The debut of Riot Games’ new Los Angeles studio was also the League Championship Series debut for the newest champion. For the first time in the LCS, Rek’sai entered the Summoner’s Rift and more than 400,000 people tuned in on Twitch to watch her and Team SoloMid take the first match of the season.
Cloud9 left open the new champion, who was banned in every game during Europe’s first week of play, in order to pull through their own preferred picks, Sivir and Gnar.
It was a strategy that seemed to work early. Cloud9 used a lane swap to deny farm for SoloMid top laner Marcus “Dyrus” Hill, allowing Ahn “Balls” Le to gain a large lead on Gnar. But Team SoloMid managed to put strong pressure on the mid lane, scoring a tower lead early, and eventually took a small lead off a sloppy team fight by Cloud9.
Team SoloMid’s ability to avoid engaging on Cloud9’s terms combined with the play of SoloMid captain Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg, whose 8/0/8 Ahri controlled the pace of the game and scored a first blood solo kill, was the story of the match.
Cloud9 looked sloppy in team fights, failing to engage despite the power of Sivir’s ultimate and allowing Team SoloMid to flank and take an advantage in every fight. At the 27 minute mark, SoloMid took a big battle and scored an inhibitor. In true Cloud9 fashion, they countered back by sneaking Baron and taking a third dragon. But it wasn’t enough to stop Team SoloMid, who eventually took a decisive team fight to close out the game.
While SoloMid’s new jungler, Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen, scored the seemingly overpowered champion Rek’Sai, he seemed a little tentative in using it. But his selfless play also helped SoloMid avoid entering a poor fight. It wasn’t a thrilling showcase for why Rek’Sai is such a popular ban.
But that mattered little—Team SoloMid started off their season right, quelling all doubts fans had after a poor offseason performance at the Intel Extreme Masters.
Image via Riot Games