The time has come for Cloud9 fans. The offseason is over, the Lock In Tournament has concluded and the full roster has arrived. C9 is prepared and ready to take on the LCS in 2022. Most importantly, new Head Coach Nick “LS” Cesare is on the scene to implement his ideas of the game.
Some of the biggest talking points about Cloud9 revolved around LS’ unique outlook on high-level League of Legends. One of his biggest discussion points has always been how teams drafted terribly for their own game plans. Now that LS is at the helm of an LCS team, he can showcase his brand of drafting and demonstrate just how a team can win the game before a team even loads onto the rift.
“Colorful Drafting” is a new series from TGH that will walkthrough how LS’ draft strategy differs from traditional theory, and how his “color theory” of drafting works using real life examples. Kicking off the new column is the opener for Cloud9’s 2022 LCS Spring campaign. Cloud9 squared off against Golden Guardians to being the year, and got the audiences believing in the Church of LS right from the get-go.
Phase 1 Bans
Golden Guardians: Karma, Corki, Twisted Fate
Cloud9: Thresh, Caitlyn, Zeri
The bans between both teams seem pretty standard. Removing Corki and TF from C9 pushes out the few mid laners that Fudge has played so far in 2022. The Karma ban is most likely a hedge towards the new “enchanter/smite” meta that is developing in the LCS at the moment. Banning Karma also removes some power from an Ezreal on the bot side of the map, as the pair can severely hinder any aggressive play on the side of Golden Guardians. Overall, it was tough for GG to select specific bans against Cloud9 because it was essentially a whole new roster.
On the side of C9, Thresh and Caitlyn bans are aimed at removing the safest options for the GGS bot duo. The idea here is to also potentially handshake two powerful ADCs in Aphelios and Jinx. Thresh is solid overall, but Caitlyn provides an early game advantage that could overwhelm Cloud9 if left unattended.
The Zeri ban is just because she’s overpowered at the moment. Zeri serves as almost a “super flex” in that she can play in all three lanes, and still dominate from any of them. Funny enough Cloud9 Academy had Darshan play Zeri top with incredible success. Seeing how the two teams on Cloud9 closely interact on a daily basis, it isn’t wild to imagine that the LCS squad saw just how good the latest ADC can be.
The opening bans are incredibly important when it comes to dictating a team’s color identity. Right now teams in the LCS aren’t drafting with certain colors in mind, so opening bans are typically used to remove the S-tier champions in the current patch. This strategy is completely viable, however it leaves the door open for Cloud9 to ban away potential counters before any champion is locked in.
Cloud9 have all the power in this draft as they know that the opponent isn’t playing the same “draft game”. C9 can go into their colors of choice, and even deny some of the key champions that would prevent their strategy from succeeding.
In this game, the Thresh and Caitlyn bans are large indicators that Cloud9 want to play a more “blue” bot lane. Thresh and Caitlyn share “red” tendencies, and their lane presence could ultimately cause serious damage to the scaling of any late-game ADC or enchanter.
Zeri is just busted. At the moment she’s certainly blue/white/red in the most oppressive way imaginable.
First Three Picks
Golden Guardians: Yuumi
Cloud9: Gwen, Aphelios
A first pick Yuumi realistically leaves everything on the table for Golden Guardians. Yuumi pairs well with really any laner in bot lane, and is powerful attached to melee carries. Yuumi at a glance seems to be just a “value” champion, and leaves plenty of wiggle room for GGs to adjust their draft in the second phase.
Meanwhile Cloud9 lock in Gwen and Aphelios as an answer to Yuumi. The two picks aren’t directly made to counter Yuumi per say, but they play well into several avenues that GGs may want to move towards. Both Aphelios and Gwen are champions that scale very well into the late game, while not sacrificing much early on.
These blue champs are the first indication of what Cloud9 want to do in this draft. They are extremely strong when nothing is happening and given ample time to increase their power. Gwen is also quite flexible in where she can play, leaving up plenty of options for Cloud9 to pivot if something doesn’t look right. After the first two picks, Cloud9 are very much looking to dive deeper into their blue/white identity.
Closing Out Phase 1
Golden Guardians: Jhin, Viktor
This secondary pick is where the Cloud9/LS method of drafting begins to take shape. Selecting Jhin to partner up with Yuumi is a standard move that people have seen across the various leagues. Giving Jhin the speed and healing he needs to avoid threats is key for GGs to succeed. Viktor is a late game magic threat that does have some strong zone control abilities. But at the moment, Golden Guardians make these picks with the knowledge that Aphelios and Gwen are both a bit tricky to get to.
Cloud9 respond with a unique Sona pick, and it is with this pick that we now see the bigger picture.
GGs wants to set up their advance with Yuumi speed and Jhin snare or slows from his ultimate. Viktor wants to follow that up with a Gravity Field and a Chaos storm to try and burst down the enemy. However, Cloud9 is ready for this already with the first two picks, and cement their own strategy with selecting Sona. Cloud9’s game plan here is to react to what the opponent is doing and then make the best decision. Running straight at a Gwen/Sona/Aphelios core is a horrible idea. And at this stage in the draft, that is all GGs can do.
On the side of Golden Guardians, Cloud9 sees a primarily green/blue team composition with some red splashed in. Jhin himself acts as more of a green champ that is supportive in nature, thanks to his variety of crowd control tools. Jhin can come in with plenty of damage, but alone he can’t take over a game quite like Jinx or Aphelios. Viktor is a late game magic threat that does have some strong zone control abilities, adding that bit of blue.
On Cloud9’s board is a heavy blue team with splashes of white and green. Sona, much like Yuumi, is a green/blue champion that serves only to buff up those around her.
With the teams almost locked into their colors, the second phase of bans is incredibly important for both teams to remove powerful, on theme picks from the opponent. Missing a key ban could cause massive problems in the last few picks.
Phase 2 Bans
Golden Guardians: Lee Sin, Xin Zhao
Cloud9: Jarvan IV, Zed
Golden Guardians don’t necessarily know where the Gwen is going, but they make the assumption that it is heading to the top lane. GGs ban out powerful junglers in hopes to hinder Blaber’s playmaking ability. Lee Sin and Xin Zhao are pretty strong in the early game, and Golden Guardians are extremely aware of Blaber’s ability to shift games through the jungle.
Cloud9 remove J4 as it is another aggressive jungler that could cause problems for Aphelios later on. The Zed ban however is an interesting move as it almost signals that Sona may be heading to the mid lane.
Cloud9 are aware of what is happening in this draft, and their goal becomes to remove the few synergistic threats that could topple their own plan. Jarvan and zed are both very red characters that have the gap closing ability to disrupt the C9 backline. Zed in particular is a dangerous threat that can prey upon weaker green champions like Sona. If Zed is able to take over the map, then Cloud9’s late game game plan becomes a lot harder to pull off.
On the other hand, Lee and Xin are effectively useless bans against C9’s known composition. This is the first example from the Color Theory that displays a team not properly addressing the enemies face-up composition. Lee and Xin do not synergize with the locked-in champions, and realistically if Cloud9 went towards those champions, they would only harm their own composition. Though to the defense of Golden Guardians, they weren’t aware of the potential flex of Gwen and Sona.
Phase 2 Picks
Golden Guardians: Qiyana, Renekton
When C9 lock in Ivern, no one knows what is going on. Ivern is traditionally a jungler, however players have yet to see this champion played at the highest level in quite some time. Ivern does have some synergy with Gwen in terms of using his root as a gap closer, but overall the power of Ivern is a bit of a question mark.
Ivern becomes a bit more confusing as Golden Guardians lock in both Qiyana and Renekton to round out their composition. They still don’t know who is playing mid lane just yet, but Golden Guardians feel confident in their Viktor pick.
Cloud9 instantly lock in Ivern, as another piece of their reactive team composition. Ivern is heavily green with blue traits, and it pairs insanely well with the already defined composition of Cloud9. Daisy is a massive force to deal with as a dive-centric team. The shielding and the stuns are equally excellent tools to shift team fights back into C9’s favor. Cloud9 don’t want to do any fighting before their early item power spikes, because once those items come in, Ivern and Sona are oppressive.
Golden Guardians are again forced to dive deeper into their one-dimensional red composition, and select Qiyana and Renekton. Qiyana fits Pridestalker’s playstyle very well, and for his first game on stage it makes sense to pick something of comfort. The only issue is that Qiyana won’t do much once the game goes past 20 minutes. There is no hope for an assassin as they jump straight into a Sona stun, followed up by a Daisy stun, followed up with Gwen damage. All of that goes for Renekton as well.
Last pick Gnar is just a pure flex pick that slots perfectly into the composition. Not only is Gnar a strong laner into Renekton, but his kit is exactly what the Cloud9 side wants. Gnar’s ultimate serves two purposes as a multi-man stun or as a disengage tool. Diving into a Gnar is, as with the rest of Cloud9’s composition, terribly difficult for GGs. Gnar’s white/blue/red color identity is simply the perfect last add for Cloud9’s primarily blue/green/white team.
Final Composition Color Traits
– Renekton (red/white)
– Qiyana (red)
– Viktor (blue)
– Jhin (red/green)
– Yuumi (green/blue)
– Gnar (white/blue/red)
– Gwen (white/blue)
– Ivern (green/blue)
– Aphelios (blue/white)
– Sona (green/blue)
From a color standpoint, Golden Guardians are conflicted as to what they want to do in this game. Do they want to scale with Viktor and Yuumi? Or do they want to full-send aggressive plays with Qiyana and Renekton? Audiences saw a bit of the clashing identities when they took the fight in the river, and ultimately found themselves split in the fight. Without dedicating their team to a full theme, Golden Guardians made their composition extremely difficult to execute.
Cloud9 had gotten exactly what they wanted. They have a team composition that can play slow, grab objectives and eventually win when they want to. The game ended in just a few fights, with the Golden Guardian Nexus exploding at the 26 minute mark.
Next Time on Colorful Drafting
Cloud9 battled against Evil Geniuses for their second match of the year, looking to redeem themselves for the 0-3 stomp that occurred in Lock In. Luckily for fans, another spicy pick came through on the side of Cloud9.
Featured image courtesy of ESPAT and Coling-Young Wolf
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