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Cloud9’s Slow Start in the 2022 Summer Split

Nikhil Kalro

Earlier in the year, we told you how Cloud9’s stability that comes from having a familiar roster is a massive advantage ahead of the League of Legends LCS Summer Split 2022. Looks like we spoke too soon, because they have had to field a roster partially filled with substitutes in the early part of the split.

cloud9 blaber

REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - OCTOBER 25: Cloud9's Robert "Blaber" Huang poses backstage at the League of Legends World Championship Quarterfinals Stage on October 25, 2021 in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Liu YiCun/Riot Games)

The pandemic continues to thwart designs of several teams; Cloud9 have had to bear the brunt of the after-effects too. They were without their new-look bottom lane duo of Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen due to “lost passports and covid cases” for the first three games. Calvin “k1ng” Truong and Mitchell “Destiny” Shaw had to start instead. Their three straight losses and an insipid start was no coincidence.

But just when question marks covering the uncertainty of their immediate future were starting to be raised, Berserker and Zven managed to return to C9’s roster in time for their fourth game. Fortunately, Berserker didn’t have to reapply for an American passport; it could’ve taken several weeks for him to get it, which would’ve meant he would’ve spent that much time on the fringes, far from ideal when a team has hinged all their bets on you to deliver.

What worked for the team, even though they lost the first three games, is that K1ng and Destiny had played together previously in 2017 and 2019 in Oceania. In 2019, they were part of the LCO winning team with Mammoth, and also represented the region at the World Championship alongside Cloud9’s Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami. So their team play and understanding gave them some kind of leeway – at least they weren’t entirely unfamiliar with each other.

As such, Cloud9 had to lock in two new positions at the start of the split, one apiece on the top lane and mid lane. Fudge has slotted back into the top lane while Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen returns to the LCS after going through the first half of 2022 without a team.

The good thing is he is hungry to prove himself once again, so he couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity than now, with the team fighting in a mid-table battle after opening the split with three back-to-back losses.

“I think there is a lot of talk from people memeing our bot lane and saying things like ‘3v5’, ‘C9 can’t win with this bot lane’, and ‘Where are Zven and Berserker?’, but in reality, all three players on our top side did not play well in these games,” Fudge said in an interview with Inven Global. “Jensen and I made a lot of mistakes in lane and I think it’s coping to think that all of the problems are with our bot lane and that it will all be easy once we have Zven and Berserker.

“I wanted to address that initially because that’s what the public has been saying about our losses. I think it’s very important that we focus on what we could do ourselves on the top side because I think there is a lot that we could be doing in the games. There are a lot of decisions that Blaber, Jensen, and I are making that make the game hard.

“I definitely think I am not at the level of matchup knowledge that I had in 2021, strictly because I haven’t been playing the matchups that often. Back in 2021, I think I had a really good grasp on all the matchups, especially in the Summer Split, which allowed me to usually go even in losing matchups. I would usually pick champions that outscale and then I would go even in lane.”

A Reversal of Fortune

Their first win was a slugfest. It took them 33 minutes to break the deadlock. Both Cloud9 and Dignitas, the team they beat, came into the contest on the back of a winless 0-3 record. Cloud9’s new temporary players left their mark in breaking their tie for the last-place.

A second-straight win vaulted them straight back into the mid-table. The win marked the return of AD carry and support duo of Berserker and Zven. This meant k1ng and Destiny are both headed back to the academy setup full-time.

Against Dignitas, the pair played superbly to keep Cloud9 in the contest in what was a hard scrap for ascendancy. Having dug their heels in, it allowed the trio of Fudge, Robert “Blaber” Huang and Jensen to go on an overkill. They couldn’t have asked for a better recovery.

If it was a hard scrap against Dignitas, their win over 100 Thieves was a bit more convincing. It allowed them to go undefeated in week-2 of the summer split. During the win, they showed a synergy that hadn’t been visible earlier. Having picked up a substantial lead midway through, they managed to sustain it to eventually win.

Jensen once again proved why his absence was missed earlier as he applied the squeeze in the mid lane with help from Blaber, the jungler. It played a key role in 100 Thieves having a massive gold deficit. Jensen’s proficiency threw a spanner in 100T’s approach – they appeared disorganised and lacked a Plan B when it came to taking down the opponents, who had racked up more than a 10k gold lead halfway through.

“It seems like every fan is completely scapegoating our bot lane, but I think the blame has to be put on me, Blaber, and Jensen,” Fudge said. “I think we are all playing poorly and I think the fans that expect it’s going to be really smooth sailing when Berserker and Zven are here should change their perspective a little bit. Basically, I want the fans to also put the blame on the other players maybe a bit more because I think that we also have a lot more experience than our bot lane in terms in terms of international experience and playing in a team that is at a high level.

“I think the responsibility should be more on us. You can obviously argue that our bot lane this week was not playing extremely well compared to how they’d want to play, but I do think fans are exaggerating a bit by saying our bot lane was at least 90% of the reason we lost this weekend. I don’t think that is true.”

New expensive swords for the dominating trio of Fudge, Jensen, and Berserker helped heighten their crit rates as C9 fearlessly marched into the enemy territory and burned down the enemy towers. If their first win was a polite reminder of their abilities and that the first three losses were no more than an aberration, their second straight win was an emphatic statement of intent. Cloud9 is alive and kicking once again, and they bring with them the promise of much more.