It didn’t take long to realize that picking Lucian against Seung-hoon “Huni” Heo was a bad idea. Cloud9’s rookie top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie showed shades of inexperience on Sunday, allowing his opponent to dismantle him throughout the course of a 33 minute beat-down.

         However, there’s much more to this matchup than an off-meta pick and an 0/7/2 scoreline. In fact, there’s a curious background to exactly why Lucian was picked, and more importantly, why it failed so miserably in Licorice’s hands.

         First and foremost, it’s important to note the matchup that Licorice faced on Sunday. Usually, Lucian is selected in the top lane as a direct counter to Gangplank due to the fact that Lucian can use his dash, Relentless Pursuit, to slide in and out of Gangplank’s barrel combos. In addition to Lucian’s slippery playstyle, his damage is still relatively high for a top laner, making it easy to bully most melee champions in lane. On paper, Lucian should win lane against Gangplank quite easily. So why was it that Licorice had such a hard time?

         For starters, Cloud9 should have known better than to play Huni’s signature champion against him. To think that Huni wouldn’t have known every single strength and weakness of Lucian was overconfident, and to put Licorice in that matchup essentially set the rookie up to fail. Huni understands Lucian perfectly, meaning he knew exactly what C9’s gameplan was as soon as the top lane matchup was locked in. Huni’s played the matchup dozens of times, and to try and use the counterpick that he invented against him was an arrogant mistake.

         Although Huni was supposed to be in a disadvantageous spot on Gangplank, he enlisted the help of Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett’s Sejuani early and often, allowing Echo Fox’s lead to grow through top lane. The jungle-top duo secured first blood together, and by the 19 minute mark, Huni had Licorice boasting a scoreline of 0/4/0, while the entirety of Echo Fox found themselves a full 6,000 gold ahead of their first place counterparts.

         Even though C9 showed signs of hope in the mid-game after winning a team fight and securing the Baron, the early game hole that they dug themselves into was much too deep. At the 27 minute mark, Licorice was 0/6/2, with 4 more deaths to his name than any other member of C9. He finished the game with a now infamous score of 0/7/2, and Cloud9 found themselves in a 9,000 gold deficit by the time their nexus was destroyed.

         With this unfortunate mess of a game, Cloud9 have fallen into second place, while Echo Fox now holds a definitive 2-0 record over them, making a #1 seed in the playoffs much more difficult for C9, considering the two teams will not meet again in the regular season. And for Licorice, the race for Rookie of the Split just became much closer, as Andy “AnDa” Hoang, Colin “Solo” Earnest, and even Matthew “Deftly” Chen are all showing signs of improvement. Finally, for Echo Fox, Sunday’s victory over a still dominant C9 squad proved to be a definitive statement, making dreams of a first place finish that much closer to becoming a reality.

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