Cloud9 Academy has continued its dominant spring run in a 3-1 post-season victory over TSM Academy. C9 Academy will now move to the Finals of the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Academy League Spring Playoffs, and the 1st seed will face off against 3rd seed Evil Geniuses Academy for the championship.
Cloud9 Academy Support David "Diamond" Bérubé spoke to Inven Global's Nick Geracie about defeating TSM Academy, facing EG Academy in the 2020 LCS Academy League Spring Finals, and the incredible growth rate of C9A Jungler Rami "Inori" Charagh.
Thanks so much for the interview, Diamond. How are you feeling after defeating TSM Academy?
I feel good. It feels like a relief.
How did the series go compared to your expectations?
We have a history of losing the first game in a multi-game series here on C9 Academy, so I wasn't too scared after we lost the first game. Usually, we lose the first game but get a feel for how the opponent plays.
We had a good idea of how TSM Academy was going to play coming into the series, and I think we executed well on our plans. I think the second game went pretty badly in the early game, but we still pulled it back because we know we could win fights if we had a comp that could match theirs when fighting around mid lane. If we were able to fight around mid, we knew we would beat them through pure mechanical skill, so that's what we were trying to go for in this series.
In the last game, Palafox secured a Pentakill on Kassadin. What were the communications like for the team during that fight?
*Laughs* We weren't talking about it until it was a Quadra kill, and then everyone was like, "Oh ****, Pentakill?" Then, our Top Laner Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami said, "F*** you, I'm taking it!" *Laughs* So he and Palafox were fighting for the last hit on the fifth kill. Palafox was saying, "Let me get it! Let me get it!" Fudge responded, "No, you're not getting it!" They were just ******* with each other, it was pretty funny. Everyone was pretty hyped in general.
*Laughs* But in the end, Palafox ended up getting the Pentakill.
Yeah, he got lucky.
What were your thoughts on the bot lane 2v2 matchup, specifically? TSM Academy AD Carry Lawrence "Lost" Sze Yuy Hui and Support Erik "Treatz" Wessén are considered one of the best duos in the league alongside you and Calvin "K1ng" Truong. Was there a specific game plan for you and K1ng going into the matchup?
We approached the series thinking that TSM Academy's strongest point was its bot lane, and if the bot lane isn't ahead enough to blow up a tower, the team won't know how to play the game as well because playing through bot lane is always the strategy. If all of the OP picks in the bot lane are out of the draft, it's hard for TSM Academy to push out the game, so we tried to make bot lane even and have stronger mid/jungle focus from our draft.
In almost every game, we drafted our AD Carry champion as soon as possible and just looked to make the bot lane stable. The first game, we actually ended up having a big lead, but we lost a lot in game 2 when there was a jungle misplay in the 2v2. Overall, I think we mostly kept it even or ended up being better than our opponents, so I'm happy with how we played. That being said, TSM Academy's bot lane duo didn't play poorly either. They played well; it was a good match.
I think what makes C9 Academy more ferocious than other teams in the LCS Academy League is your ability to play through multiple lanes more efficiently than your competitors. Is this because your five players are individually superior, or is it because of your superior team cohesion?
I think most Academy teams usually have one weak point in their roster because it's hard to get five players on an Academy team who are all good. Usually, something falls through, and it's hard to have the ideal team for an organization. For us, we have five players where I think if they weren't good at the beginning of the season, they're very good now.
I think that our Jungler, Rami "Inori" Charagh, is the most improved player that I've ever played with. Inori was coming from the 2019 NA Scouting Grounds at the beginning of the Spring Split, and he was shaky because he hadn't played competitively in quite some time, but since he joined our team, I think he's improved so much. Inori literally 1v9s games now; he's been playing so well and I'm really proud of him.
I think all of our players are at least top Academy talent — if not legitimate LCS talent — and that's why we can play through any lane. For example, there was a game for us this split where we were playing Ezreal/Braum in the bot lane and we were getting smacked around by Evil Geniuses Academy, who was playing Kai'Sa/Nautilus.
We were getting destroyed, and EG Academy was playing very hard towards the bot side of the map, but we won the game because our team played top side better than EG Academy. I just got carried, and I was like, 'Oh. I guess we can play through every lane. I'm just going to int every game.'
I'm glad you brought up EG Academy, because they'll be facing off against you in the Finals. Did you expect EG Academy to beat Dignitas Academy so convincingly?
I think it could have gone either way. EG Academy is a team that plays similarly to TSM Academy, and I don't think DIG Academy is worse, but had a bad series. Most of the time, I think how well you do in the post-season is based on how many picks you can play.
*Laughs* If you can cheese a game with an unexpected pick, it's very beneficial. For us, that pick was Kassadin, and we knew that Kassadin would be really good into TSM Mid Laner Jackson "Evolved" Dohan's champion pool. He plays mostly mages, and we knew we could pick Kassadin any time we wanted because TSM Academy was blind-picking for Evolved most of the time. If you have picks in the Draft Phase as we did with Kassadin, it's a huge advantage in a best-of-five series.
If you can utilize a pick like that to get a win off of someone, and they're not expecting it, they have to ban it next game to play around it and it's on their mind for every draft for the rest of the series. It's a very difficult situation for a team to be up against.
I do think EG Academy is a better team than DIG Academy when looking at the players on both teams, and I think DIG Academy became worse by swapping Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham for Jonathan "Grig" Armao. That made things harder for them than it was earlier on in the Spring Split, but I don't think it's because Grig is a worse player than Akaadian. I simply think that DIG Academy's team chemistry with Akaadian was superior to what they had in the post-season.
What are your thoughts on the Finals matchup against EG Academy?
We'll see how it goes. It's been a while since we played them in scrims, so I'm not sure how it's going to go. If you look at the players on each team, I think EG Academy is one of the best teams at playing around its bot lane, so it will be interesting. The last time we played EG Academy, they won, but I think it was a fluke. K1ng and I kind of ran it down the lane and lost the game, but I think it's even or better for us in the bot lane 2v2 this time around, I think we're capable of that.
Personally, I think I'm way better than EG Academy's Support; it's not even close. In addition, I think K1ng is as good, if not better, than EG Academy's AD Carry Matthew "Deftly" Chen. I'm going to smack Deftly around. I was laning with him last split, and we were actually a very good duo, but I will show that I was the better part of our duo. *Laughs* I want to take him down.
It's definitely going to be a great matchup, especially with your history in the bot lane. I wanted to ask you about how easygoing your team was in this Semifinals matchup. How is C9 Academy able to stay relaxed in high-stakes situations?
*Laughs* I think we're just having fun. I think that playing League of Legends is mostly about having fun, and even in our last game, we were trolling in the base. We always meme and dance; even when there's not a lot going on in a game, we are still having fun. We joke around in the game — if we start winning a teamfight, we just start yelling. It's a fun time.
I think if you play the game too seriously, you can't take as much from it. Obviously, there has to be a middle ground, but I think always having fun is a mentality we have within C9 Academy. If people go for plays they see at an angle when setting up for something, people respect that opinion and approach. In general, our atmosphere is more relaxed and we let our players play the way they want to play.
Is there anything you want to say to the C9 fans before your Finals match against EG Academy?
Thank you to all of the fans. We had a banger series today, and I'm happy. I always read through the C9 discord and see people talk, and because we play online now, I even sometimes look those comments up in-between games. It's pretty funny to see what people are saying, and I'm glad we have so many fans at C9. The fans never harp on our players and are always super nice. I am happy to have all of you guys, and I'm going to be in the Cloud9 Discord whenever, so just message me!