As with most of the top NA LCS teams this split, Cloud9 have kept their Spring Split roster intact moving into the season’s second half.
After a strong group stage of the Spring Split, Cloud9 was overtaken by Team SoloMid for first place. They continued in second place going into Playoffs, where they quickly 3-0’d third place Phoenix1 and lost an incredibly close five-game series to TSM in the Finals.
For C9, the focus of the Summer Split, other than simply winning and qualifying for the World Championship, is going to be building on their success in a consistent way. First and foremost that means finding more ways for this already strong roster to win as they looks to improve on last year and finish first this split.
One of the principle downsides of Cloud9’s roster last season was a lack of adaptation in-game. When their initial composition and strategy failed, they often struggled to regain themselves and come back into the games. Admittedly this is one of the most difficult things for any competitive team to do, however, it will also be incredibly important if they want to compete with the improved TSM roster for first place, and more importantly with the rest of the world at the end of the year.
One of the many ways Cloud9 could improve on this concept is to build compositions around their players. Sneaky, Jensen, Impact and Ray have all shown the ability to carry games despite focus from the enemy team despite Cloud9 rarely drafting around these players. Adding player specific compositions to their draft would open up Cloud9’s more general strategy of five fairly strong players doing well in teamfights.
This would make for a huge departure from Cloud9’s historical drafts. Since they entered the league in the North America’s first ever Summer Split back in 2013, Cloud9 have always prioritized team based play. One of the earliest strategies they pioneered in NA was that of the Ashe Zyra bottom lane, which they would couple with a jungle Zac. This was an incredible composition for teamfights that typifies the way that Cloud9 has always won — as a team.
But if they could open up their style to allow some of the more individual play that has defined League of Legends for the last two years, it could add a whole other dimension to one of North America’s strongest teams. Add onto this the possibility of a Ray split pushing a game and it seems that any team competing against Cloud9 would have a difficult time trying to prepare for the sheer variety of strategies that they could employ.
The final addition that Cloud9 could use in the 2017 Summer Split is better late game shotcalling. While this is something that could always be improved for almost any team it was most obvious during the Spring Split finals, when TSM left the door open for a C9 victory in Game 5 multiple times without Cloud9 ever being able to take advantage of it.
Cloud9 is sure to be one of North America’s best teams with or without these improvements. But by adding more to the aspects of that game that they haven’t quite mastered, Cloud9 could become a legitimate contender for the best team in the region as well as a competitive team at the 2017 World Championships.