"Cloud 9 doesn't have the best players, but they have the best teamwork." Time and again, this adage has been said about North America's number one team. However, Cloud 9 shattered the idea thanks to outstanding performances by its individual players last week when they successfully and convincingly defended their title as Regional Champions. With the 2014 All Star just on the horizon, Cloud 9 is more than ready to take on the international competition waiting for them in Paris, France.
Before becoming a professional player, LemonNation made a name for himself by climbing the ladders of solo queue exclusively with support champions. He continues to demonstrate high caliber support play in the North American LCS today, proving to be one of the most consistent and adaptive support players in the league. Following the sudden rise of tanky, crowd control-heavy supports such as Thresh and Leona, LemonNation popularized the Morgana pick as he helped C9 win games with precise Dark Bindings and timely Black Shields.
Sneaky boasts a long history of playing MOBA games. Like LemonNation, Sneaky's talent and skill were noticed in solo queue and, after some short stints on amateur teams, Sneaky finally found his place alongside his C9 teammates as the resident AD Carry.
In past LCS splits, Sneaky often fell under the radar because he played utility ranged champions such as Ashe, Varus and Sivir, often favoring the supportive style as opposed to hard carrying. However, after a good amount of practice and some adjustment to the new meta, Sneaky shined in the 2014 spring split as he carried C9 to multiple victories with damage champions such as Lucian, Corki, and Graves.
Balls was picked up by C9 in early 2013 and has made a name for himself as the best top laner in North America. Because of his reticent disposition, it was once easy to overlook Balls because other top lane personalities such as Marcus "Dyrus" Hill and Joedat "Voyboy" Esfahani skyrocketed in popularity. But Balls remained undaunted and continued to perform consistently for C9, helping them win game after game with impeccable play in the top lane. Balls is known for his strong minion farming and survivability in lane phase, which both allow him to carry in the late game.
Due to a medical issue, Hai "Hai" Lam will not be in attendance at the 2014 All Star. His replacement will be mid laner Austin "LiNk" Shin of Counter Logic Gaming. LiNk first entered the professional scene as a member of CLG Black. When the team disbanded, he found a spot on CLG as an alternate. After proving his prowess, LiNk became the starting mid laner.
LiNk is well-known for his versatility having played various roles at a professional level. He also boasts a diverse champion pool but is particularly strong at AP carries, such as Orianna and LeBlanc. Though LiNk may lack Hai's critical shotcalling and playmaking, he can make up for it with consistency and adaptability.
Without a doubt, Meteos is a core playmaker on C9. He is versatile in his approach to the game, sometimes favoring a farm-focused method, other times going for early aggressive plays with champions like Lee Sin. Either way, Meteos is always there for his team when needed and is widely regarded as one of the best junglers in the region.
C9's quick work of Team SoloMid in the finals of the playoffs made becoming No. 1 in the nation look easy. C9 is on another level in comparison to their regional counterparts. While unparalleled teamwork has earned them a spot in the All Star Invitational, the spring split may not have provided enough of a challenge as C9 heads to the international stage.
What sets C9 apart from the rest of the North American teams is their ability to adapt quickly and effectively to changes in the game. While the odds are against C9 coming into the 2014 All Star, each and every player on the team is so mechanically sound that they are able to try new champions or strategies at a professional level. Whether or not they will be able to adapt to a new mid laner on the roster will come to light in Paris.