In a League of Legends Championship Series off-season that featured the retirements of North American mainstays such as Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg, Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng and Greyson "Goldenglue" Gilmer, Cloud9 highlighted the 2020 offseason with the signing of G2 Esports' franchise player Luka "Perkz" Perković, who was searching for a return to mid lane after two years of roleswapping to AD carry on G2 Esports to make room for mid laner Rasmus "Caps" Winther.
Cloud9 secured the 2nd seed in Group B of the 2021 LCS Lock In with a 3-1 record, its only loss coming from 1st seed Evil Geniuses, who also finished 3-1 but possessed the head-to-head win against C9 in Group B. Cloud9's first match of the quarterfinals of the LCS Lock In will be a best-of-three matchup against TSM, the latter of whom secured the 3rd seed in Group A behind 100 Thieves and Team Liquid, respectively.
Following the conclusion of Group B, Perkz joined Inven Global's Nick Geracie to discuss Cloud9's play thus far in LCS Lock In, acclimating to North America as a new region and what C9 fans can expect from the team's roster in 2021.
Now that you've had some time in North America, how do you feel your individual play and Cloud9's play have been thus far?
In general, I don't think that we're playing badly, but we're not great either. Right now, I think we are showing tons of improvement. In terms of myself, I'm not playing insanely well, but I'm not playing super badly outside of an average/bad Yone game. *laughs* It was kind of an unlucky match, but other than that, my team has been playing pretty well and we still have a chance to get much, much better, even in the next week of the Lock In. I'm excited.
What's been the biggest change for you in coming to play in NA after a whole career in EU?
I'm not entirely sure what the biggest difference is between the League of Legends European Championship and the LCS yet. I haven't been here for long enough to say. Everything is pretty similar so far, but I guess if I had to recall from memory, LEC games are a bit spicier than LCS games. However, I suppose our game against Evil Geniuses was kind of spicy, so I think that when we play against top teams in North America the games will be a bit spicier than other matchups, so that's good.
I guess I just have to play more games to see if I notice a difference. So far, I haven't really identified one difference that stands out.
How about the ping? With the North American server in Chicago, which is much further from Los Angeles than G2 Esports' distance from the European server in your past seasons. Has that been an adjustment you've had to make?
LCS is played on the Tournament Realm, but in terms of solo queue, I don't think the ping is that much trouble since it's just solo queue. I don't really notice it that much. It's actually better playing on the NA Tournament Realm because we have like 10 ping. In Europe, we had around 30 ping on the Tournament Realm, so it's actually nicer here in that regard. laughs
That's really great to hear you're able to compete on great ping despite the global COVID-19 pandemic keeping teams from competing in person. Have any of your opponents in the LCS stood out to you so far?
Not really. I don't think there is anything that's stood out particularly, but Team Liquid is looking pretty good in Group A so far. Playing teams at that strong level would be exciting.
Despite retaining 3/5 of its 2020 roster, 2021 C9 looks different stylistically. How would you describe how you fit into the Cloud9 system? Have you had to adjust your play for your new team?
I think it's too early to say what the differences are between Cloud9 in 2020 and 2021. Every game we have played different champions with different win conditions for our team. I guess one thing is that I don't think we are as aggressive as I was with my teammates on G2 Esports, but I also think we take some better fights than those G2 teams did. We don't int as much....well, I inted in the Yone game, but some old habits don't die quickly. *Laughs*
When we played from behind in G2, we would very often try to make the game boom *laughs* and it would end up with us inting together sometimes. I guess it was kind of fun to lose the game really fast *laughs* but it was also bad because we lost a lot of games harder than we should have.
I think that's something we're trying to change on Cloud9 and take smarter fights, which I like. In general, we are pretty smart about taking fights, but I definitely want us to be more aggressive and show more in the early game as a team. We're going to work on that some more and we will show that off soon.
Everyone has been focusing on you joining C9 for obvious reason, but other changes have been made to the staff and the roster. What's Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin's style as a head coach?
I think he's smart about the game and understands player relations as well, so he's doing a very good job. I think the other coaches on our staff are doing a pretty good job too, so everything is going pretty smoothly so far. Obviously, you truly get to know how useful a coaching staff is after a few months on a team in terms of overcoming problems and seeing how we behave after winning and losing. I think it's too early to talk about anything like that right now. *laughs*
That's fair, so let's switch focus. Outside of professional play, you've previously expressed your fandom for director Quentin Tarantino and his films. Was the concept of moving to Los Angeles and being 'in Hollywood' something that was appealing to you as a person in addition to playing for an organization as accomplished as Cloud9?
It was definitely exciting, disregarding the pandemic. Even with COVID-19 it's still better to live here than it would be to live in Europe because the weather is nicer and the food is better. *laughs*
In that sense, I guess it feels nice that you can walk outside every day, do team workouts, and there is sunlight! *laughs* It sounds kind of extreme, but during spring in Europe, you can't leave the house until around the LEC Spring Playoffs. I mean, you can leave the house, but you have to have a lot of clothes on because it's cold and raining or something. The biggest differences I've experienced personally between EU and NA are the weather and the culture.
I'm glad you're adjusting well to life in the United States — in a pandemic, no less! Thanks for the interview, Perkz. Now that you've played a few games with your new team, is there anything you'd like to say to the Cloud9 fanbase?
We are going to smurf very hard soon. Right now, we are not bad at all, but we are not playing on an insane level. Soon, we are going to smurf very, very hard. You just need to be patient for that day to come.
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