E-Sports are bigger than ever, and League of Legends is arguably the game that led to the recent boom in E-Sports popularity. Just last year alone, 60 million unique viewers tuned in to watch the League of Legends World Championship as the game’s biggest international superstars fought to crown a victor. Nike just signed it’s first E-Sports player to a clothing deal, Chinese League of Legends player Jian Zihao, who will be sharing the spotlight with pop-culture juggernaut Lebron James in a dual-threat ad campaign. And even with the success of games like Overwatch and Fortnite, League of Legends has continued to prove that it’s here to stay.
So who is Cloud 9, and why should you care about them?
Cloud 9 is a North American League of Legends team comprised of 7 primary players, 2 of which serve as subs. After falling to tenth place during the North American League of Legends Champion Series (LCS), Cloud 9 began to utilize their substitute players in creative ways and ended up turning their season around. Miraculously, they were able to qualify themselves for the World Championship 2018, in which the best teams from official leagues all over the world compete on the game’s biggest stage. The World Championship (also known simply as “Worlds”) has been dominated by Korean Teams since Season 3 way back in 2013, with the first-place finisher being a Korean Team from the LCK region every year since then.
That will not be the case in 2018. For the first time since season 1, a North American team has made the semi-finals. Cloud 9 entered the competition as the darkest of horses, but eliminated the last remaining Korean contender Afreeca Freecs in a clean 3-0 sweep to ensure that the Worlds 2018 champion would be from either North America, Europe, or China. The team rallied behind excellent play from the Top-Laner Licorice, who may have had the play of the tournament with his clutch Baron Nashor steal in Game 3 which found him diving head-first into the entire Afreeca Freecs team in order to secure a helpful buff for Cloud 9. Veteran C9 players Jensen and Sneaky each held their own, but it was newcomers Svenskeren and Zeyzal who proved to be the deciding factor. Svenskeren combined for 19 kills and just 4 deaths over the 3 game series, while Zeyzal had over 33 assists as the team’s Support player in the same time-frame.
Coming into the tournament, Cloud 9 and the entirety of the North American League of Legends region didn’t even dare to dream about doing the impossible and bringing a championship home to North America. It was simply an impossibility, especially with the unstoppable Korean teams still in the picture. But now the ultimate underdogs Cloud 9 have proven that no team is unbeatable while simultaneously keeping the hopes of an entire region alive in the process. Their biggest challenge still lies ahead, as they hope to upset the Season 1 World Champions Fnatic in their semi-final bout on Sunday morning. It will be a daunting task, and even if they’re successful they still have one more game after that if they hope to win the first ever World Championship for the North American region.
But if Cloud 9 has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is impossible.
And sometimes…it’s okay to dream.
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