Los Angeles, USA - March 9: --- during the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Week 7 at the LCS Arena on March 9, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA. (Photo by Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games)

Coming out of the spring split, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the truth. Only one team truly had any chance of competing internationally. Luckily, it was the one we were sending to the Mid-Season Invitational. Cloud9 was so singularly dominant in the spring, that it left people to wonder – Are they just that good or is North America just that bad? MSI would have given us the answer, but alas, COVID-19. So, Cloud9 loses a game against what might be the worst North American division in history. Bad thing? I’m not so sure.

The Case For Losing

My peers in the traditional sports world are no strangers to writing about the virtues of losing. The traditional sports world is rife with the concept of tanking. In that case, the goal is to secure a better draft position and get better players. Esports does not yet have a draft in any of their major titles, save for NBA2K. So why would anyone want to do anything but run the table? The answer lies in a lesson from Jedi Master Yoda: The greatest teacher, failure is.

Right now, Cloud9 has the benefit of being the big fish in the small pond. No one is debating that they are the best team in North America, and a week 5 loss to 100 Thieves isn’t about to change that. If the goal were just to win the LCS Summer Split, you’d absolutely want them to win every game. But everyone in North America knows that isn’t the goal. No, the goal is to make noise at the World Championship and FINALLY bring home a title.

Cloud9 celebrates a win at LCS Spring Week 7
Los Angeles, USA – March 9: — during the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Week 7 at the LCS Arena on March 9, 2020 in Los Angeles, California, USA. (Photo by Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games)

But the road to glory runs through China, Korea, and Europe. All three regions are better than North America talent-wise, and being the best here isn’t nearly good enough. Which is why Cloud9 needs to get better if they want to compete. And the sad truth of it, you generally don’t get better when you’re winning. Teams need to lose so they can see what they’re doing wrong and where their areas to improve are. Cloud9 needs a team, or preferably a few teams to step up and beat them.

Cloud9 Loses As Worlds Loom Large

I’m all smiles as Cloud9 finally loses a game, even if it is to 100 Thieves. The tape they’re no doubt reviewing as we speak is the most valuable they’ve had all year. And it’s critical that they take the right messages away. The message can NOT be “Well, we let our foot off the gas a bit. We’ve learned that we have to give 100% every time.” Don’t get me wrong. That’s a very true lesson and one they need to understand, but it shouldn’t take a loss to 100 Thieves to understand it.

Which brings me to my concern. Is 100 Thieves a good enough team to have actually exposed a weakness in C9, or did they just catch them sleeping? Rewatching that match, C9 makes a lot of sloppy mistakes early on and I’m concerned they weren’t taking it seriously enough. If that’s the case, and C9 trying their hardest would have just steam-rolled 100 Thieves, then what is there to learn? Cloud9 needs someone to step up and approach their level of play so that both teams can get better. I’m worried they’re not going to meet that team until Worlds, and by then, it’ll be too late.

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Photo by Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games