For Cloud9, the LCS Lock In tournament was a "close, but no cigar" affair. Empowered by a new top laner in Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami and with superstar Luka "Perkz" Perkovic in the mid lane, C9 was slated for gold but came one game short of completing a reverse sweep against Team Liquid in the finals.
But after one week of LCS, Cloud9 is back in a position of power. Tied with 100 Thieves, C9 leads the standings at 3-0. And in an interview with Inven Global, AD Carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen said 2021 Cloud9 might even be better than the record-setting iteration of last year.
What was Cloud9's main focus between the finals of the LCS Lock In and your first match of the Spring Split?
We only had three days of practice between the two since Monday is our day off. We scrimmed on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, so we didn't have time for major changes. We mostly just kept working on the same stuff we've been working on the whole time: practicing meta champions and finding our identity as a team. We tried something new today with the Jax top into Camille, which is something we didn't play in the Lock In. I'm happy that it went well.
You guys did an excellent job of exploiting the top lane matchup and in general, it feels like C9 is playing towards top side a lot lately. Despite this, you and Vulcan have often gotten advantages or even kills on your own in the 2v2. How do you adjust to weak side while still being able to get advantages without jungle pressure?
I was weak side for most of this game, so you saw things like Vulcan recalling and going top for a roam once we finish a push in bot lane. The opponents can't dive me because they don't know where Vulcan is, and it'd be really bad for them if he was there when they tried to dive me. Usually, we just try to have support roam top and I'll just play 1v2, but being alone on weak side is fine. The Jax vs. Camille matchup mattered more than anything else in this game, but in different games in different metas there will be Ornn top vs. Sion top, and then top lane won't matter. I guess in different drafts, people have different responsibilities, and in this game, I was weak side and Fudge was strong side.
What do you think has been the main factor in Fudge's improvement so far?
I think it's a champion thing. At the start of the split Fudge wasn't very good at Renekton or Jax and stuff like that, but now, he's much better at those champions. I think he showed a lot of promise on Irelia against Team Liquid in the LCS Lock In, and today he was doing really well on the Jax. Fudge was a very good Ornn player last year, but Ornn isn't a meta champion right now. At first, we didn't want to play Renekton and stuff, but now, we are working on it. I think once Fudge gets more practice on the champions in the meta he will be a beast.
"Whatever becomes meta, [Perkz] will be good at it. I think Fudge will be really good soon, too. He will show people."
How has replacing Nisqy with Perkz changed the team's competitive approach?
I think Perkz fits in pretty well so far. He and Blaber have good chemistry as players and people, and I think our mid/jungle/support synergy is pretty good so far, as is their relationship outside of the game, which is really nice. It was also good last year, but I think the power of the individuals on this year's team is higher than last year's team. I think that even though the synergy and the chemistry may be the same, the individual power is higher in both top and mid lane this year. Our ceiling might be higher in a different meta, too. For example, if the meta was more Galio and Twisted Fate, I think we'd be similar to last year, but Perkz is so much better at champions like Yone and Lucian. Whatever becomes meta, he'll be good at it. I think Fudge will be really good soon, too. He will show people.
The last time you played with Perkz was on G2 Esports in 2017 which was well before he swapped to bot lane. Has the way he plays mid lane changed since playing AD carry competitively for the past two seasons?
I'm not sure if it's changed his approach, but I think he understands the role more. He knows when he has the timer to do something as a mid laner. He knows when it's good or bad to go bot and he understands my role better, too. Sometimes, AD carries can't do damage, and he knows. If I explain something in a review or a concept on how bot lane works, he will understand it instantly because he's been there. I think it helps him, but I don't think it's changed his gameplay or playstyle by a lot.
How do you feel Cloud9 played throughout the LCS Lock In? Is there anything you learned about your new roster's identity?
I think we over-reached a little bit in the Lock In tournament. We could have very easily been 3-0'd by 100 Thieves, but we didn't. We had a lot of poise, and we "outscaled" a lot of teams in later games. In games 4 and 5 against 100 Thieves, I felt like we outscaled them mentally, so to speak. [laughs] I think that's due in part to our team workouts, so I'm happy about that. However, we had some glaring issues on our read of the meta that we are working on now. Once we can play everything in the meta, I think we will be a very good team. I'm looking forward to a Spring Split where the level of play is higher than usual because so many games had already been played before the start of the split. I'm really excited about this split.
Speaking of your poise, C9 and Perkz are both known for reverse sweeps. Since Perkz is on C9 now, is this the most mentally strong team in the LCS?
I think I mentioned in another interview that I felt our preparation for teams we played at the Lock In was not as strong as our adaptation in the Lock In. We would lose the first two games, maybe because of a worse draft, but once we played another game on the same side, our draft was much better. For example, against Team Liquid, our first blue side game wasn't very good draft-wise or play-wise, but the next game on blue side was much better in terms of our draft. I think our team adapts well, and in terms of no one feeling too much pressure, the Lock In tournament didn't really matter in theory outside of a cash grab in terms of international play. Regardless, it feels really good that no one is tilting. People are staying calm and focusing on what's next instead of getting caught up in mistakes from past games. Right now, our preparation isn't as good as our adaptation, and that might be a part of why we didn't do as well in the first two games as we did in the rest of our games in the Lock In knockout stage.
Cloud9 has a lot of the same coaching staff in 2020, but one of the main positional switch-ups is that Bok "Reapered" Han-gyu is not the head coach of the team for the first time since the spring of 2016. What is Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin like as a head coach?
I didn't know him as a player, but I think he's been doing well so far as a coach. I think all of our coaches have been doing well. It's hard to balance four coaches, but I think they've been doing a good job of it so far. Our reviews and our draft meetings have been getting shorter, but better. I think the more time we spend with our coaches, the better things will become. I feel comfortable about our projected progression throughout the Spring Split because our coaching staff is so good.
"We didn't know we were playing bad drafts; our scrims were just stomps, every game. I don't think we realized that we needed to spend more time shadowboxing with ourselves [...]"
C9 was so dominant last spring. What led to your mid-summer collapse?
If the 2020 Mid-Season Invitational had not been canceled, it would have been a great tournament for us. Whether we would have won or lost doesn't really matter because if we had lost, it would have been a very good eye-opener for the team. I think coming into summer without MSI and with a very long break made some of us a little bit complacent. We started out 9-0 in the 2020 LCS Summer Split. We didn't know we were playing bad drafts; our scrims were just stomps, every game. I don't think we realized that we needed to spend more time shadowboxing with ourselves to improve over time without our opponents giving us challenges. Suddenly, we found ourselves in a hole we couldn't dig out of. I don't think our coaching staff did a good enough job to pull us out of that hole. I think that was the big issue.
In our first interview since you joined C9, you said you wanted to establish two things. One: to properly replace Sneaky. And two, to play to a level you were proud of and that you maybe hadn't reached in NA previously on TSM. Do you feel like you accomplished both of these things in 2020?
Well, we didn't qualify for Worlds, which sucks, but I think I played well for the majority of the year. I'd say everyone on the team performed worse in summer 2020 than in spring 2020. However, I'm very happy with my spring performance.
My 2020 Spring Split couldn't have been much better than it was. I'm very happy with that performance, but I think that we will either maintain the same level of performance for the entire season this year, or we will steadily improve and hopefully qualify for Worlds 2021.
All photos by: Riot Games
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