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By the end of Group A’s first round robin, Cloud9 (C9) was in last place with a 0-3 record. In a group with Damwon Gaming (DK), FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), and Rogue (RGE), all hope was lost. However, what ended up happening on the last day of group A seemed too good to be true (at least for LCS fans):
- FPX lost all 3 games and ended 2-4
- Cloud9 went 2W-1L and ended 2-4
- Rogue went 1W-2L and ended 2-4
A near impossible scenario happened - a three way tie with Cloud9 holding the top seed in the tiebreakers against FPX and Rogue. This meant that Cloud9 just needed to win one more game to make it out of groups. But as all LCS fans have painfully learned throughout the years, it was too early to say anything yet. North America has had a horrendous track record in tiebreakers.
As tiebreakers went under way, Rogue defeated a severely underperforming FPX and were slated to battle Cloud9 for the final spot out of Group A. In a nail-biting 54 minute game where both sides were constantly trading objectives and getting caught out, Cloud9 finally wiped out Rogue during a fight at Elder Dragon to promptly end the game. LCS fans rejoiced as this was the first time since 2018 that a North American team advanced to quarter finals.
Factor’s In-Game Win Probability Graph for the C9 vs RGE Tiebreaker Game
Analysts, casters, even Cloud9 themselves called it a miracle run, but how unlikely was this entire scenario?
Let’s start off with all possible scenarios that could have played out in Group A. Since there were 6 games left to play (excluding tiebreakers), that means there were 26 (or 64) different permutations of Group A results. Out of those 64 possibilities:
- 8 of them involved Cloud9 going 3-0:
- 6 forced at least 1 tiebreaker
- 1 actually resulted in Cloud9 dropping out in 3rd place
- 1 resulted in Cloud9 advancing as the second seed with Damwon Gaming
- 24 of them involved Cloud9 going 2-1:
- 23 resulted in Cloud9 dropping out as either 3rd or 4th
- Only 1 permutation forced tiebreakers and that was the result that we ended up with at the last day of Group A
- 32 of them involved Cloud9 going 1-2 or 0-3, all of which would have eliminated them.
Without even calculating the probability of Group A’s final results (excluding tiebreakers), we can already get a sense of how miraculous this was. If Cloud9 didn’t win all three games, there was only one scenario out of the remaining 56 permutations that would’ve resulted in Cloud9 even having a fighting chance in the tiebreakers. Even if they did win all three remaining games, there was still a possibility for them to drop out since six of those involved tiebreakers and one scenario flat out eliminated them.
To put a greater emphasis on how improbable this scenario is, we can use Factor’s probability matchups to calculate the chances of Group A playing out like how it did on its final day.
For the exact events to have played out where Group A ended with a three-way tiebreaker, the calculated probability using the table above turns out to be a miniscule 1.1%!
From making their back-to-back reverse sweeps in the infamous 2015 gauntlet run, to going 3-0 during the first week of groups only to end up 0-3 during the second (which was ironically only a month after the gauntlet), Cloud9 seems to have a knack for making the impossible happen - for better or for worse.