After a slump in the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split, Cloud9 has picked up the pieces and secured the 2nd place seed heading into the 2020 LCS Summer Playoffs with a 13-5 record. With a first-round post-season bye, Cloud9 is poised to defend is throne after winning the 2020 LCS Spring Playoffs in dominant fashion. C9's first match in the Summer Playoffs is against FlyQuest, who advanced to the second round of the bracket by defeating Evil Geniuses 3-2.
Cloud9 AD Carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen spoke to Inven Global's Nick Geracie before the start of the post-season to discuss working through C9's mid-summer slump, the importance of experimentation, and which teams he thinks are likely to represent North America at the 2020 League of Legends World Championship.
Zven, what are your thoughts on Cloud9's 2020 LCS Summer Split as a whole now that we are heading into the post-season?
I think it was fine. We started off 9-0, which I kind of expected, then we had a little bump in the road. We were experimenting with some stuff like Sona/Lux and Senna/Wukong in the bot lane, and we lost some games because of it. After that, we lost some other games in a different fashion. For example, against TSM, we weren't playing any new champions or experimenting, we just lost straight up and that felt really bad.
For a while, we had gotten away with picking the same things over and over again. We would always ban Graves and Trundle for our Jungler Robert "Blaber" Huang to pick Olaf, and that got too obvious at some point. Teams started figuring out how to play against C9 and what to draft against us.
We got punished, and we lost five games in the second half because of it, but I feel pretty confident anyway. I don't think we're bad, I think we just had a slump in the middle of the split. We'll be back in shape soon, so overall, I feel good.
It's good for the top team in the region to challenge itself by trying new things, but it did feel like C9 was a bit less dominant on the more experimental picks, even in the wins. Was there anything specific the team struggled with in trying these new compositions?
I mean, I don't really know what to say to that. We tried out different styles of play and champions and playing around other lanes. Even though we didn't do as well with these other styles compared to our usual style, I think it's important to see if we can play things like Senna/Wukong and Sona/Lux, or if we can switch up our picks in mid lane. Instead of picking something with early game pressure that could roam, we were picking more mages like Orianna.
These are good things to practice for the future because right now a lot of LCS teams are very limited — they can only play towards one or two of their players at the very best, and most rely heavily on one guy carrying the game. If that guy doesn't carry, the team doesn't win, and that doesn't work in the long run.
If you go to playoffs or Worlds, you won't be able to win it all if you can only play one way. For example, FlyQuest all play around PowerOfEvil every game for him to carry, or for a while, Team Liquid needed Jensen to carry every game. We try not to be that kind of team, but we realized that we aren't perfect, either. We have flaws, and while we have been trying new things in LCS games and scrims, it's time to play the best possible champions now that we are in the Summer Playoffs.
Were you able to take anything away from the losses on newer champions?
Yeah, for sure. Having those games we had on Senna/Wukong and Sona/Lux is good practice. Some of the things we played failed, but we also had some good games on new picks. I've also played mages bot this split like Cassiopeia against Team Liquid, and we won that game. I played Wukong against TSM, and we won that, too.
Having those picks up your sleeve is pretty important because now we can draft Cassiopeia as a flex pick. One day maybe we will flex Kalista, so practicing these picks is good for the future, regardless of what your future holds specifically and regardless of the individual games. We finished in 2nd place this split, but I don't think there's a big difference between 2nd or 1st. In playoffs, you have to be able to beat everyone.
MAD Lions tried the bot lane pairings you mentioned in the LEC Summer Split. Did you talk to MAD's bot lane or watch their games on these picks, and if so, were you able to learn anything?
Before our first game against TSM this split, in which we won with Senna/Wukong, I asked MAD's AD Carry Matyáš "Carzzy" Orság about the lane duo in terms of what he thinks is good and bad against it. We spoke about it, and he gave us some tips and tricks regarding laning matchups, items, powerspikes etc. We exchanged information about Sona/Lux as well, and talking about these matchups gave us helpful information in beating TSM with the Senna/Wukong bot lane.
I think it was nice to hear from Carzzy about what he thinks about the matchups, especially against Varus, which is what TSM ended up picking against us in that game. Since we were able to pick up a win on Senna/Wukong against TSM, I think it was a good experiment.
When MAD Lions played this combo, Carzzy was on Senna and the team's Support, Norman "Kaiser" Kaiser was on Wukong, but you and Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme did the opposite where you, as the carry, was the Wukong player. Can you explain the reasons for this adjustment?
There are two reasons: 1. It's more normal for everyone if the AD Carry is farming because he knows when to recall to base, how to manipulate waves, and he is better at last-hitting minions than the Support. 2. The Support knows how to place wards, and when to roam to help his teammates better than the AD Carry. It's kind of in the AD Carry's skillset to play Wukong, because he's technically the carry of the composition.
That being said, Senna is a champion that AD Carries traditional practice more than Supports, so in general, an AD Carry will be better at Senna than the Support. However, it's objectively more natural if Senna is played by the Support because she is the one who is helping her team and placing the most wards. Wukong, on the other hand, is farming and has Teleport. We tried both variations of the pairing, and we felt that Wukong was good for me.
It's always hard to evaluate losses in a best-of-one format, but concern for Cloud9 seemed to only start after the team took a few more losses on more conventional champions. Were there any flaws in that time that you were able to identify to help get back on track?
In our 0-2 week against Golden Guardians and TSM, both drafts were bad, but so was our play. When you play badly, you can't blame a bad draft for your performance, so I think it was a bit of both. We came into those matches not being prepared enough, and we didn't play well enough, either. It was a mixture of both, but we're better now, so I feel confident about the Summer Playoffs.
C9 ended the LCS Summer Split with a 2-0 Week 9 and locked in a first-round bye in the post-season. In what ways has the team progressed from its slump in the middle of the split?
I don't think there was one specific area that we tried to improve on more than others, but we've been trying to make our scrims more human, so to speak. What I mean by that is not making the scrim a fiesta — we win and lose very quickly in scrims, so oftentimes we aren't getting to practice those late-game scenarios that can happen in LCS games.
Overall, we've been trying to have better practice and not go for plays in scrims that we wouldn't go for in an actual game to make the game less chaotic and volatile. It's rare to try late-game scenarios in scrims because people play more aggressively in scrims than they do in LCS games, so that was one of our main focuses.
How much of the parity in the standings in the Summer Split is due to Cloud9 slumping, and how much of it is due to other LCS teams improving?
Team Liquid and TSM improved from spring, but I don't think they're actually that good. I think they're okay teams, and I think FlyQuest, Evil Geniuses, and Golden Guardians are all decent. I don't think North America is looking very hot overall right now.
TL finished 15-3, but could have easily lost four of five of those 15 wins. Both of TL's games against Immortals should have been losses, and its last game today against TSM could have very easily been a loss if TSM had played better, but TSM did not play well today at all.
I don't think NA is looking great, and we did kind of drop the ball by not keeping our lead over everyone else. We lost that advantage, and now we have to pick it back up. The teams NA sends to Worlds will most likely be TSM, TL, and C9. On C9, I think we have a pretty decent roster heading into the World Championship.
Thank you so much for your honesty in discussing C9's slump and improvements, it's good to hear you sound confident heading into the post-season. I think it's safe to say Cloud9 is still the favorite in the Summer Playoffs, but who do you think poses the biggest threat to your team?
Team Liquid is definitely the team to fear, for us at least. TSM and TL are both pretty good, and any of the top 3 could be the best on a given day, but I feel confident going into the Summer Playoffs. Once we get over the little slump we had, we will be really good, and I think the post-season is the best place to fix that, so I'm confident.
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