North American Gauntlet: A Redemption Story

League of Legends NA Gauntlet recap
Regardless of who won this week’s North American LCS Regional Final (also known as the NA Gauntlet), this was going to be scripted as a redemption story.

Cloud9 entered the finals pissed off, knowing they squandered a legitimate shot at getting to Worlds last week in the NA Summer Split Finals against Team SoloMid.

For Immortals, they’ve performed exceptionally well during both the Spring and Summer Splits, but they haven’t been able to find success when it matters most.

They were taken down by this very same Cloud9 team in the semifinals just two weeks ago, reminiscent of their upset loss to TSM during the Spring Semifinals.

Cloud9’s redemption story

Cloud9 really came on strong as the Summer Split finished, a true sign of their pedigree. They’ve once again exceeded expectations, having just recently participated in their fifth split finals. (Immortals is still sniffing for one).

At an even deeper level, the sour taste of how Cloud9 finished the group stage of Worlds last year is still lingering in their mouths. After going 3-0 in Week One, Cloud9 went 0-3 in Week Two to miss out on the knockout stage. I don’t believe Jensen or Sneaky have forgotten about that feeling.

Let’s also not forget about the other veterans on this team. After suffering a few down splits trying to carry NRG’s roster, Impact is finally on a team that has equal parts. You don’t think he wants to get back to Worlds? His play the past four weeks has been on another level.

And then there’s Meteos. Cloud9’s foundational player, turned retired streamer, turned jungler was their savior again. This is as much a story about Meteos being recognized as a top-tier jungler entwined within the larger picture of Cloud9’s success.

Immortals’ struggle to be liked

When you form a team of established, all-star caliber players, you’re going to attract some haters. Immortals is not immune to that.

Perhaps it’s the way they play, with a certain arrogance, that also attracts these notions. When this team is on, it exudes confidence unlike anything we’ve seen in esports.

That arrogance extends beyond the rift as well, a problem Doublelift recently addressed after their win over Immortals. Essentially, Doublelift insinuated that Immortals refused to scrim against them in hopes that Cloud9 would beat TSM in the finals (ensuring that Immortals would play CLG in the gauntlet instead of C9).

Below are Doublelift’s exact comments:

“Well, now that this is over, I can say that I really hope Immortals loses because they really really wanted us to lose and they wouldn’t scrim us, so we had a pretty low practice coming into the finals.

I mean like, it does make sense. Like they want us to lose because they didn’t want to face C9 in the gauntlet. I still thought that was a pretty scummy thing to do which was just to intentionally blockade us from scrimming. So I really hope they lose, and I also think Cloud 9 are pretty good so they should be able to be Immortals again. So, yeah, I reckon that the three top teams from NA is going to be us, CLG, and Cloud9.”

Immortals and their fans must look past that stigma and just focus on what they can control, like winning the biggest series in which the young organization has participated to date.

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One of these teams will suffer large disappointment

Also lurking in the distance is the fact one of these two teams will not be attending Worlds.

I think it’s fair to state that Counter Logic Gaming, which benefited most from TSM’s win in the finals thanks to their standings in the Championship Points, is currently viewed as the fourth best team in North America (behind TSM, C9, and Immortals).

Regardless, CLG will be at Worlds as one of the three NA League of Legends teams. The loser of this series will not.

The dreams, aspirations, and a year of preparation for one team will come crashing down faster than a Pantheon ultimate. For the winner, there’s a chance at glory and to represent North America in arguably the most marquee tournament in esports.

NA Regional Finals recap

Game One and Two we saw what can best be described as the Sneaky ADC tutorial show. He put on a clinic in the first game, going 8-0-7 on Jhin. He picked up a quick double kill 14 minutes into the game to get the ball rolling.

C9’s Impact was once again pivotal in this series, winning his lane in all but one game. He repeatedly solo killed Huni, including a 1vs2 dive 22 minutes into the game. He finished game one 5-1-7.

Game Two was another dominating performance by Sneaky and C9. Immortals took away Jhin this time, so Sneaky just went with the burst potential of Lucian.

Immortals’ WildTurtle actually picked up a kill on Sneaky in this game, but it ended up being his only death.

A big fight 26 minutes into the game netted C9 three kills, with a Baron as the next objective on the map to fall. Sneaky put Game Two away about three minutes later, picking up a triple kill. Cloud9 pushed through the remainder of Immortals defenses to go up 2-0.

Game Three went much better in the early stages for Immortals. A fight at dragon also netted Immortals three kills just seven minutes into the game. A huge fight 24 minutes into the game was really the tipping point.

Up 5k gold, Pobelter’s Vladimir picked up two more kills. Immortals then turned towards Baron, getting the big object and increasing their gold lead to 15k. That was too much for C9 to overcome.

Immortals finally showed some fight, taking a game from C9 they desperately needed.

Needing one more win to send the series to a decisive Game Five, Immortals went with a questionable lineup. Huni picked Yasuo, which Impact gladly countered with Ekko.

Sneaky was also back up to his Game One and Two performance, picking his new favorite ADC, Lucian, and going 5-1-5. Jensen would be huge in Game Four as well, doing 18.5k damage and going 4-1-6.

After Sneaky started out the game with a bang, picking up two kills and a dragon in the first 10 minutes, C9 could taste a birth to Worlds. A big team fight 13 minutes in the game gave Cloud9 another three kills.

The game spiraled out of control from there, with C9 building a 7k gold lead before 20 minutes. C9 patiently waited for Immortals to make mistakes, securing map control and taking Baron 25 minutes into the game.

Cloud9 made one final push 30 minutes in, taking down the final defenses of Immortals. With just the nexus left, Cloud9 punched their ticket to Worlds.

Rachel Perry

About

Rachel is an avid gamer whose insatiable desire for all things gaming related has been augmented by the inconceivable growth of eSports and how competitive gaming is viewed. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite games, Rachel can be found playing League of Legends, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, or watching too much Twitch.tv.

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