Game 1 and 2
Wizards were able to take the first game in what was more of a misplay by ALTERNATE by getting caught out of position and walking into what was a sure death. The Wizards were able to take advantage of a 6 to 1 early lead that ALTERNATE couldn’t come back from. The only ban that came from this game was ALTERNATE realizing they didn’t want to deal with Drag0n’s Diana and Wizard realizing they didn’t want to deal with ForellenLord’s Orianna.
The second game was a steamroll in the opposite direction. In the first game, Wizard’s jungler, Carbano, was able to put on a lot of pressure with Jarvan IV but in the second game he went with a completely opposite pick in Nasus. J4 can zip around the map, knock up enemies, and trap them with Cataclysm and it seemed to synergize with the aggressive playstyle of Wizards. On the other hand, Nasus doesn’t have the same mobility of J4; he is more of a pick that will pressure objectives and is not a strong ganker like J4. Wizards picked Nasus second on the blue side which prompted ATN into picking Lee Sin, Ezreal, and Ahri; one of the most mobile lineups you can find and nullifies Wither from Nasus.
In the first game ATN banned out Malphite, Nasus, and Zac. In the second game they let Nasus and Zac through and they didn’t do much. Since ATN had a better feel for Wizards in the third game, they decided to ban out Shen and Diana both of which had an impressive first game against them. Wizards stuck to their two staple bans against ATN: Twisted Fate and Rumble. If you look at ForellenLord’s stats on Elophant his best ranked win percentage is with Twisted Fate. However, I feel ForellenLord’s Orianna is more of a must ban than his Twisted Fate because he can turn around an entire game with a Command: Shockwave.
Zed looked like a must pick for ATN because they chose him first every game and 3.1 was no different. Wizards was able to grab Jarvan IV again but unfortunately this game was not played through and the pick reminded ATN of the first game against him; he wouldn’t get through the ban phase in the next two champion selects.
One of the interesting things that Wizards did here was pick Elise for support instead of pairing Lulu with Varus again. In the first game on purple side, Varus and Lulu were able to put on a massive amount of pressure against the Sona and Ezreal lane of ATN; they showed no sign of changing that pair. In the strategy of Wizards they may have seen more shutdown potential on Ezreal with the Cocoon of Elise and the spiderlings can block Ezreal skillshots.
Unfortunately, a game breaking bug developed where skillshots had minds of their own and the game had to be postponed to the next day. So with this champion select out the way, how would the teams approach the next one with a day to react?
ALTERNATE decided to stick with the Malphite ban. After researching Wizards, I conclude that ALTERNATE do not like dealing with the rock guy because he isn't a good pick for anyone on Wizards. Of course that begs to question: Is it a good ban or a wasted ban? We will leave that for you to decide.
Shen and Jarvan IV made the ban list for ATN which left Diana open. Wizards stuck with their earlier bans. ATN had a choice. At this point they could go with their common first pick of Zed or switch things up. They decided to switch things up by taking Diana away from Wizards which I’m pretty sure threw a wrench into the Spanish team’s plans because Diana is the staple pick for Drag0n.
The Diana pick by ATN forced Wizards to pick Kha'Zix because Zac didn’t have the type of impact they wanted in game 2. They stuck with the Elise from the first champion select since ATN decided to stick with Sona and Ezreal. The only big change for Wizards was going with Xin Zhao in the jungle. The pick made sense since Xin can have the same type of aggression out of the jungle that Jarvan can deliver. The only difference for Alternate, other than Diana, was Renekton in the top lane to deal with what would definitely be a hard laning phase. The high sustain and escape that Renekton’s kit delivers allowed ATN confidence in that Kerp would be able to at least go even against TessLaa.
Unfortunately, the game was still bugged in the same way it was on the previous day and they had to postpone the game another day. So now the teams would have even more information going into the third champion select.
This would be the final champion select because the game would actually be played this time. What did ATN learn by picking Diana first last time? They learned that Wizards would go with an AD heavy team. ALTERNATE planned accordingly for that while Wizards stuck by their guns but instead of banning Rumble, they banned Ahri. ALTERNATE stuck with their bans from 3.2.
ALTERNATE kept the exact team, they even picked in the same order! Wizards decided to go with Zac in the jungle and stuck with Kha'Zix mid. Now we really need to question this. Why not pick Zed and Sona as their first two picks? Every support knows how to play Sona and she pairs alright with Varus. The Sona pick would have tilted the game in Wizards’ favor a bit because ATN planned on having that pair every single game and Wizards just gave it to them like it was some sort of gentlemen’s agreement. Instead, Wizards went all-in with their AD heavy team.
The Wizards’ Clock
Wizards were on the clock because of the type of team composition they had. They basically had until ATN built an Aegis of the Legion, Locket of the Iron Solari, and Zhonya's Hourglass. All the armor and damage mitigation would be too much for the AD heavy team to push through. The game past, say 25 minutes, would be brutal for Wizards in team fights because ATN scaled much better into the late game because they had more variation in damage sources and a front line tank that would be much more durable than Zac coming out of the jungle.
Wizards knew this and they got out to a promising start. Unfortunately for them that promising start wasn’t good enough. Around the 20 minute mark ForellenLord on Diana had a Zhonya's Hourglass and Araneae on Lee Sin had a Locket which allowed them to take the fight straight to Wizards when they noticed TessLaa on Zed split pushing without teleport. The fight was hardly close and ATN was not only back in the game but now in a commanding lead.
When a team is against the clock like the Wizards were, they need to be very aggressive because they are all-in; late game doesn’t exist. The Varus and Elise lane did not destroy the opposing lane like they should have and the other lanes didn’t do amazing either. Wizards allowed ATN to push towers before 20 minutes which kept them in the game gold-wise. So once ATN built the effective items, in which they didn’t even need an Aegis of the Legion, they were able to take the game over quickly.
So what should Wizards have done?
Well, they didn’t adapt enough. A team needs to adapt in a best of 3 or 5 because otherwise they will get out strategized, which is exactly what happened here. ALTERNATE adapted very well in their picks. They banned different champions every game only sticking with Malphite. In their picks they threw wrenches into the strategy by going Diana when Orianna was still on the table. ATN deliberately did that because normally they would save ForellenLord's champion for their last pick. All signs of a team that adapted to what their opponent was throwing at them.
Another thing that they need to look at for the future is using flexible picks. We now all know that they use a support Elise but that pick becomes so much stronger if their jungler and top laner can become proficient in the spider lady. Flexible picks throw the opponent off in the champion select and could lead to you winning the game before it ever starts. So if you are starting a team and looking to play in tournaments with best of 3 series, learn champions that you can use as flexible picks to give you a strategical advantage.
They should have taken out Sona by picking her away in their first couple picks. The fact that they gave Ezreal and Sona to ATN in five straight champion selects is baffling. A team really needs to be disrupted when they pick the same thing in five straight champion selects. If you disrupt them, you could throw them off and gain a huge advantage.
I’ll leave you with a ForellenLord Shockwave from their series against GIANTS!