Cloud9 finished the season as the second best team to TeamSoloMid, again. Most expected this split to be Cloud9’s with TSM’s starting ADC Yiiang “Doublelift” Peng taking a break from the team. Although Cloud9 surged to a phenomenal 8-0 record, they’ve still struggled to solve their early game issues while other teams have improved. If they want to reclaim the NALCS title, they’ll need to show the ability to make plays in the early game.
Cloud9 has three extremely strong lanes. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has had an MVP-like split, ending second in KDA and CSD@10 among mids.
The top lane Korean duo of Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong and Jeon “Ray” Ji-won gives them a diverse range of champions. Ray looked iffy in the beginning of the split, but has shown steady improvement towards the end. It will be interesting to see how C9 utilize each of them in a best of five format.
Cloud9 excels in mid game team fighting and shot calling. They’re great at knowing each other’s power spikes and knowing how to capitalize on their enemy’s mistakes. You give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.
It’s no secret Cloud9’s weakness this whole split has been their lackluster early game. They’re not ones to make big plays in the early game despite having some of the most talented players. Jensen is often criticized for his lack of roaming and his selfishness to only gain an advantage in his lane.
Rookie jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia is often used as a tracker for the enemy jungler. It’s worrisome that they usually opt to farm it out till mid game to make plays. Against more aggressive playmaking teams such as TSM, we’ve seen that C9 can be punished for it. Despite Cloud9 being the second best team in the league, they are a mediocre 7th in GD@15.
If C9 want to reclaim the North American throne, they’ll need to show that they can make plays in the early game.
Player to Watch: Contractz
Contractz is a huge X-Factor for this team. As a rookie playing in his first playoffs series, he’ll need to step up big time.
Contractz has shown glimpses of stardom, but he’s also had his share of rookie blunders. Furthermore, when he’s confident and being a nuisance to the enemy jungler, he looks his best. If he gets caught out during crucial objectives and doesn’t have an early game impact, we could see an early upset. With how dominant Phoenix1 looked against Dignitas, it will be a close series.
While Phoenix1 will give Cloud9 a run for their money, I believe C9 will reach the NALCS finals again to face off in a close series against TSM.
Cloud9 3-2 over Phoenix1 in the semifinals
TSM 3-2 over Cloud9 in the Finals
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