They proved it with an emphatic win yesterday in the League Championship Series (LCS) Spring Split finals, dominating their closest challenger, Team SoloMid, 3-0. Cloud 9 took home $50,000 for the win, with TSM cashing in for $25,000.
Cloud 9 suffered only six deaths during the entire three map series. The team stands undefeated in LCS playoff competition all-time, with an 18-0 record over the last two playoffs.
“I think we played really well in the set. We really showed up today and played as well as we can,” said Cloud 9’s all-star Jungler, William “Meteos” Hartman.
“We had really good vision control. We didn’t get surprised by many ganks. We just did what we had to do.”
What they had to do, apparently, was simply play perfect.
It began at the champion select, which Cloud 9 tilted in their favor. They won their lane matchups, or held out long enough to gain support from their teammates. Whenever TSM found an objective, Cloud 9 would have an answer, treating TSM’s gains as simply opportunities to take advantage elsewhere.
“We had so much [crowd control] and catch,” explained the team’s support, Daerek “LemonNation” Hart. “And they didn’t really have any at all. It gave us a big advantage in being in control of the game.”
Entering the match, the story was a battle of juggernauts with different styles: Team SoloMid, brutalizing opponents with the top laning talent in the region with Marcus “Dyrus” Hill manning top, Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg in middle, and Jason “WildTurtle” Tran in bottom. Cloud 9, meanwhile, relied less on individual standouts, and focused on controlling the game with tactics and teamwork.
However, in the first game, Cloud 9 showed they could go toe-to-toe with TSM’s laners and win. Top laner An “Balls” Le, mid laner Hai Lam, and marksman Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi each pulled ahead of their counterparts in farm. That spelled disaster for TSM. Cloud 9 boasted 18 kills againstt one death when the game ended after 38 minutes.
TSM showed a bit more fight in games two and three, but could not manage to turn small early gains into anything more than marginal. They built leads in farm in both the top and middle lanes, but couldn’t secure the kills necessary to snowball those advantages.
The normally consistent force in the top lane, Hill, ended game two with a 1/7/1 KDA on Renekton, despite building a lead in farm over Cloud 9’s Jax. His 1/13/3 KDA mark for the series shows just how well Cloud 9 controlled TSM’s threats.
Team captain and mid laner of Cloud 9, Hai Lam, took home the playoff MVP award, posting a 19/2/50 KDA over five playoff games. Against the regular season MVP, Bjerg, he did not surrender a single kill, something few managed during the regular season.
Lam said he's excited for the chance to compete against the top teams in every region at the All-Star Invitational in Paris starting on May 8.
“We’ve played the Europeans. We’ve played the Chinese. We have not played the Koreans,” he said, adding that he can’t wait to get his “butt kicked” against the legendary mid laner of the 2013 World Champion SK Telecom T1 K, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, the player nicknamed “God.”
The international stage is the next step for North America’s top team. They had a disappointing run at the Intel Extreme Masters Katowice tournament, the largest international event so far this year, and they’ll be looking to change that in Paris.
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube