The LCS Players Association recently voted to cancel the rest of the season “because the Spring Split doesn’t matter.” That’s only further reinforced the narrative that NA is just a “for fun” region that doesn’t take the game seriously. But there are still plenty of teams fighting to show that this season still has meaning, especially with the playoffs right around the corner.
Over the past four years, only two teams have won the LCS championship: Team Liquid and TSM. This season, however, the script has been flipped and there are plenty of challengers ready to etch their name in the history books.
Every team has something to fight for, and ultimately, this Spring Split is still as important as ever—especially for a team as hungry for success as Cloud9. This might actually be the most important season in the team’s history. Because of everything that they’ve accomplished so far, there’s so much more on the line this postseason.
It’s been six long years since Cloud9’s League roster won a championship. Yes, they’ve still been very successful—especially with the numerous deep runs they’ve had in Worlds—but in the end, they haven’t won anything to put in their trophy case since 2014.
It was a simpler time when Sneaky, Hai, Meteos, Balls, and LemonNation dominated the league and finished both championship-winning seasons by sweeping TSM in back-to-back finals. They won the hearts of the North American fan base with great teamplay and a fun, goofy team atmosphere.
Since then, it’s been a rocky road for C9, with several disappointing finishes that left the org empty-handed over and over again. It was clear that change was needed to make the team champions once more. And then C9 fans had to say goodbye to the last player remaining from that 2014 roster: Sneaky.
Change is rarely easy. Sneaky was the heart and soul of the organization. Saying goodbye to someone like him felt like tearing out what made C9 so likable in the first place. But after ripping off the band-aid, the team’s hard decisions might have set themselves on a different course—one that’s given them a 17-1 regular season record and could finally put them back on the North American throne again.
The redemption arc
One of the C9’s biggest positives has been their new bottom lane with Zven and Vulcan, who have quickly become the best duo in North America. The former boasts the highest KDA in the entire league, while the latter leads all supports in assists.
Multiple players have become a representation of C9’s redemption arc—a season that only needs a championship to solidify its place as one of the best performances in LCS history. For example, Zven’s road in NA has been filled with plenty of ups and downs, especially after his first stint in the region with TSM.
Many people lost faith in him after multiple mistakes in several key moments and many fans were skeptical of C9’s decision to replace Sneaky with him at the start of the split. But he’s rebounded his career in one of the most spectacular ways possible with a team that desperately needed a change, even though some people didn’t like it at first.
“I don’t think people will be silent until I win the split and I hold that trophy, whether it’s an online trophy or not,” Zven told Dot Esports. “A 17-1 split is the best I could hope for. If I had to hope for something, I wouldn’t have even hoped for 17-1 or 18-0 before April started.”
A shot at greatness
The other half of C9’s bottom lane also had plenty of doubters after he was announced. When Jack Etienne bought out Vulcan’s contract from Team Dignitas for $1.5 million, people were shocked. He surely couldn’t have been worth that money, right?
And yet Vulcan has quietly become a top-two support in the region and has been essential to C9’s transition into true championship contenders. His aggression, great decision-making, and even better mechanics have all helped the team throughout the split. All he needs to do now is step underneath the virtual lights of this season’s online playoffs and show the world why that $1.5 million was money well spent.
The team’s young jungler, Blaber, hardly got the benefit of the doubt from fans either, especially because he joined after Etienne sent former league MVP Svenskeren to Evil Geniuses. Why would Etienne choose a coinflip player who’s struggled to control his aggressive playstyle over a proven champion and the best jungler in the LCS at the time?
Like Vulcan, Blaber rose to the challenge when he joined C9’s starting lineup. He now has the most kills—and the least deaths—of any jungler in the league. He has amazing early-game stats and the highest damage numbers in his role. By capturing a title in his first year as a starter, he could be on his way to becoming another household name in the North American League scene.
For Cloud9, this Spring Split represents the chance to rid themselves of the perpetual “always a bridesmaid” mentality surrounding them. They’ve always been the runners-up, they’ve always come in second place, and they’ve constantly fallen short.
It’s time to lock in and introduce a new era to the LCS—one that sends the league high into the clouds.