The Race Is Over: Cloud9 Slams The Door On Playoff Hopefuls

After struggling the week after their return from Rift Rivals, Cloud9 provided a convincing 2-0 week that all but eliminated their competition for a playoff spot. While there had been potential for an exciting playoff race, Cloud9 has essentially ended the playoff race and extinguished any opportunity for drama in the closing weeks.

Entering week seven, multiple teams were still very much alive in the race for the final playoff spot as Cloud9 held only a two series lead with six series remaining in the Summer Split. These hopes were quickly extinguished as Cloud9 pulled off an impressive week that included victories over both Pheonix1 and the surging Team Dignitas. With four series remaining, Cloud9 needs only to win one series (or have the trailing teams lose a series) to secure their place in the Summer Playoffs.

Source: Riot Games

For the teams chasing Cloud9, it’s now “better luck next Split”. Phoenix1 was granted a golden opportunity to gain ground on Cloud9 with their head-to-head series, but failed to capitalize. The replacement of starting mid-laner Yoo “Ryu” Sang-ook {who had stepped away from the team after feeling burnt out) with newcomer Choi “Pirean” Jun-sik may have contributed to the decline in Pheonix1’s play, as they appear to have lost much of the magic they had found as the surprise of Rift Rivals.

Mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, Pheonix1 can only wait and hope their third place finish in the Spring Split gives them enough points to qualify for the gauntlet and a chance to earn a place at the World Championships. Even still, to be eligible for the gauntlet they must rise from the bottom two spots in the standings to avoid the relegation tournament.

Cloud9’s dominant week could not have come at a better time for the organization. After placing last among the NA teams at Rift Rivals, Cloud9 continued their struggles in the following week as they failed to win a series. Now in a three-way tie for fourth place, Cloud9 could conceivably still finish in the top two and earn themselves a first round bye. This becomes even more plausible when you consider Cloud9 has the easiest remaining schedule, with three of their final four opponents having a combined record of 12-30.

Mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen continued his strong play, and jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia became the first LCS jungler to effectively utilize the newly released Kayn. Displaying the strengths of Kayn’s kit, Cloud9 intelligently drafted compositions with pushing lanes that allowed Contractz to wreak havoc in his opponent’s jungle. Starting top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong in every game this week, Cloud9 also seem to have found sorely needed stability from a perceived weak point on the roster.

Source: Riot Games

With little drama remaining at the bottom of the standings, fans can look forward to plenty at the top. All six teams currently holding playoff spots sit within three wins of first place and two of a first round bye. After a strong showing in week seven, Cloud9 has reasserted themselves as a team that cannot be ignored as they battle with the perennial powers of Counter Logic Gaming, Team SoloMid, and the surprisingly first place Immortals.



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