LCS Summer 2020 Playoffs: Dissecting Cloud9’s Shocking Fall from Grace

League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 2: — during 2020 LCS Spring Split at the LCS Arena on February 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA.. (Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 2: — during 2020 LCS Spring Split at the LCS Arena on February 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA.. (Photo by Tina Jo/Riot Games) /

After a meteoric rise at the start of the 2020 LCS Season, we look at how Cloud9 fell from grace.

Failure to Adapt

Perhaps the biggest flaw with Cloud9 was not the shift in the meta, but their failure to adapt. They failed to adapt during the latter half of summer, they failed to adapt in their series against TSM and FLY, and their players failed to adapt as individuals to the meta.

At the end of spring it seemed clear Blaber was the superior jungler between himself and Svenskeren; however, summer exposed a lot of his weaknesses as a player. Blaber seemed unwilling to submit to his opponent and doubled down on his aggressive playstyle in losing situations. No moment better encapsulated this than his completely unnecessary death at raptors in Game 1 of their series against FlyQuest.

Blaber also displayed a lack of proficiency on champions that required a more controlled and calculated style such as Trundle, Volibear, and Graves. While he was not “bad” at these champions, both he and his team seemed unable to win games unless they could complement Blaber’s 24/7 aggression. The meta had shifted away from proactive early game snowballing. It now much more suited the playstyle of teams like FlyQuest and Team Liquid who preferred to scale up and let the game come to them.

Blaber’s inability to pull back and facilitate his lanes similar to players like Santorin, Svenskeren, and even Broxah ultimately proved to be what Blaber was lacking: he is not a complete jungler. Compounding this, the Cloud9 side-lanes also proved stubborn in their champion pools.

Despite being not only the best top laner but maybe the best player in the LCS for the majority of the year, Licorice looked out of sorts in the playoffs. Despite the most successful champions this postseason proving to be picks like Shen, Mordekaiser, and others, Licorice largely stuck to a similar pool he had all year. He mainly played Sett, Gangplank, and then bizarrely brought out a Lilia that was targeted relentlessly.

Zven and Vulcan also failed to effectively pick up picks like Senna, Bard, Ashe, and more. While the bottom duo’s performances were largely a positive of the team, being unable to consistently create pressure and transition that pressure into dragon control was a huge step back from what had been so successful for C9 for most of the year.

Nisqy was by far the biggest loser in this situation. Since he plays to support the rest of his team, typically at the expense of lane CS, how good he looks as a player depends on how much he is able to help the rest of his team. If his team is winning he looks great, if they are losing he looks awful.

All that said, if we put ourselves in Cloud9’s shoes for a moment it’s easy to answer the question of why they were so slow to adapt. If any team was that successful and dominant for the vast majority of the year, why would they suddenly change their entire identity? It is more likely they would become stubborn and double down on what made them successful in the first place.