It was a nice run but all good things must come to an end. In their first game of Week 7, 13 of the split, Team SoloMid (TSM) handed Cloud9 their first loss. Cloud9 tied 2016 Spring Immortals for furthest into the split before losing a game. Although TSM in Summer 2016 started 14-0, that was during Best-of-3 series in the LCS and TSM had lost a few games. Two major factors led to TSM routing Cloud9, the draft and the teamfights.
Before the actual match started, TSM already had an advantage. Right off the bat TSM banned Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme’s Tahm Kench and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen’s Senna. Cloud9 countered by preventing Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg from selecting Syndra. TSM chose Sett for Sergen “Broken Blade” Celik, thus preventing Eric “Licorice” Ritchie from picking him. Next, Cloud9 takes Miss Fortune for Zven and Lee Sin for Robert “Blaber” Huang. TSM locks in Xayah and Rakan for Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup and Vincent “Biofrost” Wang, respectively. Followed by Cloud9 taking Leona for Vulcan. TSM then bans Gangplank and Aatrox and Cloud9 bans two junglers in Gragas and Sejuani. Upon having his comfort pick open, Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer selects Zoe. TSM responds with Jarvan IV for Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett and the pivotal, and game-changing, Zilean for Bjergsen. After seeing this curve-ball, Cloud9 suspiciously takes Shen for Licorice.
This where Bjergsen’s immense champion pool becomes a major factor. Zilean. A pick completely out of left field, but the perfect counter against Cloud9.
Zilean has his double bomb stun as well as a revive for his ultimate. Zilean’s passive allows him to basically “top-off” his allies experience bars. If any ally near Zilean is relatively close to leveling up, Zilean can give them the necessary points to level up. On top of all these supportive abilities, his E, Time Warp, can either speed up an ally or slow an enemy. How does this one champion counter Cloud9? Cloud9 likes to strike hard and fast, targeting the carries and then cleaning up. Well, what if the carry didn’t actually die and could come back to the fight after a brief rest? That’s what Zilean brings to the table with his revive.
TSM baits Cloud9 into a fight and then they try to escape? Not so fast for one member. Also, Cloud9 has been consistently winning lanes, putting their opponents in massive experience deficits. Zilean erases that advantage as he can level up his allies. Zilean is also counters Zoe because she telegraphs her leaps forward and backwards, allowing the Zilean to place his bombs in the perfect places, leading to easy stuns. All these factors mixed with the unrivaled talent of Bjergsen meant serious trouble for Cloud9.
Not a Good Draft for Cloud9
Cloud9 did not make one reactive pick or ban, leaning on their confidence and skill to win this game. Most games this is more than enough for a Cloud9 win, but TSM drafted and banned perfectly to beat Cloud9. With Tahm Kench banned away, Miss Fortune has no way to escape the CC of TSM except for flash. One simple roam or gank resulting in a flash from Miss Fortune means an easy kill for TSM for the next 5 minutes.
Again, Zoe is directly countered by Zilean due to her easy to predict movements. Also, Zilean can easily counter her obscene burst damage with his revive. Leona and Lee Sin were acceptable picks, but are more aggressive picks when Cloud9 should have looking for more defensive picks to counter TSM’s CC chains.
Shen is the most questionable pick. His early game is weak and requires Jungle attention to not get stomped in lane. Also, his ultimate has a 3 second channel, which is easy for Sett to interrupt and put the ultimate on it’s long cooldown. All in all this draft spelled disaster for Cloud9.
TSM refused to fight unless they chose when and where to fight. When Blaber would try to engage on Dardoch in the jungle, Dardoch would disengage
knowing the rest of Cloud9 were on their way. The first couple team fights of the game were started by TSM collapsing on Licorice before the rest of Cloud9 could react.
How did TSM get the jump on Cloud9 so often? Simple, they were more aggressive. Now this seems unfathomable, but TSM started two fights in a row in the top lane back to back. TSM didn’t attack top, wait a couple minutes and then try again. They attacked, died and upon respawning made a bee line for top again to start another fight.
An example of their aggresiveness is the first teamfight that yielded First Blood to TSM. They moved all members except Bjergsen to the top, but stayed out of vision of Cloud9. All at once they collapsed on Licorice and killed him. Cloud9 had no vision in the top lane except for Licorice’s line of sight. Even with no vision they read the play as Blaber, Zven and Vulcan were all passed the tier 2 top lane tower when TSM sprang the trap. TSM’s ultra aggressiveness, even though Cloud9 caught on, resulted in an advantage for a few seconds.
The “Wombo Combo”
TSM relied heavily on the CC their draft provided them. They layered and timed their stuns to perfection, deciding teamfights before they even started.
The first time TSM executes this combo is just before the 17 minute mark. They start by poking Cloud9 until the rest of TSM arrives. Zven casts his ultimate, Bullet Time, preventing him from moving. Broken Blade sees this and immediately uses his ultimate to slam Vulcan into Zven, at the same time Blaber hops to Vulcan to provide him with a shield. While that is happening Biofrost uses The Quickness and Grand Entrance, charming and then stunning the three members of Cloud9. This means three members of Cloud9 are very close to each other, and Dardoch casts his ultimate, trapping all three in his Cataclysm. Bjergsen uses his double bombs at the same time Kobbe uses his ultimate to throw out five feathers behind Cloud9 and pulls them in as soon as Bjergsen’s stun ends, stunning Cloud9 for even longer. TSM ends up killing four members of Cloud9 while losing no one, in fact only two members leave with less than half health.
This combo prevents any reaction from Cloud9, as they can’t even move let alone attack. This layering also punishes Cloud9’s aggressiveness, fighting as a team, and close to each other, makes the CC chains exponentially more effective.
Can this composition happen again? The short answer is highly doubtful as not many players have the same mastery of Zilean as Bjergsen. Zilean is the key to this composition and the key to countering
everything Cloud9 does well. The next time this composition will be executed to this extent will be in the Finals for either Spring or Summer if it’s TSM vs Cloud9. As long as Cloud9 stays this dominate, Worlds 2020 is the next best hope for this Cloud9 Killer.
Cloud9 did not build a single Quicksilver Sash the whole game. This may have been due to more than one source of CC coming from TSM. But, even if they broke the first stun from TSM, some of the teamfights could have gone the other way. This is all speculative, and just like with Schrodinger’s box, the answer could be anything.