Cloud9 enters this winner’s bracket semifinal game after a commanding 3-0 sweep of 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses (EG) advanced with a 3-1 victory over FlyQuest. It’s the winner’s bracket semifinal because the winner goes straight to finals. But the loser goes into the loser bracket and has to play the winner of TSM and FlyQuest.
Cloud9 easily had the upper hand in both games they played in the regular season, winning both games in under 31 minutes. This matchup should be no different, although the game may last longer. Cloud9 looks to be playing down to their competition as of late. Yes, they are still winning but some games have required more luck and effort than their games earlier in the season. Such as with the final game against Team Liquid that required a teamfight win and sneaky backdoor to win the game.
On the flip side, EG are hitting their stride at just the right time. They finally overcame any synergy and communications issues that seemed to plague them earlier in the season. Mid and Jungle are on the same page and bot lane are living up to their expectations. All they needed was to shake off the webs and come together as a team. They finished the regular season winning seven of their last eight games. Who did they lose that one game to? None other than Mr. Cloud9 himself.
Even though Colin “Kumo” Zhao’s play lately has picked up but is still not quite at the level of Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. Kumo held his own against Omran “V1PER” Shoura in the first two games against FlyQuest. Once FlyQuest swapped V1PER out for Colin “Solo” Earnest for Game 3, Kumo struggled. In game four EG left Kumo on an island as they spent most of their time and resources on the bottom lane. Showing that EG has more confidence in their bottom lane than in Kumo on Ornn to win the game.
Everyone has their ups and downs, but to see Kumo struggle against two top laners who are inferior to Licorice is not a good sign. Kumo defaults to a “don’t die and farm under tower” stance fairly quickly once his opponent shows aggression. This bodes extremely well for Licorice as he is one of the most aggressive top laners, especially when he is placed on a carry. Licorice will constantly show his superior talent and mix in some Blaber guest appearances, and this spell bad news for Kumo.
Robert “Blaber” Huang and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen’s jungle matchup will be the key to the series for both teams. Blaber looks to prove that his 1st Team All-LCS selection is no mistake against the reigning MVP in Svenskeren. Keep an eye on how often they visit each lane, and which champions are picked by each jungler. They will pick gank oriented champions, such as the Blaber special Lee Sin or Svenskeren’s legendary Sejuani. This is not the match to see two junglers idly farm their own jungles until one reaches a power spike. The power spike is when the first jungle camps spawn.
These two are also very invade happy. Both teams will utilize a Jungle Expeditionary force of jungle and mid to safely steal away camps. This plays more into Cloud9’s plans as they excel at these random skirmishes in the jungle, especially early in the game. But Svenskeren is experienced enough to be able to predict what Cloud9 likely is doing.
Just as top was the volatile lane last series, this series it’s the mid lane. Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer will have his hands full with a mid laner who roams just as much as he does, Daniele “Jiizuke” Di Mauro. Jiizuke can be a wildcard though, as he possesses unforgiving aggression. This works both ways as he constantly gets leads over his midlane opponent, but it has also led to him handing over kills repeatedly to his enemies.
Expect this matchup to force less roaming than normal. Both Nisqy and Jiizuke are capable of punishing the other for roaming too much. They will also attract as much jungle attention as possible, with Svenskeren trying to get Jiizuke ahead and Blaber will help Nisqy to stay ahead. Control mages and assassins will be featured front and center this series. Zoe will be pick/ban the whole series, but mostly banned by EG. Nisqy’s Zoe is too dangerous to let it slip through.
Without a doubt Jasper “Zven” Svenningsen and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme have the advantage here. Throughout the split both Bae “Bang” Jun-sik and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam have shown inconsistencies. If Bang can get a lead early, mainly through jungle intervention, on a champion that scales very well then EG may be able to steal the game. Zeyzal somehow looks less experienced than Vulcan, despite having one more year of experience. This will lead to a chess match between the two, that Vulcan will win because he has better pieces to work with.
Vulcan and Zven simply have to play the long game and not rush or force anything dangerous. If possible force Bang and Zeyzal into small mistakes and slowly gain advantages, otherwise staying even with EG will ensure a Cloud9 victory. Zven has been playing out of his mind in team fights. Couple that with Vulcan’s ability to affect other lanes makes a very delectable dish for Cloud9.
Overall, Cloud9 is the better team. They swept the season series with ease and look to do so again in the Playoffs. Although it would not be a surprise for EG to actually a win one game, it won’t happen this series. Cloud9 is just too good and too coordinated to fall behind and not be able to overcome the deficit. This should be a very exciting series with a lot of skirmishes and flashy team fights. But most fights will be won by Cloud9, just like the series will.
Prediction: 3-0 Cloud9
Featured Image courtesy of @LCSOfficial on Twitter.
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