Road to Worlds: Cloud9
A GAMURS exclusive series, taking a look at the 16 teams going to Worlds from the beginning of their qualification and see just how their road to worlds went. Today, we look at Cloud9 of the North American LCS.
The 2016 Preseason
Changing of the Guard
After their Worlds run in 2015, Cloud9 were left with the task of building on their run to proceed to qualify for Worlds for the 4th year in a row. This has been every year since their inclusion in the LCS. It was during the pre-season that they announced the retirement of Daerek "LemonNation" Hart as a player and moved him into a staff role. The organization then posted that they would be opening tryouts for both the jungler and support roles. One would be taken by a newcomer and C9's shotcaller, "Hai" Du Lam would take the other position.
They ended up picking up two players in the end. Former Gravity support Michael "Bunny FuFuu" Kurylo and Team Impulse Jungler Lee "Rush" Yoon-jae took the main spots, with Hai splitting up support time between himself and Bunny FuFuu.
The team would proceed to take part in IEM Cologne, where they were soundly defeated in the first round by a strong H2k-Gaming team.
A sign of things to come? C9 hoped not.
Spring Split 2016 and Spring Playoffs
For C9, the Spring Split was another clean slate. The aim? Reach Worlds. The NA LCS would continue to use its best-of-one format for the proceeding fixtures and, with super teams cropping up in the form of Immortals and Team SoloMid improving from their previous year's roster, C9 had a lot to prove.
C9's first game was against the new superteam, IMT and they lost convincing to this powerhouse side which would go on to have 17-1 finish in the split. C9 still found themselves finishing 3rd in the Sprint split, 67 percent of their games. Only Counter Logic Gaming and IMT were ahead of them in second and first place respectively.
This gave C9 a lot of positives going into the Spring Playoffs, where they would come up against a TSM side who had only won 9 of their 18 games throughout the split. C9 were favourites going into the match up, and they showed why by taking game one. However, that would be the only game they would win as TSM picked up the pace and showed their form as they took the next proceeding three games and knocked C9 out of the Spring playoffs for an early exit.
Summer Split 2016 and Summer Playoffs
Making an Impact
After the end of the Spring split, C9 recreated its Challenger team for the Summer Split ahead, meaning a shuffling of teams was in order. The new high-profile acquisition of SK Telecom T1's former top laner, Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong would find himself joining William "Meteos" Hartman (Jungle), Niclaj "Jensen" Jensen (Mid), Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi (ADC) and Andy "Smoothie" Ta (Support), as Bunny FuFuu split time with Smoothie.
C9 were facing a split with a revitalised TSM side and a strong region, with the introduction of best-of-three matches from here on out. More matches and more mayhem loomed.
C9 would finish in the same place with the same score and same win percentage as the previous split to take them into the Summer Playoffs in third-place once again. However, what gave them an edge this time was be patch 6.14, which was a good fit for C9's playstyle.
In the Summer Playoffs, C9 found themselves facing rookie organization Team EnVyUs and wiped them away 3-1 without a moment's hesitation, leading them to square off against IMT in the semifinals for a shot at the final and to become NA's top Worlds seed. It would become a five game thriller in which C9 edged out a IMT to push themselves into that all important final against TSM.
However, after what many analysts and players believed would be a close knit series that would go to the final game, C9 were tossed aside by an impressive TSM side, revitalised under the acquisition of Vincent "Biofrost" Wang in the support role to take the top seed. C9 had one lost shot to qualify for Worlds, albeit as NA's last seed, in the Regional Finals.
2016 NA Regional Finals
This was it. The final chance for any team wanting to go to Worlds. Tne spot at Worlds on the line and all to play for, the four teams with the highest championships points (Team Liquid, Team EnVyUs, Cloud9 and Immortals) were ready to fight it out.
Fresh in the memory of many, C9 would begin their road to the 3rd place in worlds for NA by facing off against EnVyUs once again, this time, not giving the team any breathing room and sweeping them 3-0.
The rivalry between C9 and IMT was on display in a fight for the third and final seed at Worlds. With both teams holstering impressive rosters, the games began slowly, as no one wanted to go after kills or objectives, focusing more on gaining gold in all lanes and warding objectives.
C9, however, would take the first game and extend their lead further in the second, going up 2-0 by capitalizing on huge mistakes from the fragile IMT side.
With C9 looking to go on a 6-0 streak in the Regional Finals and qualify for Worlds, they had everything to play for with the chance to make it two-for-two in the past two years on regional qualification. IMT, however, had other plans and pulled out a win to make the series count 2-1 in C9's favor.
However, there was to be no IMT comeback as C9 dominated the fourth and final game, executing clearly to take the final Worlds spot to finish the NA regional finals and finalize the 16 teams going to Worlds 2016.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Cloud9's "Road to Worlds!"
As we head into Worlds 2016 in North America, we ask you guys which team you are supporting in the competition? How far do you think they can go? Let us know on twitter @GAMURScom.