Picks and bans typically end up with each team drafting at least one good lane matchup, one champion and one part of the map they know they can leverage for plays. But sometimes teams find themselves "outdrafted," with no winning matchups in any role.
With losing lanes, nowhere to gank, slowly bleeding objectives and gold, the outdrafted team usually has nothing to do but lose. But it is possible to lose lane and win game, and Dignitas proved it in their quarterfinals match against Cloud9.
In game 2 of the series, Dignitas found themselves at a huge disadvantage before the game even began.
Trundle smashes Maokai in lane, scaling until he can take towers right out from under him. If he’s not pressured quickly, Dig will bleed objectives.
In the midlane, Cassiopeia has a dominant lane phase over Syndra. Pre 6 she’s able to hold lane priority thanks to the mana refund on Twin Fang, and the Abyssal mask buildpath will protect from Syndra’s burst while Cass scales into a lategame powerhouse.
Dig’s lanes can’t look to jungle to help, either. Nunu needs strong setups to gank and lane pressure to counterjungle.
The botlane is Dig’s only chance to win, as Twitch and Alistar will hard outscale Kalista and Thresh. The problem is getting there. It’s a weak early game combo, and Kalista and Thresh are huge lane bullies.
Knowing this, let’s jump into the game at 8 minutes. Things aren’t going well for Dignitas: Top is down 11 CS, Mid is down 27 CS and a kill, Bot is down 17 CS and an assist. Kalista just hit level 6, and her ultimate is an almost guaranteed kill against the flash-less Twitch. If Dig don’t do something quickly, things are going to get a whole lot worse.
In anticipation of this, Dig initiate the Delayed Lane Swap and completely abandon the botside of the map. Once Twitch is spotted in toplane, both teams start pushing with 4 members on opposite sides of the map. The race is on.
Even though Dig initiated the Lane swap, C9 have tempo and the stronger early game team. They’ll threaten an inhibitor tower if Dig continue pushing, so Dignitas are forced to call off the race. Even though this looks like a loss for them, they got exactly what they needed - Dig successfully ended a losing lane phase.
After the turret race, the map play changes. Instead of farming head to head against lane opponents, waves in the now elongated sidelanes push from one side of the map to the other to be collected in bulk. This allows Dig to funnel farm onto their hyper carry in a relatively safe manner.
Now it’s Cloud 9’s turn to react. They have no intention of letting Dig stall the game, so they send 4 members into the toplane to brute force the already weakened turret. Instead of contesting, Dig continue to stall by turning the match into a game of tower trades.
After top tower falls, Twitch shoves lane as safely as he can. When Kalista shows on the minion wave top, Dignitas hard commit to the botlane and unleash the Herald they picked up earlier. Cloud9, seeing 3 Dig members in bot, respond by pushing Syndra off of mid tier 1 and taking it.
By forcing objective trades, Dig have managed to completely avoid their bad matchups in every lane except for mid. C9s CS numbers have started to even out as players are pulled across the map. By 15:30 the scorelines are relatively even, and C9 have been forced to play at Dig’s pace.
Now, towers are at 4-3, neither team can feasibly take another, and Dig needs to start making smart decisions around neutral objectives. The game stalls until Infernal Drake arrives. At this point, Trundle is able to start splitting sidelanes, accruing a CS lead again. Keep in mind though, because most turrets are gone, Trundle is hand delivering farm to Twitch.
With the Drake on its way, Dig are faced with a decision: contest C9 head on (and likely lose), or make a play elsewhere. Dig decide to sacrifice the dragon and opt for a play onto Trundle, catching him out just a little too far up without vision.
Once the dragon is gone and the clock hits 20 minutes, both teams have their eye on baron. Cloud9 spot DIG's botlane on a ward, and immediately make their move. A pick on Twitch and Alistar can potentially set them up for a Baron play and blow the game open.
Luckily for DIG, they only get Alistar, and Cloud9 resets, sending Trundle to the other side of the map to clear the bot wave. This ends up being a huge mistake. Trundle doesn’t have Teleport, and knowing this, DIG immediately make the bold call to go for the Baron and take it right under C9's nose.
Now, Dig just needs to escape with Baron on at least 1 member so they can brute force a lane with their massive tankline and empowered minions. The teams brawl, trading 3 for 3, but the damage is done. Dig escape with the baron buff on Nunu and Syndra.
For the first time this game, Dignitas have forward momentum, and begin to crack the untouched mid towers. As they start their siege, Dig spot an opportunity to pull off a massive wombo teamfight against a defensive Cloud9 group up. Four Cloud9 members fall without getting a chance to touch either Dignitas carry, and Dig are able to take 3 towers and an inhibitor in this push.
They don’t close the game on this Baron, but that doesn’t matter. Despite all losing lanes, Dig have successfully managed to bring their hypercarry online. 14 minutes later, they win the game.