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Esports League of Legends

NA LCS: Cloud9’s Unkillable Duo

For anyone keeping up with the NA LCS or even just Cloud9 (“C9”), it has been impossible to not see a certain duo the team has unveiled. It came out of nowhere and has everyone talking.

That’s right – it’s the unkillable duo of Zilean and Kindred. While Kindred has been in the meta for a little while now, Zilean hasn’t. The duo, commanded by Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Bobby “Blaber” Huang, has been very successful in the two games they played, and is a serious threat for competitors.

With playoffs fast approaching and the meta constantly evolving, one can imagine how the C9 Kindred-Zilean duo will fare moving forward.

Can’t Lose if You Can’t Die

C9 Kindred Zilean
Zilean splash art. Photo via Riot Games.

The strategy around this duo centers on playing around the middle lane of course. Zilean is a fantastic support-style champion, while Kindred has high carry potential. Their early skirmishing can be brutal against many other mid-jungle duos. Zilean has a Stun and Slow, while Kindred has a Slow and has consistent ranged damage.

After level six, the duo truly comes online. With Zilean’s Chronoshift and Kindred’s Lamb’s Respite, they become very difficult to kill. Not only them, but the rest of their team as well. The amount of sustain they have in team fights is incredible. This, paired with tanky support and top lane picks, makes their team fighting powerful while still having skirmish potential.

This duo also fits the players’ styles. Blaber is an aggressive player, and Kindred allows him to play aggressively. She wins many jungle matchups, and can bait fights into starting. Fans saw much of this with Blaber simply jumping forward at enemy teams, knowing his team would back him up.

C9 Kindred Zilean
C9 Jensen in game. Photo via LoL Esports Flickr.

Jensen is an adaptable player, one that has played through many different metas. He has been considered one of the best mid laners in NA for a while. In the past, he was the focal point of his team to carry, but he shows he can support his team as well. His Zilean is undefeated in the NA LCS, and that is over eight games. While not a huge sample size, his adeptness at the champion is clear through his gameplay and statistics. He boasts a 25.5 KDA and 78.5% Kill Participation over all of his career games. With champions that suit the players so well along with their natural synergies, it’s clear that this duo is threatening.

The Duo’s Impact

As stated earlier, this duo is undefeated in the NA LCS. C9 has won their two games in quite a dominant fashion. The games they played it in (versus CLG and GGS), C9 gave their enemies almost no avenue in. They commanded skirmishes, team fights, and the macro game. Other teams haven’t shown a clear way to beat it so far. Thus, it is likely C9 will continue to use it, as many teams were funneled.

C9 Kindred Zilean
FOX and OPT team compositions in NA LCS Week Eight Day Two. Photo via Riot Games and LoL Esports.

However, C9 isn’t the only team to use these champions in tandem. OpTic Gaming (“OPT”) utilized the duo as well, but differently. Instead of placing the Zilean in the middle lane, they used him as a support. It wasn’t as dominant early on, because the duo didn’t skirmish like C9’s did, but in later game team fights, it was similar. The use of the two champions worked well with OPT’s Fizz and Draven, giving them the resources and survivability they needed to do their jobs.

C9, Playoffs, and Beyond

C9 Kindred Zilean
C9 Reapered, Svenskeren and Goldenglue after their win. Photo via LoL Esports Flickr.

The strategy works well in game, but out of game, it has an equally large effect. With C9’s willingness to use roster swaps, the threat of this duo can throw off a team’s preparation greatly. This is evident with C9’s decision to substitute Blaber and Jensen for Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer this past Sunday. Their opponents, Team Liquid (“TL”), likely prepared specifically to counter the duo. But C9 was one step ahead, and hit TL with a sucker punch. The substitution likely nullified much of their preparation with only a days notice. With playoffs having seven-man rosters, C9 will be hard to prepare for, in part because of the duo.

In the draft phase of games, this duo will have an impact even if it isn’t played. Some teams will ban either the Zilean or the Kindred, and have to leave open other meta, priority picks. Teams that don’t have to spend extra time preparing for the duo, when C9 could choose to not play it at all.

As C9 is very likely to go to playoffs, this will definitely be seen there. For many of the organization’s fans who hope to see them make a run to World’s, this could be significant there too. If they can make it, NA will be showing innovation that fans have criticized their teams for not having in the past. This is a hypothetical situation, but if C9 managed to make it, a strategy like this could help them.

Its hard to say exactly how the C9 Kindred-Zilean duo will continue to influence the team and the meta generally, but with its current success, it will probably impact these two areas in some capacity. With this strategy and their continued roster swaps, C9’s surge is something special to watch. Stay tuned to The Game Haus’ “Eye in the Sky” series and weekly recap articles to keep up with all the action!


Statistics courtesy of Games of Legends.

Featured image via LoL Esports’ Flickr.

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