DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 25: The final play to end the game for Team Liquid that defeated Team Cloud9 to win their 4th straight championship during Day-2 of the 2019 LCS Summer Finals at Little Caesars Arena on August 25, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Team Liquid defeated Team Cloud9 3-2 in a best of 5 match play to win the North American 2019 League of Legends Championship. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

“You gotta win one.” Those are the words I spoke into the microphone when discussing what Cloud9 needed to do if they wanted to be taken seriously. After a brutal first couple days in the group stages, C9 powered back to a 3-0 Tuesday including a win over the world champions Damwon Gaming. It left many people wondering which Cloud9 was the real Cloud9.

On the show earlier this week, I said that Cloud9 had been given the perfect opportunity to prove themselves. They had a match against Royal Never Give Up, maybe the best team in the world, as well as an EU rival in MAD Lions. “You gotta win one.” I said.

Cloud9 Vs. Royal Never Give Up

The way this match finished did C9 a favor, in that it hid how strongly they were outmatched. Royal Never Give Up owned this game from the word go, building a strong gold lead throughout the match. They were well ahead in turrets, gold, kills, basically every statistic that matters.

Cloud9 had a decent teamfight comp, and a mid-game 5-0 ace let them back into it. Suddenly, the gold was pretty much even and Cloud9 looked like they may have outlasted the storm.

Then the baron play. To be clear, I wasn’t opposed to it. I thought it was the right move then, and I still think it was now. Cloud9 decided to trade an inhibitor for Baron, but the result was a backdoor that cost them the game.

Royal Never Give Up did a stellar job of preventing backs after C9 secured Baron Nashor, and they took the win. So, did C9 get massively outplayed, but show some life at the end? Or was the match closer than we really thought? They would have a game against MAD Lions later on to prove themselves.

And the wheels come off

And boy, did that not happen. From a Kindred solo lane pick, C9 proceeded to lose 3 people around an early scuttle crab. Early game has been Cloud9’s Achilles Heel all MSI long, and that was on full display here. Sadly, that opening disaster snowballed into a massive lead for MAD Lions.

Make no mistake, this game was never even close. MAD Lions held a massive lead from first blood until final turret. It’s hard to say C9 got outplayed the entire game, because everyone gets outplayed when you’re down 3k gold at 5 minutes.

I have nothing positive to say about this performance from Cloud9. Short of rapid onset food poisoning from the entire MAD Lions roster, Cloud9 didn’t have a chance. Obviously, today is just Day 1. If only the first day counted, Cloud9 would never have even made it to this stage. But if they want to be taken seriously, much less have a chance to make it out of this stage, they have to play better.

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Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images