Many had given up on Cloud9 after the team was placed in this year’s “group of death” at Worlds, but Cloud9 would not be denied.
Cloud9 started the second round of group play at Riot’s World Championship with a 1-2 standing. Having just barely scraped through the play-ins and the North American gauntlet, things were looking bleak for the team.
C9’s next kicked off against Korea’s GenG. The match started with C9 on the attack, taking early picks with Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen and Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen. The Korean squad could not hold off the onslaught from Svenskeren’s Nocturne.
GenG were later able to find a pick onto the Cloud9 jungler, but C9 saw an opportunity to move towards the Baron. They were then able to bait GenG jungler Kang “Haru” Min-seung to his death, take Baron Nashor, and close out the game.
Cloud9’s next hurdle was the LPL’s Royal Never Give Up. C9 kept up their strategy from the previous match. Svenskeren was put on an aggressive jungler and focused himself in the bot lane, keeping RNG star Jian “Uzi” Zihao under wraps. C9 kept oppressive vision as the game progressed and was able to find a pick onto RNG support Shi “Ming” Sen-Ming, forcing an initiation that allowed C9 to take the Baron buff and the win.
Just one victory away from qualifying for the quarterfinals, C9 were faced with Team Vitality from the EU LCS. In classic Vitality fashion, the game exploded with quick plays and level two fights across the map. Not to be outdone, C9 utilized coordinated reactive play to counter Vitality’s ferocity. Despite Vitality’s aggression, C9 maintained a gold lead with Eric “Licorice” Ritchie on Singed and Jensen on Zilean.
Vitality was able to snag a Baron buff, but C9 pushed forward with Licorice and Jensen at the helm, winning a decisive fight and locking in the side’s spot in the quarterfinals.
“Losing to GenG made us realize so much about our gameplay. We literally never even fought them. We just realized we need to fight,” said Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi.
While Cloud9 would go on to lose a tiebreaker game to RNG, the team’s heroics were enough to lift them far beyond what most had predicted. It wasn’t long ago that C9 sat at the bottom of the NA LCS standings with an uncertain roster. This team has come a long way since, and each member seems eager to push even further forward.