With only eight teams left, the first quarterfinal match could be considered one of the more lopsided matches. Although both teams were technically the number three seeds coming out of their respective regions, there was a significant gap in the skill levels shown during the group stage. Samsung Galaxy surprised everyone, emerging almost unscathed from one of the toughest groups in the tournaments. Cloud9 on the other hand only barely advanced, looking very off their game, especially during week two. Most people expect Samsung to take the series, but there’s no denying that Cloud9 has the fan vote behind them. Whether it’s enough to pull off the upset remains to be seen.
Game 1: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
In what can only be described as a heartbreaking game for North American fans, Cloud9 lost a match that, on the surface looked like a wipeout, but was in fact a game of inches. Cloud9 tried to be more aggressive in the early game and to make plays with Rek’Sai and Alistar, but it always fell just a little short. Little misplays, small miscommunications, and just a handful of mistakes in the early game that Samsung never let go. Every opening was capitalized on, starting with Crown turning a three on one gank around to take first blood for himself, and coming to a head with a cross map ace at twenty minutes. After that teamfight, it only took Samsung seven minutes to close out the game, looking just as strong as they did during the group stage. One member in particular who stepped up was CuVee. While not a bad player by any means, CuVee is not the star player on a team with Crown and Ambition. That changed drastically this game as he went 8/2/5 on Ekko, making Impact’s life miserable in lane. Cloud9 as a team depends a lot on Impact’s timely teleports to swing teamfights, but CuVee never let it happen. He kept up the pressure the whole time, never giving Impact any breathing room. Overall, the game was a fairly dominant one by Samsung Galaxy, and not a good sign for Cloud9. If they want to move on to the semifinals, they’ll need to fix those communication issues and possibly change up their draft priority. Ruler’s Jhin was a big problem for the team, so it might be beneficial for Cloud9 to take the champion early for Sneaky.
Game 2: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
Another close game, this one was played on a knife’s edge for the first twenty-five minutes of the game. In that whole time there were only two kills and two towers taken, with both teams playing very cautiously, both looking for the perfect opening. Unfortunately for Cloud9, it was Samsung who struck first. Once again, CuVee stepped up and got a fantastic flanking teleport behind Sneaky and Smoothie and was able to set up the destructive ultimate combo between Kennen and Orianna. Cloud9 melted in a matter of seconds, leaving Samsung free to take the baron, four turrets, and completely run away with the game. Cloud9 made a few valiant attempts to get back in, with Jensen stepping up on Cassiopeia, but in the end, it only served to stall the game out a little. Once again, CuVee stepped up his game, starting most of the major fights with his ultimate and dishing out tons of damage alongside Ruler on Caitlyn. On the other side, the player who once again surprised was Sneaky. Usually one of the most consistent players on Cloud9, Sneaky had his second bad game of the series, losing out in straight two versus two matchups in the bot lane once again, even when he got his favored Jhin in game two. Impact also had a rough match, failing to create any sort of pressure for his team on Jayce. From what we’ve seen of Cloud9’s victories, Impact needs to be on some kind of playmaking champion like Gnar, Rumble, or Kennen, and Jayce is not that kind of champion. Hopefully Cloud9 will go back to what works for them in game three. It’s hard to know exactly what goes on behind the scene, but if Sneaky and the rest of Cloud9 don’t figure out something fast, their bracket run will be very short lived.
Game 3: Winner, Samsung Galaxy
In what was the bloodiest game of the series, Cloud9 pulled out the stops and gave it their best effort before Samsung put the last nail in the coffin. Meteos finally got to play his Zac for the first game of the tournament, and although he had a great game on the champion, it wasn’t enough to save the team. One other important change that Cloud9 made to their draft was that they banned Jhin and left Tahm Kench open, which CoreJJ happily picked up. That Tahm Kench quickly became Cloud9’s worst nightmare, going 5/1/13, and setting up kills all over the map at every stage of the game. One of the biggest casualties of this rampaging catfish was Sneaky. Going 0/7/6 on Caitlyn, ending with a dismal 1/16/10 scoreline over the course of three games, there is no doubt that Sneaky was off his game. The entire series can’t be blamed on him, but something was obviously going on to mess with Sneaky’s mindset during this series. On the flip side of that is the combination of CoreJJ and Ruler, who were playing at the top of their game. Much like CuVee, the Samsung duo lane aren’t the players that people expect to carry, but they stepped up big time, proving that they could hold their own. This is an important step to rounding out Samsung as a team, and it’s important that they hold on to this for the coming games, as all their potential future opponents have strong bot lanes. All in all, this series was another good show of Samsung’s power. Other teams will have to pay attention, or else they’ll meet the same fate as Cloud9
For Cloud9, saying that it was a tough series would be an understatement. They had a lot of close calls, and two of the three games were turned by a single teamfight. Even with the sweep however, Cloud9 should walk away proud, as they were still the only team from North America to even make it to the quarterfinals. There were a lot of things they could have done better, but that will be something for them to mull over in the coming months before the spring split. As for Samsung Galaxy, they continue their dominant run through Worlds, still having dropped only a single game. If they continue on this path, they should easily make it to the finals and even have a shot at winning the entire tournament.