2016 Worlds recap: Cloud9 squeak through to quarterfinals


On the final 2016 Worlds recap of the group stage, a North American team clawed its way to Chicago.

This year’s Worlds tournament has been absolutely nuts. Incredible comebacks, upsets and a quarterfinals stage where no favorite looks safe.

The last group to play also featured the team many thought looked the best in Week 1: defending champions SK Telecom T1. Led by star mid laner Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, SKT took down Cloud9 and I May in dominating fashion before a slight hiccup against Yi Tang “Maple” Huang’s Aurelion Sol.

Let’s see how the rematch went, as well as other games in Group B.

I May defeat Flash Wolves

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We called this one a walkover for Flash Wolves in our Day 8 preview. I May was missing support Hankil “Road” Yoon which forced them to swap Fan Zeon “Avoidless” Wai to support and Kang “Athena” Ha-Woon to jungle. I May predictably struggled with team communication as Flash Wolves built a 4-1 turret and 3-0 dragon lead.

All that would come to naught though as Flash Wolves threw at a 30-minute Baron fight. Maple and Hung “Karsa” Hau-Hsuan were trying to sneak it, I May sniffed it out, and Flash Wolves ceded the objective and a litany of unnecessary deaths. That turned the game and I May closed out, dealing a huge blow to Flash Wolves’ chances at the bracket stage.

SK Telecom T1 defeat Cloud9

This whole day, it felt like SKT was trying things out to A) see if they would work and B) avoid showing anything to a potential quarterfinal opponent. Against C9, they picked a low-mobility poke comp and got away with it. SKT strangled the map, and though it took a while, controlled every objective.

Flash Wolves defeat Cloud9

With the Flash Wolves loss to I May, second-place in the group really became a battle between C9 and I May, but Flash Wolves did their part to try and ruin Cloud9’s day. Maple went OFF on Ryze and handed C9’s mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen one of his worst games. Flash Wolves controlled nearly every objective in a complete reversal of their earlier Baron fail.

SK Telecom T1 defeat I May

For the second time, SKT again played a low-mobility poke comp. I May drafted more hard engage to jump on it, but the result was the same: a comprehensive SKT victory. This defeat set us up for an elimination game next.

Cloud9 defeat I May

And for the first time in forever, North America comes out on top! Jensen went off on Ryze, Zach “Sneaky” Scuderi showed us what his Jhin could do, and the rest of the team, though not great, did just enough to shut down I May. Sneaky got First Blood within four minutes and Cloud9 took off from there. All they needed was for SKT to close out the group in style.

SK Telecom T1 defeat Flash Wolves

Betting on SKT usually works out, and while Flash Wolves gave them a fight, Faker and company finished the job. His scoreline wasn’t great, but Faker has to be running scripts or something. He was insane weaving in and out of skill shots and outplaying Flash Wolves members all over the map.

Flash Wolves tried the camp-Faker strategy they used last week, but SKT evolved and focused all of their power on ADC Bae “Bang” Jun-sik. And Bang delivered, earning player of the match honors, going 10/0/7 on Ezreal. Holy crap! He built a monumental CS advantage on Hsiung “NL” Wen-an and never looked back.

The good news? Cloud9 made the quarterfinals! And WildTurtle gave them a good draw! NA has hope for a least a few more days. The bad news for everyone else? SKT looks like the best team in the tournament, and it’s not even close. Dynasties in eSports are incredibly rare; the end of this Worlds is going to be epic.

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