Last night, the storied American League of Legends team Cloud9 (C9) beat Team Liquid 3-1 in a best of five tournament match, securing themselves a spot in the upcoming World Championship in the process. Doing so completed one of the greatest comebacks in League eSports history.
The North American League of Legends Championship Series finals already went down the weekend before last, so if you don’t follow the game’s eSports scene you might find this a little confusing. A quick explanation: LCS teams’ candidacy for Worlds is determined in a few different ways. The team that wins the regional finals match (Counter Logic Gaming in this case) automatically gets a spot in Worlds. Team SoloMid, who lost to CLG at Madison Square Garden last month, also earned themselves a spot since they’d accrued the most “championship points,” which are rewarded at the end of a seasonal split (spring and summer) based on each team’s win/loss ratio.
Three North American teams go to the World Championship, so CLG and TSM’s finals games left room for one more. The third and final spot is awarded to the team that wins the most games in a special post-finals gauntlet played by four other teams in the region (who gets to participate in the gauntlet is, once again, determined by the amount of points they have).
Cloud9 definitely didn’t look like the team who was going to win the last spot. The once-great team had an absolutely dismal summer season—losing 12 games and only winning 7, ending the summer split with no points and in seventh place in the overall NA LCS standings. They hadn’t even made the playoffs.
Part of C9’s recent struggles were the result of internal turmoil on the team. Hai Lam, one of Cloud9’s star players and the captain of the team, said that he was going to retire due to a persistent wrist injury at the end of April. He then left retirement little more than a month later in order to fill in for a teammate who suddenly left C9 with little explanation. Hai’s almost instantaneous return to the playing field seemed all the more precarious thanks to the fact that he was filling in for as C9’s jungler—a different position than the one he’s played for the vast majority of his career.
In order to make it into Worlds despite all the team’s current struggles, Cloud9 had to win three straight tournament games in a row—each “game” being a best-of-five-matches format. Their victory seemed even more doubtful thanks to the fact that they lost both of the first two matches played against the first two teams they went against—Team Impulse (TiP) and Gravity Gaming (GG).
Coming from behind in its games against TiP and Gravity, Cloud9 managed to recover and win the final three matches one after another. Then last night, it won three games against Team Liquid. Talk about a Cinderella story!
“There are a lot of times where a lot of teams would have panicked but we never hit that button,” Cloud9’s owner Jack Etienne told The Daily Dot in an interview following the final triumphant game against Team Liquid. “We just kept focusing on what we had to do the following week. We borrowed some faith from other folks. We just kept pressing on and here we are.”
GG, Cloud9. You sure as hell earned it.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr