Cloud 9, One of the most prestigious names in the world of eSports. Any and all who know what eSports is has probably heard of Cloud 9.
Cloud 9’s beginnings can be traced back to January 2013, when ‘Team NomNom’ renamed to Cloud 9 and secured themselves a place in the Season 3 North American Offline Qualifier, where they, unfortunately, fell a little short.
In light of the loss, it was expected by the community and the players themselves that the team would disband. But, fortunately, they decided to continue on, fielding the legendary roster of Sneaky, Hai, Meteos, LemonNation & Balls. A roster that would go on to win multiple NA LCS titles and set many records.
This star-studded roster placed first at the end of their very first split and secured a place at Season 3 Worlds where they would go on to outperform every other NA team and place 8th. Since that first Worlds, they have never failed to qualify, year after year, constantly performing their best. And in the fast-moving landscape of eSports, that is indeed an impressive feat.
A lot of time has passed since the team first burst onto the scene, but now they face a brand new obstacle. The Worlds Play-In Stage. Cloud 9 has been placed in Group B, a group that can only be described as a ‘free’ group for them. They lack any real opposition in CBLOL team, ‘Team oNe’ who only won their ticket to Worlds due to a major upset swinging in their favor.
There doesn’t seem to much of a challenge to be found in OPL team ‘Dire Wolves’. While at least deserving of their ticket after showing such a dominant display during both the spring and summer splits, they have shown severe under performance on the international stage.
As shown during their time at MSI, where they placed ended their run in 10th place. Dire Wolves’ only saving grace coming into the Play-Ins is split 2 MVP mid-laner Richard ‘Phantiks’ Su. However, due to the team being heavily reliant on his success, should he falter during the Play-Ins, the Dire Wolves will be sent home with their tails between their legs.
Although these issues contribute to the expected dominance by C9, the most important factor to address is the simple fact that both Dire Wolves and Team oNe lack experience playing on the international stage. Unlike their more experienced NA counterparts, who, excluding this year’s worlds, have a total of 10 international appearances under their belts.
Compare this to the measly one appearance from Dire Wolves and the even worse zero appearances by Team oNe. This causes there to be a massive a massive gap between Cloud 9 and the other two teams.
This causes one to beg the question, what really stands between Cloud 9 and the Worlds group stage? The answer: Themselves. Cloud 9 is superior in every aspect in these matchups, from their players to their coaching staff. In comparison to their opposition, every member of the cloud 9 team is a finely polished gear in a well-oiled machine.
So, realistically, the only way Cloud 9 can fail to move onto the group stages is by choking and basically throwing the game. While its easy to write them off as the favorites, should the pressure of a sudden challenge from their opposition cause them to falter, the world-renowned team will find itself in hot water.