Following their disappointing spring playoffs run, Cloud9 was in dire need of roster adjustments. In a unique turn of events, they opted to release the Spring MVP, Summit, from their roster, along with their starting and academy supports (Winsome and Isles). With a vacancy in both the top and bottom lane, Cloud9 looked internally to rebuild their team.
With Summit gone, they role-swapped their (then) mid laner Fudge back to the top lane. Fudge had previously played as their starting top laner during the 2021 season, prior to their acquisition of Summit from the LCK (League of Legends Champions Korea)With Fudge returning to the top lane, a vacancy opened up in the mid lane.
Fortunately for C9, one of the most elite mid laners in LCS history had failed to find a team in the offseason. Jensen, often referred to as the second best mid laner in North America (behind Bjergsen, who he was replaced by on Team Liquid in the offseason), was quick to sign with C9, returning to the team for the first time since he departed in 2018.
With Jensen in the mid lane and Fudge in the top lane, the last opening for Cloud9’s summer roster was in the support position. Opting to retain their new ADC Berserker (who signed with them alongside Summit and Winsome in the offseason), Cloud9 looked internally to their next best player, Zven. Zven, who had played as Cloud9’s starting ADC in summer 2021, was not an ADC by trade.
After being replaced by Berserker, Zven recognized that a return to the LCS stage on C9 wouldn’t be possible without a role swap. Eager to play on the big stage once more, Zven role-swapped to support and rounded out the C9 summer split rebuild.
Winless in the Opening Weekend Despite having a complete roster, disaster struck for C9 when their Korean import player, and starting ADC, Berserker lost his U.S. VISA.
Unable to return to the United States, Berserker remained in South Korea for the opening weekend of the LCS as he reapplied for a U.S. VISA. With Zven having just recently swapped to the support position, C9 felt that having him play alongside someone else for the LCS opening weekend would be a detriment to his progress. To remedy this, they had Zven remain in South Korea, alongside Berserker, so the two could practice more as a duo for their eventual return to the U.S. and the LCS.
Now without a bot lane for the LCS opening weekend, Cloud9 temporarily promoted their Academy duo, K1ng and Destiny, to the main roster to play their first three summer matches. Unsurprisingly, the roster failed to pick up a single win. Because most of these players were playing with one another for the first time, their lack of team chemistry was abused by their opponents.
Their losses to top teams Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses were unavoidable. Their loss to Golden Guardians however, raised questions about the integrity of the roster outside of the obvious bot lane issues. Even with their undesirable roster, C9 was expected to win against GG, but instead allowed GG to secure their first win of the split.
Firing on All Cylinders
With the VISA reapplication successful, Cloud9 announced on Twitter that Berserker and Zven would be starting for week two of the LCS summer split. Set to face off against Dignitas and 100 Thieves, C9 had their work cut out for them. Dignitas, like C9, also went winless in the opening weekend. 100T, on the other hand, had an incredible opening, going 2-1 and yielding their only loss to the current LCS Champions in Evil Geniuses.
In the battle for last place, Cloud9 had a lackluster performance against the similarly 0-3 Dignitas. While they managed to scrape out a win, it certainly wasn’t pretty. Dignitas lead the game with a nearly 5,000 gold advantage after a back and forth early game.
However, a retreat from a top lane push went poorly for the advantaged DIG squad as C9 managed to find a kill on Neo, DIG’s ADC. Without any damage, DIG quickly fell apart to the remainder of Cloud9. At this point in the game, respawn timers were very high, allowing C9 to break into DIG’s base and destroy their nexus before DIG could respawn and unite as five.
Their match against 100 Thieves was a much more dominant showing. Despite 100T being the clear favorite ahead of the matchup, C9 found themselves on the winning side of multiple teamfights. The early game was largely silent, something made possible by 100T Closer’s inactivity on Volibear.
As a champion that needs a massive early and mid game presence to be relevant in the later stages of the game, Closer’s inability to find meaningful plays onto C9 allowed for them to dismantle 100T through scaling advantages. While the fights were close in damage, C9’s superior teamplay and champion scaling netted them fight after fight, leaving 100T in a gold deficit approaching 15,000. At a huge item disadvantage, 100T was unable to defend against C9, and succumbed to their new roster in just under 33 minutes.