Cloud9 have looked unstoppable in North America this year. They have become the most dominant LCS team of all time. That is, until 100 Thieves took them down for their first loss on Sunday. 100T entered the match-up with a 3-6 record, up against C9’s 9-0. They had swapped in Contractz and Poome as starting jungler and support two weeks ago. How did they defeat C9?
Every win starts in the draft. 100T targeted bottom lane by banning Kalista and Ezreal in round one. C9 targeted mid lane with Leblanc and Syndra. Both took out a power pick in Twisted Fate and Graves. 100T decided to blind pick Karma, which can flex mid or support (even sometimes top), while C9 drafted Wukong and Senna.
C9 destroyed TSM with the Wukong-Senna bottom lane just one day prior, but Licorice also carried on Wukong against Counter Logic Gaming one week prior. While the Senna lock-in indicated a bottom lane pair, C9 is strong enough to flex the Wukong (DIG even played him jungle against C9 in Week 4).
100T moved forward with Olaf and Ashe, champions with middling priority in the LCS. Olaf and Karma synergize with the shielded speed-ups, but otherwise 100T is playing a similar flex mind-game with the Karma that C9 has with the Wukong. C9 finished out the first phase with Jarvan, as another standard jungle pick against Olaf.
For Phase 2, C9 banned Thresh and Malphite. The Thresh ban was straight-forward, but Malphite had only seen three LCS games up to this point. Immortals’ Allorim piloted the champ twice, while CLG’s Ruin lost to C9 Licorice’s Wukong last time around. Maybe they thought Ssumday might pick Malphite into the three AD champions showing so far? Maybe they thought Ryoma might try for the Doinb Malphite mid?
100T targeted the mid lane pool, banning Orianna-Azir. At this point, five mid lane champions were banned and neither team clearly drafted for that role yet. C9 locked in Jayce, which can also get flexed between top and mid. 100T responded with Camille-Galio, which was a call-back to Season 8, when the duo was part of the global meta. It also prevented C9 from drafting Galio to synergize with Jarvan. C9 last-picked Cassiopeia, granting AP damage in the mid lane.
C9 must have been confident in the Wukong-Senna bot lane to blind pick them early in the draft. The Jarvan pick also locked them into needing AP damage in top or mid lane. Syndra, Twisted Fate, Leblanc, Azir and Orianna are the top five AP champions in the LCS. Galio, Zoe and Cassiopeia are the next tier. With Galio drafted by 100T, C9 had to pick between Zoe and Cassio.
While Nisqy plays the best Zoe in the league, Cassio is probably the better lane match-up, and brings more sustained AP damage than Zoe. C9 could have banned Galio instead of Malphite, then forced the Zoe-Cassio match-up mid. They also could have banned Cassio, which would force 100T to choose to give Nisqy Galio or Zoe.
The Early Game
The early game revolved around top lane. Contractz and Blaber started in the top side and cleared camps for the first three minutes. Licorice oddly over-extended in his lane and nearly died to Ssumday. About a minute later, Ssumday made a similar mistake. Luckily, he flashed Blaber’s flag-and-drag-flash, but it gave Licorice the Flash advantage. Contractz secured First Blood at 5 minutes when Licorice checked the river brush. Between that and the turret plate for 100T bottom lane, C9 started 1,000 gold behind.
100T took the first Ocean Drake, and Ssumday began pressuring Blaber near his red buff. He initiated over a wall, Ryoma followed up with Galio ultimate, and Ssumday took the kill. Meanwhile, Poome and Contractz invaded Blaber’s blue side and cleared blue buff and wolves. With pressure on all lanes, Contractz secured Rift Herald and Ssumday took a turret plate. C9 caught onto the play and moved to the pit. Blaber and Nisqy killed Contractz, before finishing Ssumday with Licorice.
Near 12 minutes, Licorice and Ssumday took a 1v1, which Licorice won. However, with pressure mid and bot, 100T moved to dragon pit. They secured the Cloud Drake, causing the Cloud Rift. C9 rotated and fought, resulting in a one-for-one (Poome for Zven). Meanwhile, Licorice took two plates top, bringing the gold back to even. Contractz activated Rift Herald top, so before 14 minutes 100T led C9 in turret plates (five to four).
With top and mid pressure, 100T invaded Blaber’s red-side jungle. Contractz stole red buff, raptors, and Ssumday killed Nisqy mid. Blaber cleared mid and pathed bot to clear vision, but 100T engaged and killed him. Shortly thereafter, Zven found an opening and killed Cody Sun two-versus-two. Contractz secured the second Rift Herald and Ssumday knocked down first turret. With Cloud Drake spawning in 30 seconds, both teams opted to fight mid. 100T came out with the three-for-zero, pushed mid with Rift Herald to secure two turrets, and took their third dragon. This fight blew the game open, granting 100T a 3,600 gold lead.
Contractz held the second most gold in the game, enabling him to force a 1-v-2 dive onto Nisqy and Blaber in bot lane. He Undertow-Flash-Ragnaroked into an unwarded bush to secure the double kill almost single-handedly. Ryoma knocked down the bottom tier one turret, making it four turrets to zero and a 6,000 gold lead to 100T.
100T’s superior engage continued rampaging, as Contractz ran down Zven, followed by a Camille-Galio combo. They killed Zven and Blaber, and Poome flashed the “GG” emote before turning to Baron. C9 rotated to contest the Dragon Soul, but 100T aced them with a five-for-one fight. They secured Cloud Soul and split-pushed to win the game in 27 minutes.
Several factors went into Cloud9’s first defeat. 100T’s drafted around the Wukong, knowing C9 would take it bot lane. Olaf is essentially immune to Wukong. Galio counter-acts C9’s dive with Jarvan and Wukong. As long as they gain the lead, 100T would have those advantages. With pressure mid and bot, top lane was supposed to be 100T’s weakness, but the initial misplay from Licorice threw that off.
On this week’s episode of “The 9’s,” Blaber told Montecristo “I wanted to pressure top side, because Licorice should have been in a winning match-up, but he played his lane really poorly.” He goes on to say C9 could still win after Licorice died checking the river bush, but the game was doomed after the mid lane fight. Blaber mentions trying to save Licorice who Teleported onto the minion wave, and if he had played that differently the fight was winnable.
Contractz was the biggest factor in this game, though. He made sure to push the tempo with Olaf, invading Blaber and charging headfirst into C9 at every moment. Poome’s Karma and Cody Sun’s Ashe held pressure bot lane in the early game, and assisted Contractz in the jungle. C9 tried to contest objectives, but could not gain an advantage. Everything fell in 100T’s favor, and the Olaf truly shined. Contractz even won Mastercard Player of the Week with his performance here, and FlyQuest’s defeat.
C9 v. 100T VOD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckv1NENTvcA&t=2186s
Oracle’s Elixir: https://oracleselixir.com/