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The teams from the North American region have historically underperformed in the League of Legends World Championships. The possibility of an NA squad winning the entire tournament remains a faint dream at this point in the game's history.
Cloud9 return to the Worlds quarterfinals this year as NA's only hope. They have one team to thank for keeping the NA dream alive albeit unintentionally, and it's not who you would expect.
Saving the Dream
During the closing day of the Worlds 2016 group stage, Cloud9 were sitting on a precarious 3-3 standing. The last matchup of the day featured a game between Flash Wolves and SK Telecom T1. FW had a 2-3 standing and had the potential to force a tiebreaker with C9 if they took down SKT.
FW fielded a siege composition in their potential final game at Worlds 2016 with Viktor in the mid lane and Cait and Braum as the bottom duo. SKT chose to rely on their superior team fight mechanics with an all-in composition with a Lissandra mid with an Ezreal and Nami bot lane. SKT applied pressure from early in the game to barrel their way to a 20-7 victory.
SKT inadvertently secured Cloud9's quarterfinals slot in Worlds 2016 by eliminating the competition.
The NA Hope Returns
Cloud9 found themselves in a similar position this year. Team SoloMid and Immortals were both unable to escape their own groups, leaving C9 to stand as the sole NA flag bearers for a second year in a row.
C9 took down AHQ e-Sports Club to secure a 3-3 standing. They were only guaranteed a spot at qualifiers if the 2-3 EDward Gaming lost the final groups match against SKT.
SKT once again held the fate of Cloud9 in their hands. An SKT loss to EDG would mean a tie breaker between EDward Gaming and Cloud9.
EDG held control for most of the game as they had their eyes locked on the potential tiebreaker. The hometown heroes had a 6-0 advantage over SKT at 30 minutes into the game. They were well on their way to force another game against Cloud9 when disaster struck.
SKT finally found their bearings during the late game team fights. The crowd at Wuhan was silenced when the defending world champions bounced back to push the score to 10-6 in their favor.
SK Telecom T1 just became the unlikely heroes of the NA fans for a second year in a row.
The Worlds 2017 continues into the playoffs next week live from the Guangzhou Gymnasium. The first quarterfinals matchup will take place on October 19, 2017 at 4:00PM!