The Resurgence of Cloud9
If you have been a fan of League of Legends for the last few years, you surely would have a fair idea of how strong Cloud9 have been as a team during this period. They have, however, fallen almost as quickly as they rose around the splits that followed the spring of 2020. That makes their rise in the spring of 2022 quite commendable. Cloud9 have risen to the point they are sole leaders of the LCS in spring this season, with a 11-2 record which includes eight straight wins.
What Has Changed For Cloud9?
Of course, Cloud9’s roster is a bit different. Let’s take a comparative look at Cloud9 from 2020 and 2022. In spring of 2020, Cloud9 finished the LCS regular season with a 17-1 record. For some context of how dominant that performance was, second place was a three-way tie between Evil Geniuses, 100 Thieves and FlyQuest with a 10-3 record.
In the playoffs of the spring split of 2020, Cloud9 demolished 100 Thieves in straight maps, then beat Evil Geniuses 3-1 in round 2 and then annihilated FlyQuest in the finals, also in straight maps. Here is the stunning part of this dominance: in the whole of spring in 2020, Cloud9 lost a total of two maps, including the playoffs!
The five players on Cloud9’s roster at that point were Robert “Blaber” Huang, Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer, Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen. The most inefficient player in that split was Licorice, who had a KDA of 4.75, with 2.44 kills, 1.78 deaths and 6 assists per map. That is close to the level of production that T1 have produced this year. Those were the golden days of Cloud9.
A lot has changed since then. The pace of play inside the lanes of Summoner’s Rift has decreased, with a preference for slower movement in the LCS. But Cloud9 are slowly returning to that level again. They have won 11 of 13 maps in this split of the LCS. Impressively, their players have found a new method which is not typical to Cloud9. The only surviving player for Cloud9 from that famous spring of 2020 is Blaber, who has led the revolution from the jungle.
There is also something to say about Cloud9 making quick changes to their roster or coaching staff to preserve this impressive start that they have made. Last month, Cloud9 parted ways with Nick “LS” De Cesare, the franchise’s head coach who was drafted to the team in December of 2021. That means LS was with the team for less than three months, but Cloud9 was not hesitant in removing a cog that didn’t fit well with the wheel.
“I already sort of knew it was going to happen before it happened,” Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami said. “Whilst it was happening, I sort of knew there were problems, then once it finally happened, I was like, ‘yeah, I sort of expected it to happen.”
“I don’t feel like it’s a really bad situation, just because I think that it probably was the best outcome for both parties because it wasn’t really working. I’m not upset about the situation with LS, I’m a little bit disappointed with our preparation. I think that’s a very big problem that, regardless of LS, we have to fix.”
What Did Cloud9 Say?
“The reason why we got to the point we were with LS was that Cloud9, for years, has developed systems on how we like to coach and operate our team, and despite our best efforts, working with LS to try to come to terms and see eye-to-eye on how that should work, we were unable to make that actually happen,” C9 owner Jack Etienne said in a video on Twitter.
Who Has Led This Resurgence?
You could say that Cloud9’s resurgence has been led by their healthy balance across all lanes. Bot laner Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol has managed returns of 3.54 kills, 1.23 deaths and 5 assists per map at a KDA of 6.94 with a creep score of 302.46. He has been the most efficient player for Cloud9 in this split, owning the highest KDA for his team.
Over in the middle lane, Fudge has managed 3.31 kills, 1.46 deaths and 6.62 assists with a KDA of 6.79. A mid laner is so important in League of Legends because of the role’s proximity to either lane, the top and the bottom, as well as quicker access to both neutral objectives when they spawn. If a mid laner is too aggressive and is subsequently killed as a result, it leaves the opposition mid laner with easy access to an elemental dragon, which is impactful in team fights. Fudge remaining consistent has certainly played a role in Cloud9 being hard to dislodge in team fights.
Most impressively, probably, has been Park “Summit” Woo-tae. He is leading the kills for Cloud9 with returns of 3.69 kills, 2.69 deaths and 4.46 assists per map. Summit has spent the majority of his professional League of Legends career in the LCK, where the pace of play is much slower. Teams opt to use methodical, concerted methods of attack, which has worked for teams like T1 and DWG Kia. He spent a season with Afreeca Freecs before moving to Liiv Sandbox (previously Sandbox Gaming) for close to three years.
He has taken to the LCS like a duck to water. The LCS demands a quicker pace of play, and he has responded in sprightly fashion, picking up his level of aggression to create a point of unique differentiation from the rest of the top laners in the LCS.
Two other players have had a big part to play in producing effective results across other areas of Summoner’s Rift. Blaber has managed 2.69 kills, 2 deaths and 7.23 assists per map at a KDA of 4.96. Kim “Winsome” Dong-keon has played his part as the designated support to Cloud9’s AD Carry with 8.46 assists per map. He has also stayed efficient as evidenced by his KDA of 5.81.
The Return Of Svenskeren
On March 14, Cloud9 announced that Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen, a former MVP in the LCS, will rejoin the franchise as a jungler as a substitute. It is still unclear whether this move will see Svenskeren spending much time for the main team in the LCS or for the Academy team.
Svenskeren helped Cloud9 win two World Championships in the period between 2018 and 2019 when he was the primary designated jungler for the team. In fact, Blaber, the current jungler for Cloud9, spent plenty of time under Svenskeren during that initial period.