The standings for the NA LCS are about as close as can be. Four games separate first and tenth, and with six games left, a lot can change in the ensuing weeks. Missing playoffs for most teams will mean no shot at making Worlds, so every game is going to count. Even just making playoffs won’t guarantee a spot in the Regional Qualifier. One team who has made every Worlds since entering the NA LCS in 2013, Cloud9, has a long road ahead of them to try and make it again.
The Current Situation for Cloud9
Cloud9 has had a very peculiar split to say the least. At the beginning of the split, Owner, Jack Etienne, and Coach, Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu, announced that the starting roster for Week 1 would not be the same starters from the spring split. To check out the coverage from the announcement, click here.
After some experimentation, C9 has selected Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Robert “Blaber” Huang, Nicolaj “Jensen”Jensen, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam as their starting roster for the rest of the split. This lineup started in Week 5 against Team Liquid, and is currently 3-1 since. This roster has also given C9 their first 2-0 week of the split. With the remaining games C9 has left, it’s important to look at if it’s possible for C9 to make playoffs, and which games will be the most important.
The worst record to make it into playoffs since the NA LCS switched to 18 matches was EnVyUs in Summer 2016, with a record of 8-10. So even at a bare minimum, C9 needs to win half their games to even have a shot at getting to playoffs or Worlds. To check out the remaining games and schedule, check here.
The Most Important games: Counter Logic Gaming and Golden Guardians
These games are most important for Cloud9 to win to get into playoffs. Both CLG and GGS are tied with C9 for sixth place along with TSM. During the first round robin, C9 lost to both CLG and GGS. In the event of a tied record, the head-to-head is considered first, and if C9 lose to either team and are still tied for sixth, C9 is going to get the boot. It is also possible that more than one team will be tied for playoff positioning, so having a 1-1 record against these teams will help C9 in the long run.
Against CLG, Cloud9 almost came back in the game. The roster is practically the same, with the exception of Blaber now starting. Cloud9 had a rough early game, leading to problems with the Lucian in the backline. The gold lead swung over 7k because of the proactive plays the team made. Unfortunately for C9, Choi “Huhi” Jae Hyun landed an amazing 4-man Shockwave on Orianna to close the game out.
The game against GGS is going to be interesting to see. Zeyzal and Licorice were the only players still starting, and having the insane amount of star power back in Sneaky and Jensen is going to make the game harder for GGS. Last time, GGS ran a funnel composition, which has been nerfed a few times now, so teams most likely are done with them. GGS mid laner Son “Mickey” Youngmin has been performing amazingly in the past few weeks. Mickey has the second highest KDA out of mid laners and the second highest kills. Jensen will be a much harder matchup this time, but Mickey will make C9’s run for playoffs difficult.
Second most important games: Clutch Gaming and FlyQuest
These games are not as important, but give C9 another push towards a playoff spot while keeping close teams down. Clutch is only one game behind C9, so some space between teams will be good for them. FlyQuest is currently two games up, but if C9 beat them again, then having a 2-0 against another team vying for a playoff spot might edge C9 out.
Against CG, much like the game against GGS, Zeyzal and Licorice are the only players still starting. This was also Week 1, and practically no team had an idea of what was going on. C9 ran a Brand and Nautilus bot lane, and gave up three kills before the two minute mark. As the season progressed, C9 understands the meta better and with more marksman making their way into competitive, Cloud9 should be looking for a strong win here. CG are currently at 4-8, so creating a rift between the playoff pack and the bottom of the standings will help C9 stay in the race.
FlyQuest has had some crazy games the past two weeks. Two base races in two weeks shows excitement, but an inability to secure games through their own play making. Like CLG, only Blaber was missing from the roster, and C9 beat FlyQuest fairly cleanly. Sneaky did not play a marksman that game, and Zeyzal’s Pyke skewered through the FlyQuest lineup. Like the CG game, this should be fairly straightforward, but who knows if Flyquest can bace race into playoffs. This will also be the last regular season game C9 plays, so the race might be over by the time we get here.
Least Important: Team Liquid and 100 Thieves
Not to say that Cloud9 shouldn’t be looking to win every game, but if C9 drops games, it should be to these teams. Both TL and 100T are tied for first at 8-4, and are likely to make it into playoffs. TL and 100T are coming off of 2-0 weeks, and will be playing each other in the first game on Day 1. Beating these two teams are really only going to matter if C9 is looking to get a playoff bye, but making playoffs comes first.
The game against TL is spelling good for C9 so far. The current roster debuted against TL in Week 5, and had magnificent play from both Jensen and Licorice. TL drafted for late game and looked to disengage fights and pick off C9 members, but never really got the chance. Licorice has been amazing in the 1-on-1 matchups, and ended with a 5.7k gold lead over Jeong “Impact” Eon-Young.
Against 100 Thieves, Zeyzal and Licorice again were the only members starting that are still starting. Based of the 100 Thieves game, it is very evident why. Licorice ended 5/1/0 on Fiora, and Zeyzal ended 1/2/6, with the rest of the team providing a 5/11/12 combined scoreline. Licorice had the same amount of kills as the other carries on his team. Adding the pressure coming from the current lineup, it’s possible that Licorice goes crazy in the next few weeks.
The answer to the question posed at the headline “Can Cloud9 realistically make playoffs?”: Yes. It really is realistic, but it is also similar to the other teams in C9’s position. The NA LCS is currently in a position where 3 wins could get a team to playoffs, so it is more important that C9 has figured out their roster issues. It seems evident that the new roster is working well, but the added pressure of making playoffs to make Worlds is going to put every team on their toes.
Featured photo from lol.gamepedia.com
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