Since the rise of Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen in the mid lane, Cloud9’s win condition has consistently defaulted to playing around the skill of the Dane. At the 2017 World Championship, however, it is the pedigree of the C9’s top laner that is leading the charge.
Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong is considered to be amongst the ‘old guard’ of imported Korean top laners; one of the first to find his feet in North America, ahead of the influx of top lane talent which arrived during the off-season.
The former World Champion established a feared reputation during 2016, birthing his own ‘top die’ meme as he wiped the floor with his regional opponents.
Heading into Worlds at the end of Season 6, many of Cloud9’s hopes were instilled in Impact. After progressing through the group stages, North America’s tournament ended after a quarter-final defeat to eventual finalists, Samsung Galaxy.
Returning to the World Championship stage via the regional qualifiers, Impact is hoping to take Cloud9 one step further, taking the initiative for the team during the first three games of the group stages.
The 2017 World Championship has seen Impact return to form after a season of splitting game time with Jeon “Ray” Ji-won during the regular split.
Ray’s statistics improved remarkably as a result of his increased play time, Impact’s by contrast, suffered in the Summer Split.
The undisputed king of the top lane in 2016, Impact was unfairly considered to be amongst the middle of the pack, showing occasional glimpses of his former glory.
With Ray watching on from the sidelines, Impact has provided his understudy with an invaluable lesson, showcasing an unrivalled level of coordination in his engages.
Brushing aside the initial disappointment of C9’s defeat to reigning champions and Impact’s former organisation, SK Telecom T1, the Korean top laner proceeded to outclass both AHQ e-Sports Club’s Chen “Ziv” Yi and Edward Gaming’s Chen “Mouse” Yu-Hao, playing Nautilus and Shen respectively.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 6, 2017
Heading into the tournament, Impact was criticised for the lack of depth in his champion pool, but quickly defied analysts by utilising Nautilus – currently considered a weak off-meta pick – to great effect during the opening week.
Impact’s perfectly timed teleports and engages were pivotal to Cloud9’s first victory of the tournament over AHQ, providing an idyllic front line behind which C9’s traditional carries, Jensen and Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi could follow up.
In direct contradiction to Shen’s traditional playstyle, Impact transformed the champion from a defensive pick into an offensive force, synergising well with jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia to snowball Cloud9 to an early lead over EDward Gaming.
Using Shen’s global ultimate proactively throughout the game, whilst establishing a 50 cs lead at the 20-minute mark, Impact quickly silenced the home crowd, before ending proceedings with yet another perfectly timed initiation.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 7, 2017
Spurred on by consecutive strong performances, Impact will hope to replicate the iconic display of the 2016 NA LCS Summer Playoffs, when he embarrassed Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon – then of Immortals – in the top lane, as the pair prepare to meet for a second time on the World Championship stage.
Heading into the decisive second week of the group stages, Cloud9 will look to Impact to maintain his strong form and lead the team by example into the knockout rounds.