Cloud 9 has been on an absolute tear in the LCS. The team has won the Spring Split with a decisive victory over FlyQuest, dethroning Team Liquid as the best team in North America. In this article we will take a look at how this team developed into the current powerhouse, as well as the reasons why they’re so successful.
The original Cloud Nine roster consisting of An “Balls” Van Le, William “Meteos” Hartman, Hai “Hai” Du Lam, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Daerek “Lemonnation” Hart was one of the most dominant teams the LCS has ever seen. In their first 50 games, they had a win rate of 43-7, taking two consecutive LCS wins without so much as a hitch. Furthermore, they also had a solid worlds performance, making it out of groups consistently in 2013 and 2014.
However, as time progressed, C9 remained relevant but was unable to achieve the same performance domestically, only waking up for when Worlds came around. Countless roster switches never really got them into their debut form While they got close to winning another LCS title in 2019 summer, they still were unable to best Team Liquid, losing in a grueling 5 game series.
This all changed in the 2020 Spring Split. Following their loss against TL and subpar performance at Worlds, they introduced a revamped roster. Keeping toplaner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and midlaner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer, they promoted Robert “Blaber” Huang to the starting position and signed TSM’s Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Dignitas’ Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme to be their new botlane. The results speak for themselves: demolishing their domestic League, they took a 3-0 Spring Split Finals victory and are currently 8-0 in the Summer Season.
Feels good to be back
— C9 Blaber (@blaber) June 13, 2020
When looking for reasons why C9 are so dominant, there are two main lines of argumentation. The first holds that C9 are simply outperforming the rest of the region in a variety of metrics and is more about the strength of their roster, whereas the second focuses on the complete lack of development of their opponents and their rigid and archaic playstyle. We will pay some attention to both.
Jungle dominance and lack of challenge
The main strength of C9, without a doubt, is their terrifying deep sea King of the Jungle, Blaber. While the entirety of the roster can be considered the strongest in their respective roles within the LCS, it is Blaber that is able to consistently instigate action around the map. He generates tempo around objectives due to his hyper aggressive playstyle and there is seemingly no jungler that can stand up to him in a 1v1. While Blaber is the strongest mechanical player in a vacuum, he is further aided by the fact that the entirety of his team is looking to contest and go aggro whenever they deem it necessary. C9 as a whole moves around the map much more proactively and is unwilling to give up any objectives if they think they have a shot at contesting it.
This ties into our second line of argumentation: while C9 is an amazing team with talented players, the contrast between them and the rest of the League is further amplified by the lack of development and macro play that every other team suffers from. The only team that consistently makes plays in the early game besides C9 is TSM, and they suffer from a slew of other issues. One can only see NA teams charge it down the midlane so many times before it starts to take its toll, as can be seen in this clip of shoutcaster David “Phreak” Turely losing his mind at the macro calls being made.
The one team that was able to always pull it together, at least for playoffs and international competition, was Team Liquid. However, their Spring Split was a disaster, and while they are still a middle of the pack team currently, it feels like a team with one of the strongest European Junglers in Mads “Broxah” Pedersen should be able to stand up.
The main test for this new and improved C9 is going to be Worlds. Traditionally, the organisation has performed better at Worlds than the rest of the LCS, even when their domestic performance was not amazing. With the form that they are in right now, expectations and pressure on the roster are going to be sky high. The one downside of dominating your own region the way that C9 is doing right now is the lack of solid practice available: how can you keep developing if no one can stand up to you?
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