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eSports: Team Cloud9 Dominates Group Stage

Collin Gaja, Writer

The stage is set and all eyes are on South Korea. The three best teams from each region around the world have come together to compete for the champion title and engraving themselves as the best in the Esports world.

This Worlds 2018 is vastly different from any other worlds in League of Legends history. Many teams such as Team SoloMid (TSM) or SKT Telecom T1 (SKT), both widely accepted as the best in their region, did not make it to the world stage this year. However, newer teams such as G-Rex and Invictus surprised the world by being able to play on par against teams like KT Rolster and Fnatic; leaving the fans clueless on who could be the next world champions.

One team, Cloud 9 (C9), has wowed the world as an underdog team. Starting from 10th place in the North American League Championship Series, C9 fought their way to the top of the North American (NA) leaderboards, surpassing long time NA champions TSM and even the feared 100Thevies who just joined this year. Once at the top, they faced off against Team Liquid (TL) for the NA championship title; however, at the NA Summer Split Finals, C9 was unable to overcome TL’s presence and were defeated in a 3-0 sweep. C9 was unfazed by this defeat and competed against TSM to claim their seed in the world stage. After a clean sweep, C9 overcame former LCS champion TSM 3-0, claiming the second seed in the world stage for NA. It was then C9 had shown that despite being tenth place they were able to fight their way to victory and become on of the best in NA, but how does that fare against other teams around the world?

C9 entered worlds on what was widely considered “the group of death”, as big-name teams such as Royal Never Give Up (RNG) were pitted against them. In the group stage, C9 seemed to be fairly evenly matched against their opponents as it was able to overcome RNG in some games while losing to the new team Vitality in others. It was the final two matches against RNG and C9 were able to go toe-to-toe against them. However, they proved to be too strong and C9 lost both games. In the end, C9 placed second in the group, making it into the quarter finals against South Korea’s Afreeca Freeces being the first NA team to make it out of group stage since 2011.

The quarter finals against Freecs was the most anticipated game for C9 yet. Being South Korea’s last hope worlds, Freecs was thought to be a tough opponent for C9, but C9, again, had proven to the world why they were a force to be reckoned with. Game one of three started and it was a total fiasco. C9 won the first objective and time and time again, they kept racking up victories in other lanes, giving them an advantage and the win for game one. Game two proved to be much harder for C9. Freecs dominated the early game, as their rotations and macro play was superior to C9. Yet, in a surprising turn of events in a pivotal play, C9 was able to overcome Freecs to ultimately win game two. In game three, Freecs dominated the early game again leaving little for C9 to do; however, in an objective call by Freecs, C9 was able to eliminate Freecs’ player Spirit and take the objective in the process. As a result, C9 was able to gain a 4,000 gold lead over Freecs and, with expert shotcalling, C9 again claimed victory in the final game, becoming the first NA team in 7 years to make it to the semi-finals. C9’s pride has clearly shown through their metal and their ability to become world champions.

C9 left the world in awe as their underdog story is both inspiring and invigorating. C9 has been in the thick and through, solidifying their title as one of the best in the world. With no Korean teams left and only three teams to go, C9 will surely win the champion title.

Photo courtesy of RIFTHERALD.COM

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eSports: Team Cloud9 Dominates Group Stage