If you had told me that the most important match of the first half of the split would be FlyQuest vs. Cloud9 I would have called you crazy. In the weeks leading up to the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split the questions around FlyQuest were ones of basic competency. Whether or not they could rise above the bottom three or if their roster of players who had came and gone from the LCS could manage to compete at all with the new more talented NA LCS. But that was then and this is Week 4.
It isn’t often that the most important series of the year is also one of the best, but that was the gift of FlyQuest vs Cloud9. It served as a perfect example of the strengths and weaknesses of North America as a region. The series was decided by strong and aggressive calls that were often countered quickly all built around a backbone of strikingly well executed team fights by both teams.
The first game of the series started with a chess match pick ban as Cloud9 left open Camille, which coach Han-gyu “Reapered” Bok explained was done because they had seen FlyQuest pass the champion earlier on in the split. Meanwhile, FlyQuest picked up Evelynn for Galen “Moon” Holgate, a champion it seems only he can play in the NA LCS. Early in the game it seemed that FlyQuest had made the correct decision as Moon ganked top early grabbing first blood on Eon-yeong “Impact” Jung’s Camille putting him behind.
By 20 minutes Moon had 100% kill participation and it seemed this would be yet another example of FlyQuest dominating a team with their stellar early game. In keeping with those other wins, FlyQuest looked for an early Baron with few members down, but Cloud9 was ready for it. With FlyQuest fully committed to the Baron call Cloud9 engaged a team fight, taking out four and an inhibitor. Immediatly after, Cloud9 use their lead to force a teamfight in midlane. Despite being down for most of the game, Impact is able to disrupt the back line of FlyQuest allowing his team to win the team fight and take the first game, while still harboring a 2k gold deficit.
Game two got off to a slightly better start for Cloud9 as they pulled together a strong teamfighting comp and managed to secure first blood on FlyQuest midlaner Hai Lam fairly early in the game. This turned around shortly after with Hai catching Juan “Contractz” Garcia in the middle of a gank, getting a kill while also baiting out he Shen ultimate from Impact. This was followed by a perfect roam from Hai on Corki, using The Package to force a dive bottom lane getting the first tower and three kills, pulling them into a 2k gold lead.
FlyQuest showed the flexibility of their gameplay during the midgame as they slowed down the game, zoning Cloud9 off of objectives and picking up towers slowly to help build their lead, which eventually proved too much for Cloud9 to overcome. It was about as clean a game between two good teams as we have seen this year.
The story of game three should have been centered around the confidence of the pick ban for FlyQuest. We have seen them play Zed and Nidalee, two fairly off meta picks, before but never in such an important game and against such a good team. The result of those picks was a composition centered around early game aggression, requiring FlyQuest to secure a lead that they could use to take control of the game.
Instead, we got this:
So we went to game four. So Riot debuted new technology no one had any idea about, and we got game 3.5.
Turns out 40 minutes of discussion on strategy was exactly what FlyQuest needed as after the remake(?) they took bottom tower picked up a kill mid and gained a gold lead. In fact the gold lead was so big that Daerek “LemonNation” Hart briefly had two boots in his inventory.
But Cloud9 refused to break, picking up a brief skirmish in the river that managed to turn the game around completely, as they grab a team fight win and a 22 minute Baron. This put FlyQuest onto the back-foot on a composition that was never designed to be there.
But this series wasn’t going to end that easily. After giving up one of their Nexus towers and seeming completely out of the game, FlyQuest began to mount a seemingly impossible comeback as Cloud9 miss-positioned for three fights in a row. The culmination of these was an almost perfect fight for FlyQuest in mid lane that gave them the Baron and a gold lead.
Suddenly the game was almost completely reset, with both teams almost even in gold and playing far more cautiously. FlyQuest, never ones to play cautious for too long go for an ill-advised Elder Dragon that leads to a fight that gives C9 the lead again. This gave Cloud9 the perfect opening to slow the game down into a methodical push of each inhibitor and allowing them to close the game and the series.
Coming into this series there were a million ways that it could have gone, but I’m not sure anyone would have guess it would be like this. FlyQuest created strong early game leads in all three games, though they were only able to close one of them. All this combined with the first mid-game remake ever in League of Legends and this first LCS meeting between these two teams with a natural rivalry was certainly one to remember.