Quas: Nidalee, Lulu, Dr. Mundo, Maokai, Jax
IWillDominate: Elise, Kha'Zix, Rengar, Nunu, Evelynn
Voyboy: Syndra, Yasuo, Tristana, Ziggs, Talon
Cop: Tristana, Kog'Maw, Corki, Lucian, Jinx
Xpecial: Braum, Thresh, Leona, Zilean, Janna
Balls: Nidalee, Dr. Mundo, Maokai, Ryze, Lulu
Meteos: Lee Sin, Elise, Kha'Zix, Nunu, Evelynn
Hai: Ryze, Zed, Syndra, Yasuo, Twisted Fate
Sneaky: Kog'Maw, Tristana, Twitch, Corki, Lucian
LemonNation: Braum, Thresh, Morgana, Nami, Zilean
Overall, Cloud 9 have a lot of strategic depth to their picks. They generally prefer to choose a priority AD Carry for Sneaky early, followed by the Jungle and Support. Balls usually picks his champion to complement the team composition, whereas Hai with the much larger champion pool prefers to either counter his lane opponent or strategy. Outside some early pressure from Meteos, and the occasional early gank from Hai, Cloud 9 usually don't force a lot of fights outside of lane, opting instead to farm and pick up early dragons. The mid game allows Cloud 9 to diversify their actions, usually accompanied by strong vision control to complement their compositional gameplay. They are decisive and confident in their playmaking after reaching items spikes on their carries. Due to the early meta in this split, Cloud 9 adapted by transferring a lot of resources from Balls to Sneaky. Recently, Balls has preferred to farm and split push for the majority of his games, and has one of the lowest kill participation rates for any top laner. His ganks and teleports are sometimes uncoordinated, but his teamfight presence is still sublime. Unless Cloud 9 has been severely outpicked in champion select, or their opponents know how to perfectly translate leads into pressure, Cloud 9 is very adept at maximizing the utility of their compositions to take advantages in the mid and late game. Cloud 9 should target key picks against Curse and force them onto compositions they can counter. Some stronger vision control in the early game will also inhibit IWillDominate's effectiveness to minimize the deficit going into mid game.
Surprisingly, Curse has shown a wide range of strategic play, stemming more from necessity than understanding. The champion pools and playstyles of Quas are heavily dependant on niche picks, but the rest of the team shift their play to complement the selections. As a result, Curse has found success on Syndra in pick compositions, Yasuo on aggressive team fight compositions, Jax and Nidalee split pushing, etc. Their diversity makes them hard to ban against, but Curse still struggles when placed in unfamiliar situations, evidenced by their hesitation in playmaking. Lulu is a priority pick for them because both Voyboy and Quas are mechanically proficient at the champion and it complements a majority of their compositions. Since the introduction of Xpecial, Curse has slowly adapted and allowed his mechanical prowess to create picks, and have recently showed decisive movements around the map. In the series, against Cloud 9 this split, Curse have lost many fights around dragon and overextending at turrets, allowing Cloud 9 to take early leads. Additionally, Curse have a disadvantage going into the match because they have very little information about the way Cloud 9 has adapted since the super week. In order for Curse to succeed, they need to extensively plan the pick/ban phase and surprise Cloud 9 in the early game, and also prepare contingencies as Cloud 9 adjusts between games. Forcing Balls onto a defensive pick will also allow Quas to split push more effectively and lessen the impact he has in the mid game because Balls generally prefers to farm on tanky champions until late game.
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Week 2 Day 1:
Both Cloud 9 and Curse go into this week underperforming compared to previous splits, partly due to Hai's injury and Xpecial's introduction to the Curse roster. Going into champion select, Cloud 9 choose to ban Thresh and Lucian from the Curse bot lane as well as Kayle, who was extremely strong during this time. Curse take away Kassadin and Leblanc from Hai, as well as Twitch from Sneaky. Taking Lulu for their first pick, Cloud 9 deny the champion from both Quas and Voyboy, to which Curse respond with Jax and Morgana. Cloud 9 respond with Corki and Lee Sin, a very general composition as IWillDominate and Cop pick up Evelynn and Jinx respectively. In a surprise twist, Cloud 9 lock in Kha'Zix and Shyvana, relegating Lulu to the support role and creating a strong skirmish composition with a lot of escape and mobility. Curse commits to a split push/flank engage composition strongly reliant on vision control to lock down the Cloud 9 members.
The game starts with Curse opting into a 2v1 lane with both jungle and top pairs moving around the jungle. Cloud 9 uses the advantage in the bot lane to push for an early dragon. Despite this advantage, Curse surrounds the Cloud 9 members and pick up first blood, but expend too many summoners spells as Cloud 9 catches the remaining members to pick up three kills. Returning to standard lanes, Cloud 9 maintains vision advantage in the bot lane while Curse focuses top. This allows Cloud 9 to gank Cop from behind the turret, pick up the dragon and turret in the aftermath. Evelynn attempts to gank top, but Shyvana uses all his mobility to escape into the turret. Hai roams top and picks up a kill on the overextended Jax. Cloud 9 use this momentum to secure aggressive vision in both jungles and constantly use their composition to set up picks and disengage from half-hearted Curse engages whose composition have almost no gap closers. Picking up Baron and aggressively diving turrets with their advantage, Cloud 9 secure the win in 28 minutes.
Week 5 Day 1:
Again, Cloud 9 and Curse come into this match with the standings not reflecting the potential of the teams. Into champion select, Curse focus multiple bans towards Sneaky by removing Lucian and Twitch, while Cloud 9 removes Kassadin, LeBlanc, and Kayle. Curse manages to pick up Lulu, a critical component in many Curse team compositions at this time, while Cloud 9 respond with Corki and Lee Sin, identical picks to the previous game. Curse pick up Jax and Braum for Quas and Xpecial for a strong split push and tanky front line engage, while Cloud 9 opt for Renekton for early game lane strength and teamfight crowd control. Jinx and Elise top off Curse's pick/disengage composition, as Cloud 9 finish up by picking Thresh for disengage and Twisted Fate to apply map pressure.
Again, Curse initiate the 1v2 lane, allowing Cloud 9 to pick up a very early dragon. Curse try to respond with a repeated ganks mid, and eventually win a small skirmish in the the jungle. Jax teleports to his turrent to pick up a large wave, but gets ganked by Twisted Fate and Lee Sin. Transitioning into the mid game, Curse sacrifices a few dragons to allow Jax some time to safely farm, but Cloud 9 use Twisted Fate to repeatedly gank lanes and apply pressure. A critical fight at 24 minutes, Cloud 9 pressure dragon as Balls flanks and secures his team 3 kills and the dragon. A few minutes later, Hai engages another fight after Curse fails to adequately flank and set up their composition, losing a few more members and the Baron. Even though Jax manages to farm into relevance, Cloud 9 use Renekton to counter engage onto fights and tank turrets and Curse members long enough for the team to kite and burst Jax down and win the game.
Week 7 Day 2:
Curse has found form coming into this super week while Cloud 9 maintains their consistency in the standings. Into champion select, Cloud 9 target critical Curse champions by taking away Yasuo from Voyboy, Lulu, and Braum from Xpecial, and eliminating a lot of Curse's preferred mobility and engage. Curse, recognizing the strength of Twisted Fate's map pressure in the previous game remove it in addition to Kayle and Kassadin. Cloud 9 has found a lot of recent success on Sneaky's Kog'Maw and secure it for their first pick. Curse choose Ziggs and Elise for wave clear, zone and poke. In response, Cloud 9 choose Lee Sin again and Nami alongside Kog'maw. Curse counter the Kog'Maw pick by choosing Leona and Corki for ranged lockdown that's difficult for Nami to counter. Cloud 9 pick Renekton and Orianna, while Curse once again attempt the Jax pick on Quas, but this time having the Ziggs waveclear to complement his split push.
This is the first game in the Curse and Cloud 9 series that starts with standard lanes. While Meteos focuses on farming early, IWillDominate on Elise flanks around Hai's Orianna and helps secure a kill, despite Hai using his heal and flash. Using this momentum, he applies pressure top and helps Jax keep even with Renekton. Curse manage to get the first dragon, and Xpecial starts placing aggressive vision in the bot lane and uses Leona's kit to secure two kills onto Sneaky in quick succession. Renekton and Lee Sin attempt a gank onto Jax, after Curse use their advantage in their bot lane to grab the second dragon. Curse places aggressive vision and uses Ziggs to constantly wave clear and apply map pressure as Jax continues his split push against Renekton. The remaining 30 minutes of the game, Curse slowly push their vision line towards Cloud 9's base and use their composition to wave clear and disengage from any fights as Jax slowly takes the bot lane turrets and inhibitors, and eventually the base. With Curse's vision control, Cloud 9 is never able to flank Jax, and his pressure never allows Renekton to join Cloud 9 to team fight.
Week 9 Day 1:
Coming into this week, Curse is again trying to gain momentum and gain their playoff spot while Cloud 9 is trying to catch up to LMQ in the standings. Curse focus Twisted Fate, Syndra, and Morgana, while Cloud 9 target mostly strong champions with Rengar, Tristana, and Kassadin. Curse opt for Lulu during their first rotation, while Cloud 9 secure themselves Kog'Maw and pick Elise away from IWillDominate. Curse respond with Evelynn and Thresh. Cloud 9 counter with Braum, and interestingly Dr. Mundo, despite knowing full well that Curse was most likely going to pick Yasuo, and use Ryze in their last pick to counter. While Ryze struggles against poke and disengage compositions, he excels in situations where the enemy team have melee champions that engage onto you. Also Frozen Heart is a natural item for Ryze that innately counters a lot of Yasuo's damage.
Starting with standard lanes once again, Ryze starts to bully Yasuo in lane and bait out the Evelynn gank to set up Meteos for a counter. But, Lulu's timely teleport allows Curse to turn the fight and nets Yasuo two kills, despite him giving up his life. Curse use this chance to place deep vision, and when they see Meteos return for another gank onto Ryze, giving Yasuo a 3-1 advantage in the lane. A few minutes later, a skirmish in the bottom lane turns into a 5v5 team fight as Yasuo flies past the turret to kill Kog'Maw and Braum, while Ryze rotates from behind the turret and targets Curse's bot lane. Yasuo is then pinned between the turrets and dies to the remaining members of Cloud 9 and allow them to secure dragon. Cloud 9 focus the bottom lane with Meteos ganks onto Cop, and disengage when Curse tries to return the pressure a few minutes later. Curse try to repeatedly engage onto Cloud 9 and pick up turrets, while Cloud 9 are content picking up dragons to keep up with gold and allowing Ryze and Kog'Maw to farm up. Transitioning into the mid game, Cloud 9 tries to convert number advantage to kills in skirmishes, but Curse's mobility on Yasuo and Lulu allow them to catch up and turn each fight in their favor. Quas's Lulu has a significant gold lead on Balls and it allows Curse to position for Baron and pick multiple fights. But, Kog'Maw and Ryze use their damage and positioning to kite the Curse members and secure objectives and more dragons. Evelynn use their pressure again to flank the Cloud 9 team in the jungle as Curse initiates onto Kog'Maw, who once again manages to escape the fight and kill the remaining members of Curse. Despite some even team fights, Curse still hold the map advantage, being up an inhibitor and use that in to late game to engage onto Cloud 9 at their inhibitor turret. They lose a third teamfight to Kog'Maw and Braum, who then manage to destroy the Curse base in one push.