Summoners, Streamers and Dank Memers of the Western Regions:

You are about to embark on the great crusade, towards which we have ventured these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of League-loving Westerners everywhere march with you. In company with your fallen comrades and brave brothers in arms of North America you will hope to bring about the destruction of the Korean war machine. The elimination of Eastern tyranny over the oppressed people of EU and NA and the security of Western Legitimacy.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is Season 6. Much has changed since the failures of the 0-10 week at Worlds. 2016 saw a North American team make the finals of a major international event. We have dealt the Koreans great defeats in open battle, man to man. Our home crowds have given us an overwhelming amount of support and placed at our disposal the best environment to combat our adversaries. The tides are turning. The heartbroken and battered TSM and CLG fans are marching together with you.

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than your absolute best.

Good Luck, and let us all beseech the blessings of our almighty Riot overlords upon this great and notable undertaking.

The more things change the more they stay the same. After entering Worlds with perhaps the best projected performance for North America ever, only one team scrapped by and actually made it out of groups. All three Korean teams secured first seeds for themselves in their respective groups and once again look to be the heavy favorites to take the whole tournament (No for real guys the gap is closing).

However we are not here to dwell on the failures of TSM and G2, that is a topic for a different day, we are here to preview the quarterfinal match up between Cloud9 and Samsung Galaxy. As a minor upside for the West all three of their remaining teams are on the same side of the bracket in what has to be the most uneven bracket stage of any Worlds ever. This gives the west a guaranteed spot in the Semi Finals and the best possible chance to advance to a final since Season 1.

Unfortunately the one team standing in their way is a Korean squad, Samsung Galaxy, who are coming off of an impressive second week of groups. Cloud9 will be the first to tackle the weakest Korean team an attempt to make it further than any North American Team before them.

The Match Up:

It is no secret that this best of five will be an uphill battle for Cloud9. Samsung perhaps had the best performance of any team in groups, where they dominated the most difficult group in the tournament. Cloud9 on the other hand had a rather disappointing week 2 which saw them nearly get eliminated due to too many critical mistakes. I personally believe that in terms of individual skill these teams are not that far apart. It is the team play that will decide this match.

Top – Impact vs CuVee:

Player Impact Cloud9
KDA 2.2 13th
KP 69% 2nd
CSPM 8.2 5th
CSD@10 +13.83 1st
DPM 571.29 2nd
% of Team’s Deaths 25.29 6th
% of Team’s Damage 25.37 4th
% of Team’s Gold 21.74 3rd
Player                                CuVee       Samsung
KDA 2.6 11th
KP 49.5 % 16th
CSPM 8.05 8th
CSD@10 1 9th
DPM 531.82 6th
% of Team’s Deaths 28.31 3rd
% of Team’s Damage 22.86 7th
% of Team’s Gold 20.50 13th
  • Disclaimer: All Stats are Relative to Top laners in each Player’s Group
  • C9 has a much High Average Game Time:

Both of these guys have been putting out some great performances for their teams this tournament and have been really solid in their team’s wins and loses. In terms of skill it is hard for me to give an advantage to one of these players, but if I had to I might be inclined to say that CuVee is slightly better due to his ability to TP flank so well.

Impact has been a rock for his team primarily focusing on tanky engage champions to initiate fights for Cloud9 in the mid and late game. However his role has shifted to a more carry role as of late due to his excellent performances in the playoffs and Regional Qualifier in NA. Top picks so far this Worlds for Impact are Rumble and Kennen as the two offer insane solo lane pressure and teamfight prowess.

However CuVee’s preferred style of play is top lane mages and Kennen has been perhaps his best champion at the World Championship so far. The top play very similar styles and their victory depends on who can edge out over the other. I believe Kennen will be a highly contested pick in this match up.

CuVee outclassed the top laners in his group at times and at others appeared to be reckless in the 1v1. This inconsistency might fair well for Impact as he has been probably the best Top laner in his group as well. The only moments of weakness from his strong laning phase were at the hands of SKT “Duke” , whom had the third highest KDA of all top laners at Worlds, who opted into the Jayce in both match ups. Jayce was a strong safe pick that could bully Impact at times and play safe at others. I expect if things get too tough for CuVee Samsung will embrace Jayce later in the series.

Overall these two are the most stable players on their teams and probably wont budge too much against the other. It appears as though Impact is reliable for C9 they might rely on him a little too much for their successes.

Jungle – Meteos vs Ambition:

Player Meteos Cloud9
KDA 3.4 9th
KP 62% 11th
CSPM 4.33 5th
CSD@10 6.83 1st
DPM 327.95 7th
% of Team’s Deaths 14.94% 15th
% of Team’s Damage 14.58% 8th
% of Team’s Gold 18.96% 13th
Player                               Ambition  Samsung
KDA 5.7 4th
KP 61.3% 15th
CSPM 4.92 1st
CSD@10 1 8th
DPM 326.70 8th
% of Team’s Deaths 15.63% 14th
% of Team’s Damage 15.28% 5th
% of Team’s Gold 19.88% 5th

In what might become a common theme of this article – Meteos and Ambition are similar players due to their role on their respective team. Meteos tries to hard farm his own jungle and apply pressure in anyway that he can to get ahead of the enemy jungler early. He is extremely calculated and efficient with his paths and vision control around major objectives.

Ambition also likes to farm early before pressuring the map as well. Ambition ganks slightly less than Meteos, but specifically favors the mid lane when he does in an attempt to put “Crown” ahead. Ambition has shown he is calm and can dig himself out of any disadvantage he might find himself in. Like Meteos he is a low risk jungler and tries to apply pressure in alternative ways. Such as vision control and counter jungling.

Meteos is a player who does the maximizes his gold; he has one of the lowest shares of gold for a Jungler and a much higher DPM and damage share than one would expect. Whereas Ambition gets a much higher share of gold on his team and does as much as you would expect with it. This is not to say one is better than the other, but that is the preferred style of Samsung. They don’t have as much priority on their carries as C9 does so Ambition is allowed a little more freedom in the Jungle.

Where Meteos does outshine Ambition is his CSD@10. Meteos has the highest CS difference of all Junglers at Worlds. Meteos was almost in a group with Junglers that focused less on counter jungling and hard farming however so take that for what you will. Meteos often does and can get ahead of Ambition if Samsung concede to it.

Ambition’s most played champions at Worlds have been Rek Sai, Skarner, and Olaf. While Meteos’ most played champions have been Lee Sin and Olaf. A lot of people have given Meteos flak about his uninspiring Lee Sin play. Be that as it may he was able to create plays and secure wins for his team and I expect that we might see it again. The Olaf and Rek Sai are shared power picks among these Junglers and a trade between them will most likely happen throughout the series. Both players have shown they are willing to play both champions and they fill a similar role for the team.

The pocket picks here are Ambition’s Skarner and Meteos’ Zac. I don’t think we will see the Zac pick unless C9 is really backed into a corner considering how poorly it went in the NA finals. However the pressure mid lane that Zac creates by being able to gank from and angle is greatly desired in a series that will most likely be focused around the mid laners. Ambition’s Skarner is good, but it doesn’t apply the same pressure other picks such as Olaf and Rek Sai offer. If SSG want greater dragon and baron control then perhaps we will see Skarner.

Overall these two are not the star junglers that Peanut and other are, but they known their role within the team well and will be interesting to see regardless.

Mid – Jensen vs Crown:

Player Jensen Cloud9
KDA 3.8 10th
KP 69% 8th
CSPM 9.57 1st
CSD@10 2.67 8th
DPM 546.94 10th
% of Team’s Deaths 14.94% 15th
% of Team’s Damage 23.43% 16th
% of Team’s Gold 23.09% 3rd
Player                                Crown       Samsung
KDA 5.7 4th
KP 61.3% 14th
CSPM 9.35 4st
CSD@10 -3.67 17th
DPM 624.24 8th
% of Team’s Deaths 15.63% 14th
% of Team’s Damage 27.16% 7th
% of Team’s Gold 23.08% 4th

The match up that will perhaps be the focal point of the entire series we have to of the best mid laners at Worlds squaring off in Jensen vs Crown. Both of these players receive the highest share of gold on their team and are hard carry style players. Each desire to crush you in lane and transition their lead all over the map to close out the game. However the story of these two players journeys at Worlds has been vastly different.

Crown has been the best performing player for Samsung and with his signature Victor has made the case for MVP of the tournament should Samsung win Worlds. He has stuck to a few champions in Ryze, Victor, and Varus and oddly enough has one of the weakest laning phases of all remaining mid laners in the tournament. Conversely apart from the first game against Faker Jensen has had one of the better laning phases in the tournament. He leads CSD@10 and puts out large amounts of damage on champions not named Victor.

The greatest flaw of Crown would have to be his champion pool. He has in the past been criticized for playing only Victor and Varus and for the most part this is true. He has demonstrated that his Ryze is really good as well but it is very likely that his pool can be banned out. Jensen’s greatest flaw would have to be his inability to affect the side lanes. He is a very lane focused player and that reflects in his stats. However being able to sacrifice a small lane advantage to secure a kill or objective by roaming is often times a greater asset.

Cloud9 and Samsung’s Junglers and Supports roaming mid will have a huge effect on the outcome of this match. Both teams have proven they can effectively roam when given the tools. Propelling their Mid laner to victory is the key for both teams. Overall this match seems pretty straight forward. I feel that if Crown is allowed Ryze or Victor he will probably help his team to victory more than Jensen. However if either team can focus the enemy mid and neutralize their impact then victory will be much closer.

AD Carry – Sneaky vs Ruler:

Player Sneaky Cloud9
KDA 3.0 14th
KP 71.8% 3rd
CSPM 8.8 9th
CSD@10 4.5 7th
DPM 678.36 3rd
% of Team’s Deaths 19.54% 2nd
% of Team’s Damage 30.24% 4th
% of Team’s Gold 22.39% 12th
Player                                Ruler         Samsung
KDA 5.2 6th
KP 66.7% 8th
CSPM 7.8 16th
CSD@10 -3.17 11th
DPM 589.54 8th
% of Team’s Deaths 18.57% 5th
% of Team’s Damage 24.41% 13th
% of Team’s Gold 21.57% 16th

When looking at the stats between these two players I was actually shocked at some of my finds. The bottom lane is no doubt the most significant difference between the two teams and it is handily in Cloud9’s favor. Ruler and Sneaky are similar AD Carries in the fact that they go unnoticed for the most part. Teams focus more around the mid lane than bottom and the two have to work with few means. That being said Sneaky maximized his gold so much better than Ruler does.

Sneaky is the second most efficient ADC when is comes to converting gold into damage at 1.74 only bested by Pray. Ruler sits all they way down at 10th with 1.38. However it is VERY important to understand that two of the most lane dominant ADC’s at the tournament in Uzi and Doublelift were Ruler’s lane opponents. As well as CoreJJ often left Ruler alone in lane in order to create a play mid lane. This is also true of Cloud9 since Smoothie spent a large amount of time outside of lane as well creating plays top lane on Alistar.

The champion pool for AD Carries does not have the same luxury as other roles. There are normally three or four good picks in the meta and you more or less must stick to those few champions. Mainly Caitlyn, Jhin, and Ezreal will be the top picks here do to both players have a preference towards them. Caitlyn might even draw a ban from either or both teams since her ability to siege is so strong.

The main complain or criticism that I would have for Ruler would be that I feel as though he is too dependent on his teammates to succeed. That may sound odd since the ADC isn’t usually the one making plays, but Ruler plays so scared sometimes that he is often almost removed from the fight. Sneaky’s problem may be worse however since he is out of position way too often. Sneaky often plays too far forward or too carelessly and got picked off far too often in group stage.

Overall I do think that the C9 bottom lane is stronger by a significant margin however they’re not as aggressive as RNG or TSM so SSG might perform much better against them.

Support – Smoothie vs CoreJJ:

Right off the bat I am going to say that I highly doubt that Samsung will be using Wraith in this best of five. They only used him twice in groups and had poor showings in both games. Wraith is regarded as having better mechanics and a greater laning phase, but Samsung just play worse with him. This is mainly due to the fact that CoreJJ is such a proactive support players who wants to roam and makes plays for the team. This is almost always better for Samsung as they need a play making support to make up for the lack of pressure that Ambition applies due to few ganks.

If Samsung choose to foolishly use Wraith then I think Cloud9 would have a much much easier time defeating them. The experiment between the two is all but over and CoreJJ is superior for what the team needs. The support meta at Worlds has evolved into lots of roams on play making supports such as Alistar and Tahm Kench. CoreJJ excels are creating pressure and vision control in the river for Crown and helps facilitate him leading Samsung to Victory.

Smoothie work similarly however seems to be much better in lane. He has shown up huge at Worlds being in my opinion the most consistently high performing player on Cloud9. Smoothie has a 69% kill participation compared to CoreJJ’s 66.2% showing that he is more involved in C9’s plays. He and Meteos work well with each other as they both are decisive play makers. CoreJJ has a much better KDA however with 6.4 (second highest among supports) vs Smoothie’s 2.2 (13th). This shows that C9 and Smoothie are more willing to dive, die, and sacrifice Smoothie to make plays happen. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I feel as though the Alistar ban will come out against C9 since it has been so strong for Smoothie and CoreJJ has shown no desire to play the champion. CoreJJ prefers Tahm Kench and Karma to apply pressure and they both have much lower cc than Alistar. Pocket picks for each include Smoothie’s Thresh and CoreJJ on Zyra which the Koreans are showing to be very strong in the right hands.

Overall these two are big play makers for their team and offer similar strengths; though I believe that Smoothie is the slightly better player that may not matter if Samsung as a whole are better.

Stylistic Match Up:

For most of the season the story of Samsung and Cloud9 has been slow and steady wins the race. Both teams had extremely long games which often saw them fall behind in the early to mid game and try to create an opening late game to win.

At Worlds both these squads have done a good job being proactive in the early game. Samsung had two sub 25 minute games in the second week of groups and efficiently closed out any hope of their opponent getting back into the game. Cloud9 Also had created early leads against all teams not named Flash Wolves and tried to snowball the game quite sloppily to victory. Needless to say due to the teams’ current the laning phase will be very important for these two teams to get things rolling.

Cloud9 and Samsung usually try to slow the game down if they are behind and look for plays to allow them to get back in the driver’s seat. I believe that SSG does this better than C9 due to better communication with the top side of the map. Also Cloud9 has showed that in nearly every single game that they had an advantage in they would consistently allow their opponent back into the game.

Whether it was a play being out of position, forcing a play too hard, not having proper vision C9 usually found a way to let the enemy take control away from them. This is a huge problem coming into this best of five since Samsung have shown they can abuse openings against perceived stronger teams like TSM.

Suggested Game plan: 

Samsung –

  • The early game is important and Samsung will probably get behind, though all they need to do is slow things down and minimize damage. Sooner or later C9 will make a mistake and allow SSG back into the game.
  • Core JJ Should look to pressure mid lane even if things are not going well bottom. Crown and Jensen are too pivotal to the success of their team to not warrant extra attention from the Supports.
  • Ambition should look to almost exclusively camp mid and maintain good vision control. Cloud9 have shown a new preference to taking early dragons and helping Crown is vital.
  • CuVee needs to impact the bottom lane with Teleport as much as he can. As soon as you see an opening take it.
  • Look to team fight later in the game. Cloud9 has shown really shaky team fight performances and can be abused if Sneaky is out of position as usual.
  • Crown and Ambition need to widen their champion pool. Without Victor Crown has few options and the two of them need to offer more in pick and ban phase.

Cloud9 – 

  • Heavily Focus Crown. If Crown falls than Samsung falls, he is simply too important to his team. C9 should try to ban him out and push him onto an uncomfortable champion then have Meteos and Smoothie constantly visit his lane.
  • Smoothie needs to make more plays. In the early and mid game Smoothie has done a really good job of making plays all over the place and needs to keep it up. In bot, mid, and top he can have a big influence on champs like Alistar.
  • Get Meteos on a Play maker. I have had one question all tournament and that is why isn’t Meteos playing Elise? He is one of the best in NA on the champion and her ability to pressure the lanes and make plays has been shown to be huge this tournament. If Impact and Smoothie are playing tanks Meteos should pick lee sin or elise. Late game a good play can make the difference.
  • Give Jensen a Carry Champion. Jensen has shown that he will win you the game if you put him in the position to succeed. Ryze, Cass, Mal are great picks for him.
  • Bring out Aurelion Sol. I’m not sure if C9 plays him but Ryze and Aurelion Sol fix the major weakness of Jensen as a player and that is his lack of roaming. Champions like these offer so much more to the team and can surprise Samsung.
  • Caitlyn and Jhin for Sneaky. Caitlyn’s ability to siege has been unmatched this Worlds and his Jhin is on point. Sneaky has shown he can carry hard with Jensen so they should put him into a position where he can.
  • Impact needs to have better synergy with the rest of the team. He pressures the side lanes very effectively but when the teamfight comes around he isn’t looking so hot.
  • Stop forcing plays. C9 almost threw against I-MAY due to constantly trying to force way too hard. Similar to reasons why they lost game 2 in the finals or Toronto. Play smart and slow. Don’t let Samsung back in.

Preferred Picks/Bans:

Samsung –

Syndra (Ban): Don’t Let Jensen have this Champion its too powerful in all stages of the game and can affect the side lanes too much.

 Ryze (Pick): Since Victor will be most likely banned for the whole series Ryze is a great carry to control the game.

Caitlyn (Ban): Ruler has shown no preference to this champion and C9 prioritize it greatly. sieging power is just too great.

Jayce (Pick): Appeared to be a good pick into Kennen and took away a lot of Impact’s laning pressure early and mid game.

Rek Sai (Pick): Strong take away from Meteos and good play maker for Ambition.

Alistar (Ban): Deny Smoothie his favorite champ to make plays with.

Cloud9 – 

Victor (Ban): Under no circumstances should Crown be allowed this champion.

Tahm Kench (Ban): If Smoothie isn’t going to play him then its a great take away from CoreJJ.

Caitlyn/Jhin (Pick): Strong pressure in lane and in the late game siege.

Ryze/Aurelion Sol (Pick): Champions that can dominate lane and greatly effect the side lanes.

Elise (Pick/Ban): They can do either its a good take away, but I would like to see Meteos play it.

Kennen (Pick): One of CuVee’s best champs making it a great denial and fits Impacts role as a side lane threat and teamfight monster perfectly.

Verdict: SSG 3-1 C9

Unfortunately I think this is where Cloud9’s Worlds journey ends. They really disappointed in week two, where as Samsung impressed against a much more difficult group. Cloud9 needs to step up in a big way to make me think they can win the series. Their tendencies to give the opponent ways back into the game fit with Samsung’s playstyle too well. I think talent wise Cloud9 matches up well… and even are favored early. However I do believe that this can be a close series even if the game score doesn’t reflect it.

Photos and art courtesy of Riot Games