Devon H. October 21, 2018
Cloud9 is going where no North American team has gone before.
Cloud9 defeated Korea’s Afreeca Freecs in a 3-0 quarterfinal series, sending a North American team to the semifinals of Riot’s World Championship for the first time in the event’s history.
Game one of the quarterfinals started with Cloud9 seizing the upper hand with unrelenting pressure. Afreeca Freecs attempted to slow down the game with a focus on trading objectives around the map, but Cloud9’s aggressiveness proved too much for the Korean first seed. Cloud9 took the game at 27 minutes with a 15-4 kill lead.
Entering game two, Afreeca Freecs looked to take back the momentum and dominated the early game. But despite the 9-2 kill lead at 19 minutes, Cloud9 managed to keep the gold lead to a minimum through the trading of map objectives. Transitioning into the late game, Cloud9 showed superior team fight execution. The American side managed to pick up the Baron buff, chipp away at Afreeca’s towers, and eventually destroy the Nexus.
Afreeca fought back in game three. Both teams took early kills and objectives, but Afreeca managed to pull ahead. In the late game, Afreeca made a call toward the Baron, but Cloud9’s Eric "Licorice" Ritchie put his team on his back with an epic baron steal on Ornn.
This miracle play brought Cloud9 back into the game, but Licorice wasn’t done yet. In one final fight, Licorice’s Ornn trampled through the ranks of Afreeca and landed a flanking ultimate to effectively close out the game and the series.
Coming back from last place in the regular season, battling through the gauntlet, and pushing through this year’s “group of death,” Cloud9 managed to set a North American milestone and make League of Legends history by knocking out Korea’s first seed and securing an NA position in the top four at Worlds.