Team Liquid win the first meeting of the 2021 Spring Split versus Cloud9.
The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) offseason going into the 2021 season was nothing short of historic. Team SoloMid, a storied and tenured organisation, made big money moves, both figuratively and literally, signing a League of Legends World Championship finalist. But this move was overlooked, as the two other storied and tenured organisations, Cloud9 and Team Liquid made even bigger roster moves.
In a surprise, Cloud9, first of all, let go of top of the line North American top laner, Eric “Licorice” Ritchie and bringing in Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami; this move shocked many as well as left many confused. But this move was a preamble to what would come. In one of the most surprising moves in LCS history, Cloud9 brought over superstar player, Luka “Perkz” Perkovic from League of Legends European Championship (LEC). Both of these pickups were paired up with the players that they didn’t place. Young superstar North American jungler, Robert “Blaber” Huang, AD Carry, Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme.
While Cloud9 a star-studded roster, Team Liquid were quick to match. Like Cloud9, they let go of their immovable top laner, Jeong “Impact” Eon-young. Which cleared the path for them to bring the best top laner (by stats) in the LEC, Barney “Alphari” Morris. They also replaced an underwhelming Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen in favour of a much improved and one of the top junglers in the region, Lucas “Santorin” Larsen. Like Cloud9, Team Liquid only replaced two members while keeping three of their members from the 2020 roster. They re-signed Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen while they also kept their bottom lane — young talent, Edward “Tactical” Ra and reigning MVP, Jo “CoreJJ” Yong-in.
Most, if not all, had Team Liquid and Cloud9 as their one-two punch at the top of the preseason power rankings. Which team was number one and which team was number two was up to who was making the power rankings. Regardless of who was put at number one, these two rosters were the two strongest going into the 2021 season on paper. They are both stacked with talent from top to bottom, they both have experience and they both have young stars that could carry.
This was clearly shown in the LCS Lock In tournament. First with Cloud9 making LCS Lock In history right off the bat playing a whopping 17 total games from the first round-robin match to the finals. And second with getting a reverse sweep versus 100 Thieves in the semifinals and nearly getting another in the finals versus Team Liquid. Cloud9 had a poor start to the tournament but slowly ramped up as it went on. Compare this to Team Liquid who — even without starting jungler Santorin — were able to put themselves in a good position amongst the top of their group. This set both on a collision course in the playoffs.
Team Liquid handily took care of business in every playoff match they played while Cloud9 had to fight too and nail for theirs. Once in the finals, Team Liquid kept that same attitude going until Cloud9 began to shift the momentum on their side. With a reverse sweep in their sights, Team Liquid had enough and dominated the final game of the series, winning the tournament.
Fast-forward to today. Team Liquid couldn’t keep that momentum and playstyle they portrayed in the LCS Lock In going in the Spring Split. While Cloud9 fully benefitted from the 17 games that they played quickly shooting themselves to number one in the standings alongside 100 Thieves.
Going into their first matchup of the Spring Split, Cloud9 were 7-1 in sole position of first place while Team Liquid were tied with Evil Geniuses at fifth place with a 4-4. With all intents in purposes, Team Liquid were under heavy disadvantage as Cloud9 at the current moment in time were looking near unbeatable.
Even with that in mind, Team Liquid showed glimpses of Team Liquid from the Lock In tournament, completely dominating Cloud9. It looked grim after Jensen was first blooded in the mid-lane, but they weren’t about to let up. A terrific turn in the bottom lane put Team Liquid at a solid advantage; once with an advantage in hand, they knew what to do.
In typical Cloud9 fashion, they never gave up. At around the 24-minute mark by the dragon, Cloud9 saw the opportunity and took it. Perkz went in and the rest of the team followed up, killing Jensen — allowing Cloud9 to prevent the Ocean soul. Once they took their first dragon of the game they quickly transition for a Baron. In a four versus five, Team Liquid managed to stop them. Cloud9, mainly Vulcan, threw everything at Tactical, but they couldn’t quite finish him off. Tactical later had a field day — Team Liquid kill four and take the Baron, stopping Cloud9’s comeback momentum right in its tracks.
Once with an insurmountable lead, Team Liquid continued to hit Cloud9 over the head with their wallets until the final fight at the dragon. Alphari saw a lone Perkz and went for the pick immediately putting Cloud9 on their back foot. This allowed for Tactical to clean summoner’s rift, eventually leading to Team Liquid ending the game.
Even with rough and wobbly games, Team Liquid ended the first round-robin on a high note, 5-4. This was certainly what they had in mind, anyone for that matter had this in mind. This allows them to still control their own destiny and still finish at least at second place going into the Mid-Season Showdown (MSS).
As for Cloud9, they still have first place and are still sitting comfortably on the top half of the standings. To be expected.
This adds a bit more excitement to the Cloud9 and Team Liquid rivalry that’s slowly forming as the two teams aren’t completely dominating the league. The team who narrowly won Lock In has to make up a lot of ground while Cloud9 are sitting pretty. An exciting storyline going into the second round-robin.
Images via Riot Games