As the third seeded NA team, Cloud9 came into play-ins as an unknown quantity in many respects.
Although they made it through the NA gauntlet, it was with a sloppy five game series against CLG. Coming into group B they would look to show that they not only deserve to be at Worlds but are levels above what a play-in team should be.
Playing Through Mid
One of the biggest success stories has come out of the mid-lane from their superstar Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. After a devastating misplay in the NA LCS spring finals, Jensen has rebounded tremendously with a great summer split which bled into their gauntlet run. This level of play would continue in play-ins as Jensen would be the rock of Cloud9 and lead them to a 4-0 sweep of group B.
— lolesports (@lolesports) September 23, 2017
The matchups against Team oNe were very one-sided and would leave many asking if the Brazilian squad were the weakest in the entire tournament. Cloud9 would make quick worth of them in both games with winning lanes and superior macro.
The other team in the group were Dire Wolves, who are well known for their dive centric early game style. Even with this being executed correctly they still would fall victim to C9’s dominance.
Game four specifically would see the Wolves successfully keep the two carries of C9 down but still be unsuccessful in their quest to knock off the NA line-up. Much of this was due to Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia, and his Ezreal play from the jungle. This would be the second day in a row that Contractz would carry his team to a victory over the Dire Wolves.
With Cloud9 only capable of joining group A or C it is critical that they can match up well in the jungle position. Seeing their jungle step up when the spotlight was on brightest is a great sign for many C9 fans and for their future in the tournament.
Even with their success in play-ins thus far there is still a reasonable doubt put on the legitimacy of these results. The truth is that even with Dire Wolves solid early games, neither they nor Team oNe were ever capable of getting a lead and closing out a game. Often it felt as though Cloud9 could afford to make blunders and not suffer the same repercussions they would against a true Worlds caliber opponent.
The End Game
Looking forward it is likely that Cloud9 will be able to push forward through the bo5 and make it into Worlds group stage. This will see them against a much different level of opponent regardless of their group draw. Group A is home to both EDG and SKT who are both legitimate championship contenders. Group C could prove even worse for C9 as G2, RNG and Samsung already make up what is considered to be the Group of Death.
Adding Cloud9 to this mix could be detrimental to both sides and give them potentially the toughest road possible. With all this in mind, Cloud9 are no strangers to the international stage and rarely go down without a fight. They are on the right path but if they want to make it far this time around, it’s going to take them upping their game to a level we have yet to see out of them this year.