After re-watching Cloud9’s set over the weekend, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions about them as a whole in their playoff form. I’m going to focus on where they thrive as a team, their struggles as a team, and their overall chances of winning on Sunday. The theme that you’re going to take away from this is that it doesn’t look pretty, but C9 definitely do have a chance – just look at their set against favored Immortals.
Where Cloud9 Thrive
The points comparably here to where they struggle don’t have as much depth. In fact, they definitely still have a lot of issues going into their match against Team SoloMid, but there are some bright spots.
C9 are pretty great at countering lackluster aggression early. They recognize when the enemy is overstepping their boundaries and they capitalize on it effortlessly. C9 aren’t as one dimensional to only be able to counter the aggression the enemy is pushing onto them; they’re also capable of being the proactive team who respects the cross map play the enemy could make. Multiple times in the Cloud9 vs. Immortals set, C9 were actually the team getting First Blood more often than not.
C9 is also great at absorbing targeting in both the draft and in game. Throughout the whole series, Andy “Smoothie” Ta was target banned and was still able to perform to what I would say was a pretty impressive level. More specifically, his Tahm Kench play was where he shined the most in this last series. Also, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong played comparably to what some would say the Impact of Season 3 during SKT’s World Championship run, outplaying Seong “Huni” Hoon Heo and Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin regularly in the ganks Immortals were setting up on top lane.
C9’s decisiveness when they’re grouped up is another strong point of theirs. They know when they’re strong and they group early for objectives like dragon and sieging. While sieging, I was really impressed with their teleport flank coverage with three pink wards surrounding them, especially considering the comp they were against (a hard engage TP flank comp).
Something that can be argued as both a strength and a weakness of C9 is that two out of the three games they won in their set against Immortals, they actually lost the first turret of the game, which right now is highly contested due to the amount of gold it’s worth. To me, this says that C9 are capable of playing from behind, but it also is worrying when going up against a team like TSM who aren’t going to let you get back into the game as easily as Immortals did.
Where Cloud9 Struggle
The first of the many things C9 still struggles with that I would like to mention is their very evident communication issues when using TP. The amount of times C9 committed their TP to a play everyone wasn’t on board with, or conversely not committing a TP to a play players of C9 were clearly on board with, was shocking. Their TP use in general, not only in playoffs but during the end of the regular season, was average at best.
Another area where C9 is not very good in is their side wave control. It could have been because they were against one of the best side wave management teams in the league, but it was even happening on the side of the map they were winning and putting resources towards, so that leads me to believe the latter.
This leads into another weakness of C9, which is them being pretty bad at ending games. So many times, C9 tried to end the game when they were 10,000+ gold up against Immortals and fell flat. After a third try, they finally figured out the over leveled Gnar just needed to push a lane the rest of C9 aren’t in to finally win.
Both of these points really make me worry for C9 because TSM are very strong when it comes to side wave management and ending games when they’re ahead. Hauntzer didn’t flame horizon Darshan from out laning him, it was TSM’s side wave management that netted him all that room for those creeps and nowhere for Darshan to equalize.
One of the last things I’d like to touch on about where C9 is struggling, which doesn’t cover everything they are struggling with, is C9’s players compared to TSM’s. You look at the matchups and you really have to wonder where they win across the board here. Their matchup top isn’t bad, I consider that part of the map to be a wash when they play on Sunday; it will just be down to which team’s usage of TP is more proactive and looking at C9’s TP plays I would definitely give it to TSM.
I’d also consider the jungle matchup to be relatively even with a slight edge to Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen because of his regular season performance and playoff performance so far. Mid lane is favored for Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg heavily in my opinion, which can shut down a huge carry force of C9’s in Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen. Lastly, C9’s bottom lane is heavily outmatched by TSM’s bot lane, both in laning and how responsible Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng is with his leads compared to Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. Multiple times, Sneaky was ahead of the enemy bot lane during their match against Immortals and failed to do anything with it. As a whole, their laning is serviceable. They really want to get out of lane and make it to the mid game when they can group up and become the decisive force they are.
Can Cloud9 Come Out on Top?
In short, I don’t think C9 have the tools to beat TSM. Impact’s Gangplank play compared to what Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell has shown against Counter Logic Gaming is nowhere near one another’s level. Their early skirmishing when on equal terms isn’t stellar either and they are more than likely to come out behind, whether it’s in a death, a turret, a dragon or simply pressure on the map.
C9, as a whole, is also really predictable when it comes to the side of the map they’re going to play towards (middle and bottom lane), which brings the inherent risk of being shut down in a lane you depend on. If I were C9 here, I would heavily prioritize getting a good mid lane matchup that doesn’t involve Zilean because C9 as a whole are really bad at playing Zilean comps. Also, they need to get Jensen a lead because when Jensen gets a lead, he’s responsible with it, unlike C9’s other carry in Sneaky.
Lastly, as I mentioned in the beginning of the article, their inability to secure the first turret gold can come back to bite them when they face TSM. It can’t be stressed enough how important that gold is, and losing out on it more often than not is not somewhere you want to be going into a set against a team that runs with even the smallest of leads. If I had to put a number on the series, I’d say TSM takes it 3-1, with the one game being Jensen carrying on something like Syndra or Cassiopeia.
Do you think that Cloud9 has a chance to defeat Team SoloMid this weekend? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
If you want to follow me or have any questions, you can find me on twitter @SchuckJeff. Thanks for the read!
Photo Credits to Cloud9