Cloud9 are on cloud nine in the LCS with no team in sight, and while many are expecting Team Liquid to surge in the second half of the split, Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme says the four-time reigning champions aren’t their biggest threat.
Cloud9 are the kings of the LCS in 2020. After bringing on Worlds 2019 attendee Vulcan in support, the NA powerhouse is back to their dominant best, sweeping the first round robin of the LCS with a clean 10-0 record.
There’s daylight between them and second too, with FlyQuest coming in with a 7-3 record, before another three teams, including Team SoloMid, are currently sitting on five wins. Four-time champions Team Liquid aren’t even in sight, sitting in ninth with only three wins to their name.
While visa issues with jungler Mads ‘Broxah’ Brock-Pedersen plagued Liquid’s title defense initially, they are still struggling with him back in the squad.
Many thought his addition over Shern ‘Shernfire’ Tai would be the start of TL's return to form, but Vulcan believes the team’s problems run deeper than just one player.
“[Team Liquid’s] issues are not only in the jungle,” the Cloud9 support said in an interview with Inven Global.
“I feel like a lot of their players don't look too inspiring on stage when we see them play, and even when we scrimmed against them, they didn't seem as dominant as they were in the previous two seasons.”
Instead of wondering when the Team Liquid of old will finally arrive into the LCS Arena, Cloud9 are focusing on other foes near the top of the table.
“TSM is willing to play more aggressive compositions, like we saw with the Taliyah-Pantheon combo for Bjergsen and Dardoch,” he said. “They take risks on stage and don't seem afraid to make plays.”
He added that their match with TSM in week four was their toughest game of the split so far, with the fan-favorite organization putting up a fight against the undefeated squad.
- Read more: LCK host "taken away" amid Coronavirus fears
“TSM played pretty well against us in the first round robin, we just outplayed them. We took a 'smurf' fight 4v5 and somehow, we outplayed them and won it, but objectively, it was a good fight for them to take. In theory, they were supposed to win that, but we won it.
“I thought TSM played pretty well, and the team has not reached its ceiling yet. Based on this, TSM is probably our strongest competition this year.”
TSM isn’t the only team Cloud9 are concerned about though. Vulcan mentioned Dignitas have a chance to “compete,” although they are more “flawed” than the formidable TSM squad.
“Dignitas has good players and good pieces, but I think they need to adjust their style a bit,” he said. “It feels like some of their players are not willing to make the plays that the meta requires.”
As for where the meta lays, Cloud9 currently have the best read on it in NA, and their record shows it. From the Senna ‘support’ pick alongside a farming Tahm Kench against Immortals, to a heavy focus on roaming mid laners, no team is more prepared to represent the region at MSI than Vulcan’s.
“I think we're more flexible in draft than other teams, so it's hard for them to always have the right picks ready and be able to contest us at Dragon,” he said. “I think we're just too good.”
C9 are gearing up to put their money where their mouth is in week six, with two crucial games against FlyQuest and DIG. A win against both will lock playoffs, and put them just two games away from securing first place for the regular season.