With Week 9 of the NA LCS finished, the spring 2018 playoffs loom on the horizon. While several teams put their best foot forward to end on a high note and get in gear for playoffs, Cloud9 struggled to capture the same spirit. Things were looking bright for Cloud9 fans with C9 finishing the first half of the round robin with an outstanding win-loss record of 8-1. With only one loss to Echo Fox, Cloud9 was looking unstoppable going into the second half of the split. What went wrong for the team?
Raining on their parade
A mix of meta changes and experimentation gone wrong took the wind out of the team’s sails and left Cloud9 with a second half record of 3-6 and the 5th place spot in the spring playoffs. In the first round, Cloud9 flourished due to a winning combination of Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta’s hard hitting engages and explosive follow-up from Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. The team made quick work of their opponents by shifting their focus from their mid lane to their side lanes.
Jensen, their star mid lane player who received a lot of jungle attention last season, roamed often and made sure his teammates were able to get advantages early. These early advantages allowed Cloud9 to throw their weight around the map and more easily take towers and neutral objectives.
With the changes brought by patch 8.4, however, Cloud9 featured a very different dynamic that they struggled to make effective for the remainder of the split. This new dynamic emphasized snowballing the early game and securing Baron as early and easily as possible. This was accomplished through picks like Licorice on Shen, Svenskeren on Kha’Zix, Jensen on late game scaling mages, and Smoothie on big playmaking supports like Blitzcrank or Rakan.
Sadly, this dynamic proved difficult for the team to properly execute. While Svenskeren was able to gather early advantages through early game plays, the team would often lose focus and do nothing with the early leads that they had generated. This, coupled with Licorice’s struggles to effectively pull the trigger on initiations through global abilities like Stand United or Teleport, made controlling leads and executing compositions very difficult. This skittishness to initiate caused problems for the rest of the team during the mid and late game and contributed to the majority of their losses.
Baron was another cause of concern for C9. The objective received a greater amount of emphasis because of the buffs to Baron itself and the synergy it presented with Banner of Command. Cloud9 seemed to be unable to secure Baron, as the team would either mistime backs or get picked off during key moments that allowed their enemy to take it for themselves. The best example of this is during Week 8 when Cloud9 continuously struggled to control the area around the objective.
Plagued by these ongoing issues, Cloud9 plummeted in the standings and ultimately finished 5th in the regular season.
With their playoff match against Team Liquid only a few days away, all eyes will be on Cloud9 to see if they can return to the form that made them so successful in the first half of the spring season. While many will be concerned about the team’s ability to execute their compositions, all may not be lost for Cloud9 fans.
Against Clutch Gaming, Cloud9 showed signs of life by returning to the style that made them so effective in the first half of spring. Also, head coach Bok “Reapered” Han-guy has been vocal about the team’s ongoing issues and recognizes where their troubles lie. Whether the team is able to overcome their woes or not remains to be seen, but it will certainly make this weekend’s match much more interesting.
Featured image courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr