Cloud 9: A High School Analogy
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In every movie or TV show of high school, there was always that dumb ugly fat friend that made the rest of the group look better. In Saved By The Bell, you had Screech, Breakfast Club, you had Ally Sheedy, and on Cloud 9, there was Hai.
Hai wasn't the prettiest player in the game, his mechanics weren't the best, his champion pool was considered to be kiddie pool size, and his health problems always in the spotlight. But he had this magical ability with the simple ability to communicate to make his team the powerhouse they were.
The stats aren't in their favor either.
Before Hai's Retirement
After Hai's Retirement
The drastic fall Cloud 9 taken has come as a surprise. While Incarnati0n has been fairly impressive in the mid lane, handling himself well against the vast amounts of pressure from the enemy team and the community, it is still not the high level of play many members of the community were expecting.
But the blame can't be fully placed onto the young, inexperience mid lane talent. With the exception of Sneaky, the rest of Cloud 9 is in the bottom 3 of their role in terms of gold per minute, including Balls who has the lowest gold per minute for North American top lanes.
The veil has been lifted. What was previously hidden by an excellent shot caller has been revealed a team of misfits and hopefully through this article, Cloud 9 can turn from JV bench warmers into the All-Americans they once were.
Whenever there is something you want to hide, people usually first turn to make up. Make Up for league plays comes in terms of their champions. Players turn to certain champions to either empathsize their ability of mastering a certain champ or use it to hide a certain weakness, whether it be for the team or their personal performance.
For Cloud 9, Balls and Meteos need a serious amount of make up to hide their flaws. Balls, for one, has the lowest amounts of Kills and Minions Slayed among all top laners in North America through 4 weeks. In the past, this wouldn't be considered much of a problem, with how dominant Cloud 9 have been in team fights, but with their inability to survive the early portion of games, Cloud 9 simply is too weak.
The same is showing for Meteos. While Meteos isn't statistically as weak as Balls, his pressure in the early portions of the game has been non-existent since their Week One victory versus Team Solo Mid.
So what champions can hide these faults? For Balls, it has always been a simple choice: Rumble. With his perfect run of using the champion in Regular season, his use of 'carry top lanes' has always been a strong quality for him. In previous splits, he has shown strong play with the use of champions, such as Rumble, Lissandra, Irelia, Renekton, Shyvana and the newly buffed Trundle and Jayce, holding a record of 44-9 in the regular season.
Meteos is a little more difficult to fix. Meteos is the player who relied on having really niche champs, champs that he was able to spam and not get banned against him. His Nidalee, his Lee Sin and his Zac were 3 champions that he was really good at but didn't have to worry about having to worry about the possibility of it being banned, which was a huge reason to C9's early success because they played champions that were not popular at the time.
Meteos really needs to find another niche champion. One personal recommendation for him would be a Nocturne or Pantheon, two champions that he has done extremely well with in the past. This would not only bring back comfort to his role but if he was to bring out a Pantheon- early game jungler, it would possible fix the prevailing issue of C9's horrible early game.
A New Teacher
In every sitcom, there is always that one mentor or teacher that helps the main cast in their problems. Currently on C9, Charlie is not that person. While Charlie has been been involved with the team since its early stages, he hasn't been able to re-create the magic that was C9's first split. As said multiple times by League of Legends personalities, their failure to catch up with the rising use of multiple analyst has shown with their inability to adapt to recent patches- possibly resulting in lackluster picks and bans, something new to the Cloud 9 problems.
The basic idea would to bring on Lemonation or Hai to the actual coaching staff. Their in-game knowledge has been proven- Lemonation's creation of what supports are considered to be good and Hai's leadership. This presiding problem would be removing a valuable asset of Lemonation, who has been widely considered a top-tier support leading into this season and the incredible chemistry between Sneaky and Lemon. Also there would be the issue of finding an new support. While there is a vast amount of support talent in NA challenger solo queue- in players such as PAINLESS, Matlife, Gleeb, Remilia and so on, a lot of the players are currently connected to a team.
The easy fix would be for Cloud 9 to hire various analysts for different reasons. Counter Logic Gaming is a good team to learn from in this area, with how they have created an application process and have shown great improvement so far in this split.
Waiting Til Graduation
The final option that Cloud 9 could take is to do nothing. Something that Cloud 9 is incredibly good at is waiting out the storm or making one change and miraculously it works out for them. Cloud 9 at this moment is currently 2-6 making them the 8th placed team in North America and putting them into the area of relegation. As we approach half-way through the split, and looking into the challenger series, Cloud 9 should be considered save against any challenger team. Cloud 9 can choose to take the rest of their split to lick their wounds and hope for the off season, which has been their chosen time to make changes. But if they are looking for contention for a possible play off run with their second place points, they need to take the time and thing through their problems.
While this may be the split for the old guards of Team Solo Mid, Counter Logic Gaming, Formerly Curse, and Dignitas to take their rightful place on top of the standings, Cloud 9's problems may look scary but they can be fixed. The team has one of the best owners in all of eSports and the money is there, it will just have to take time and patience is key.