The semifinals are a stage that North America is not normally accustomed to. Cloud9, whose summer season performance defied expectations, was set to do it again in their historic match against Fnatic. Sadly, C9 failed to reach the finals.
As the Worlds tournament was winding down, C9 and Fnatic were quickly becoming event favorites. C9 and Fnatic both obtained their semifinals spot through a similar playstyle of aggressive skirmishing and dynamic team play. When comparing the two in a head-to-head matchup, many believed that the match would be decided at the drafting phase.
Win Lane, Win Game
Unfortunately for C9, their draft did not cut it. While both teams drafted for lots of fighting, Fnatic’s team compositions seemed to align more with their players’ competencies. Fnatic utilized several champions that are able to dominate the lane and then take those advantages into teamfights. Picks such as LeBlanc, Azir, and Sivir allowed Fnatic to constantly pressure lanes and put C9’s more skirmish-oriented champions at a disadvantage.
As for C9, their players seemed somewhat uncomfortable in their champion assignments. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen especially seemed uneasy in playing their respective champions of Ekko and Lissandra.
While Licorice has been known to play more carry oriented champions to a high level, his Ekko play did not look nearly as polished. Several times throughout the series, he seemed to die unnecessarily while still having his ultimate ability available. As for Jensen, his lackluster Lissandra play is nothing new. Historically, Jensen’s Lissandra play has always been lackluster. Her slow spell rotation and emphasis on containing/slowing down fights rather than finishing them quickly certainly does not align with Jensen’s quick, aggressive playstyle.
Whatever the reason behind the draft, C9’s ship seemed dead in the water from the start regardless of what they picked. Each game felt agonizingly one-sided, as Fnatic effortlessly slaughtered Cloud9 fight after fight. In no time at all, the match was done and C9 lost 0-3.
2018 has been a roller coaster journey for Cloud9. When the year started, fans were extremely questionable of acquiring former TSM jungler, Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen. Svenskeren’s 2017 Worlds performance did not instill a lot of confidence, especially when considering what becomes of many junglers after they have toured with TSM for several splits. While the team started strong with an impressive undefeated streak, their spring season quickly soured. The team began losing matches left and right in an apparent death spiral. After their unceremonious loss to Team Liquid in the spring playoff quarterfinals, many fans had started to lose faith that the team would ever make it to the Worlds stage.
C9’s situation only got worse before it got better. Before the summer season began, the team released a bombshell announcement: veteran starters Jensen, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Andy “Smoothie” Ta would be benched in favor of their Cloud9 Academy counterparts. Naturally, this created an uproar within the community. To make matters worse, C9 was seemingly not able to close out any of their games, at one point ending up in tenth place.
Eventually, Cloud9 was able to turn things around, thanks to breakout rookies Robert “Blaber” Huang and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam. Through a reinvigorated lineup, Cloud9 was able to make a miraculous run all the way to the NA LCS Summer Finals. Though they lost to
Team Liquid, Cloud9 was able to continue to defy expectations by securing a spot at Worlds and make their way to the semifinals.
If C9’s run has taught us anything, it is to never give up, no matter how dire the circumstances may be. Through hard work and grit, they had managed to pull off a historic run that League of Legends will not soon forget.
Eye in the Sky Signing Off
Now, friends, our journey must come to an end. It has been a joy covering the many facets of my favorite team for the last six or so months and getting to experience all the ups and downs along the way. I am incredibly grateful to Robert Hanes, Joe DiTullio, and The Game Haus for giving me such a great opportunity. I hope you have enjoyed my coverage and look forward to what projects the future holds.
As always, make sure to keep your eyes toward the sky!
Featured Image courtesy of Riot Games. Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr