Cloud9 fans better have their Sunday’s best ironed, pressed, and ready to go, because church is just a week away. Cloud9’s 2022 campaign is shaping up to be one that historians will look back upon in either confusion or admiration. NA’s last hope brought in three new players, one new coach, and one surprising role swap for the 2022 season, and fans are excited. Lock In starts on January 14, and it’s this preseason tournament where audiences will get to witness the brand new Cloud9.
There is no other way to put it, Cloud9’s 2021 season was one of greatest enigma’s in recent LCS history. It was a rollercoaster all the way through. From LCS Spring to World’s, Cloud9 proved to be the strongest team in the world, as well as one of League’s greatest disappointments.
Lock In and Spring Split
On paper, Cloud9 was one of the best teams in the LCS even with a rookie top laner. In the offseason Cloud9 spent big to go grab Perkz from G2. The idea was to add one last MVP caliber piece to the puzzle in hopes to not only win the LCS, but to make a real bid for the World Championship. They brought back their dominant bot lane in Zven and Vulcan, and had Blaber returning to once again control the game from the jungle. C9 let Licorice walk as they planned to promote C9A stand-out Fudge to play top.
2021 was the first year of the Lock In tournament, and Cloud9 fans were excited to watch Perkz breeze past the competition. After almost 17 games in the Lock In tournament, fans were a bit underwhelmed with the performance as a whole. There were certainly great moments and solid victories, but the less-than-stellar plays are what stood out to onlookers as they watched the latest iteration of C9. Fudge looked incredibly shaky facing off against LCS top laners. That was to be expected with a new player stepping up into tougher competition, but people weren’t ready to watch Perkz struggle as much as he did. Cloud9 would eventually lose to TL in the final, but there were still doubts surrounding the team heading into the first week of the season.
It didn’t take long for Cloud9 to silence the detractors once the Spring Season kicked off. Cloud9 punched their way through the LCS, notching the first overall seed in the Mid Season Showdown. They once again faced Team Liquid in the final, but were able to take home the trophy this time around. On their way to an MSI invitation, Blaber took home the MVP honor, as well as a First All-Pro Team nod. Perkz and Zven joined Blaber on the First All-Pro Team lineup as well.
Mid Season Invitational And Summer Split
Cloud9 entered MSI with sky-high expectations. The team started to click, and with all the talent on the roster, that meant bad news for any unprepared opponent. What NA fans weren’t expecting was Cloud9 to have the most head-scratching performance ever from a major-region team. Cloud9 would go on to beat RNG and DAMWON Kia, but failed to beat the LCO representative Pentanet.GG in a “win and in” Scenario. Cloud9 failed to escape the group stage of MSI, and were sent home with nothing but a bruised ego.
It’s odd to suggest that Cloud9 struggled in the Summer of 2021, but at the end of the split the team found themselves in fourth place. The roster looked bad at times, and really left fans and analysts asking “what went wrong?”. Fudge was the lone bright spot on the team, and even won a spot on the First All-Pro Team.
Cloud9 came through when it mattered most however. They fought tooth-and-nail to steal the last World’s Spot from TSM. C9’s season wouldn’t end with a rocky LCS performance. They had one last shot to reach their end goal of winning World’s.
World’s and Postseason
The 2021 World’s competition featured one of the most incredible bounce back performances from Cloud9 the world has ever seen. C9 looked rough in their first round of group play, starting 0-3 heading into day 2. Then when it looked like all hope was lost, the miracle run began. Cloud9 would go on to beat Rogue and FPX in back to back matches, which would be good enough to send all three to tie-breaker matches. Once again, Cloud9 found a way to defeat Rogue and move on to the quarterfinals against Gen.G. Their run may have ended with an extremely disappointing 0-3 finish against GenG, but it was an incredible viewing experience to see Cloud9 Houdini their way out of groups.
Once Cloud9 returned from World’s, the team would slowly begin to change. Perkz was the first to announce his decision to leave Cloud9 to join Vitality, with Vulcan signing with Evil Geniuses shortly after. Changes continued as coaches Reignover and Mithy were both released from the team after a year of splitting head coaching duties. Only Fudge, Blaber and Zven remained on the starting roster, and the coaching staff had dwindled to just MaxWaldo and Veigar2. Cloud9 would need to make significant moves to compete with an explosive offseason across the LCS.
Head Coach: LS
Cloud9 truly went in a new direction in this offseason. The biggest change came with the news of Fudge’s role swap from top to mid. Role swapping has been the popular move lately for teams looking for a new look, and recently teams are finding a good amount of success with the move.
Summit serves as the big player signing for C9, as he joins the team after playing in the LCK for LiiV Sandbox. Many viewers saw Summit as the best player on LiiV Sandbox, and it appears as though he will be a fantastic replacement for Fudge. Then for the final two slots of the roster, C9 looked to the LCK development system. Winsome played support for the LCK Academy team Shadow Battlica. Berserker joins Cloud9 after playing in the LCK Challengers league under the T1 banner.
The most notable, and debatably most surprising, signing this offseason was the addition of LS as C9’s Head Coach. After what seemed like weeks of internal discussions and LS denying the rumors on stream, Cloud9 finally signed their new head coach.
Predicted Placement: 4th
Potential Range for the Team: 6th – 1st
This new iteration of Cloud9 may have the largest range of outcomes that fans have seen in quite some time. There is a world where this team struggles very early on, suffering some tough losses at the hands of teams like Evil Geniuses and Golden Guardians. At least on paper there are is a solid list of items that could pose a hurdle for a revamped team like C9. A brand new coach, three new players, and one role swapping player are all changes that have hurt teams in the past.
On the other hand, Cloud9 has some of the best talent in the LCS. Fudge proved to be one of the best callups in 2021, and had moments that truly stunned audiences at the international level. Blaber is an MVP-caliber jungler that will take over a game in the right meta. Though on a weaker team, Summit has the mechanical ability to compete with the best in the world.
The big question mark is the bot lane for Cloud9. Berserker and Winsome are young players with a bunch of talent, but haven’t played at the highest level just yet. With all rookies, there is a seed of doubt that they may not perform up to par. The good news is, Cloud9 has time to really develop these players. If this first split doesn’t meet expectations, there is still time for the team to come through in the summer.
Featured image courtesy of Riot Games
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