The Cloud9 roster are yet to find their stride in the NA LCS Summer Split. Unchanged from their appearance in the Vancouver playoff finals and motivated by the prospect of vendetta, C9 should have been poised for a first place finish but are yet to find a consistent rhythm.
Flying high in 1st place at this stage in the Spring Split, Cloud9 are currently languishing in 5th place alongside the likes of Echo Fox and Team EnVyUs; not the company last split’s finalists would want to be associated with after three weeks of the Summer Split.
Preparing for the ominous and imminent Rift Rivals event, Cloud9 appear to have taken a step backwards rather than forwards.
Cloud9’s three win of the split so far have all been against the NA LCS weaker opponents – Echo Fox, Phoenix1 and most recently, FlyQuest eSports – though even in victory the squad have failed to convince critics that the team is on the up.
In each matchup against teams Cloud9 would wish to consider their rivals, the team have come up considerably short; Team SoloMid, Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals all having cleanly dispatched C9.
Cloud9’s two matches of Week 3 accurately depicted the issues facing North America’s Spring Split runners-up. Perhaps on account of consistently chopping and changing between top laners, C9’s macro play has been completely amiss so far in the Summer Split.
It would prove to be the difference once more as Immortals defeated C9 2-1 to cement their place at the top of the league.
Mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen has become Cloud9 one and only focal point, to the point where analysts are drawing comparisons to Team SoloMid’s ‘Bjergsen and four wards’ one-dimensional strategy from Season 4.
Jensen was able to lead the team to glory in Game 1, snowballing the game on LeBlanc having established his dominance over Eugene “Pobelter” Park.
Once Immortals identified and nullified Jensen’s threat however, Cloud9 appeared clueless how to answer IMT’s aggression in every other position.
Considered to be one of the best players in the region during the 2016 Summer Split, top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong found himself on the receiving end of a beating from IMT’s Lee “Flame” Ho-jong. Cloud9 eventually conceded the series with a whimper.
Cloud9’s fixture against FlyQuest eSports was one the most anticipated NA LCS match-ups of the Spring Split… fast forward four months and the series was a matter of damage limitation.
The match possessed an underlying ‘must-win’ tension, a loss for Cloud9 – in spite of their accumulated Championship points – could well have signified the end of the team’s automatic World Championship qualification ambitions.
Cloud9 prevailed to secure victory against a struggling FlyQuest squad, though it was once again a product of Jensen’s good work in the mid lane.
Impact and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi soon established control of their lanes as a bi-product of the pressure exerted in the middle of the map, paving the way to a comfortable victory over FLY.
Hardly a significant scalp in the NA LCS Summer Split, victory was naturally a positive result for Cloud9, but not the win needed to kick start their campaign. Team Liquid should act as C9’s second back-to-back victory of the split, though all eyes will be on the team’s performance against the soaring Team Dignitas.
Defeat to DIG will have seen Cloud9 lose to every front runner in the division, a record the World Championship hopefuls will be desperate to avoid as they head into Rift Rivals.