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How Cloud9 Rectified Last Year's Performance

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

9th Sep 2021 18:30

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Cloud9 had a “less than ideal” year by any metric of the imagination. A supposed top-two guaranteed roster who was only rivalled by Team Liquid’s was to be present at every single League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) finals held this year—this was not the case. But even though they couldn’t get to every final this year, when one compares this team’s performance to last year’s, it still could be seen as a success.

At around the same time last year, Cloud9 weren’t prepping for their upcoming Worlds matchups. Instead, they were still reeling over the fact that even though they had a historic start to the season they still missed out on the biggest international tournament of the year. 

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Before one can look at how Cloud9 rectified last year’s performance, one must first summarize and put both 2020 and 2021 into perspective. 

2020 - a truly historic year for the team 

This historic start had them only lose three matches all spring split long—two in the regular season and one in playoffs—eventually winning the playoffs after a sweep over FlyQuest. This punched them a ticket to their first-ever Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). Unfortunately for them, and all of the other region’s top teams, MSI couldn’t happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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Even with the lack of MSI, Cloud9 continued their momentum from spring to the summer with a 9-0 start. This flawless start was later stopped by 100 Thieves who put a halt to it. After this loss blemished their record, things weren’t quite the same for them. They started dropping uncharacteristic games and seemingly had lost that aura, that presence… the utter “we don’t care, we’ll win anyways” attitude that made them seem invincible. But even with those losses, they still finished second, attaining a bye. 

Once in the playoffs, neither their opponents nor frankly themselves weren’t any kinder. With their bye in hand, they got to face off against a surging FlyQuest who although just had a close five-game series win versus Evil Geniuses, had finished the regular season with a six-game win streak. FlyQuest took a swift 3-1 revenge, sending them to the losers’ bracket. In the losers’ bracket, they faced off against the very same team that FlyQuest had just defeated prior. Surprisingly, Cloud9 swept Evil Geniuses, putting into people’s heads that maybe the Cloud9 of old was back. Those thoughts were quickly dismissed after they had to face a Team SoloMid in the following round who were on their way to perform one of the most historic playoffs runs in LCS history, leaving Cloud9 out of Worlds.

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And that was that, no MSI due to a pandemic and no Worlds due to them losing steam. An utter disappointment. 

2021 - bettering the historic year

The season started with a bang, having just upgraded their mid-lane with the pickup of legendary Western player, Luka “Perkz” Perkovic and made changes to the top-lane after they put faith in Academy player, Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami; Cloud9 meant business. For all intents and purposes, this roster—alongside Team Liquid’s—was one of the best North American rosters to ever hit the rift. An aspiring young top-laner in Fudge and one of the best, if not the best, Western player to ever play in Perkz were coupled with a lineup that had gone through a historic run last year. Jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang, AD Carry Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme just got solo lane upgrades, it was time to put it all together.

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Eric Corona / ESPAT
Eric Corona / ESPAT

It all started with the first-ever LCS Lock In tournament. Things were rough. To begin with, the newly acquired top-laner garnered a lot of negative attention and bad press after consecutive poor performances following his out of game trash talk. The team as a whole wasn’t doing too hot either, but nonetheless, they still were able to pull through and qualify for playoffs. In playoffs, a switch seemed to go off as the team became a completely different team. It first started with a 2-1 revenge of last summer playoffs over Team SoloMid in the Quarterfinals. Then in the Semifinals, Cloud9 were quickly put in a 0-2 hole by a 100 Thieves team, who were looking like one of the teams to beat in the whole tournament. This hole was filled though, as Cloud9 were able to pull off the first-ever reverse sweep in playoff Lock In history, qualifying them for the finals. In the finals, the team would have the first of many matchups versus their now rivals, Team Liquid. Cloud9 were once again quickly put in a 0-2 hole to start the series, but slowly managed to claw themselves back into it after they were able to tie it at 2-2. Unfortunately for them, Team Liquid let loose their fourth gear and managed to dominantly take the final game of the series, becoming the first-ever Lock In champions.

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Although Cloud9 lost the finals, all hope wasn’t lost as all the experience, the synergy building and polishing that they had gained from the Lock In was worth it. To put things into perspective, due to Cloud9’s playoffs run in the tournament, the team played 17 total games—essentially a full regular season of games. This was crucial going into the spring split’s start.

In the spring split’s start, Cloud9 were just built differently. Not only did they mirror their 13-5 record of last year’s summer split, but they were also just a different team altogether; way better. This record netted them a first-place finish for the regular season and a bye going into Mid-Season Showdown (MSS). Similar to 2020’s spring playoffs, they demolished everyone that got in their path. A decisive sweep over 100 Thieves started it all off, later followed by a dominant 3-1 victory over Team Liquid, and Cloud9 were in the spring finals once again. In the finals, they surprisingly went down 2-1 early, surprisingly due to Team Liquid’s inconsistent performances all spring long and lack of starting jungler. Nonetheless, Cloud9 were able to claw themselves back, crowning themselves spring champions for a second year in a row and qualifying for MSI once again. This time around, MSI was able to happen, and although Cloud9 disappointed in some ways, the team still had things to be proud of. 

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Photo via lolesports
Photo via lolesports

During the summer split’s start, things began to get muddy and parallels between Cloud9 of summer 2020 and Cloud9 of summer 2021 began to arise. Fortunately for them, it wasn’t quite the same for better or for worse. Unlike summer 2021’s regular season, the team failed to make it into the top two, having finished in fourth place just under Evil Geniuses in the tiebreaker. This net them yet another matchup versus Team Liquid in the first round of the playoffs. 

In the playoffs, Cloud9, like last year’s summer, weren’t quite there, not quite complete. This showed as Team Liquid easily took care of them with a 3-1 victory, it also helped that Team Liquid looked renewed. Once in the losers’ bracket they faced off against Golden Guardians, swiftly sweeping them and, like last year’s playoffs victory over Evil Geniuses, it put the same thought of maybe the Cloud9 of old was back. But as opposed to last year, they were able to keep forging on, taking down every opponent in their path from Round 2 to Round 3; a sweep over Evil Geniuses and a close 3-2 victory over Team SoloMid—this qualified them for Worlds. After that victory over Team SoloMid, Cloud9 were matched up against 100 Thieves, losing in a harsh 3-1 fashion, 100 Thieves would go on to become the eventual 2021 summer champions.

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How they rectified it all

It’s fairly to see how Cloud9 rectified last year’s performance. One looking at the two, they both had a few things in common. It all started with a dominant spring, although one is more dominant than the other, the fact remains. Each spring’s dominance netted them an MSI trip. By technicalities, 2021 already beats 2020 due to the fact that for 2021 the team was actually able to go to MSI. This also brings the situation of since Cloud9 were much more dominant in 2020, would they have done better at that year’s MSI? Then one could also bring out how this year’s roster is better on paper. 

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT
Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Then in summer, it begins to deviate. Of course, the summer of 2020 had them start with a 9-0 run. For 2021 this wasn’t quite the same, it actually started with a benching of Zven, creating a lot of issues. Past the 9-0 run for summer 2020, things began to get shaky for the team, but they were ultimately able to keep their bye. Unlike 2020, 2021 Cloud9 weren’t close to getting themselves a bye and finished in fourth place. For playoffs, 2020 Cloud9 finished in fourth while 2021 finished in third.

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It all boils down to this, 2020 had a spring championship, an MSI trip that was thwarted by a pandemic and a fourth-place finish in the summer. While 2021 had a close, second-place finish in the first-ever Lock In tournament, a spring championship, an MSI trip that actually went through and a third-place finish in summer, giving themselves a Worlds trip.

 

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NA's Teams At Worlds Will Be The Strongest In Region History Yet

Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT

Written by 

André González Rodríguez

Posted 

16th Sep 2021 17:30

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