Team Review- Cloud 9
Projected Regular Season Finish: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Win Playoffs
Cloud 9 has more potential than any other North American team this year. With two already proven strong carries, and a young jungler who has the potential to be great, one can only expect for Cloud 9 to grow on last year’s successes. After making it out of groups last year only to get smoked by Samsung in the first knockout round Cloud 9 has to be hungry to prove that they belong in the top echelon of teams internationally and they will have their chance to do so. Because of how well they played at World’s they reportedly already have been invited to IEM Katowice, the massive, annual, international competition and one of the last remnants of the old competitive scene of League of Legends. With other great teams likely joining them there, Cloud 9 could go into that tournament and shake things up as the field will likely contain quite a few Korean teams.
Katowice is probably the turning point for Cloud 9’s season. They will likely struggle the first couple weeks with new jungler Contractz, but Katowice will see the team gel and go from a good team to a great team. They will over perform at Katowice pulling off at least one large upset of a Korean team in the process. This tournament will see the coming of age of Contractz. Both Bjergsen and Rekkles had their moment when they “arrived” and Contractz will have his moment at Katowice.
Though they likely won’t win Katowice, Cloud 9 will return to North America a new team and go on to finish second in the league during the regular season, as there just won’t be enough games left to catch TSM. However, they will go into the playoffs and drop only a single game to TSM in the finals to secure their first LCS championship since the early days of the League Championship Series.
Reapered is probably the most important member of this lineup. With pick/ban changes coming live in a week, understanding how other teams will react to these changes is key. League has gone through a host of changes over the course of its life, and it’s seen a plethora of iterations, each iteration is marked by a significant change to the game. I think this change to pick/ban will be a new iteration, and a major one at that. With many more ways to impact the game through pick/ban coaches will need to be thinking farther ahead and be more creative at how they attempt to get the team compositions they want. Reapered has been quite good in pick/ban up to this point and I have faith he will continue doing this going forward with the changes.
Where he is most valuable is how much he helped Impact this past year. At the end of last season there were rumors that Cloud 9 was not going to be bringing Reapered back, from that came rumors that Impact would be following Reapered wherever he went. Whether or not this is true I think it shows, at least in a roundabout way, how much Reapered helped Impact. Reapered was a former top lane star in Korea, and he helped turn Impact into the most feared players in North America last year. Who knows how successful Impact would have been without Reapered, but I doubt he would have been the unstoppable force he was without Reapered’s guidance.
Cloud 9’s MVP last year without a doubt, Impact willed Cloud 9 to a huge end of the year push and he was a big reason why C9 was successful at Worlds. Impact shattered every top laner he faced, besides Cuvee, the second half of the year. There is this great meme of the top laner of the Flash Wolves when Cloud 9 was picked to be in their group at World’s. The man’s face goes pale and he looks visibly sick and the entire team is laughing.
Impact struck fear into the hearts of his opponents last year and will continue to do so this year. The only question is, where does Impact stand among the new Korean imports of Looper, Flame and Ssumday. I would like to think he stands head and shoulders above them all, but only time will tell. And let’s be honest, no one stands head and shoulders above Ssumday.
The question mark of this team is undoubtedly Contractz. If he can adjust to the game early on he stands to make the team significantly better. You have to believe that Jack believes in Contractz or he wouldn’t have invested so much into him. For those of you that don’t know Contractz was on a different team that didn’t make it through the challenger tournament. They released all of their other players but knew they could make quite a bit off of selling Contractz contract to the highest bidder. Jack swooped in and won the bidding war for Contractz.
He then played all of last split for Cloud 9 Challenger, now Flyquest, while they were a challenger team last year because he was not yet old enough to play in the LCS. Now of age he has been brought up to play on the main Cloud 9 squad.
After he gets a few games under his belt, look for Contractz to step up and be one of the best junglers in the league. With the jungle meta favoring junglers that can use a lot of gold, look for Contractz to have some huge carry performances early in the year on some of his favorite picks like Hecarim.
Jensen, for me, is the hardest player to gauge. Sometimes he comes out and bodies the other team, other times he comes out and looks unfocused and confused. With Jensen it feels like you either get this rank 1 solo queue stud, or you get a plat V mid who is just there to clear waves and press R every 5 minutes.
Jensen said he lacked focus at times and I think that though it’s not a valid excuse, it takes away some of my concerns about his overall mechanical play. He will have plenty of opportunities to take over games early this year as the meta is in favor of mid laners dominating. Look for him to show his prowess on champions like Leblanc and Katarina, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets a penta or two in the first two weeks of competition.
The meme king enters his 4th year of competitive League of Legends. A utility ADC from day one, Sneaky should fit well into this meta. He won’t be asked to hard carry many games and that’s okay. His mechanical skill isn’t stellar, but he brings to the table honed skills for team fighting and getting picks. With the competitive meta for ADC’s likely involving Ashe and Jhin, look for Sneaky to do well on both. He was known early in his career for his amazing Ashe play, and last year was an early adaptor of Jhin. I fully expect the vast majority of his games to be on those two champions and I predict him to do great on both.
My favorite streamer, and favorite support in the league is Smoothie. He joined the team last year to compete with Bunny Fufuu for the job and ended up winning the job outright. Smoothie isn’t the best at anything. He isn’t an amazing mechanical player, he doesn’t have amazing shot calling skills, and isn’t a player who wins with his mind. But he is above average at all of these things. Most supports are amazing at one of these things and then play around their strength, Smoothie however is a balanced player who can exceed at any one of these skills depending on what the team needs.
I have no clue what the support meta will look like at the start of the year (lulu, janna, thresh?), but I have faith that Smoothie will be able to play with any meta support and will be a strong laner next to Sneaky. Watch for bottom lane to be more or less uneventful until the team fighting starts and that’s where Sneaky and Smoothie will really shine.