Cloud9's (C9) miracle run from the group stage screeches to a halt at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. In yet another disappointing result for North America in the knockouts, even Luka “Perkz” Perovic couldn't emerge as the difference-maker. Gen.G, after an up-and-down groups stage, looked the sharpest they've ever been at Worlds, stomping Cloud9 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

Worlds Quarterfinals: Gen.G 3-0 Cloud9

Gen.G hold off C9's fightback

Gen.G came out swinging, gaining an early game advantage over C9. Gwak “Bdd” Bo-seong's Aatrox got off to a 2/0/2 start around 20 minutes into the match against Perkz's Yasuo. The LCS mid laner, aside from one or two good teamfights, could not turn the tide in his team's favor. In fact, C9 should have been stronger early on, with the LCK team drafting late game with Aphelios for Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk.

At the 24-minute mark, Cloud9 found a little bit of momentum in a crucial teamfight at the mid outer turret. On Nautilus, Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme flash-hooked Kim “Clid” Tae-min's Xin Zhao. Robert “Blaber” Huang's Lee Sin followed up to get the opposing jungler to about a third of his health, but died in the process. Importantly, though, Kim “Life” Jeong-min used his Lulu ult on Xin Zhao, making it unavailable to save his ADC.

Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami teleported in on Jarvan, flanking Gen.G and flagging right through to Ruler. With the knockup, Yasuo unleashed his Last Breath and deleted the Aphelios. Xin Zhao also fell, and as C9 chased the LCK players into the top red side jungle, Bdd popped the Aatrox ult. Fudge, however, found Kennen and Lulu, allowing the NA squad to secure an ace.

Cloud9 looked to claw their way back, but in the end couldn't make a dent against Gen.G's scaling and Ruler's safe positioning. It also didn't help that Perkz had a misplay in a 32-minute fight. He decided to chase after a low-health Clid but Ruler and an exhaust killed him instead. The mid laner certainly wasn't the reason for the loss, but it was a costly error. C9's bot lane duo also got smacked around, with Vulcan perhaps too overeager to engage at times.

Although Ruler got destroyed early in that one teamfight that went C9's way, it didn't happen again in the match. The rest of the team peeled for their ADC and C9 could not find an opening to take him out of the equation. And when Ruler's safe, Gen.G thrives—it's been their game plan for so long, and it worked yet again.

Cloud9 crumble as Clid camps mid

While game one looked relatively back-and-forth in a 40-minute affair, game two just turned out to be a masterclass from Gen.G's side. The LCK squad isn't exactly known to be flashy and dominant. On the contrary, they're often deemed as too passive, choosing instead to scale and let Ruler carry later on.

However, Gen.G silenced the critics and got off to a massive early game lead. Twelve minutes in, they were up six kills to none. Clid's Lee Sin already jumped ahead at 3-0 with a 300 gold bounty, while Perkz's Sylas was down 0-3. This time around, they did not give C9 even an inch to fight their way back, snowballing then ending the game in 25 minutes.

It was a tough showing all around for NA's representatives. They put arguably their best player from game one in Fudge on Malphite duty, and except for one good ult, he could not find the engage the team needed. C9 also ride or die by Blaber (sometimes more so than Perkz). But on Poppy, he just didn't have the tools to dictate the pace of the game compared to the opposing Lee Sin.

This also meant that Gen.G's solo laners benefitted from their fed jungler, who ended with an 8/1/6 KDA. Bdd's Syndra put up a strong showing at 1/1/14, dealing over 18,000 total damage that game. In contrast, Cloud9's top damage threat in Sylas dished out less than 8k. Another monstrous performer, Kim “Rascal” Kwang-hee's Graves went deathless at 7/0/3 with a 7k gold advantage and a massive three-level lead over his LCS counterpart.

Cloud9's final stand

C9 learned from their mistakes in the first two games, but backs against the wall, it was too little too late. This time, the team drafted Jarvan for Blaber and a damage threat in Graves for Fudge. Perkz also snatched the Syndra from Bdd's hands, though it eventually didn't do much to neutralize the opposing mid laner—who, by the way, perhaps had the series of his life.

Blaber looked much more like his usual self, making proactive plays and helping his team build up an early lead. The Jarvan stole away Gen.G's red and blew Bdd's flash early to give Perkz more room to get ahead of his lane opponent. NA's representatives also set up important vision control around the bot river heading to the mid lane.

But what the LCS team got in kills, Gen.G made up for in drakes. Even as Cloud9 tried to push the tempo of the game, the LCK squad had the threat of dragon soul—a mountain soul, at that—in their back pockets. In the end, it proved the difference-maker. With C9 trying desperately to prevent Gen.G from securing drakes, Bdd's Zoe fished for bubbles and snipes.

At the 26-minute mark, a bubble landed on Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen's Miss Fortune in the dragon pit. Life's Rakan zoomed in alongside Lee Sin, so even with Cloud9 blocking Jhin's ult, their AD Carry was taken down in an instant. Despite lagging behind early, Bdd's Zoe still dished out over 5k damage in that fight. All the while, Graves traded blows with Rascal's sturdy Renekton in the mid lane, which kept Fudge away from contributing to the battle. Gen.G clawed their way back from the early deficit, while the LCS squad couldn't keep the game in their grasp.

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Zven had a really miserable time on Miss Fortune, as Clid just found the paths and the angles to latch onto him. The LCK jungler smartly played around the fog of war, sneaking through the bot river and mid side brush area for a flank. He put himself in the perfect position to ward hop and kick Zven right into the rest of the Gen.G members. With a major damage threat down early, C9 had no means to keep the fight close and dropped one by one.

After that 32-minute four-for-one fight, the LCK team then grabbed the baron—and the game was as good as over. Around the bot river and red buff, Gen.G again found the pick off. They started with a bubble and a kick to take down Blaber. A knockup from Rakan, another sleepy trouble bubble from Zoe, and a resonating strike from Lee Sin put Perkz's Syndra to rest.

As Zven made his final stand, Ruler's Jhin ult shot him down. What better way to put the series to bed than with another bubble and the Curtain Call's final bullet to piece the hearts of C9 players and fans. Surprising many, Gen.G tore Cloud9 to pieces to book a ticket to the Worlds semifinals. Despite the ceiling of their players, the LCS team fell apart at the seams and couldn't hold up against the Korean dominance.

For NA and EU, their Worlds stints ended here. With only one representative each in the brackets, neither made it past the Eastern giants. Both fell in disastrous fashion, unable to take even one game away from their opponents.

With the quarterfinals stage drawing to a close, it's again a stark reminder of the power of the East. All Korean squads, barring Hanwha Life who lost to T1, handily swept their respective quarterfinals matchups. Now the LCK has three representatives remaining in the semis, against one LPL team in EDG who beat out RNG. Gen.G will face off against China, while the all-LCK matchup unfolds on the other side of the bracket between T1 and defending champions Damwon.