In the face of adversity, North America’s third seed, Cloud9 have flown under the radar to reach the quarter finals of the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. The script wasn’t expected to read like this, though taking a glance at the history books suggest perhaps it should have done – Team SoloMid and Counter Logic Gaming disappoint, leaving Cloud9 to carry the bruised American dream into the knockout rounds.
North America entered Worlds 2016 with their highest ever expectations since the tournament’s conception five years ago. All eyes were fixed on TSM as potential champions, with CLG staking their own claim for the prize after dismantling the ROX Tigers in week 1 – Cloud9, for the most part, went mostly unnoticed. Yet after the dust had settled from a catastrophic second week, only one NA LCS team was left standing once again – the unlikely third seed, Cloud9.
Cloud9 will face off against Samsung Galaxy, the weakest of the Korean representation at Worlds 2016. The draw has certainly been favourable for the NA LCS gauntlet victors, sitting on the considerably favourable side of the bracket, in what has to be the most uneven bracket stage of any Worlds in history. The western regions are guaranteed a spot in the Semi Finals, granting Cloud9 the best possible chance to advance to the final.
Samsung Galaxy impressed during their second week on the World Championship stage – swiftly crushing the hopes of Team SoloMid on their route to the summit of Group D. Cloud9 will need to surpass the performances of their American superiors TSM if they’re to make regional history, keep the dream alive and make it further than any North American team before them.
The western regions will naturally rally behind Cloud9, who perfectly fulfil the role as every fans ‘second team’. The Koreans can crush NA’s hopes of winning the championship, but they can’t crush the American spirit:
Cloud9’s Worlds 2016 performances have flattered to deceive thus far. For all the memes so commonly associated with the C9 squad: William “Meteos” Hartman’s infamous Lee-Sin, Nicolaj Jensen’s plans to ‘clap’ faker, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong’s ability to make ‘top die’ – C9’s games have been notably underwhelming, even victories have felt like a messy struggle.
Cloud9’s victory over the Flash Wolves went down in history as one of the longest games in World Championship history, with neither side able to convincingly close out the win. It’s become a worrying trend in C9’s tournament play so far: establishing an early advantage, yet consistently allowing their opponents back into the game. Samsung have already proven their ability to punish mistakes and indecisive play.
If the quarter finals are to be North America’s final contribution to the 2016 League of Legends World Championship, then it’s only fitting that Cloud9 are the team to make the region’s last stand.
Year after year, C9 have defied expectations – continually showcasing a gritty determination to reach the tournament in the first place, let alone progress further than their regional rivals. Cloud9 never disappoint.