Photo Credit: SportsGrid
With TSM and Immortals locked in as the first and second seeds to represent North America at Worlds, four remaining teams had to fight it out in a gauntlet style tournament to determine NA’s final representative. The format for the gauntlet consists of the 5th and 6th place teams playing against each other in the first match, with the winner of that match playing the 4th place team and the winner playing the 3rd place team. In particular, this type of style is grueling for the two lowest seeds because they have to win three consecutive best of five series to grab the final Worlds spot while the 3rd place team only has to win one match.
For this year’s gauntlet, FlyQuest and Dignitas played the first match with the winner playing against CLG and then C9. The first match was a surprisingly strong showing from the FlyQuest’s ex-C9 members, in particular, Wildturtle. They smashed through Dignitas in quick 3-0 fashion to advance to face CLG in the next round. FlyQuest started strong, grabbing a quick victory to advance 1-0 in the series, but things quickly fell apart for them as CLG won three games back to back to eliminate FlyQuest from the tournament and advance to the finals to face Cloud 9. This set the stage for two of the most tenured League of Legends organizations to face off in the gauntlet finals.
The first map of the series began with a strong performance from C9’s star midlaner, Jensen. Despite starting off 0-2 in kills, Cloud 9 ended the game with a total of 12 kills to CLG’s 3 after two team fight victories resulted in a Baron and a quick end to the game. The second game was a grind for both teams as CLG skyrocketed to a 6k+ gold lead after getting four kills for none and the Baron. They racked up a total of a 7k gold lead before C9 began to rally back and win several small skirimishes and picked they use to transition to a Baron of their own. Despite still being down by a small gold margin near the end of the game, they managed to barely squeeze out the victory in a base race as Sneaky took down three of CLG’s members to win the game. CLG answered back in Game 3 with a quick 31 minute victory despite C9 holding a small lead in the midgame. Unfortunately for CLG, their journey ended there as the 50+ minute grind of the last game went C9’s way despite some heroic antics from CLG’s ADC, Stixxay. For the majority of the game, C9 held onto a lead with the lead ballooning to 10k at 42 minutes, simply too much for CLG to overcome. Congratulations to the final team to qualify for Worlds, Cloud 9.