It was a messy series against Counter Logic Gaming that finally qualified North America's Cloud9 for the 2017 League of Legendas World Championship. C9 didn't just revert to allowing opponents to do what they wished early, but also added ill-timed jungle invades and rotations that made it seem like certain members of the team weren't talking to each other. Nonetheless, Jack Etienne and the members of C9 believed that they would go, and ultimately proved themselves right. After a short bootcamp in Korea, C9 are now ready to prove themselves once again to the world.
The new Worlds Play-Ins are all about challenges. Challenges from minor region teams to major region ones. In Group B, it looks like C9 is very much up to the challenge.
Cloud9 - North America
Team oNe - Brazil
Dire Wolves - Oceania
It's difficult to believe that C9 is disappointed with this group. In facing the Dire Wolves and oNe, C9 avoid the two minor region teams that are looking the strongest going into the Play-In Stage: Turkey's 1907 Fenerbahçe and the Commonwealth of Independent States' Gambit Gaming. With strong preparation Team oNe or Dire Wolves could surprise the NA representative in a best-of-one, but it's highly unlikely that either team knocks C9 out of the first position to exit this group into the knockout stage. Unfortunately for those looking for an upset, including Oceania's Dire Wolves and Brazil's Team oNe, this is C9's group to lose.
In the recent CBLoL Finals against paiN Gaming - a team that, like C9, struggles to be proactive at times and often relies on individual mechanical outplays - Team oNe was able to outmaneuver Brazil's favorite team with smart map movements and a stronger understanding of objective trades. Team oNe was not the expected team to represent Brazil at Worlds because of a lack of mechanical talent individually, and with the talent that oNe will be facing at Worlds increasing as they advance, it's difficult to see them going too far without an even stronger understanding of the game or a sudden increase in each player's mechanical performance.
This is why team oNe in particular have a poor matchup against C9. C9's regression to an early game with little to no proactivity - or worse, poorly-timed, overly-aggressive invades from jungler Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia- won't matter against oNe given the caliber of the team's individual players, especially mid laner Jensen and top laner Impact. C9's understanding of how to play the game is also much stronger than paiN's, so it will be even more difficult for oNe to outsmart them, especially when it comes to the mid and late game. The players of oNe are also relatively untested. This was their first CBLoL split together, and the team itself was just promoted into CBloL this split, having been INTZ e-Sports' challenger team the split prior. There is a chance that the big stage will prove too much for them.
Brazil also has an history of losing to Oceania in play-ins and group stages, dating back to the first International Wildcard Invitational with INTZ and Chiefs. The Dire Wolves only lost one series this past regular season, a Week 6 1-2 loss to second-place Legacy eSports, and a total of eight games all split, including the team's 3-1 finals victory over Chiefs. Again, in a best-of-one setting, the Dire Wolves can surprise and it's more likely for this to happen against oNe than it is C9. That being said, the Dire Wolves lack an understanding of how to create and what to do with jungle pressure around Shern "Shernfire" Tai that is likely to be the team's undoing. Dire Wolves will have to shore this up in order to make it out of the group. oNe's Alanderson "4LaN" Meireles and C9's Contractz both have shown smarter coordination with their teams in setting up early map plays.
Predictions: 1. Cloud9, 2.Team oNe, 3. Dire Wolves