The last time we saw Cloud9 play in an LCS playoff match, the team completely squashed FlyQuest to secure the third title in the organization’s history. From that point on, it became painfully obvious that as the 2-0 weeks that followed piled up, Cloud9 was going to steamroll the rest of the league en route to yet another championship during the summer split.
Or so we thought.
The team went on an uncharacteristic 2-3 run to close out the Summer Split, and now, the title – and an automatic trip to Worlds as the #1 seed – doesn’t seem nearly as locked up as it was a few weeks ago. Cloud9 managed to fumble away a nearly-clinched first place finish when the team started the back end of the Summer Split with a record of 0-2 as opposed to the perfect 9-0 record it had started the split with.
Within weeks, the field was at their heels, and as more second half losses came through the pipeline, Cloud9 was poised to be passed in the standings. When the regular split came to a close, they were looking up at Team Liquid from the 2nd rung of the LCS ladder.
However, with C9’s playoff run beginning on Thursday, the squad will have a chance at revivifying their season down the stretch and prove that the second half of the summer split was a minor hiccup on the road to a greer destination. What’s even juicier is that Cloud9 will have a shot at FlyQuest of all teams, who have yet to beat C9 in 2020 (they’re 0-7 thus far).
Admittedly, it is a little underwhelming to see last split’s finals rematch earn a Thursday afternoon broadcast slot instead of a primetime billing, but nevertheless, the upper bracket matchup should most definitely be intriguing, as the two teams were separated by just one game when the regular split came to a close. What’s even more intriguing is the two opposite trajectories that the two squads are travelling on heading into the playoffs.
Of course, we’ve already mentioned that Cloud9 is slightly slipping coming into this series, but the team still won its last two games to close out the schedule. While a two-game win streak is admirable, those two wins came against Dignitas and Counter Logic Gaming, two of the more certainly weaker teams in the league. C9 hasn’t truly been tested by serious competitive threats since the team’s three-game stretch against Team Liquid, Golden Guardians, and TSM a few weeks back. They lost all three games.
So sure, in a “get-right” effort to close out the season and secure a bye, Cloud9 looks to be in a decent spot on paper, but the team’s cushy lead at the halfway point certainly contributed to the position they’re in now. There’s no doubt that a cloud of doubt surrounds this team coming into the playoffs.
For FlyQuest, however, the doubts have been few and far between as of late. Coming into the playoffs, the team was on a ravenous six game winning streak before getting taken to the brink by Evil Geniuses in an exhausting five-game set. Of course, they beat up on their fair share of basement-dwellers to get to the position they’re in now – just like C9 – but FlyQuest was still able to topple over their upper bracket battery-mates in TL and GG down the stretch. Cloud9 can’t say the same. If they could, the playoff bracket might look a lot different.
It’s totally fair to say that FlyQuest has been on a serious tear through the league over the course of the past four weeks, as they’ve managed to mow down any team in their way by an average gold differential of approximately 11k in their wins – highlighted by a gold diff. of 15k in the team’s win over TL back in week 7.
You’d be hard pressed to find a game where FlyQuest truly played poorly these past few weeks, as even their losses to EG this past weekend were late-game nail biters that could have swung at any moment (those two games went 38 and 41 minutes, each). In fact, you’d have to go back to July 19 to find the last game in which FlyQuest was badly beaten: a 27-minute beatdown at the hands of none other than Cloud9.
When you look at both of these teams’ track records as of late, it’s clear that while both of them are relatively hot, there’s a clear distinction that’s debated by recent history. Going into Thursday, it’s tough to make a prediction one way or the other based on how both C9 and FlyQuest have been playing as of late. The most we can do is sit back and watch one of the greatest matchups in sports – history, in which C9 has the advantage, vs. momentum, in which FlyQuest has the edge – unfold over the course of what’s sure to be one of the most intriguing series the weekend will showcase.
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