Cloud9 vs Team SoloMid: NA LCS Summer Playoffs quarterfinals preview

In one of North America’s most historic clashes, Cloud9 meet TSM once again in the NA LCS Summer Playoffs quarterfinals. Who moves on to fight for Worlds?

by Brandon Ridgely

Image courtesy of Riot Games

Cloud9 were sitting at 1-5 by week 5 of the 2018 Summer Split. They ended the split 11-7. After their miraculous run in the last weeks of the split, Cloud9 are looking more dangerous than ever. They tore apart defending champion Team Liquid and every team that had so easily beaten them those first few painful weeks. Is the redemption arc continuing?

Team SoloMid has had a surprisingly streaky Summer Split, but good news for fans, things have been looking better lately for the most storied North American dynasty in League of Legends. TSM are coming off a shocking return to form, but they’re still very close to the rest of the pack in the NA LCS Summer Playoffs. Will things heat up on the big stage?

Lane matchups:

Top lane

Cloud9 have the brightest young top lane prodigy in North America in Licorice. Since his debut he’s been an impact player for the team that managed to at least mostly fill the shoes of previous Cloud9 top laner Impact. He’s grown since his start and has proved himself a vital piece to this team’s identity. 

TSM have one of the most veteran presences of any North American top laner around in Hauntzer. While he’s seen better days (with this resume how can’t you?) Hauntzer is still in a competitive place right now. 

Verdict: While Hauntzer will be more comfortable on the stage for Playoffs, Licorice is simply the better player overall. Cloud9 win the top lane.

Jungle

Cloud9 have been weak in the jungler role since parting ways with Contractz, who was at the time also just barely above average. It’s never been the team’s strong point, and has largely been used a mid lane snowballing machine. But while history has been quite clear on this, the future is maybe not so much. Blaber has come seemingly from nowhere, and has shown that even in his limited experience on the main stage, he can be a weapon for this squad. 

But no team has had a more sorted jungle history than TSM. From ward machine to designated jungle camp distributor, TSM have rarely won games on the back of their jungler. This is unfortunately still the case. Grig has been better than TSM’s previous junglers, but not by much. Whether it’s down to the team’s handling of the role, or the junglers they’ve chosen in recent years, we still can’t expect much from TSM in the jungle. This is a huge weak spot if this team plans to make it to international competition this year.

Verdict: While Cloud9 have better weapons than Blaber, he finds an easy win in his quarterfinal matchup. Cloud9 dominate the jungle.

Mid lane

Bjergsen is the franchise face for TSM, and may as well be the region’s face when it comes to the NA LCS. Yes, a Dane. Bjergsen has been a great figure for the game, and has been its best standout player on and off for years. Recently Bjerg has resurged to the form that took this TSM organization to multiple of their many NA LCS championships.

If the NA LCS was an anime, Bjergsen would be the hardworking, dependable, and moral protagonist. Jensen, on the other hand, would be his greatest rival. The fellow Dane mid lane sensation has at times been the best individual talent North America has ever seen. Contrary to Bjergsen, however, Jensen’s 2018 has been a much more confusing time. From actually playing second fiddle to GoldenGlue at times to literally starting on the Academy roster, Jensen went from the best of the best to a misplaced legend looking for his time to shine once again. He now splits time with GoldenGlue who has been playing the best he ever has in his storied time in the NA LCS. Both players have shown the potential to take over entire weeks of NA LCS play, it’s just a matter of getting things right when it matters most.

Verdict: While Cloud9 have had the better of TSM in this matchup in the past, no domestic mid laner can hold back Bjergsen’s monstrous hot streak, not even entire teams. TSM outgun the mid lane.

Bottom lane

Cloud9 have seen some changes in their bottom lane this summer. It’s been a revolving door for the team that has seen several talents enter and exit, including Keith, Smoothie, Zeyzal, and Sneaky. The team has since dropped Smoothie who has moved to Echo Fox, and locked in on its starting duo, Zeyzal and Sneaky. Sneaky has seen better days, following suit with Jensen on his academy journey this split. But he’s still one of the highest skill ceiling ad carries in North America, and he’s not alone as danger in the bottom lane. New support Zeyzal has been fairly impressive in his time since being called up. While he’s not the flashiest playmaker around, he’s one of the most consistent supports that’s never instrumental in team losses.

TSM sure wish they could take back the moves they made to end up with the bottom lane duo they’ve got, but they’re still waiting for the return on their investment they were looking for to begin with. The European golden combination of Zven and Mithy, which was honed by their time dominating Europe at the helm of G2. Ever since they crossed the pond, though, they’ve been lacklustre at best. Zven has posted impressive stats as an individual player, but from poor laning performances in combination with his partner to weak decision-making from support Mithy, we’ve seen this duo fall from grace in comparison to where they once were. Are their mechanics enough to see them through?

Verdict: While Cloud9 have the least experience in this matchup by a mile, Zeyzal and Sneaky look too strong entering quarterfinals to be stopped. Cloud9 edge out a victory in the bottom lane.

Who wins?

When these two North American juggernauts clash, it’s bound to be an exciting match. Make it a best of 5 and suddenly we’re clear for takeoff.

In the end, though, despite TSM’s streak of good performances in recent weeks, we just can’t put them past the legendary run of Cloud9. Even if Bjergsen will be right back to 1v9ing trying his best to get them there, it’s going to take more than that to move on.

Cloud9 take down this series in a 3-1 that’ll be closer than it looks.

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Brandon Ridgely

US Editor - Covering all things sports with a bit of everything else. Current favorite games: NBA 2K21, Madden 21, and Football Manager 2020.

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