When Cloud9 got their hands on Akali during the game-two draft in their League of Legends World Championship play-in series against Gambit today, their fans all shrieked with excitement simultaneously (probably).
C9 mid laner Nicolaj Jensen is a monstrous carry, and we’ve seen him sling his team on his back to stomp with champions like Cassiopeia, Ryze, and more this summer. Lissandra, one of Akali’s biggest counters on the pro stage, was banned, and it was difficult not to be giddy with excitement imagining Jensen letting loose with one of the flashiest high-damage mid lane champs in the game.
And then Viktor was locked in, and a collective sigh of disappointment followed (probably). With Viktor confirmed in C9’s team comp, it was clear that Akali wasn’t intended for Jensen. It was instead given to top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie, and his performance left a lot to be desired with a final score of two kills and three deaths.
At first, hopes were still high. Many of Licorice’s best top lane champions are also carries, we just aren’t used to seeing him on Akali specifically. The optimism didn’t last, though, because this was a rough game, and we doubt we’ll be seeing many more top lane Akali lock-ins in any of the other play-in best-of-fives this weekend.
Gambit’s comp didn’t even have many tools to stop him. Aside from Tahm Kench and some crowd control from Anivia, Licorice’s Akali should have had free roam in late-game flanks. Not only did he fail to cause much of an impact in big fights later in the game, but he didn’t utilize Akali’s strength to roam and make catches early on, either.
Hope isn’t lost for C9, because this was only the second game of the series. And hey, at least Licorice will always have Hecarim.