When Cloud9's star Top Laner Eric "Licorice" Ritchie was removed from the starting lineup due to injury, it was cause for concern for the C9 faithful. Not only was Licorice one of the best in his role amongst his LCS competitors, but the team's identity for the better part of the past two years had been heavily focused around the top side of the map.
Cloud9 Academy Top Laner Ziqing "Kumo" Zhao subbed in for C9 Licorice. Kumo had been initially drafted by Cloud9 as the first pick of the 2017 NA Scouting Grounds, where the young Top Laner impressed C9 and a multitude of organizations with his impressive understanding of the macro game at the highest level in addition to the mechanics required for an elite League of Legends player.
Because of Licorice's quick and impressive rise to the top of the LCS, Kumo never got his chance to start outside of a final game in the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split against Clutch Gaming, where C9 Academy replaced the entire main roster. However, Kumo was every bit ready for the LCS, going 2-1 on Jayce and 1-0 on Aatrox in his four games with Cloud9's LCS roster.
Cloud9 Support Tristan "Zeyzal" Stidham, previously known for helping younger players such as Jungler Robert "Blaber" Huang, assimilate into the C9's main roster, mentioned to Inven Global's Nick Geracie that Kumo required no such onboarding. "Kumo did look to [Jungler Dennis] "Svenskeren" [Johnsen] for a lot of information on how he shoud play, but I think he's actually ready on his own," Zeyzal explained. "I didn't have to help him as much as I did Blaber."
Licorice played a game for Cloud9 Academy this past week, signaling that he should be in good health for the remainder of the summer. However, Cloud9 has proven that with Zeyzal in the equation, the Cloud9 mantra extends far beyond any single lineup of five players assembled on the LCS stage. "If we're in a fight, you all in, and we will all die together, and that's kind of the idea."
At sole possession of 2nd place at 8-4, Cloud9 will face 100 Thieves and Counter Logic Gaming in week 7 of the 2019 LCS Summer Split.