The first two games were all Gravity, but, after changing up their champion select, Cloud9 came roaring back and pulled off the reverse sweep to move on to the next round of the NA Regionals.
Sneaking into the tournament thanks to a late season surge, Cloud9 kept their dreams of going to Worlds alive thanks to the 3-2 series victory. They will now have to play Team Impulse on Saturday in the second round.
For Gravity, the loss is a crushing blow for a team which not only fell from first to fouth in the final week of the regular season, but has lost back-to-back series at the hands of Team SoloMid and Cloud9.
Here's how the series played out.
The early laning phase was incredibly even, with both teams trading farm and kills back and forth but not making any major commitments to fights. However, Move was applying significant pressure on the map, constantly being in the right place at the right time to force out Cloud9’s Summoner Spells and deter their aggression.
The first major fight was a scattered affair that broke out near the dragon pit when Incarnati0n tried to Teleport behind Gravity. The TP was interrupted by Keane, and, in the resulting skirmish, Cloud9 lost two members and the dragon for no gain.
Sensing blood in the water and with a major gold lead for the first time, Gravity grouped up and forced mid lane, catching out Hai and Incarnati0n before taking down a handful of towers. Cloud9 did their best to trade out with a few pushes of their own in the top and bottom lane, but it only made a small dent in Gravity’s gold advantage.
An awkward initiation by Hai in the mid lane kicked off a fight that at first looked like a complete disaster for Cloud9, but with a timely Zeke’s Herald proc and some great play by Balls, Incarnati0n and Sneaky turned the fight around, resulting in a 3-for-3.
Still ahead but sensing the pressure, Gravity gained vision control around Baron and started off the objective. Although they managed to take down the big worm before Cloud9 could respond, they lost both Keane and Altec in the retreat, giving Cloud9 the opening they needed to take down the top lane Inhibitor tower and bring the gold to within 2k.
Gravity slammed the door on the comeback attempt with a great fight in the top lane where they were able to blow up Sneaky instantly before moving on to chase down a few more members of Cloud9. Incarnati0n and Hai tried to hold on, but Gravity completed the Ace and finished the game without a moment’s hesitation.
Diving forward to try and set Incarnati0n up for a Last Breath, a massive misplay by Sneaky in the mid lane completely backfired, nullifying the small advantage Cloud9 had gained in the laning phase to give Keane a free First Blood.
Cloud9 got back into it with a few kills of their own, and used Sneaky’s Trisana to push down a few towers here and there. Both teams were happy to play it slow heading towards the mid game, and Cloud9 slowly but surely recovered the gold lead in exchange for the first dragon.
The first major fight happened around the 20 minute mark after an aggressive flank attempt by Balls and Incarnati0n ended in complete disaster. When Cloud9 scrambled to save their teammates, Gravity cleaned up the fight 4-for-2 overall. Things went from bad to worse a few minutes later when Hai and Balls got caught in their own jungle by the entire opposing team, which resulted in another three kills over to Gravity.
Cloud9 responded immediately, catching out Altec and then baiting the Baron, claiming three kills total to put themselves right back in the driver’s seat. But their victory was short lived, because a massive four-man Gnar ultimate by Hauntzer near the mid lane secured a Triple Kill for Keane and guaranteed the Baron over to Gravity.
Despite the teamfight win and the buff, the gold was still dead even. With the game hanging on a knife’s edge, both sides returned to cautious play, starting each other down and searching for an opening.
It was Cloud9 who blinked first, biting on a forced Baron by Gravity. Not only was Hai not able to steal the objective, but Gravity’s wombo combo wiped Cloud9 off the face of the map. Wasting no time, Gravity smashed the Nexus to take a 2-0 series lead.
The action kicked off early, with every lane trading aggressively back and forth. A crazy skirmish in the bottom lane started with Cloud9 picking up First Blood onto BunnyFuFuu, but some over-aggressive chasing by both teams resulted in a 2-for-2 overall. The kills continued to pour in left, right and center, with fights breaking out across the map.
However, Hai’s power-farming Shyvana was pulling very far ahead, and combined with superior tower pushes, gave Cloud9 a solid 5k gold lead at 15 minutes. He was quickly getting out of control, soloing the dragon and completing his Blade of the Ruined King and Sated Devourer at 18 minutes.
Although Gravity kept it close, Cloud9 was quickly gaining total map control. Feeling confident, C9 started off the Baron in full vision of Gravity. That decision turned out to be a massive blunder after Ball’s initiation left Incarnati0n and Sneaky completely exposed, giving Gravity an opening to win the fight 4-for-1 despite the gold deficit.
Working past the mistake, Cloud9 capitalized on a sloppy initiation by Gravity to just barely come out ahead in another fight in the mid lane 3-for-1. Taking down the Baron, Cloud9 started up a 4-1 split push that earned them the rest of Gravity’s outer towers and reestablished an 8k gold lead. A Chains of Corruption-Shockwave combo deleted Keane in the blink of an eye, and with superior numbers Cloud9 dove the base to close out the game and save the series.
An early roam by BunnyFuFuu set Keane up perfectly to secure First Blood on to Incarnati0n. Gravity continued to grow their lead with strong farm and a few towers during an extended laning phase, but Cloud9 stayed close with a kill of their own.
By the 15 minute mark, Gravity was nursing a 1.5k gold with Cloud9 hot on their heels and meeting them blow for blow at every move. The game went back to dead even after a sloppy fight ended with Gravity chasing too far, allowing Cloud9 to turn around for a pair of kills as Hai limped away with sub-100 health.
While the team fights and dragons continued to go into Cloud9’s favor, Gravity’s farm kept them in the gold lead all the way past 30 minutes. Incarnati0n had amassed a 3/1/2 scoreline and was a massive threat, but Hauntzer was equally as scary thanks to his 50 CS lead. Gravity tried to leverage their split pushing advantage with Twisted Fate and Gangplank, but a few catches onto Move and Keane spelled the Baron for Cloud9.
Grouping and pushing up the mid lane, Cloud9 started a slow siege of Gravity’s base. Gravity tried a desperate initiation, but before too long Cloud9 was diving the base to finish off the fleeing, completing the Ace and dragging out the series to a deciding fifth game.
Both junglers hung around the mid lane constantly, with Hai and Incarnati0n coming out on top in farm and pressure. Eventually, they whittled down Move enough to secure First Blood and take the mid lane tower, putting Cloud9 up 3k gold at the 10 minute mark.
Cloud9 continued to snowball hard, moving around the map and taking down all of the Tier 1 towers. Things went from bad to worse for Gravity, when a fight in the mid lane ended in a clean 2-for-0, plus dragon and the Tier 2 mid lane over to Cloud9.
Whenever Gravity made a move to get back into the game, Cloud9 was there to respond, picking up more and more kills and slipping away with slivers of health themselves. At 25 minutes, the scoreboard was at 9-1 for Cloud9 to go alongside their ridiculous 8k gold lead. With their massive advantage in hand, Cloud9 wasted no time securing the Baron while Incarnati0n zoned out Hauntzer and Move.
It seemed like no matter what Gravity threw at Cloud9 they could not buy a kill, and one last 4-for-1 team fight near the Tier 2 bottom all but secured the win. Grouping up, Cloud9 smashed the Nexus to close out the game and complete the reverse sweep.
Nic Doucet is a News Editor for theScore eSports. You can follow him on Twitter.