By: Dan Dankert
Stunned. After the NA LCS finals Sunday, I sat in my chair with my hands on my head, speechless and not believing what I was witnessing. Poof. With a blink of an eye Cloud 9 mid laner Jensen was deleted from the fight just outside of Baron Buff and with his deletion also came the deletion of Cloud 9’s hopes of reclaiming a title that they haven’t won in several years.
With Jensen’s death, multiple members of C9 desperately ran from the fight to the mid lane to try and take an inhibitor and force TSM to respond to their pressure. TSM, in a magnificent call, sent back two members to defend while the rest of the team pushed bottom lane to a game 5 victory. With their backs to the wall, TSM rose tall above the challengers.
This final, decisive, unbelievable game 5 was decided by one play that cost Cloud 9 the win, in what would have been the greatest reverse sweep in League of Legends history. After a brutal first two games where Cloud 9 was run over by a confident and prepared TSM team, the team bounced back to take a close game 3, and won game 4 on the backs of a very good draft.
In game 5, with the game leaning in Cloud 9’s favor, TSM made a risky call and started Elder Dragon. With TSM on Elder Dragon, Cloud 9 knew they needed to fight TSM to prevent a clean Elder Dragon take, and a possible push for the nexus. Jensen, who built very damage oriented engaged into TSM and was dropped instantly. He ended up taking 2300 damage in less than a second. This was so fast that Jensen didn’t get his Zhonya’s off, he didn’t get to ult, and couldn’t carry the fight. With Cloud 9’s most powerful member gone as soon as the fight began TSM was able to easily finish Elder Drake, finish off 3 members of Cloud 9, and win the game.
This ending was unbelievable, I was almost sure Cloud 9 was going to win the game before that fight went so awry. Cloud 9 had a great 1-3-1 composition and Jensen looked unstoppable. What was more unbelievable and something I won’t forget anytime soon, Jensen’s reaction. His hands shook, his face was one of utter disbelief and for a second I felt a similar gut-wrenching feeling, not because of the loss, but for what he was going through.
Here is a player that has always lived in the shadow of two other great players, Bjergsen and Hai. Bjergsen is the king of the mid lane in North America and no matter how hard Jensen tries he can’t beat Bjergsen when it matters. He also lives in the shadow of Hai as Hai was the face of Cloud 9 and its original leader. He took them to their two championships and he brought them back from the brink of relegation to Worlds. He did so much for that team, and Jensen hasn’t been able to bring Cloud 9 that same greatness that Hai did.
But as I saw his reaction I thought of his other miscues in this series. Earlier he tried diving Bjergsen and died to the tower without using his ultimate as he was trying to get one last auto attack on Bjergsen. Instead of letting Bjergsen go and taking a small lead Jensen felt like he had to press his small advantage for a big one and it didn’t pay off. The other miscue was another attempt to kill Bjergsen. This one came as he engaged on Bjergsen in game 5 without any vision on Sven. After he jumped into the fight, the waiting Sven jumped into the fight and easily helped drop Jensen.
The mistakes Jensen made were mistakes of a man fearless, a man fighting the weight of the world. When most people have as much pressure laid on their shoulders like Jensen did, they crumble, they play timid, or they run away. Jensen did the opposite, he fought and scraped and it is clear to me this series that Jensen believed he needed to not only go even with Bjergsen but he needed to build and advantage and beat him to the ground for Cloud 9 to win the series. When faced with the overwhelming stress of that game Jensen fought and though he died, and the team lost, he never quit. In fact he was fearless, and that is a sign for me that Cloud 9, despite the loss, is in the right hands and that under Jensen’s unyielding confidence this team will perform even better the next time they are in a similarly tough spot.
If Jensen waits to engage and allows that last team fight to play out differently Cloud 9 wins that game, I am nearly sure of that. But the mistakes Jensen made were those a human makes when tested, and pushed to his limits. In this game Jensen failed. He made the wrong play and Cloud 9 lost. But it’s in the fires of being tested that winners are born and it’s in the fires of this game that I believe a much greater and much more formidable Cloud 9 was born. It’s in our failures that we become greater and its moments like these that will propel Cloud 9 forward. Cloud 9 fought back from two of the worst games that I have ever seen a Cloud 9 team play, and drove TSM all the way to the brink in a close game 5. A bad team doesn’t come back like Cloud 9 did. A mentally weak team doesn’t either. The growth from every player on that team was evident from the start of that series to the end. The Cloud 9 that arrived in Vancouver, is not the team that left Vancouver. This team just learned what it takes to be great, and nearly reached it. They will have one more chance to achieve greatness in the summer, and one more chance is all they need. It’s time for Jensen to emerge beyond the shadows of Bjergsen and Hai, and show the world how great a North American team can be.
Look out world, this Cloud 9 team is here to stay.