Cloud9 climbed out of what was considered to be the hardest group of the 2017 World Championship last weekend, after bringing down LMS fan favourite AHQ e-Sports Club and receiving a helping hand from SK Telecom T1.
Despite being predicted to do the worst out of all the NA teams on show at this season’s champions, analysts across the world seemingly overlooked C9’s impressive history of adaption at international events.
Meanwhile, in Group D, Team WE proved themselves capable of destroying North American hopes for the second time in 2017, crushing Team SoloMid in under 24 minutes in Week 2 to relegate the NA LCS champions to a tie-breaker they would ultimately lose.
Cloud9 has been presented with both an opportunity to claim revenge for the North American region, but realistically the West’s best hope of a semi-final spot.
Team WE is an outfit known for their proactivity and early game aggression, achieving this by picking compositions that allow them to snowball their mid laner, Su “Xiye” Han-Wei, and the duo of Jin “Mystic” Sung-jun and Nam “Ben” Dong Hyun, opening up the map to allow for control by initiating five-man dives in the bottom lane.
However, this is not WE’s only win condition. Should they not find the opportunity to dive the bottom lane, they snowball by using the presence of tanky junglers and roaming mid laners to deny their opponents CS, thus hitting power spikes much earlier than their rivals.
Opting for powerful early game champions such as Jayce, Rumble and Caitlyn to compliment this proactive style of play which, should it succeed, stops popular late game power picks such as Tristana and Kog’maw from ever coming online.
Should Cloud9 decide to continue the recent meta of late-game team fight comps, they will surely fail.
For C9 to win this matchup and finally push the NA LCS past the quarterfinals, they will have to give their all and adapt to meet any threat WE can throw at them.
To do this, Cloud9 will either try to predict where and when WE will show up and match their aggression in that area to stop them from snowballing, or they can try to beat the Chinese at their own game by being just as proactive as Team WE.
If the North Americans decide to go down the prediction route, it will test their ability to control vision and use information garnered from the minimap to their fullest.
Unfortunately, this is a skill that C9 has struggled with historically, though should they manage to pull it off it will allow for them to be steps ahead of their fellow play-in survivors.
A team comp with heavy map mobility, the ability to counter gank and tank shredding capabilities will be required to stop WE from imposing their will on the game. Team veteran, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi, will need to be on his toes throughout the series to give C9 their best chance.
Alternatively, C9 squares up to beat WE at their own game, bringing the fight to WE before they can bring it to them. If executed properly, this strategy will allow C9 to dominate the match by gaining early game pressure, just as Team WE did in Group D.
This play would require jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia to step up to the plate, picking jungle champions that can gank effectively at level 3 to ramp up kill pressure in lanes.
Of all of the quarterfinals matchups, Cloud9’s series against Team WE is arguably the hardest to predict, but with regional pride at stake for both sides, the tie is sure to be a closely-fought affair.