With former Cloud9 Chalenger line-up FlyQuest entering the LCS, one of the easiest storylines is the rivalry between the two different organizations. On some levels, this has the potential to be a very exciting storyline. The old FlyQuest line-up contains Hai, Balls, and LemonNation, three members of the original C9 line-up. Balls and Hai specifically will be facing off against the players who replaced them - Impact and Jensen.
Another compelling storyline between the two teams is the battle between continuity and individual skill. The trio of Balls, Hai, and LemonNation have played countless games together and their playstyle still largely dictates how FlyQuest plays, especially because their star jungler Contractz left to join the main C9 squad. On the other hand, the current C9 line-up is heavily focused on individual skill, compiling strong players like Impact, Jensen, and Sneaky. The team continued to focus on individual play over continuity by removing inconsistent jungler Meteos, who was one of their prominent weaknesses at the World Championship, and replacing him with the up-and-coming Contractz.
This battle of individual players and philosophical approach will surely lead to a lot of fan and Riot hype around the series between these two teams, especially because both orgs have some of the most individually popular players in the league. However, it's important to note that simply painting the two orgs as equal rivals right off the bat is disrespectful to Cloud9 and their history over the last year.
Last season, we saw two very different C9 line-ups play over the two splits. The spring split team featured Balls, Rush, Jensen, Sneaky, and Hai. The team was focused around Jensen in the mid lane, but also dedicated consistent resources to top to try and keep Balls even with opposing top laners. On this team, Hai was the main shotcaller and they played a style dedicated to baiting around Baron. Although they had good results in the regular season, they were defeated 3-1 by the 6th seeded TSM in the play-offs. The inconsistent play of Rush, Hai, and Balls all were particularly prominent problems for the team. Rush and Hai were unable to coordinate their usual mid-lane ganks against stiffer opposition, leading to very poor scores for Rush in particular. In addition, Balls was continually smashed by Hauntzer in the 1v1, even when he had massive gold leads.
The second split had a roster much more similar to the current C9 line-up. C9 fielded a team of Impact, Meteos, Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie (who eventually started full-time over alternate BunnyFuFuu.) This team struggled in the regular season as they built synergy but eventually peaked during the play-offs. C9 once again lost 3-1 to TSM, but it was in the finals against a line-up that had undergone substantial growth and improvement. One of the most successful players in the play-offs (if not the MVP of the play-offs overal) was Impact. Unlike Balls, who required resources to stay even, Impact was able to get ahead on his own even though Meteos rarely visited his lane. Although C9 struggled to play around their best player, his sheer individual skill meant that he was able to help push his team to the top.
In a sense, the battle between these players already happened. The "old" C9 line-up focused around Hai was able to exploit their synergy in the regular season but they fell apart in the play-offs to a much stronger individual team. On the other hand, the new C9 lineup struggled to grow together over the season, but they were able to put together a fairly successful run in the play-offs even though they weren't yet able to put everything together.
While the match between C9 and FlyQuest isn't set in stone, it's important to note both of the team's recent history and respect C9's improvement and dedication towards this new roster construction strategy. Creating a narrative around FlyQuest and C9 should clearly indicate that C9 is a heavy favorite. Doing otherwise is disingenuous and disrespects the work C9 put to go from a middle-of-the-pack team which relied heavily on synergy to a top NA side capable of competing with the best through a combination of individual skill and developing teamwork. While FlyQuest was battling it out against TLA in a 5-game series for the number 1 promotion spot, C9 was battling against Immortals for the right to attend the World Championships. The teams are on different levels and this should be acknowledged before moving onto narrative concerns.
Post: Respect results, not just the storyline: C9 and FlyQuest isn't a even rivalry