In the immortal words of the mad titan, “Dread it. Run from it. Destiny arrives all the same. And now, it’s here. Or should I say, I am”.
C9 once again found themselves in the Gauntlet, this time as the final boss after their 0-3 loss to Team Liquid in the NA LCS 2018 Summer Finals. Luckily, all was not lost. Cloud9 had one last shot at the biggest event of the year. All the team had to do was win one match against their biggest rival, Team SoloMid. Would Cloud9 retain their seat atop the iron throne, or would a new ruler of that NA gates emerge?
Place of Power
Historically, Cloud9 has always been NA’s gatekeeper to the world stage. Since the inception of the regional qualifier tournament, better known as the Gauntlet, Cloud9 has won every single qualifier.
The team’s long reign began way back in 2015. Cloud9, who was faced with the threat of relegation, managed to squeeze their way into NA’s first regional qualifier. The team’s chances did not look good, however. Their recent performances did not inspire a lot of confidence. Though Hai was back in the starting lineup, his swap over to the jungle role wasn’t ideal. Also, C9’s new mid, Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen struggled to keep up against his counterparts. Thankfully, Cloud9’s lucky stars aligned and they would have one final shot at attending worlds through the newly created regional qualifier. Through close calls and insane reverse sweeps, Cloud9 managed to put on a legendary performance and continue the team’s streak of Worlds attendance.
Atop the Iron Throne
In the years to come, Cloud9 would manage to constantly find themselves in the Gauntlet. Time and time again, however, Cloud9 would prove to be the winner. Even when up against tough opponents that C9 had struggled to defeat, such as Immortals in 2016 or Counter Logic Gaming in 2017, it seemed that Cloud9 would elevate their play to new heights in order to make it to worlds.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you are a TSM fan), C9’s Gauntlet buff was in full effect. Across the three games that were played, Cloud9 continuously took the fight to TSM. TSM seemed to take a strict adherence to what was deemed meta when crafting team compositions. While this is not necessarily a bad idea, it can definitely backfire if the style of play required does not match the players. Matching what they have done in previous Gauntlet bouts, Cloud9 chose to build around comfort and the unexpected. This comfort definitely seemed to shine through, as Cloud9 was able to repeatedly get the upper hand over an uncomfortable looking TSM.
There Can Only be One
Through aggressive dives and clutch moments, C9 ceremoniously defeated their long standing rival and locked in their spot for Worlds. The moment was bittersweet, as TSM would miss out on the festivities for the first time in their storied history. For Cloud9, the weeks leading up to the play-in stage will be filled with rigorous training. The competition at this year’s tournament may be the fiercest to date.
Can C9 survive the experience? You’ll have to tune in next time to find out! Until then, keep those eyes on the sky!
Featured Image courtesy of Riot Games. Images courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr