LCS Summer 2020 Playoff Preview: Cloud9 vs. Evil Geniuses

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

We preview the first series of the second round of the LCS playoffs lower bracket, as Cloud9 faces Evil Geniuses.

The LCS playoffs continue on today as Cloud9 and Evil Geniuses both face off against each other on the brink of elimination. For one of these teams, the season will end today and so will their chance at going to the 2020 World Championship. For the other team, they advance and are one series win away from clinching that final Worlds spot. Let’s break down the matchup.


Record: 13-5


Eric “Licorice” Ritchie
Robert “Blaber” Huang
Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer
Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen
Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme

Playoffs: Lost to FlyQuest (1-3)

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If you had told most LCS fans at the start of the split, heck even in the middle of the split, that C9 would lose their first-round series to FlyQuest and be on the brink of missing going to Worlds entirely, they would have laughed in your face. Yet that is exactly the situation that C9 finds themselves after dropping their first matchup in the winner’s bracket.

And, make no mistake, Cloud9 got completely outclassed in that series, even though they managed to win the second game and even things up briefly. The biggest problem was the draft, from centering in on the Ezreal/Yuumi lane way too heavily for some reason, an inexplicable decision to pick Nocturne and three losing lanes in Game 1, and just generally giving FlyQuest all the comfort picks they succeeded on in the regular split.

Perhaps the lone bright spot on C9 in that round was Licorice, who did quite well in his three Gangplank games, including that Game 2 win. With a cumulative scoreline of 10/5/17, Licorice managed to overcome suspect play from the other positions at various times in the series. I’d expect him to continue to get most of the attention and resources just because of how consistently solid he was this series.

Evil Geniuses

Record: 8-10


Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon
Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen
Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer
Bae “Bang” Jun-sik
Tristan “Zeyzal” Stidam

Playoffs: Lost to FlyQuest (2-3), Defeated 100 Thieves (3-0)

Evil Geniuses fared about as well as most observers would have expected, perhaps even better since they took current Worlds team FlyQuest to five games. Those two wins, however, didn’t come on the back of Huni manning up and carrying the team like most fans expected after the roster swap. Instead, it was Goldenglue popping off and carrying the team in those two games on Orianna and Leblanc.

Against 100 Thieves, it was basically the same story. While Huni did have a very strong performance in Game 3 on Hecarim, Goldenglue was a star of the series with a 11/6/33 scoreline. However, the biggest star was jungler Svenskeren, who shook off the rust from a pedestrian regular season and appeared to return to the form he had back when he was the LCS MVP. In three games on Graves, Svenskeren went a combined 28/7/19 and probably put the Outlaw on C9’s permaban list.

With all these unsung heroes stepping up (and that’s not even mentioning the bot lane of Bang/Zeyzal, who have been solid in both series) EG really looks like a team that could challenge C9 when all the pieces are working. When they’re not, as they were in the three losses to FlyQuest, it could look ugly.

Head to Head Matchups

Top Lane: Licorice vs. Huni

I’m a big believer in Licorice because he just does so many little things right when other top laners don’t. He gets advantages in lane, he absorbs pressure, he doesn’t give away needless deaths, and he has a massive champion pool. On the other hand, Huni has been hot and (mostly) cold this summer, which should scare EG fans.

Advantage: Cloud9

Jungle: Blaber vs. Svenskeren

If you asked me this question at the start of the playoffs, it would be an easy call for C9 as you have the top-graded starting jungler in the playoffs going against the lowest. However, given the trajectories both players are on these playoffs, the question is now not quite so clear-cut.

If Sven can get his hands on Graves, or just keep playing at anything close to the level he showed against 100 Thieves, he could be a menace. Admittedly, it’ll be harder running over Blaber like he did to Contractz, but Blaber hasn’t exactly looked up to form in the playoffs so far.

With a sub-2.00 KDA and the second-lowest kill participation of any jungler, Blaber could get outclassed if he doesn’t show up. I still believe that he can, and will, play closer to the level of the dominant jungler he was for three-quarters of the year, but man it’s much closer than I could have dreamed.

Advantage: Cloud9

Mid Lane: Nisqy vs. Goldenglue

Nisqy was at a stylistic disadvantage against FlyQuest and PowerofEvil, as PoE was able to stop Nisqy from roaming and getting his teammates ahead. Now, he faces Goldenglue, another mid laner who is more interested in the roaming/utility style than dominating the lane. Of the two, Nisqy has been better all year so I’ll go with him to win out this matchup.

Advantage: Cloud9

ADC: Zven vs. Bang

Neither Zven nor Bang have been particularly impressive in these playoffs, but there are two drastically different reasons. In most of EG’s wins, the team was able to get their leads through the mid/jungle duo, leaving Bang free to just play safe and scale up as he is often content to do. In their losses, where other lanes couldn’t get ahead, Bang did his best but just could never get to a position of being useful.

Zven was in a similar boat, playing nothing but Ezreal with Yuumi in their series loss. However, Zven showed a lot more ability to carry even when his team wasn’t fully able to prop him up and support him. The only reason this isn’t a slam-dunk for C9 is that Game 4 performance where Zven made many crucial positioning errors.

Advantage: Cloud9

Support: Vulcan vs. Zeyzal

Vulcan is, in my opinion, the best support in the league just based on his ability to snowball lanes in the early game and teamfight in the late game. Even though he makes a lot of risky plays (well, when he’s not on Yuumi) he’s often able to avoid deaths and help push the tempo with Blaber. Which was why it was so shocking to not put Vulcan on a support who could support his jungler and was instead relegated to heal-bot duty.

On the other side, Zeyzal is an incredibly underrated support. He does nothing flashy, doesn’t make big engages or win the bot lane, but he rarely dies in bad situations and controls vision well. That’s all well and good, but in playoffs you need to be able to out-play your opponent.

Advantage: Cloud9

Keys to the Series

In my opinion, this series is Cloud9’s to lose. I mean, look at them; across the board they are stronger in every single position. There is no point on the map that EG can really attack with reliability and ease, plus Evil Geniuses arguably have the most questionable players in every lane other than bot.

But, for some reason, I do think Cloud9 could lose. It won’t just be because Evil Geniuses show up on form – they’ll have to if they want to have a shot – but it will be largely because C9 out-thinks themselves. With their penchant for weird, experimental drafts, willingness to flex picks too quickly (three different champions in four games for Nisqy and Blaber) or stay on picks too long (Yuumi/Ezreal in four games), Cloud9 needs to figure out how to reliably assemble comps that can beat EG.

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C9 needs to just go back to the style and drafts that work and ignore all the gimmicks they seem to have picked up over the last half of the split. Put Blaber on a strong, early game champion like Lee Sin, Olaf, or Gragas and pair it with a strong roaming mid laner from Nisqy like Galio, Zoe, or TF.

For top lane, keep Licorice on something like Gangplank or a teamfighter like Sett or Kennen. For bot lane, let Zven and Vulcan get some champions with lane power like Kalista or Caitlyn and pair it with an engage support like Nautilus or Thresh. If C9 keeps things simple and plays to what their players do best, they should win as the better team.

Prediction: Cloud9 wins 3-1