The Gatekeepers: Cloud9 Look To Extend Gauntlet Success Streak

For the teams of the North American League Championship Series, the final spot at the World Championships will be determined by a four team gauntlet that includes FlyQuest eSports, Team Dignitas, Counter Logic Gaming, and Cloud9. With all four teams having up and down seasons, there is no clear favorite for NA’s final spot at Worlds. 

A winner-moves-on style gauntlet was first implemented ahead of the Season 5 World Championship’s to determine NA’s third and final spot at Worlds.

The past two seasons have seen the same organization make a run to secure the final berth, as Cloud9 swept the gauntlet from sixth in 2015 and won from fourth in 2016.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

This year’s sixth place finisher contains many of the same players who participated in Cloud9’s incredible run in 2015. After a fourth place finish in the Spring Split, FlyQuest was barely able to have secured enough points to earn themselves the final spot in the gauntlet.

Led by former Cloud9 member, Hai “Hai” Du Lam, and their most recent addition, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran, FlyQuest tumbled down the standings in the Summer Split and barely avoided the Promotion Tournament.

While there may be no clear favorite in the gauntlet, FlyQuest is the overwhelming underdog as they have struggled to find consistency and to find wins against any of the top teams.

Their opponent in the opening series will be Dignitas, a team that defeated Cloud9 in the opening round of the Summer Playoffs but were swept by Counter Logic Gaming in the third place match.

Dignitas emerged as a dangerous contender in the Summer Split after the arrival of a new bot lane duo in veterans Adrian “Adrian” Ma and  Johnny “Altec” Ru.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

Dignitas entered the third place match in the Summer Playoffs as the favorites after their victory over Cloud9, but persistent early game issues led to a clean 3-0 sweep by CLG.

If Dignitas is able to fix some of their mistakes and regain their late season form, they could be considered the team to beat in the gauntlet.

Assuming Dignitas is able to dispatch FlyQuest in the opening match, the next round would pair them against a familiar foe in CLG.

For much of the season, CLG hovered around first place in the NA LCS, but after the replacement of jungler Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett with rookie Omar “OmarGod” Amin, CLG has seen mixed results, dropping down from a playoff bye position and subsequently outclassed by Immortals.

After their run in the Summer NA LCS Playoffs, it is clear the success of CLG will be closely tied to the performance of OmarGod. After a poor showing against Immortals, OmarGod redeemed himself with a strong and consistent series against Dignitas. Surrounded by skilled veterans, OmarGod cannot be a point of weakness for CLG if they hope to claim NA’s third seed at Worlds.

Source: Riot Games Flickr

The final obstacle for any team in the gauntlet on their path to Worlds will be the Spring Split runner-up Cloud9. Despite their success in the Spring, the Summer Split has been a tumultuous one for Cloud9, as they managed a fourth place finish but were quickly dispatched by Team Dignitas in the opening round of the playoffs.

Cloud9 mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen cemented himself as one of NA’s elite with a MVP-caliber season and first team All-Pro NA LCS honors, and although he had a strong series against Dignitas, it was not enough for Cloud9 to advance.

For Cloud9, the focus will likely be on jungler Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia to step up his play after a disappointing series that followed what had appeared to be a break-out Split.

With three teams each boasting different claims to secure the region’s final spot at Worlds, this could be NA’s most unpredictable gauntlet to date. While CLG finished highest in the Summer Playoffs, Cloud9 has proven they are the organization to beat in a knockout format.