Is this a sign of things to come with how one-sided Cloud9 vs NRG was?
It was just another day at the office for Cloud9 as they put in a statement victory over the defending LCS champions, NRG. It was a debut to remember for North American Mid Laner Joseph Joon “Jojopyun” Pyun, who received his first Player of the Game award – the first of what is expected to be many this upcoming Spring Split.
For NRG, this is not the start they would have hoped for. Outside of Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia, the team looked flat and not up to the task – not the qualities you would want from a defending champion, even if it is only the first game. Here is what went down when Cloud9 and NRG locked horns in their opening 2024 LCS Spring Split match.
It Was Business As Usual For Cloud9
The draft was standard for both teams with little innovation, which was not the case in the rest of the games today. Yiliang “Peter” “Doublelift” Peng was on the cast for this game, and he pointed out that Cloud9's bottom lane should not have an enjoyable time playing into Lucian + Milio. This combination has been very present worldwide, most notably in the LCK. This did not turn out to be the case. However, very early on, C9's bot duo got the early shove and even took a turret plate or two, much to the surprise of Doublelift.
With Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami and Jojopyun able to gain solo advantages in lane, this allowed Robert “Blaber” Huang to take the first set of Void Grubs freely. The game's first blood did not come until the ten-minute mark. With C9 on the verge of securing all six Void Grubs, Cristian “Palafox” Palafox mistakenly pushed up the lane, which allowed C9 to collapse onto him for an easy first blood onto Jojopyun.
As Philippe “VULCAN” Laflamme was returning to the bottom lane from the first blood, Contractz, and the NRG bottom lane quickly collapsed onto the Cloud9 support to equal the kill score. During the exchange, Jojopyun was able to pick up a second kill, this time onto Ian Victor “FBI” Huang, to get the Azir snowball rolling. Outside of the opening Infernal Dragon, Cloud9 owned the map and pulled NRG left, right, and center. C9 quickly secured the outer turrets due to the six Void Grubs they picked up earlier in the game.
With the outer turrets down, Cloud9 controlled both the Dragon Pit and the Rift Herald. NRG was bled entirely dry of any resources and was powerless against any Cloud9 aggression as they slowly saw the game fade in front of their eyes. By the 20-minute mark, the gold lead was just shy of 4k. Although this point all but lost the game, the play that broke NRG came at 21:31. FBI stepped up too far, and Vulcan could flash and use Nautilus ultimate onto him; C9 followed up immediately and took down the NRG ADC. This allowed C9 to move swiftly over to Baron, and despite Contractz's best efforts, he could not steal away Baron.
What came next was unfortunate; a game-breaking bug that affected Palafox's Taliyah wall saw the game paused for an incredible amount of time – the game was paused longer than the in-game timer by the time the players got back into the action. Cloud9 did not let the long break affect them and was able to close out the game cleanly. It is hard to judge both teams on their performance in this game. It was more disappointing on the NRG side, who should have been riding their wave of confidence from the end of 2023 and eager to prove they could also be the hunted and not just the hunter.
For Cloud9, as mentioned many times, it felt business as usual. It was almost as if they did not lose the Summer Split final and still see themselves as the best team in the league. One could argue this is true as the Summer Split final was the first time Cloud9 was defeated in a best-of-series the entire year, which is an impressive run and one that should not be overlooked due to their performance in the finals and most notably at Worlds 2023. Cloud9 will now face 100 Thieves on day two, riding their own wave of confidence after a surprise upset victory over Team Liquid. For NRG, they have a chance at immediate redemption when they take on Dignitas.
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