Out of all Quarterfinal pairings, the series between C9 and SSG was thought to be the second most likely to end in a 3-0. Of course, the projected winner wasn’t Cloud9. As it turns out, for once in this Worlds, the predictions were correct.
Samsung Galaxy played with Ekko Top, Olaf Jungle, Cassiopeia Mid, Jhin ADC, and Karma Support against C9’s Rumble, Rek’sai, Orianna, Caitlyn, and Alistar. Hell knows why, C9 might have had starting jitters or something, but the first game wasn’t even really close. Starting at around the six minute mark, when C9’s William “Meteos” Hartman and Andy “Smoothie” Ta came to gank Lee “Crown” Min-ho for their teammate Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, only to screw up the layering of Rek’sai’s knock up into Alistar’s Pulverize, allowing Crown to flash out, turn back on the C9 players and actually kill Smoothie before simply walking away.
All lanes on the NA team were struggling. The Jungler from SSG, Kang “Ambition” Chan-yong, came bottom, his bottom lane immediately went aggressive, chunking down C9’s ADC, Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi. Ambition actually barely managed to reach him in time to axe him to death. At almost the same time, probably due to SSG Jungler showing in bot lane, a fight broke out in the Mid Lane. despite being on lower life, Crown almost killed Jensen’s Orianna with Cassiopeia. Trying to predict Orianna’s ball moving on him, he flashed to another place. Unfortunately, Jensen held the ball, so Crown died. Several minutes later, Lee “CuVee” Seong-jin was pressuring C9’s Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong under his turret, when Impact whiffed his Equaliser. CuVee immediately took advantage, diving his opponent, killing him, and getting out alive.
This game was riddler with similar situations, were SSG either outplayed C9 or C9 failed to execute their plan. Every time the Americans screwed up, SSG were there to punish them. It’s no wonder that the match ended at 27:27. If Cloud9 wanted to have a chance in the series, they had to try something else. Their opponents were happy to jump at the smallest mistake and use it to squeeze everything they could out of it.
For the second match of the series, SSG picked Kennen, Skarner, Orianna, Caitlyn, and Karma, while C9 had Jayce, Rek’sai, Cassiopeia, Jhin, and Nami. Obviously, the Koreans drafted a teamfighting comp that had no problems getting in their opponents’ faces. That plan was C9’s worst nightmare, because they picked a poke comp, which would be rather comfortable waiting for Jayce to whittle down their enemies and then either starting a fight with a big advantage or letting Cassiopeia zone them off with Miasma and Jhin, to take objectives.
Maybe due to the fact that Skarner is more of a farming Jungler pre-6 and useless without Flash even after that, this game was much slower than the first. The problem was that instead of trying to make something happen and get his laners as much ahead as he could while Skarner was away, Meteos lived in the jungle as well. Even if fights broke out in the first 20 minutes or so, Meteos usually wasn’t there. During the whole period of the first 18 minutes, the most exciting thing happened at 02:18 or so, when Jensen almost solo killed Crown. If either of the two players had Ignite, it would have been different, but Ghost + Flash does not a lane killer make.
First blood was taken at 18 (!!!) minutes, when Ruler turned around after C9 engaged on him. Soon after, Samsung took bottom tower, answered by C9 getting top at almost the same time.
With no tower in bot lane, C9 redirect their attention to the Mid Lane. Poor Crown, RIP. Almost four minutes later, the teams had a Midday Standoff at dragon, where C9 tried to poke and chase SSG away. They chose to just start the Dragon instead. Granted, Meteos tried to steal it, but he wasn’t successful and almost died because of it.
Once more, 3 or so minutes later, C9 were gearing up for a standoff once again. This time, at Baron. SSG weren’t in the mood to play ball, however. A TP from behind, Kennen rushing in and ulting 3 people, followed up by Orianna’s Shockwave on the same people, left C9 ripe for slaughter. After that, with only Smoothie left alive on the C9 side to everyone from Samsung, the Koreans took Baron.
Somehow, the next piece of action happened 3 minutes later once again, when SSG took Dragon and moved to take the Inner Bottom turret. C9 weren’t okay with giving it up, so their Nami engaged with Tidal Wave, SSG’s Skarner reengaged. It was looking up for the Koreans, however, they went in too deep and C9 managed to defend the objective.
It was quiet for several minutes after that. At around 36:30, SSG went for a Baron. Trying to steal it, Meteos went into the pit, however, he was too late. After making the bug-monster-creature-thing pop, SSG went straight for the Mid Inhibitor. Once Ruler reached it, he walked up to Jensen’s Cassiopeia, two shot it and followed up with killing Smoothie as well. After that… Cloud9 had no chance.
With their backs against the wall, C9 drafted a similar comp to what they ran in Game 2, with a couple of differences. While they still had Jayce Top for poke, they picked Zac in the Jungle, to act as a ball delivery system for their Orianna Mid. Sneaky picked up Caitlyn, while Smoothie had Karma. SSG went with Poppy, Olaf, Cassiopeia, Sivir, and Tahm Kench.
With the Caitlyn Karma lane being so poke heavy against the Sivir, which is weak early and melee Tahm Kench, C9 were bullying their opponents a bit in bottom lane, Meteos was theoretically freed up to have greater impact in other lanes, and yet, it was CuVee who solo killed Impact and it was Jensen who got caught pushing mid and died with no real vision against Crown, Ambition, and CoreJJ, while Meteos was showing bottom, trying to get the tower gold, when Sneaky pushed it down.
Trying to answer the play, C9 went Top to punish the flash CuVee burned 1v1ing Impact. Following that, both bot lanes moved Top. Sneaky was feeling too safe, Ambition took advantage of it, getting Smoothie’s teeth added to his trophy collection. After that, the game calmed down a little bit, the next piece of action started at around the 15 minute mark. And what action it was!
Sneaky was still pushing the Top tower, feeling quite safe with Meteos and Smoothie nearby. Then, chaos broke out. CoreJJ ulted in with Ambition in his belly. The SSG Jungler chased Sneaky down and died soon after at Meteos’ hands. Meanwhile, Ruler took down Smoothie, who had to run through SSG’s bot tower to get to the fight. Then, Meteos took out Ruler. At this point, Jensen finally reached the Top lane with Crown on his heals. The Korean tried to chase down Jensen, used his ult. Jensen promptly answered with Shockwave, making Crown Flash out of it. Then, CuVee finally came, knocked Jensen into his own Top turret. The European died. SSG executed the dive very well, all three survived, but the whole exchange lasted so long that Smoothie actually managed to make it back to the lane in time to interrupt CoreJJ’s back. Following that, the Top turret finally went down.
The rest of the game was pretty eventful, but the overall theme to be seen was that C9 got outplayed. They had a small lead at some times, however, they didn’t take steps to actually snowball it. With time, through superior teamplay and smart objective control, SSG choked out their opponents and methodically won the game. Except for Game 1, were Samsung straight up crushed Cloud9, the other two games could have been won. C9 had good comps, however, as it was pointed out on the analyst desk, when Samsung made mistakes, they came out even. When the mistake was made by C9, the Americans found themselves 5k gold behind. This was not a match between two teams of equal skill. SSG was noticeably better. They deserved to win this series, hands down.