Cloud9 dominate the LCS in many aspects. The main reason is their individual lane dominance. They consistently choose carries and lane bullies in their solo lanes. Cloud9 has the best in each position this split and let their enemies soon find out why. In fact, many times Cloud9 has let their opponents pick their poison, allowing them to attempt to get a single lane ahead during laning phase. Whichever lane looks to be camped or trying to get ahead, Robert “Blaber” Huang will let the enemy get that lane ahead, but will put just as much effort in the other two lanes. This seems to be a simple concept but not many team have the personnel to handle this effectively. In fact, only TSM and Team Liquid have the talent in each lane to do so.
Eric “Licorice” Ritchie loves his Bruisers. In 16 games played, Licorice has picked a tank only once, in Cloud9’s loss to TSM Licorice was on Shen. Top lane is typically the domain for tanks and all other top lane players have at least two games on tanks. Licorice would rather play proactively as his most played champions are Sett and Aatrox with both having 4 appearances. His other 8 picks are all bruisers and what a fitting name as no one leaves a fight with Licorice without a couple of bruises.
An example is Licorice’s second game against Dignitas, into Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon’s Lucian. Dignitas’ strategy was to get Huni as far as possible ahead of Licorice, and then dominate the game from there. Dignitas camped top as expected, but didn’t get Huni far ahead at all as Licorice absorbed the pressure in stride. By Dignitas focusing on top, this allowed the rest of Cloud9 to get advantages in both mid and bottom. In fact, the only death that game was Licorice dying to their Jungler.
Whenever Licorice gets a hint that he will be camped by the enemy jungler, he cedes the lane and plays very passively. For most top laners this will spell the end of the game, but Licorice has this uncanny ability to erase any deficit after laning phase ends. While everyone is skirmishing around the map, Licorice free farms the unoccupied lanes.
Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer is a different breed. He is hard to camp or shut down because he roams so much. Unlike half of the midlaners in the LCS, Nisqy has not played a tank all split. This comes as a surprise as Ornn in the midlane is a strategy used by the vast majority of the teams.
Nisqy has an ability to make his lane opponents play the same way he does. He pushes the wave into the tower as fast as possible which gives him the time to roam and give the rest of Cloud9 advantages. By doing this, the other midlaner responds with also pushing the wave into the tower in an attempt to whittle the tower down. But Nisqy then returns to lane and safely farms waves under his tower and pushes the wave back into his opponent’s tower.
His success can also be attributed to his frenetic playstyle. While pushing his lane in, he continues to poke and harass the other midlaner. This serves two purposes, to damage his opponent and also to make them back off and miss easy CS. This type of playing is evident in his games on Zoe. His Paddle Stars could be directed to either the wave or his enemy, and only he knows right up until the attack hits. Also with the Sleepy Trouble Bubbles, which Nisqy actually misses a good amount of purpose. By missing his target, he actually creates an area that his opponent will not enter, allowing him or another Cloud9 member to create an advantage.
Zven and Vulcan
Jasper “Zven” Svenningsen and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme basically play as two ADCs in one lane. Vulcan consistently positions aggressively, allowing him to harass the other team. This also allows Zven to position on the opposite side of the wave to do the same. Creating a pincer of harass that no one has dealt with properly.
Their map awareness is top of the league this split. Both can read enemy junglers while having minimal vision. Preventing a kill from going over to the other and continuing the trend of wasting the jungler’s time. An example of this is in their loss to TSM. When TSM sent four members top to pick off Licorice, Zven and Vulcan has read the play. While Licorice was killed, Zven and Vulcan were mere seconds away from saving his life.
Many teams come in with the game plan of shutting down Cloud9’s bottom lane, which would allow for a significant amount of success if executed. But as the great Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in face.” Blaber punching another lane is never part of the other teams plans but happens every game. This break allows Zven and Vulcan to run over their opponents in the bottom lane. They create nearly insurmountable leads over their lane opponents.
Cloud9 has shown they are the best at adapting and throwing wrenches in their enemies plans. Licorice can both soak up and dish out the damage. Nisqy forcing his opponents to stay in lane and at the last second returning to erase any advantage. Zven and Vulcan both taking note of the game state propping up whoever may have been targeted by their opponents. All these factors lead to the result of Cloud9 dominates the LCS.
“From Our Haus to Yours”