July 24, 2020
League of Legends

Looking ahead – Cloud9 versus Team Liquid

This sunday, the first two ranked teams in the LCS will face off against one another: Cloud Nine and Team Liquid will fight for the first spot. What can we expect from this match, and who will come out on top?

In this article, we will assess the current state of both teams. While their scores are currently similar, they have gotten here in very different ways: Cloud9 has been overpowering for the start of the split, before being hit by two disheartening losses quite close to another. When they are doing well, they leave no room for counterplay for their opponents. Team Liquid, on the other hand, has been looking shaky at times, despite their impressive 7 game win streak. Some of their losses felt more like their opponents being unsure of how to close the game than it did like TL taking control of their victory. 

Cloud9 in a slump

Let’s start by taking a look at C9. Their wins all look fairly similar, with Robert “Blaber” Huang finding early leads for the entirety of his team. His mechanical prowess is enough to outmuscle most of the other LCS junglers, especially when combined with his toplaner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie (looking at the “Player of the Game” standings, both stand at nr. 1 with 4 PotG awards). Once the early leads are secured, C9 proactively plays around objectives and denies their opponents any chance to come back into the game.

Unfortunately for C9, their streak has been broken recently. Both 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses were able to take down C9 in recent weeks. The 100 Thieves game was one of the first games this split where Blaber got outjungled,with Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia completely decimating Blaber’s Jarvan IV on his Olaf. The EG game, on the other hand, seemed like C9 just not respecting the power of Greyson Gregory “Goldenglue” Gilmer and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen enough.

Team Liquid reinvigorated

Team Liquid, on the other hand, has been on a solid 7 game winstreak, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like the team is as strong or dominant as they were the last few years within the LCS. The swap from Yilliang “Doublelift” Peng to Edward “Tactical” Ra has worked out well for the team and they look somewhat reinvigorated from their subpar spring performance. Regardless, they have looked more shaky than their score might reveal.

Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in is the only player who has looked consistent throughout the entirety of the split, although an argument can also be made for Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. The rest of their players have had middling performances, but they are still able to contest objectives better than most teams. Unlike C9 their performance though, it feels like TL is playing more reactively. While their stats regarding turrets, drakes and barons are solid, from watching the games it feels more like they are waiting for their opponent to mess up (which, considering it’s the LCS, happens a lot) as opposed to dictating the pace of the game themselves.

Decided in the jungle

When looking at the head to head, the most important question is what the form of Blaber will be this week. C9 does not look like the same dominant team when he is unable to accelerate the tempo by successfully executing early game plays. Considering Team Liquid has a tendency to capitalize on their opponents mistakes or slower play, the onus lies with C9 to be the beatdown in this matchup. Looking back at their first match in Week 3, we can see these roles in place as well. TL had to forfeit all the early drakes, despite having a composition which should be able to at least partially match, and Blaber on his Lee accelerated the game past a point where TL could ever recover. When looking at specific picks, the Lee and Sett seem like the most hotly contested picks. While there are a lot of power picks such as Volibear, Ashe and Azir, both C9 and TL have shown a liking to Lee his early jungle presence as well as the innate flexibility of Sett.

In conclusion, C9 is somewhat behind TL in terms of current momentum. However, if they are able to recover their form of the first few weeks, you can still expect them to clinch out this win and take the first place spot. If they are going to look the same like they did versus 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses, TL should have the ability to take over the game once the high tempo early game slows down. 

Who do you think is going to take the victory between these two teams? Will C9 return to form, or is Liquid going to reclaim their throne? Join the discussion on Social Media or our Discord!

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Image Credit: LCS
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