C9 went into the match as the heavy favorite, but the pressure seemingly got to them right from the start. C9 has been used to dominating the LCS for all of 2020, but recent weeks have shown that other teams are now more able to compete.
FlyQuest came into the series with a hunger for revenge after losing to C9 several times in a row this year. The winner of the match would not only qualify for the semifinals but would also grant themselves a spot at the 2020 World Championship.
FlyQuest has a lot of experienced players on the team, and it really managed to shine through.
From game one, FlyQuest was all over the C9 jungle, killing Robert “Blaber” Huang several times in the early game. This was just the start of a series where C9 would look more lost in each successive game.
While C9 managed to win the second game, it wasn’t a controlled victory like we usually see from the team. C9 had to fight hard to take down the FlyQuest nexus. Even though C9 managed to do it and tie up the series to 1-1, they still looked completely out of sorts. FlyQuest took advantage of this by winning the next two games consecutively and throwing C9 into the lower bracket.
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) August 21, 2020
C9 has been a constant force in the LCS throughout 2020 but has struggled to find its footing since the final weeks of the summer. The meta has shifted and perhaps the players have lost some of their valuable confidence.
In the spring split, no team in the LCS was able to challenge C9. Most of their games looked like easy practice for them, with giants such as Team Liquid and Team SoloMid struggling to deliver at the level that we usually see. FlyQuest was the only real competitor, but C9 ended up sweeping them 3-0 in the spring split final.
The summer split has been a very different story. While C9 started out being undefeated for several weeks, other teams slowly started to catch up. This put C9 in a position where they couldn’t just play on auto-pilot, and instead had to adapt and play from behind in some games.
The increase in competition might have affected C9’s confidence as a team. They showed weakness in the last weeks of the regular split, resulting in them ranking in only second place behind Liquid. Against FlyQuest, it looked like C9 was still struggling to find out how to play from behind and to read the latest meta. This ultimately resulted in sloppy play that at some points looked like desperation and even tilt.
C9 will play against Evil Geniuses in its first lower bracket match. Fans of the team will have to hope that its tilted play won’t carry over, or what looked like a promising year for Cloud9 could end in disaster.