After weeks of waiting, the 2019 LCS Summer Split finally kicked off last weekend. The competition was fierce across the board, but there was one specific player who seemed to be on another level. Eric ‘Licorice’ Ritchie, Cloud9’s emphatic Top Laner, absolutely dominated his opponents in week one. His impact in the Top Lane helped launch Cloud9 to a 2-0 start to the split, making him deserving of the spotlight.
Sweet for Cloud9, Bitter for the Opposition
During Week 1, Licorice was clearly playing at a different frequency than his opponents. Against both FlyQuest and Clutch Gaming, he finished with a scoreline of 14/3/25, including an 8/0/13 performance on Day 2 against Clutch. His presence in the Top Lane was second to none and Cloud9 have already established themselves as a force because of it.
One thing that stood out from Licorice’s play was his map awareness. Whether it was getting a ward down in the enemy jungle or rotating to help a teammate, Licorice was there. In fact, he took part in each of Cloud9’s first 11 takedowns against FlyQuest. This not only gave him an early lead, but it helped Cloud9 establish multiple points of pressure en route to a big victory.
Licorice’s team play was such a big factor that C9’s opponents would be forced to focus him first. Typically, the main carries of the team, like an ADC or Mid Laner, would be the ideal first victim. However, Licorice had already established himself as a profound carry. This would lead to multiple opposing players trying to take him down, while the rest of their team was decimated.
Nothing New for Licorice
Of course, Licorice deserves credit for his amazing week one performance, but he’s used to playing at such a high level. In fact, earlier this year, Licorice was named to the All-LCS 1st Team for his incredible display of skill during the Spring Split. Now with even more experience under his belt, Licorice will be working towards getting his team to the LCS finals.
With teams like Team Liquid and Team SoloMid in their way, it’s hard to see Cloud9 cracking the top two this split. Their overall talent can’t be knocked, however their play as a team has set them back more so compared to their peers. This can be viewed as many different aspects of their game, including their judgement and commitment. As such a cohesive unit, Cloud9 prefer to stay grouped after certain stages of the game. This usually allows them to secure objectives easier and pick off unsuspecting enemies, however this play style can eventually become a crutch. If one of their members misplays an opportunity, Cloud9 lack the discipline to simply back off. Instead, they often over-commit to a bad fight and lose their momentum.
Negative aspects like these often limit the potential of Licorice, but he’s becoming such a well-rounded player that they may not effect him anymore. As long as he can build a decent lead, Licorice becomes an almost unstoppable force that can take on multiple enemies at once. One of his best champions in this regard is Aatrox: a champion designed for risk takers like Licorice. The sustainable damage from Aatrox’s main abilities makes it easier for Licorice to dominate in lane, whereas his ultimate allows him to play riskier if needed. On Aatrox, Licorice becomes exponentially more useful both in lane and in fights with his team.
Can Licorice Make C9 a Contender?
Overall, Cloud9 will need a lot to go in their favor to make the LCS finals. First and foremost, they’ll need to find a way to stop Team Liquid. C9 have struggled in recent match-ups against TL, but Licorice can now provide stability in the Top Lane. His composure against tough opponents makes him an ideal candidate to carry Cloud9 over one of the best teams the LCS has ever seen.
Secondly, there needs to be more cohesive play from Cloud9. This doesn’t entirely fall on the shoulders of Licorice, but there have been too many times where members of C9 are caught out by themselves. Whether it was the result of poor communication or just bad luck, discipline has kept Cloud9 out of the reach of success.
As long as Licorice continues his recent level of play, Cloud9 should fare well against all opposition this split. His ceiling has been increasing as the season progresses, meaning his skill could never be capped by outside opinions. Instead, Licorice has turned into the perfect protege in the Top Lane for Cloud9.
Featured Image Courtesy of LoL Esports Flickr.
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