NA LCS commentator Sam ‘Kobe’ Hartman-Kenzler struggled to control his emotions after Cloud9 won a historic quarter-final victory at this year’s LoL World Championship.
The Cloud9 squad are the first NA team since the Season One Championship in 2011 – a very different tournament to all of the World Championships that have followed – to reach a Worlds semi-final.
Cloud9 faced LCK third seed Afreeca Freecs in the quarter-finals, but despite being the lower seed managed to pull off a 3-0 victory, closing out an intense third game for the sweep.
While commentators and analysts try to remain as neutral as possible when it comes to analytical evaluation of the games, it’s no secret that many are die-hard fans of a particular region when it comes to international competition.
Whether it’s Indiana ‘Froskurinn’ Black backing the LPL, Martin ‘Deficio’ Lynge cheering for the EU LCS or Christopher ‘PapaSmithy’ Smith‘s appreciation of the LCK, many are very transparent about the unsurprisingly close connection they feel to the region they spend most of the year working in.
Like many NA fans, Kobe has witnessed year after year of NA LCS teams disappointing at the World Championship. Even in the age of Korean dominance, LPL and EU LCS fans had high points to celebrate, but NA consistently fell short.
When the camera switched to the casting trio after the end of the match, Kobe could be seen wiping tears from his eyes, and visibly working to maintain composure in the aftermath of the result.
Cloud9’s story this season is a particularly spectacular one. Having benched their most iconic players at the start of the NA LCS Summer split, Cloud9 started out in last place, written off as a contender for the rest of the year.
With Cloud9’s stars returning to the LCS to play alongside some of the squad’s talented rookies, however, they began to claw their way back, starting from 10 place in the regular season to eventually reaching the playoff finals.
A successful run in the regional gauntlet secured Cloud9 a spot at the World Championship, but first they had to go through the play-ins. A five-game set against Gambit could have seen them eliminated there, but the team pulled through to reach the main event.
In the group stage, Cloud9 were on the precipice of elimination again after Europe’s Vitality pulled off some incredible upsets over MSI champions Royal Never Give Up and World Champions Gen.G Esports, but Cloud9 managed to do the same and beat Vitality themselves in order to claim a quarter-final spot.
Now, Cloud9 will face Fnatic – who many have cited as perhaps the strongest Western team to ever attend a World Championship – for the chance to make history again as the first Western squad to reach a Worlds final since 2011.