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Team Liquid has had a singular hold over the North American region for the past few years. Split after split, they would single-handedly demolish any team that stood in their way, taking first in almost every regional season since the Summer of 2018.
Cloud9, on the other hand, has always been a contender. During their rookie split in season 3, Cloud9 made a statement as an up and coming group that challenged the ideals of what a professional team could be in the meta. Focused on teamplay and coordination, Cloud9 took the region by storm. However, they always were just challengers to the likes of TSM, and later, Team Liquid.
Enter 2020; Cloud9 looks like a whole different team from previous years. With playoffs looming on the horizon, we take a look at what makes this team tick, and what this means for the odds in the North American Playoff race.
The first thing that comes to mind is the incredible backbone that Cloud9 has built up over the years. After starting in 2013 as one of the 8 teams in the NA LCS at the time, Cloud9, headed by Jack Etienne, has come to become an organization renowned as a contender for the world titles. Each year since their inception, they have been within playoff contention for the regional crown. Although they tend to fall to the other vanguard leading North America, no one could deny their strengths.
They are also known as the North American team that has consistently gotten out of groups at Worlds. Although 2019 was not their year, their previous tournament showings gave them the name “North America’s Last Hope”, since they would consistently be the only team that would make it out of groups in decent standing, even after having fought in what is labeled as the “Group of Death” each year.
Their coaching and analytical squad is also top notch. They have been known to pull some of the brightest to help with analytics, as well as coaching. Of those, the most notable is obviously their coach, Bok Han-gyu, or better known as “Reapered”. Having come from Korea, Reapered has been a constant flow of innovation and adaptability, with many going as far as to say that he is the best head coach in the LCS. He is known to “Play” with the draft, sometimes thinking outside of the box and creating compositions that can only work if played by Cloud9.
Not only is the coaching staff full of experience, the players themselves all have great strengths and talents when it comes to the game. Of their members, most have at least a year of experience on stage, with some having over 5 years of experience. Players such as Zven and Nisqy have been around on many different teams, bringing their experience and skills to the table as well.
However, there are those that may not have as much stage experience, but are hungry for more. Vulcan and Blaber are both relatively new to the competitive scene, having come from the ametuer side, as well as having had to share their alotted time with some counterparts. For example, this is Blaber’s first time as a starting jungler for Cloud9, as he had been sharing time with Svenskeren in 2019.
Although the individual talent is high, there is one more thing that seems to drive them even further: the hunger to prove themselves. In the current LCS, Cloud9 is the only team to not have a player that has won an LCS regional title. Although the organization has plenty of regional trophies, the players themselves are somewhat fresh, and looking to put on the best show that they can.
Perhaps this is what drives them, which shows in their team play. In many of their games, they put out an aggressive and offensive style that seems to catch other teams off-guard. Playing with strong coordination from top, mid, and jungle, the trio of Nisqy, Licorice, and Blaber have run rampant across many teams and throwing early game macro-rotations into chaos.
Through the mid to late game, many of their games showcase Zven and Vulcan thrashing the enemy team after being given pretty much a free lane. Although they may not be extremely showy in the early game, the bottom lane of Cloud9 are absolutely a force to be reckoned with.
So, what does this mean for the odds coming up on the Spring Playoffs for 2020? The implications may surprise you.
With the recent loss to Team Solomid, it’s known that Cloud9 are not gods, and can bleed. However, that does not take away from the fact that they stand unchallenged at the top of the standings. Even if they lose both of their games in week 9, they will still secure first place, as there is a 4 game difference between them and second place.
Because of this, the odds will almost always be stacked in favor of Cloud9. Many of the odds should have a wide gap and berth, so any team they play against will be considered an underdog.
You can also imagine that Cloud9 have quite short game times, so the odds of their match going longer than 30 minutes will jump astronomically.
The one area that will be a bit difficult to predict is the global objective game. With first tower, first dragon, and first baron being choices, it is safe that the odds will still be in favor of Cloud9. However, they will be much closer than other odds, so they should be safe bets to count on.
Cloud9, by a long shot, will always have the odds stacked for them. However, with the current pace of the game, there are options for them to be turned over, no matter how low those chances are. If you’re looking to make some easy money, then bet on Cloud9. But, if you plan to try to go for a big win, look to bet against Cloud9 during the Spring Playoffs in 2020.