarvan and AkaliSquare.png Akali. The pace of the game became more aggressive after a mid lane teamfight which earned Blaze a 4-1 trade. SKT-T1 wreaked vengeance with a 5-1 exchange at the dragon pit. However, Blaze were busy efficiently pulverizing map objectives. After Blaze secured SKT-T1’s top lane inhibitor, SKT-T1 went on the offensive and challenged Blaze’s mid inhibitor turret. Blaze stopped them in their tracks with an ace that gave them a second Baron and the win.

Game 2:
CJE Blaze's AD Carry and Support in the mid lane caused problems for SK Telecom T1's newest member (as of February 20, 2013), SuNo’s KarthusSquare.png Karthus.Blaze also successfully ganked SKT-T1’s bot lane AD/Support. A failed gank for SKT-T1 opened the door for Blaze to snag the dragon, kill Karthus, and destroy the outer bottom lane turret. The game became an uphill battle for SKT-T1. Yet, somehow, SKT-T1 thwarted a gank attempt and picked up a 4-2 trade. This teamfight win was followed by a successful SKT-T1 countergank, but these efforts were not enough to pull SKT-T1 out of their 3k gold deficit. Blaze’s Ambition and Flame converted a bad fight into a 2-0 cleanup in Blaze’s favor at the 20 minute mark. After this turnaround, Blaze steadily trashed objectives and laid successful traps due to their vision superiority. This increase in map control gave Blaze a Baron advantage. When SKT-T1 attempted to steal the Baron, Blaze punished them with an ace which set the stage for both CJ Entus teams to face off in the IEM finals and left SK Telecom T1 to share third-fourth place with Gambit Gaming.

Finals: CJ Entus Blaze Logo std.png vs. Logo std.png CJ Entus Frost
The Saturday CJ Entus showdown was a battle of the evenly-matched sister teams. The face off included back-and-forth action and very interesting matchups. It was impossible to determine whether either team were an underdog.

Game 1: Stone Age Decision
The level one phase summed up the match. Frost set the tone by stealing Blaze’s red buff and catching CJE-F Ambition’s RumbleSquare.png Rumble unaware for first blood. Blaze retaliated by ganking CJE-F Shy’s EliseSquare.png Elise, which backfired completely as Shy picked up a kill on CJE-B Flame’s NidaleeSquare.png Nidalee. Frost then collapsed to the mid lane and caught CJE-B Cpt Jack’s TwitchSquare.png Twitch and CJE-B Lustboy’s LuluSquare.png Lulu out-of-position. It was 4-0 before the third minute of the game. CJE Frost are the kind of team to seize advantages, snowball them, and never look back. CJE Blaze are not the type of team to surrender – but they did as soon as the 20 minute mark hit.

Game 2: Enter Singed
Unlike last game, Singed was left open. Unlike last game, both teams went defensive. The AD/Support combos were sent to the top lane. The hostilities began in the bottom lane as CJE-B Helios's ViSquare.png Vi and CJE-B Flame’s Singed flattened CJE-F Shy’s Rumble twice. Tower dives shut down CJE-F CloudTemplar’s SkarnerSquare.png Skarner in mid and bot lanes within a five minute timeframe. Blaze racked up tower dives, turrets, and a dragon. This meant it was Frost’s turn to fight an uphill battle, which they did with aplomb. Frost won two teamfights in a row and evened the kill score to 10-10 by the 20 minute mark. The definitive point of no return came in a teamfight at a chokepoint near Blaze’s blue buff in which Blaze’s abilities (and Singed’s absurdly farmed survival skills) allowed them to cap a five-and-Baron-for-one trade. Blaze took inhibitors but Frost did not abdicate. As Frost went in for a desperate Baron attempt, CJE-B Flame’s Singed seized the opportunity to lead the bottom lane super minions to kill the nexus (as facilitated his team’s successful delay of Frost’s recalls).

Game 3: Flippity Floppity vs Hippity Hoppity
CJE Frost selected Volibear and Singed for a double-fling composition. CJE Blaze countered with three leaping champions: Elise, Kha'Zix, and TristanaSquare.png Tristana. Frost initiated with a play worthy of Bronze V - even pros are not immune to three people camping a bush. After the 3:50 mark, CJE-B Flame was still level one due to his double death. Frost maintained their momentum by netting 2-0 in turrets and 4-2 in kills However, Blaze farmed for their lives and refused to yield further kills. They were rewarded with a 3-1 trade as Frost attempted a dragon against aggressive contention. CJE Frost replied with plays of such caliber that any team not called CJE Blaze would have given up more than “just” two kills. The crisis of the match came during a teamfight in the bottom lane when CJE Blaze took a 3-1 trade thanks to an impeccable SonaSquare.png Sona ultimate from CJE-B Lustboy. Another skirmish in the dragon area set the stage for a CJE Blaze comeback, and both teams raced to farm for the next 15 minutes. The frantic culling of minions and nearby turrets granted Blaze an 8k gold lead. Then CJE Frost caught out Sona as she warded the river. With Blaze out of position, Frost pushed mid until the middle inhibitor was laid bare. CJE-F CloudTemplar’s Volibear engaged on CJE-B Flame’s Elise. Blaze fought it perfectly and took home the 5-2 ace. CJE Blaze aced one more team fight and then put the smack down on the nexus.

Game 4: In a “Blaze” of Glory
CJE Blaze picked the same team, save for two forced trades. Kha’Zix and Vi were picked by Frost and this led Blaze to pick Xin Zhao and ZedSquare.png Zed to fill the void. In a twisted repeat of last game’s early shenanigans, CJE-F Shy’s Singed went to the bottom lane and picked up a kill on Sona. However, it was CJE Blaze who picked up the first turret of the game up top. The first 12 minutes of the game were relatively slow (save for a dragon pick-up by Blaze and another kill on Sona/Elise by Frost). Then both teams blazed their guns. A 2- 2 trade allowed CJE Blaze to secure a turret kill in mid. A fight near dragon allowed CJE Frost to pick a five-and-a-dragon-for-two trade and nearly evened the gold. A tower dive up top went 1-1 (Elise for Vi), while a mid lane skirmish went 2-0 for Blaze. Blaze had the map control (four turrets to one), but Frost were still clinging. The moment of truth came when Frost recklessly attempted to pick a teamfight, only to form a single line at a chokepoint. The well-placed Sona ult from CJE-B Lustboy was the precursor to a three-and-Baron-for-zero trade. Then CJE Blaze pushed forward and did not look back. It took them five minutes to seal the deal. In a “blaze” of glory, they destroyed the nexus to win it all.

CJ Entus Blaze celebrated their first place finish with hugs all around for their teammates and their sister-team opponents. CJ Entus Frost did not go empty-handed, however. In addition to claiming second place, CJE-F Shy took home the IEM World Championship MVP prize.

Written by Adel Chouadria.
Edited by Marissa Moody Kuo.

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