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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Blaber, Cloud9, LCS, League of Legends.
League of Legends. Photo Courtesy of Riot Games. /

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

The Mid-Season Question

Perhaps the biggest tragedy in the history of the LCS is the fact we never got to see this Cloud9 team in their prime on the international stage. The cancellation of the Mid-Season Invitational due to the outbreak of COVID-19 took away what we did not realize at the time would be the only chance to see C9 compete against the best in the world. There will always be a significant asterisk next to their season and what could have been.

Another legitimate question to ask is how much Cloud9 would have improved from competing on the international stage. A consistent problem with teams that perform well in North America is how good are they compared to better international competition. We have seen time and time again a team that crushed the domestic competition crumble against the international competition.

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The question of how well would this Cloud9 have performed is less interesting to me than the question of how much better would they have become as a result of such an experience. They are a young team that had yet to be sufficiently challenged within the borders of North America.

Would we have seen Blaber’s aggressive playstyle be punished against the likes of superior teams like JDG and G2 to the point where he began to work on expanding his playstyle? Would we have seen the laners of Cloud9 lose outright and come back to NA determined to get better as individuals?

These are questions that we will never be able to answer, moments that we will never be able to get back. A year that has taken so much from so many already also took away what could have been the best learning experience Cloud9 would have received all year.

Where Do They Go From Here?

Cloud9’s year is over, and they are going to have to ask themselves some very tough questions in the offseason. The organization experienced both its greatest victory and its greatest defeat in 2020. How can C9 management possibly go into the offseason with a clear idea of what to do?

The incentives to change the roster in someway are plain as day. This was the first year the organization failed to qualify for the world championship. Each player displayed moments of weakness. They also proved when they are firing on all cylinders there is no team in the league that can even come close to their level. Each player in spring either cemented for had a legitimate claim to the best in their position in NA.

If I were Cloud9 management I would not want to end up in a TSM situation where after their 2016/17 Worlds failures management decided to blow it up. We all remember that resulted in TSM’s two worst years in the organization’s history. Cloud9 management must now wonder if this year was a one-hit-wonder, or if they have the foundation to grow into a championship team once again.

While I have tried to refrain from giving a recommendation, Cloud9’s Summer 2018 team also had an incredibly aggressive Blaber and went down 2-1 against Team SoloMid. The difference was they had another Mid/Jungle duo to fall back on if Jensen and Blaber could not get the job done.

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Regardless of the direction, Cloud9 takes from here their elimination from Worlds does not undo what they have accomplished this year. This may very well be the biggest upset in the history of the LCS, but it is where they go from here that will truly determine whether or not this team was the best NA’s ever seen or just another one-hit-wonder.

There is a superstition in the National Hockey League, he who drops Lord Stanley’s cup is forever cursed to never lift her again. Is Cloud9 missing worlds the beginning of an LCS curse they incurred when they dropped their spring trophy?