Cloud9 has moved on to the Worlds 2021 quarterfinals after a dramatic victory over Rogue.

The League of Legends Worlds 2021 tournament is never short on drama.  For North American League of Legends fans, our interest in Worlds usually ends right about now. Very few North American teams representing the LCS make it past the group stage and into the knockout rounds for the World Championship.

Except, there is one team. Despite all odds, this team has made it out of groups a few times. That team is Cloud9. This year’s roster was built around an import from the LEC in G2’s Perkz, who settled as the captain and midlaner this year.

Coming into the Week 2 Round Robin, Cloud9 had a 0-3 record in the Group Stage.  Group A was considered the “Group of Death” with current World Champions Damwon Kia and 2019 World Champion FunPlus Phoenix in the same group.  Perks was on the G2 roster that played against FPX in the Grand Finals that year. 

The League of Legends World Championship Group A concludes today with Cloud9 and Damwon Kia advancing to the Knockout Round

There was literally only one chance for Cloud9 to guarantee their spot in the Quarterfinals, which was winning all three games today.  Not to mention, losing one game meant that they were out completely. There was one possibility for a tiebreaker if other things went their way.

Well, as the cliche goes, "So you’re saying there’s a chance." Cloud9 had a very small chance to advance in the Group Stage

Today started with a match against Rogue, who had a 1-2 record coming into today. Cloud9 showed a dominant early game and punished Rogue’s mistakes to get their first win in the Group Stage. But the real test would be the game against FunPlus Phoenix. In the previous Round Robin match, it ended with a base race with FPX.

The second game was also early aggression from Cloud9.  They won a critical team fight at level 5, giving three kills to Blaber.  This trend would continue where a very powerful Blaber plus team fights around objectives would yield a dominant win for Cloud9. Cloud9 still needed some other things to happen in the group to have a shot at making it out.

Rouge Gaming delivered that ‘chance’ to Cloud9. Damwon Kia, of course, won their game against Rogue.  Damwon Kia, at this point in the Group Stage, was 5-0, with their last match against Cloud9. Rogue needed to beat FPX to keep their chances alive, making their final game extremely important.

Rogue winning against FPX would at the very least give them a tiebreaker chance. But Cloud9, if they won their game against Damwon Kia, their team would make it out of groups with the better record.  Well, spoiler alert, Rogue did win their match against FPX, with lessons learned from the Cloud9 victory early in the day. In doing so, the LEC provided a much-needed cushion for themselves and the LCS’s chances of making it out.  

Cloud9 won their first two matches against Rogue and FunPlus Phoenix to give them a shot at making it out of Groups in Worlds 2021

Unfortunately, Cloud9 could not close out their game against Damwon Kia. Damwon Kia would end up with a perfect 6-0 record in the Group Stage and the first seed out.  The rest of the group was tied with a 2-4 record, and so two Tiebreaker matches would be played.  FunPlus Phoenix and Rouge had the slowest victory times of their two games, which meant they would play their match first.

Not only did Rogue beat FunPlus Phoenix once, but they beat them twice in the tiebreaker match, eliminating the 2019 World Champion FunPlus Phoenix out of the World Championships.  This setup a final game to determine who would be the second seed out of Group A against Cloud9. This matchup would be the EU versus North America matchup we had all been waiting for at Worlds.

The final game ended up being extremely close.  In the draft, Cloud9 selected Leblanc for Perkz, which he had not been able to play all tournament.  Along with picking up Miss Fortune and Lee Sin, popular Worlds meta picks.  In the early game, the aggression was matched kill for kill by Rogue.  However, Rogue would fail to pick up objective wins at the Baron, and Cloud9 was able to punish the final retreat and break the game wide open.

Cloud9, after their loss to Damwon, would have to play a tiebreaker match to determine if their run would continue in Worlds 2021.

Later, the Mountain Soul and Baron objectives were available within 30 seconds of each other, and team fights would start, but after one kill would just disengage the fight for both teams. There was even a teamfight with two inhibitors down, but Cloud9 couldn’t finish.  But another fight won at the Baron and right after the Mountain Soul pickup spelled all but doom for Rogue.

After going 5-1 and playing five elimination matches, Cloud9 emerged as the second seed and a trip into the Quarterfinals.  Again, the way the group stage played out, this was the only possibility for them to make it with a loss to Damwon Kia in the Group. Winning against Damwon would have cemented their place in the knockout stage, but it’s more satisfying they won in such a dramatic fashion.

Cloud9’s Luka "Perkz" Perković was interviewed shortly after the match. In speaking about the game against Rogue playing Leblanc for the first time on stage, “Why am I not playing Leblanc? I finally got the champion, and I felt like the game was instantly won”.  Also, when speaking about Rogue, “I felt like I was a secret agent (for Cloud9) from the EU playing against Rogue, but in the end, I prevailed. I got G2 out of Groups!”

"It might be nice playing against RNG in the quarterfinals" Cloud9's Luka "Perkz" Perković talks about his confidence heading into quarterfinals

Also, Perkz specifically called out Royal Never Give Up in his comments about the Quarterfinals, stating: “ We get smashed in scrims, but it’s always different on stage. Our games were close against FPX and Damwon; they are the two favorites for the tournament. I”m looking at RNG right now,  It might be nice playing against RNG in the Quarterfinals. We might lose, or heck, we might win!”

And finally, talking about the difference between their 0-3 start and their eventual victory, “Our mindset changed from our start. We played like we had nothing to lose.  We play a little bit better with some pressure on us.  Some other teams were throwing a little bit, small mental mistakes that we capitalized on.  And we had the momentum behind us as well.”

In the end, I hope this momentum carries North America into the Finals, which would be a welcome change for the fans here. If Fnatic and G2 can break through to the finals, at least we can put some hope and a little bit of stock into this year’s Cloud9 team.

Tomorrow, the Group Stage continues with Group B completing their second round robin.  If today’s games were any indication, maybe we might have two western teams make it through to the quarterfinals.  The road to that, unfortunately, leads through T1 and Faker. North America has something to look forward to with the 1-2 team 100 Thieves heading onto the Rift.

Stay tuned to coverage of the League of Legends World Championship!

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