In retrospect, it isn’t exactly surprising that Cloud9 once again had to shoulder North America’s hopes and dreams. SKT T1 were well in the lead of the entire group, so the question became whether the #3 NA LCS seed could overtake AHQ and EDG and finish second. The 2-1 seemed to indicate as much, but by this point, fans knew all too well how fleeting this record could be entering week 2.
Game 1 started with AHQ facing SKT. The Korean powerhouse was the clear-cut favorite in this match, yet together with Mountain, Westdoor managed to score a first blood onto Faker as Fizz vs Kassadin. Things only got worse as the LMS duo invaded deep into the enemy jungle. And despite SKT’s best efforts to fight back, the AHQ momentum proved too hard for them to stop.
Another upset happened in game 2 where Cloud9 came against EDG. The Chinese squad picked up the slack (as well as the Caitlyn/Jarvan/Galio combo) and dismantled Cloud9’s side lanes. A small CS lead meant little on Jensen’s Ryze, and the Dane could only watch as his team fell to the onslaught.
The third game (AHQ vs EDG) was a bit more predictable. Chawy’s Ryze looked completely lost against Scout’s Syndra, and iBoy put on a clinic with Twitch. With two of the most important lanes winning, it was all too easy for EDG to secure a 24-minute victory.
Game 4 was a David vs Goliath battle between C9 and SKT. This time Cloud9 fared a bit better, and even managed to secure a strong CS lead on Jensen’s Syndra. But the combination of Huni’s Jayce and Faker’s Fizz offered too much splitpushing power, and no one on Cloud9 could match it. Eventually, C9 were forced into a stalemate where they either contest the Elder Dragon or lose their entire base. They chose wrong, and Huni demolished their Nexus without having to fight a single defender.
After two back-to-back losses, things were looking dire for the North American lineup. But Cloud9 struck back by drafting LeBlanc and Caitlyn against AHQ in game 5, and putting together a very dominant early game. With Fizz and Twitch being close to invisible, AHQ couldn’t do much to stop the enemy advances.
Still, C9 were sitting at a 3-3, and EDG could very well catch up to them by scoring another win. Of course, their enemies were none other than SKT T1, but when the Chinese squad secured a massive 6k gold lead 28 minutes into the game, it seemed like a tiebreaker was unavoidable. Fortunately, gold leads meant little in face of SKT’s late game. With one teamfight after another, the Korean powerhouse clawed back into the game and denied EDG their chance at to make Quarters.
Finally, North America had a team pass into the knockout stage. But when the dust settled, fans couldn’t help questioning whether Cloud9 were the third-best team that barely managed to qualify alongside SKT T1. Perhaps we’ll have to wait and see.
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