The second instalment of our North American team previews follows Cloud 9 — A team who has remained at the forefront of North American League of Legends scene for over a year.
After entering the LCS in the Summer of 2013, Cloud 9 wasted no time traipsing on the competition and finished the 2013 Summer Split with an unprecedented 25-3. They look to return to the World Championship again this year and set their sights higher than a Quarterfinal finish.
Cloud 9 charged onto the scene in early 2013 under the name ‘Quantic Gaming.’ They are currently the longest-standing complete roster in the Western hemisphere and second in the world, behind only SKT T1 K.
Their claim to fame is always being ahead of North American teams in terms of macro gameplay and team synergy. Early in their careers, many doubted that Cloud 9 were individually strong players and pined that they got by on team coordination alone.
If we fast-forward to 2014, it becomes a lot more difficult to place Cloud 9’s players outside of the top three North American players in their respective roles. After winning two consecutive Splits, Cloud 9 will take the second seed from North America into this year’s World Championship.
How Did They Qualify?
Cloud 9 finished atop the NA LCS standings after 11 weeks of competition, thanks to a hiccup in LMQ’s play during the final Super Week. They awaited the victor of Curse and CLG — And after an unexpected 3-0 annihilation, Curse advanced for the chance to play the poised and waiting Cloud 9.
Just as quickly as they defeated CLG, Curse was dispatched 3-0 by Cloud 9 and the Summer Split victors advanced to play Team SoloMid to determine seeding for the 2014 World Championship. Cloud 9 was now 13-0 all-time in North American play-off matches — But that was all about to change.
In a Best of 5 series that truly went the distance, Cloud 9 eventually succumbed to TSM, after a well-executed teamfight and a quadra kill from WildTurtle. Cloud 9 was forced to relinquish their title as the best team in North American League of Legends.
Top Lane – An “Balls” Le
Balls has been, for most of his career, heavily praised for maintaining great lane presence. He now goes up against, who many believe to be, the best top laner on the planet in Najin White Shield’s Save.
Balls will play an integral part in progressing Cloud 9 to the quarterfinals. As with most top laners, he is currently putting a heavy emphasis on Maokai; look for that to be a top priority during the pick-and-ban phase for Cloud 9.
Jungle – Will “Meteos” Hartman
Since Cloud 9 entered the competitive scene in 2013, it became almost impossible to talk about their success without mentioning Meteos. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has watched LCS this Split that his most popular champions are Elise and Lee Sin.
He has shifted away from his farm-centric style of Season 3 into a much more objective-oriented style. His immense game knowledge always seems to have him in the right place at the right time, resulting in occasionally spectacular counterganks that often snowball Cloud 9’s early game.
Mid Lane – Hai “Hai” Lam
Hai is the shot caller behind the punishing Cloud 9 roster. What Hai lacks in overtly flashy plays and highlight reel appearances, he makes up for with his in-game decision making and leadership.
Hai played 14 champions over the course of the Summer Split regular season — However, he has played almost exclusively Zed and Yasuo during the Summer Playoffs. If Hai continues to elevate his shot-calling, Cloud 9 stands to potentially make a run at the Round of 8.
AD Carry – Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi
For a long time, Sneaky was considered to be the weak spot for Cloud 9. He has disproved that handsomely by not only continuing to step up his play in the LCS, but also by attaining the #2 rank in NA Challenger behind Wildturtle.
He played seven ADC’s during the Summer Split and found mixed success on each one. This reinforces the notion that, regardless of what champion Sneaky is playing, he can preform well. Look for Lucian and Kog’Maw to come out during the World Championship.
Support – Daerek “LemonNation” Hart
LemonNation’s most picked support champion this Split holds by far his most abysmal win percentage. His Morgana is 2-7 for a win rate of 22%. No other champion in his arsenal has a win rate below 71% during LCS play.
In recent weeks, he has been favouring Braum and Nami. Time will tell if he has picked up the new FOTM champion, Zilean. Much like Sneaky, Lemon should be comfortable on whatever support he finds himself playing.
Group D is also going to be highly competitive, with Cloud 9 having to take at least a game off each team if they hope to advance.
A 2-0 record against either Alliance or NJWS should mean a berth in the Round of 8 for the boys in blue, though avoiding an upset from KaBum is also key to staying alive.
With Alliance’s continued dominance of Europe, I have to give them the upper hand over Cloud 9 for the non-Korean team to make it out of groups.
TheCasualGamer’s Group D Prediction:
2) NaJin White Shield
3) Cloud 9
4) KaBum e-Sports AKA Blue Turtle Shell
This group will be decided by consistency and not losing a game to KaBum
Individual player images courtesy of eSportspedia