Another week, another awesome set of matches to enjoy as the 2021 LCS Spring Split is currently underway, so let’s go over a couple of predictions — we’ll focus on Cloud9 vs. 100 Thieves first!
For all intents and purposes, Team Liquid is the frontrunner to win the whole split. But hot on their tail are none other than Cloud9 and 100 Thieves — the only true obstacles standing in TL’s way. They are stacked with talent and potential, and are some of the best and most potent line-ups in North American history.
But, as is so often the case, they’re heavily flawed, too. You can have the good without the bad, and both of these teams have very specific weaknesses, most of which were on full display throughout the most recent LCS Lock-In tournament. Some flaws, however, are easier to fix than others. And that’s arguably the biggest narrative surrounding both of these exceptional challengers. For Cloud9, the question on everyone’s mind is simple: will Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami be able to deliver once things go down to the wire? For 100 Thieves, however, it’s a much more complicated conundrum: will they finally transcend their gatekeeper status and become a bona fide contender? They’ve cracked Top 3 it seems like, but staying at such a respectable position is a lot harder than reaching it.
And now we’ll get to see them collide — a spectacle in every sense of the word. Plus, there’s an added bit of heft to his match-up as both teams already went the five-game distance mere weeks ago — a phenomenal barnburner that eventually went in Cloud9’s favor. Needless to say, both teams want to win, and they want it badly.
Cloud9 vs. 100 Thieves Predictions
As already mentioned, both Cloud9 and 100 Thieves are currently tied in first place, but they don’t have equal amounts of hype. Far from it, in fact. Whereas Cloud9 improved leaps and bounds, 100 Thieves regressed performance-wise, and no one’s sure why. Throughout the first-ever Lock-In tournament, they were one of the most dominant teams in North America — they were clean, commanding, and aggressive from start to finish. They played with no reserve, and had many one-sided wins, most of which came in just thirty minutes or less. Everything seemed to go their way and then they sort of declined once the regular portion of the split came around.
— LCS (@LCSOfficial) February 11, 2021
All of a sudden their play wasn’t as clean or dominant. They started failing across the board, with many botched dives (on both top and bottom lane), unforced errors, and lapses in judgement. Most of these were execution-based failures, but they came from quite an experienced team — which makes this whole thing all the more confusing. Tanner “Damonte” Damonte, in particular, hasn’t been able to impact the map nearly as much. This stems from one simple fact: his biggest and most successful picks — champions like Galio and Twisted Fate — have been permabanned. He excels the most when you get him on a champion that can roam and influence the map.
Coming for the Throne
Cloud9, on the other hand, have improved leaps and bounds which is exactly what the Lock-In tournament was supposed to facilitate. It was conceived as a playground of sorts — a safe mini-tournament that doesn’t have anything on the line other than a sizable sack of cash. Teams could, therefore, experiment to their heart’s content, both in terms of the meta as well as their starting line-up. And sure, Cloud9 didn’t look all that great throughout the tournament, but they took those three weeks as a learning experience and grew from it (to say the least). We didn’t have to wait long to see the result of their hard work — they’re currently one of the best-performing teams in the LCS and are looking like a mighty capable challenger. So in that sense, their trajectory has been the opposite of 100 Thieves’.
They’re still not as good as people expected coming into 2021, but they’re getting there. Robert “Blaber” Huang and Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen are still playing out of their minds.
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— LCS (@LCSOfficial) February 10, 2021
With the stellar support from Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme (arguably the most overlooked performer over at the C9 camp) they have all the right tools to not only remain atop of the LCS but also challenge Team Liquid for the throne once the playoffs come around. There is a huge, glaring weakness, however, and it’s their relatively inexperienced top laner. Fudge simply isn’t on the same level as, say, Barney “Alphari” Morris, Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, Jeong “Impact” Eon-yeong, or Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. When he gets ample jungle assistance he can definitely carry, but forcing a playmaker like Blaber to babysit his lane isn’t exactly a surefire way to success — especially not against top-tier teams that can easily exploit such a one-dimensional strategy. He’s been heavily exploited throughout the Lock-In tournament and even though he’s been a bit less egregious recently his play still leaves a lot to be desired. That is Cloud9’s biggest and most glaring weakness, and it isn’t going away any time soon. And sure, Fudge will grow and develop over time, but he’ll never be able to provide C9 with the kind of stability that Licorice could. And, depending on the meta and whom they’re up against, that might be a problem.
— LCS (@LCSOfficial) February 8, 2021
In the end, though, we’ll side with the former LCS champions on this one, although it’s fair to say that they’ll have to be perfect in execution if they intend on emerging victorious. 100 Thieves are more than capable enough and will surely trade blows right from the very get-go. They’ve also beaten Cloud9 in the past, so it’s not like they lack the tools to do so again. In any case, an insanely competitive, skirmish-heavy game is all but guaranteed!