Riding a ten game winning streak entering their second match-up of the season against Cloud9, Team SoloMid appeared to be on the rise towards the top of the North American League Championship Series. Although they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in their series against Cloud9, the Spring Split Runner-Up would come roaring back to reverse sweep the series and stake their claim as NA’s best hope at Rift Rivals.
With the upcoming Rift Rivals tournament against their European counterparts just days away, NA LCS fans have been desperately searching for reasons to be optimistic heading into the tournament.
After all three of their representatives struggled early in the Summer Split, fans appeared to have found their saving grace in the return to dominance of Team SoloMid. Perhaps that judgement now needs to be reassessed.
Cloud9 too were looking to prove their recent winning streak was more than just a string of victories over bad teams, searching for validation with a series win over the reigning NA LCS champions.
After falling in the first game of the series, Cloud9 would draft a hard scaling team fighting composition, conceding early only to claw their way back to a victory. In the decisive game of the series, Cloud9 would surprisingly draft a composition based around Nunu and double ADCs, controlling both the pace and the map on their way to victory.
An impressive wrinkle for Cloud9 was the fact that they did not have a single champion in their two victories be played in both games.
This shows flexibility and depth not only in the champion pools of the players and the strategies they are able to execute but also the ability to react to drafting strategies and bans that their opponents may choose.
— lolesports (@lolesports) June 30, 2017
Equally impressive, was the play of Cloud9’s star mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, who furthered his case as an early MVP candidate with a stellar performance in the series. Up against a familiar foe in TSM’s Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, Jensen was able to impressive solo kill Bjergsen multiple times in lane.
With a trio of European mid laners that include some of the EU’s best awaiting him at Rift Rivals, Jensen will have to continue his streak of strong play for Cloud9 to have a chance of being successful.
More importantly, the series against TSM was a big step forward for Cloud9 jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia, a player whose inconsistency had been pointed to as a potential weakness but showed up big for Cloud9 in the series.
Even though Cloud9 emerged victorious in the series, fans were once again treated to a thrilling and close series between Cloud9 and TSM. If anything, the series between the two proved how close the two teams are currently in terms of strength and synergy.
Still considered by many to be NA’s best hope for international success, TSM could easily prove to be the best team from NA at Rift Rivals.
With Rift Rivals just a few days away, the NA squads still enter the competition as clear underdogs. While many NA fans had already placed their hopes upon the shoulders of TSM, Cloud9 proved with their series victory that they are a team that cannot be ignored.
Regardless of which of these two teams advances to the final best of five (sorry, Phoenix1), both teams will have an opportunity to atone for the embarrassment of the Mid-Season Invitational and prove that NA still can compete on the international stage.