That’s right, the newfound high-intensity rivalry between FlyQuest and Cloud9 continues this Sunday, and the question on all our minds is, “Can FlyQuest pull it off?”
During Week Four of North American LCS 2017 Spring Split, C9 and Fly clashed for the first time in what would become the most exciting match of the split so far. C9 pulled away with a victory after the series was taken to three games, but Fly made them fight for it. There were Baron throws, a pentakill, and a bug on Miss Fortune that stalled the third game for nearly an hour.
Up until that match, C9 was undefeated, but something happened that weekend that made us all question the future for C9’s reign at the top. Against Fly, C9 showed us some serious weaknesses that the fans hadn’t seen before, and it was only due to Fly’s silly mistakes into the later stages of the final game that C9 was able to pull off the win. These weaknesses showed us that C9’s uncontested reign at the top of the ladder might not be so uncontested after all.
The following week, C9 was toppled by a newly invigorated TSM in a very decisive match. TSM looked better than they had all year, and they capitalized on C9’s faltering top lane and rookie jungler and drove off into the sunset with a 2-1 match. C9 was clearly rattled because Phoenix1 and their former jungler, Meteos, gave them a defeat the very next day, the second major loss in a row for the formerly undefeated team.
The major weaknesses in Cloud9’s strategy were bleeding through. When more than one lane had a rocky start, the rookie jungler, Contractz, has a tough time not becoming overwhelmed. He makes overly risky plays, miscalculates how much damage he does, and finds himself in very bad positions around the map with little vision. Impact, the top laner and C9’s powerhouse player, had a couple of rough weeks and C9 did not look like they knew how to play without him carrying them to victory. Their shotcalling looked shoddy and they looked more unorganized as a whole. These were their most significant issues, and they’ve gotten worse since the first Fly-C9 game where we began to see them blossom.
Unfortunately, things haven’t been so great for FlyQuest either. Since their defeat at the hands of C9, it looks as though their morale has dipped quite a bit. The hyper-aggressive team that typically revolves around Hai’s direction has appeared to be faltering. They still move cohesively as a unit, but more and more of Hai’s plays have been very questionable. Following the defeat by C9, they went on to lose to Dignitas, one of the League’s lowest-ranked teams under a new coach. There’s no doubt that Dignitas looked better, but Fly also looked much worse.
With the downward spiral of games for both C9 and Fly, last week’s break due to the IEM Katowice tournament was likely much-needed. The week off from NA LCS games gave Fly and C9 time to sit back and reflect on their weaknesses, and as the NA LCS returns this week, hopefully C9 and Fly’s spunk will as well.
So what does Fly need to do in order to find vengeance on C9 for their last defeat? Hai, Lemonnation, and Balls look to take on their former team once more, and where C9 just needs to whip themselves back into shape in order to win, Fly needs something more. They need to play better than they’ve ever played before if they want to pull off a win. One day, someone will make an anime out of this, but for now, we get to see this action unfold in real life.
A FlyQuest win will look like…
In order for Flyquest to find victory this Sunday, they need the shock factor. Their most prominent strength before they began falling down the gutter was their early aggression. Led by Hai, the team would shift into early tower dives and dragon plays, resulting in enemy summoner spells being blown and snowballing Fly’s laners one at a time.
When they began faltering, Moon began acting on his own rather than moving around the map in unison with Hai. As a result, we would witness things like Hai diving top lane to help Balls get a kill, the dive would fail, and both of them would die. Simultaneously, on the other side of the map, Moon would be ganking bot lane. This led to Fly picking up kills here and there, but without moving as a unit they were unable to capitalize on objectives after winning fights.
Hai’s biggest issue right now is also his best attribute. His aggression. The dives, the risky plays, the seemingly not caring about throwing his own life away if it means oppressing his opponents… It’s a great quality to have, but sometimes he goes for these crazy plays without really considering if it could end up working for his team in the long run. Does the support he’s diving have exhaust? Does the Cassiopeia he’s diving have an ultimate up?
Questions like these are questions that any player would ask themselves if they went for a dive in solo queue, but since Hai has an entire team moving at his back (usually) it seems like he doesn’t care enough to figure out the answers at times. He ends up walking his entire team into dire straits, and sometimes, it throws the entire game. If Fly wants a win, since Hai is at the forefront of all decisions made in-game, he needs to slow down just long enough to ask himself the easy questions.
A Cloud9 win will look like…
Cloud9 pulling off a win will likely be a bit easier than it would be for Fly, because they are making less inherent mistakes. For starters, the most obvious answer lies within Impact.
Impact was, and might still be, the strongest player on the entire team. Every time he’d be ganked, somehow with his miraculous mechanics he would pull out on top. Even if he gets camped and dies a lot, he always manages to create more pressure than any other lane in the game. He’s one of the best top laners in the league- maybe THE best in the league- but he hasn’t looked like it recently.
Over C9’s last couple of weeks before the IEM Katowice break, Impact was losing his groove faster than Emperor Kuzco. He was losing more 1v1 duels against his lane opponents than we’d seen the past few weeks combined. Not only that, but his confidence looked quite lacking. On games where he’d still look ahead, he’d roll into the late game with a hyper-tank like Maokai and play way more skiddish than he needed to… This is not the Impact we’ve come to expect, and if C9 wants to return to glory, Impact needs to get his shit together.
C9 is falling short in the jungle department, too. Their rookie jungler, Contractz, isn’t bad by any means, but he’s definitely not as good as other NA LCS talent like Moon, Akaadian, and Svenskeren. The only reason he wasn’t out-jungled by these players up until Week Four was because all of his lanes were so far ahead without his help that he didn’t need to do anything risky to help the team win games. When the laners began losing, however, he appeared flustered and made too many simple mistakes.
This isn’t a terrible thing. He’s extremely young, and this is his first year in the pro scene, and he’s performing better than most would in that scenario. Unfortunately, though, he doesn’t have the breathing room that other rookies have because he was dropped into the LCS on the LCS’ best team: C9. This means that he has to overcome his rookie mistakes much quicker or he risks being a contributing factor to C9’s downfall.
My vision of the future says that C9 has a really good shot at making it to the Spring Split finals, but there’s a lot of pressure on Contractz’ shoulders if they want to make that happen.