iQ vs. WM - Game 1 - Isle of Weeping Stone
They call it "The Linebacker," and it just may have been the best thing to ever happen to iQ. Augie "Big McHugelarge" Salick has created a Hammer Warrior that's one part spike damage, one part Warrior shutdown, and about ten parts aggravation, sporting five (FIVE!) knockdowns all told. He's had such a profound impact on these finals, in fact, that War Machine even brought a Warrior with Shield Bash to counter the Counter Blow! Perhaps this was War Machine's turn to over-think themselves.
Idiot Savants definitely came to the match worried about the triple Energy Surge threat, sporting two Monk builds with significant healing ability outside of protective Enchantments. But that was the extent of their modifications, as they took bits and pieces of builds they'd used over the course of the tournament so far. War Machine, on the other hand, looked like they were banking on iQ running something weighted heavily in one direction, while they themselves opted for a fairly balanced build, with a tendency to spike, albeit infrequently. They relegated their Axe Warrior to running duties, while their Elementalist stayed with the primary team for additional Warrior defense, alongside the Trapper.
iQ pressured at times, but found their greatest success when they spiked during moments when the Ward Against Melee was down. Some spikes telegraphed more than others, and only the rare Warrior collapse resulted in kills, but it was more than WM could claim—and the kills eventually began to add up. By 14 minutes, War Machine had to back away from the flag stand and re-think their strategy, allowing iQ to grab their first morale boost at 16 minutes.
The Koreans decided on a 5-3 split, sending a team out their back door to try to split up iQ and test their mobility. But WM found themselves far weaker in split formation, as iQ sent back four to deal with the three at their back door, killing them off with ease, even as their flag stand four were pushing back WM's five. This dance continued for quite some time, though, with WM testing the waters with a 4-4 split of their own, then a 6-2, culminating in the DP'ing out of their Shield Bashing Axe Warrior. But this is War Machine, and morale means nothing as long as they still have keyboards and mice in their hands.
Issuing another team of three out their back door, WM resurrected their fallen Warrior, and briefly caught iQ by surprise, pushing them back into their own base before sufficient defenses returned. When those defenses did arrive, they played right into the hands of WM, chasing them out and pushing without reason while their flag control was put into question. With War Machine having capped a flag, iQ was tardy by only three seconds, allowing a disastrous morale boost and rejuvenating War Machine's flag stand troop just before VoD.
"Pulling an iQ," WM sent their Trapper into the middle of iQ's NPC core when VoD hit and, aided by a healthy dose of Smite, he dispatched the entire lot. iQ fought back hard with their split, taking down both of WM's Bodyguards, but when the dust settled, WM had six Archers, and iQ had nothing.
Then a curious thing happened. The split battles coalesced just inside the walls of iQ's base, and WM decided to push. Instead of waiting for 35 minutes and utilizing the support from their decently sized Archer team, they tried to press on 8v8, and oh how they fell. iQ poured on the offense, putting together a string of kills on WM's Monks, spreading the damage around liberally, until War Machine was forced to turn completely around and run for the hills. Even as the Koreans received another morale boost, iQ was taking care of the remaining Archers, and put themselves in a position where they could once again fight their opponents head-on.
The final battle began, but it did not take long to see where this one was headed. War Machine's damage was almost non-existent with the exception of spikes, each and every one of which was caught by iQ's Monks during crunch-time. iQ's brute force and muscle once again overtook WM, eventually turning this decisive stand-off into an all-out rout.
Game 2 - Isle of Jade
"Finesse" is not one of the words I would use to describe the action in Game 2. In all honesty, I felt like iQ outplayed WM in many ways during this particular contest, but they failed to output the kind of map and build coordination that had been so dominant in previous home games, along with a few key errors along the way. War Machine, on the other hand, came packing a modification of KGYU's Season 2 build, including Mantra of Inscriptions and Signet of Humility on the Mesmer/Necromancer (so good!). Their adaptations were slightly odd, though - a Fire Elementalist in place of a Water Elementalist meant much greater damage at the flag stand, but quite a loss on defense and snare ability. In addition, they chose to run two Axe Warriors, one of whom was still proudly carrying on the Shield Bash tradition he'd begun in the previous game. They pressured through degen, but were often more focused on trying to spike, and more peculiar yet was the fact that their primary spike targets were almost always Warriors.
Early on, impressive condition pressure that WM had slapped on iQ led to a complete wipe and withdrawal from the flag stand. From that moment forward, it seemed as though iQ just lost interest in running the flag, giving up morale boosts continually, despite a series of successful spike kills and pressure kills.
War Machine suffered from a lack of cohesion throughout the entire match, forming disjointed line structures and extending their team in both directions. Warriors pressured too far without adequate Monk support and died relatively frequently. Monks kited pressure too far away from the rest of their team, leading to several losses, including a string of four kills that almost turned the tide around the 19 minute mark. But with morale boosts continuing to fuel their attack, it amounted to little more than a hiccup in the grander scheme of the match. The build that WM had selected had a fairly high margin of error, and mostly required each member to just keep attacking - the damage, degen, and interrupts, when given time to fester and take on a life of their own, are just too much for most builds to handle without significant map control.
Like clockwork, each and every time iQ's Elementalist attempted to push forward to assist, and stopped using Heal Party and Extinguish, even briefly, iQ utterly collapsed. Such was the case going into VoD, where iQ found themselves rebounding off a fresh set of deaths, at a considerable morale deficit, and hoping to pull some kind of last-minute magic out with the help of their NPC's.
Sending off a Warrior to gank in attempt to split War Machine even slightly, iQ succeeded only in delaying what was soon clearly an out of hand situation at the flag stand. A complete NPC set, continued degen overload, and VoD-buffed Rodgort's Invocations spelled disaster for iQ as they walked to the middle. It was short and certainly not pretty, and left the Savants with only one option remaining; the trusty all-out gank.
DP'd and weary after a long couple of days' play, they trudged through the Spiked Coral, fully aware that they probably wouldn't make it to the other side. Yet again, they displayed their never-say-die attitude, but it just wasn't meant to be on this day. After ending the brief threat, WM made absolutely certain that they did not repeat their errors from Game 1, staying firmly planted in their NPC's and waiting for the entrance of iQ's Guild Lord.
Game 3 - Warrior's Isle
Speechless: adjective - temporarily deprived of speech by strong emotion, physical weakness, exhaustion, etc.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. There could have been quite a bit to talk about in this match, because both sides' builds would have been quite interesting when matched up. War Machine put together a slightly more punchy version of their Game 2 build against Te, while iQ went the over-damage route with three Smite Monks, a Thumper, and two Warriors.
But iQ seemingly had a death wish. They streamed out of their front door, straight across the map to WM's back door, and right into their base - all 8 of them. Not stopping to even consider the team coming back to defend, they went directly for Bodyguards, hoping perhaps to output so much damage that War Machine just wouldn't be able to keep up. They couldn't have been more wrong.
The first wave hit, and WM held strong. A bevy of enchant strips, precision counter-pressure, and the assistance from their fully intact NPC core left every member of iQ with at least 30 DP before even three minutes had gone by. Then they resurrected in their base, and went right back out the front door, eager for more.
I stood there watching, in disbelief, wondering if perhaps iQ knew something about DP that I didn't. Did they have a master plan? Was there some hidden strategy that I wasn't seeing? Was this really happening? Why were they throwing this away?
The rest of the match was almost impossible to watch. Suicide run after suicide run, iQ continued to push, continued to press, even lucking out at one point when WM catapulted half their own team, but it didn't matter. iQ didn't try to capture the flag, and didn't even really have enough left in their tanks to even provide much pressure. The final toll of the bell came at 15 minutes, when every single member of iQ was hit with one gargantuan catapult shot. With a clear path before them, WM finished off the Guild Lord, and that was that.
"War Machine! War Machine!" came the shouts from the overflowing crowd. The booth was filled to the brim, with frenzied gamers spilling out on all sides, standing on boxes and tables, just trying to get a glimpse of the action. A resigned look on their faces, the boys from iQ stood up from their computers as knowing looks were passed all around. Just across the way, War Machine erupted in celebration - they must have been just as confused as the rest of us during the final match, but you can't argue with 50 grand.