Cloud9 may be on the path to performing another one of their classic miracles. In the first half of the season, C9 looked like they would not make it anywhere close to playoff contention. Near the halfway point of the split, Cloud9 was at the bottom end of the spectrum. Their wins were few and their losses usually came off throwing leads. Whatever was going on internally, it felt like there was a puzzle piece that was missing that prevented the team from unlocking their potential.
So as the second half of the split is almost to a full close, what made Cloud9 go from zeroes to heroes?
Robert “Blaber” Huang has been an incredible breath of fresh air. The young rookie seems to be the perfect package of smart play, impeccable team synergy, and an unshakable mental game. No matter how many mistakes Blaber makes within a game, he does not soften his approach and continues to be the first one to dive into a fight.
Since he starting playing on the starting roster, no team has been able to adequately deal with his unpredictable hyper-aggression, and has been a huge part of C9’s upswing.
Can’t Kilean the Zilean
This effort isn’t solely on his shoulders, however. Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, Cloud9’s ace mid player, has been instrumental into Blaber’s play. Though he has mostly known for being the team’s star player in previous seasons, Jensen has transformed himself into the ultimate team player. By looking over harder carries and taking champions like Oriana and his currently undefeated Zilean, Jensen is able to help his team in a much higher capacity than before.
A few years ago, this would have been a strange concept. Last year, Jensen was putting up big numbers on champions like Syndra and LeBlanc. Many even campaigned for him to win the MVP award considering how critical he had been to C9’s many victories. Now, Jensen is the backbone of the strategy rather than the focal point. Through his shields, heals, and revives, Jensen adds an extra safety net to Blaber’s unmitigated aggression. Thanks to his supportive playstyle, Cloud9 has turned an otherwise complicating handicap into their primary win condition.
Going into the match against Team Liquid this past Sunday, it looked like this strategy would come to its first real test. While many teams have foolishly allowed Blaber and Jensen to get their ideal champions, there was no way Team Liquid would repeat the same mistake. Because of Cloud9’s placement on red side, TL could easily ban out Jensen’s Zilean and force Blaber to play a champion that did not possess a safety net to help with his aggression. Luckily, coach Bok “Reapered“ Han-gyu came up with a brilliant idea: enter Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen.
This move was very controversial when it was announced the night before the match was set to take place. C9 was on an insane hot streak since Blaber was rotated in for Svenskeren. If things weren’t broke, why fix them?
Though it was a perplexing move considering Goldenglue and Svenskeren’s win record, the move was actually brilliant. Both players had spent the past several weeks playing in the Academy League. While TL could go and review all the film of those matches, it would not be a fair indicator of how their opponents would play with their two substitutions.
Though Liquid was able to get Kindred, a prized pick despite some nerfs, C9 was able to grab Svenskeren his fabled Lee Sin. What happened next was nothing short of a massacre. The constant one-two punches delivered to Team Liquids middle lane forced Liquid to constantly be on the back foot. This followed by some of the most measured play displayed from Cloud9 this season, allowed C9 to take a big win with their substitute players.
Rising From the Ashes
In the current standings, Cloud9 has shot from bottom of the barrel to a three-way tie for third. While other teams have fallen to the wayside, Cloud9 seems to have steadily improved and resolved many of their issues. There is only one more week to go, and Cloud9 is poised to take a playoff spot for themselves. Can the team do it? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see!
Until next time, be sure to keep your eyes on the sky!
Featured Image courtesy of Riot Games. Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr