Atmospheric blocking has been shown to be a phenomenon that models struggle to predict accurately, particularly the onset of a blocked state following a more zonal flow. This struggle is, in part, due to the lack of a complete dynamical theory for block onset and maintenance. Here, we evaluate the impact cyclone representation had on the forecast of block onset in two case studies from the North Atlantic Waveguide and Downstream Impact Experiment field campaign and the 20 most unpredictable block onsets over the Euro-Atlantic region in medium-range forecasts from the ECMWF. The 6-day forecast of block onset in the case studies is sensitive to changes in the forecast location and intensity of upstream cyclones (one cyclone for one case and two for the other case) in the days preceding the onset. Ensemble sensitivity analysis reveals that this is often the case in unpredictable block onset cases: a one standard deviation change in 1000-hPa geopotential height near an upstream cyclone, or 320-K potential vorticity near the tropopause, two or three days prior to block onset is associated with more than a 10% change in block area on the analyzed onset day in 17 of the 20 onset cases. These results imply that improvement in the forecasts of upstream cyclone location and intensity may help improve block onset forecasts.