One of the most heart-breaking stories before the All-Star event in Paris, was Cloud 9 losing their captain, shot-caller and mid-laner (in that order) Hai, due to an unexpected medical condition. Despite of the huge set-back for Cloud 9, they rallied their forces and teamed up with CLG, who immediately agreed to loan their mid-laner, LiNk to the North American champions for the All-Star event. LiNk’s play-style and champion pool was very similar to the one of Hai and all things considered, that made him a perfect pick for Cloud 9. There was still the issue of shot-calling left and Meteos and crew had to decide who would try to fill in Hai’s big shoes, will it be a certain individual or more members pitching in at different times of the game? LiNk himself had some shot-calling experience, as CLG uses a 2 man shot-calling system with him and Aphromoo dictating their every move in the late-game, but was it realistically something that could be expected from him, after roughly one week of practice with Cloud 9? Most likely not.
Instead, when they partnered up with LiNk, Cloud 9 were looking for a solid mid-laner, who would just do his thing, farm up and be relevant in the mid and late-game, while Meteos would help out Balls and/or Sneaky get going in the early game, dominate the mid-game and carry the team to success in the late-game. Being left to fend for himself most of the games, LiNk did a good job and averaged 76 CS at the 10 minute mark and 164 CS at the 20 minute mark. The numbers are not particularly impressive, but given his world-class opposition and the fact that he received little help from his jungler, they are not too bad either. In fact, the average would have been considerably higher, if we disregard the game versus OMG in the Group stage, where both the enemy jungler and support roamed multiple times to the mid-lane, to make sure that Xiyang would not have a hard time in lane, because their entire mid-game strategy was relying on that. In the first game of the Semi-final series against OMG, LiNk’s Nidalee was 12 CS ahead of Xiyang’s Lulu at the 10 minute mark, which should normally not happen and is a testament to his strong laning abilities, who were also praised by the mid-lane king himself, Faker.
The supportive mid-laner role that LiNk got to play for Cloud 9, basically means that you take more of a back-seat role and provide some support for your team, while others have the flashy KD ratios and the glory that comes with it. That being said, an average KDA of 2.50 over three wins and three heavy defeats is pretty respectable and if we break it down, one can clearly notice how clear the three defeats were for Cloud 9 and LiNk, who totaled 11/6/27 while winning and 5/12/2 while losing. A night and day difference, especially when we look at the assists. While it is true that Cloud 9 only dropped matches to SKT T1 K and OMG, the games were very one-sided, except for the first one of the semi-final series against OMG, where C9 had a real shot at winning, but were unable to keep their early game lead, due to a couple of bad decisions in the mid-game. Same conclusion can be drawn when looking over LiNk’s kill participation numbers, he averaged a decent 62,5% not standing out from the rest and doing what was asked of him. In all the six games played, he never got First Blood, or First Blood Assist and gave away First Blood only once, in the group stage game versus OMG, where he was heavily focused by the enemy team.
Link did not get a chance to show more than three of his mid-lane champions, playing mostly Lulu and Orianna, two supportive mid-lane champions and a comfort pick, Nidalee, in the first game of the Semi-final series vs OMG. He had a 3.4 KDA on Lulu, 2.1 on Orianna and 1.0 on Nidalee. Asked about it, LiNk confirmed that this was the plan discussed with Cloud 9 all along and although he would have liked to play more aggressive champions like LeBlanc or Twisted Faith, he decided together with the team against it. Below, a table that pretty much sums up his entire performance
Overall, both Link’s and Cloud 9’s performance at All-Star was above average and certainly above expectations, as many dooms-day scenarios threatened to unfold before the competition had even started. With the very limited time at hand, Meteos and crew have done North America proud finishing 3rd/4th, but more importantly, gaining the valuable international experience, which will help them out tremendously in both the upcoming LCS Summer Split and the World Championships that will take place in September, where the team is looking to have a better showing than last year and prove that North America has come a long way in terms of attitude, preparation and organisation. As the Korean teams have shown it time and time again, there are more factors to the success of a League of Legends team, than the five players, the staff that is behind them is equally important and relevant. If you are interested, you can check out Link’s and Lemonnation’s AMAs on Reddit, where they mostly talk about the All-Star experience. LeagueThoughts will also do a sum-up of those later on.
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