It was a heartbreaking day for North American fans, as their last hope for international success Cloud9 was eliminated from the 2017 League of Legends World Championship by Team WE.
The focal point for Cloud9 throughout the entirety of their run at Worlds 2017 was their ability to adapt and out-draft their opponent.
This was noticeable in the first game, in which Cloud9 opted into the Caitlyn and Lulu bot lane. Caitlyn specifically was re-introduced back into the meta by WE themselves.
Many fans blame Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu for Cloud9 failing to book their trip to the semi-finals after a perceived-to-be poor draft in the last game, yet it was inarguably his amazing drafts and innovation that got Cloud9 to the dance in the first place.
There were two picks that stood out amongst the drafts from Cloud9, the first was the Aurelion Sol pick from Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. As a champion the Dane had never played competitively before, Jensen enjoyed immediate success on the unexpected pick, roaming down to punish the enemy bot lane to compliment the Shen in the top lane.
Game 1 displayed an early game masterclass from Cloud9, the foundations for which were laid by Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu in the draft phase.
— lolesports (@lolesports) October 22, 2017
Though C9 ultimately suffered defeat in the opening game of the series, business was about to pick up for the North American side.
Defying expectations and delighting fans across the globe, Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong unveiled Singed in the top lane, limiting what Team WE top laner Ke “957” Chang-Yu could do.
Impact was constantly pressuring the waves, ensuring 957 – who was playing Maokai in Game 2 – could not leave his lane due to the minions continuously crashing into his tower.
It was an impressive showing from Repeared. Team WE expected Cloud9 to come out of the gates swinging with their innovative drafts. However, they had no answer to match them in games 2 and 3. Forcing the Chinese squad to permanently ban the Singed in games 4 and 5.
As the Chinese fan favourites clawed back Game 4 to level the series, the final nail in the coffin for North America was hammered into the wood during draft phase of the decisive game.
Despite their inability to close out a dominating early game performance with Caitlyn in game one, C9 decided to run it back, confident to patch the flaws shown in the opening game of the quarterfinal series.
The last hope for NA allowed the Galio to remain open entering into the draft, backing themselves into a corner from the beginning.
WE locked in Janna for their first pick, leaving Cloud9 with no choice but to remove the Caitlyn-Janna combo and select it for themselves, as well as selecting a strong jungler in Sejuani for Juan “Contractz” Garcia.
Things were about to get much worse, the response from Team WE were Galio and Kog’Maw. Eliminating any early game dominance the Caitlyn may have had from the mid lane, whilst possessing scaling for the late game.
Despite securing early kills, the scaling on the side of Team WE proved to be too much for the North American hopefuls, ultimately eliminating C9 from the 2017 League Of Legends World Championship.
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) October 22, 2017
Though defeat naturally brings heartache, Cloud9 showed great potential throughout the 2017 World Championship. The North American squad has improved drastically since the NA LCS Playoffs.
This was the Cloud9 fans have been hoping for since the break-up of their original roster. Willing to adapt and take risks to win, C9 displayed an element of tenacity non-existant in North America’s other representatives.
Repeared should not be blamed for the loss, given that Cloud9 was extremely close to making history. The Korean Head Coach’s innovation in the draft phase resulted in an exciting series that, on another day, C9 could easily have won 3-0.
This is the start of greater things for Cloud9, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the 2018 season with Reapered leading the troops into battle.