From Cloud9's international LAN excellence to NRG's domestic dominance, North America has never had such a deep pool of teams going into LAN. With the tournament on home soil, North America has their best chance to make a statement by taking their third World Championship in the shining city of Newark, New Jersey. Let's take a look at all four of our challengers and what we might expect from them in their respective groups.
Cloud9: Dynasty builders
Despite being the seeded #2 NA team, Cloud9 are inarguably the strongest side from the Americas and have the best path to lifting their second World's trophy in a row. Winning Dreamhack Dallas Pro Circuit in dominant fashion, Cloud9 have seen a resurgence to the top of the ladder. Despite being second in the online regular season, Cloud9 have always been a LAN team, and if they can keep their current form going into LAN (especially Jesus "Gimmick" Parra) I do not forsee anyone taking them down.
The best-case scenario for Cloud9 is also the most likely as they have the least difficult group out of all the North American contenders. Facing the number 1 team from South America could be a trap game, but we have yet to see how they perform internationally. Triple Trouble are a solid squad from EU, but being "just solid" does not win games against North America's finest muffin men.
MVP: Everyone knows Mariano "SquishyMuffinz" Arruda for his flashy highlight reels, but Gimmick was the MVP of Dallas for good reason. Expect Cloud9 to perform well as long as he continues to stay red hot.
NRG: Breaking the Curse
NRG are the domestic regional champs and headline group A, but their prior World's experience is less than friendly. While young playmaker Justin "jstn" Morales has continued to exceed expectations, NRG as a whole have yet to win a LAN title since taking down Gale Force at X Games. NRG has a long history of near misses and underperforming at Worlds which has held the team back from being one of the best teams in NA's history.
NRG will need to see their veterans step up to the plate and deliver a truly memorable performance in order to justify their current #1 Liquipedia ranking. Luckily PSG and INTZ are very winnable games and should see NRG top their group. Taking the top spot would put them in a likely quarterfinal draw against G2 Esports and a semifinal draw against Cloud9 which would be one hell of a playoff run.
MVP: Jstn was the team's MVP when they nearly took down Dignitas back in London and he will have to be the MVP now as the team will need plenty of offense to keep pace in the playoffs.
G2 Esports: Prolific underdogs
G2 have long been one of the top teams in North America, but they face a tough test in Group C. While the top two teams in NA have been somewhat blessed with relatively "easy" groups, G2 Esports are facing the Renault Vitality squad that cruised through the EU RLCS and a potent Ground Zero Gaming squad that could make their bid to the playoffs more difficult than expected.
The big key for G2 Esports is getting Reed "Chicago" Wilen in position to make shots and improving on their rotations as seen at DreamHack Dallas. On paper, this team is a dream team for NA and Chicago has the mechanical skill to be every bit as good as Cloud9's Squishy and NRG's jstn, but G2 have not put together a compelling resume recently.
MVP: Chicago is the team's star player, but Jacob "JKnaps" Knapman is still in charge of the backpack. The Golden Striker of RLCS Season 6, JKnaps will have to be the true star for G2 as other teams will likely try to shut down Chicago as they did in Dallas.
Rogue have been a surprise story all season long, but the Cinderella redemption story of fan favorite Cameron "Kronovi" Bills might come to a group stage close. Featuring a group with FC Barcelona and Renegades the Kings of Australia, Rogue seem a little over matched compared to their competitors. FC Barcelona were the lone EU RLCS Worlds' team to find success at Dallas placing top 8 and while Renegades did not hit good form at Dallas they have always shown an ability to perform at Worlds.
Rogue have been the real redemption story this RLCS as Kronovi found a new home and the team moved on from former mainstays Emiliano "Sizz" Benny and Isaac "Turtle" App to traverse in uncharted territory. Rogue have not had inspired performances outside of league play, but the old Rogue did some amazing things in RLCS Seasons 3 and 4. Whether we get that true Cinderella story or not is up to Kronovi and company.
MVP: The Season 6 Clutch Playmaker for FlyQuest, Nicholas "Wonder" Blackerby will have to prove he earned that title in the Prudential Center.
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