After six weeks and the first batch of 18 matches of the 2021 LCS Season, Cloud9 have locked the #1 seed for the Mid-Season Showdown playoffs. The team now prepares for a showdown against #4 seed 100 Thieves for a spot at the winner's finals.
After the 2-1 weekend that pushed his team over rivals TSM and Team Liquid, Luka "Perkz" Perkovic talked to Inven Global about the growth of Cloud9 since the Lock In tournament, what holds TL and TSM back, and why he thinks he's the best mid laner in NA.
Perkz, the last time we spoke was during the LCS Lock In, and you told me that your level then was far lower than what C9 would eventually attain by the end of spring. Do you feel the team's performance lived up to where you wanted to be at this point in the season?
I definitely think that we are much, much better than we were at the beginning of the Lock In. It's a bit hard to judge what we can do better because we don't often get challenged in scrims, so what we are doing right now is focusing on being really good in North America. I'd say our coaching staff is also putting in extra effort to make us better in ways of avoiding potential mistakes or building bad habits that we could be punished for against better teams internationally. I'd say everything is going super well right now and only time will tell on what we have to improve on next. We are fixing small things every week, but when that big moment comes, that's when our team will show its true strength.
Do you think the best-of-5 format in the LCS Mid-Season Showdown will lend itself to new opportunities for improvement outside of the obvious benefit of playing more games with your teammates?
I think TSM and Team Liquid are strong opponents, but I believe that they are only good at a few champions and styles, unfortunately. Seeing how we match against TL and TSM is going to be our first challenge, then hopefully, after winning against them, we will match against other international teams who are better at more things competitively. In my opinion, that's when we will see our team's true level... but obviously, we have to win NA first, right? [Laughs] We can't just immediately look forward to MSI.
Speaking of TSM and TL, was C9's recent losses to both those squads entirely due to compositional experimentation? We saw you draft many picks previously unplayed by your roster.
Yeah, definitely. We wanted to see what we could try and pull off, and I think that's been going pretty well for us. Even though we lost both games, we learned a lot more in those two games than in our previous two wins. In a loss, your team learns more as a unit, so yeah, it was good for us.
Do you think that you have established yourself as the best mid laner in North America, and how does your level of play compare to your play in Europe?
I definitely think I am the best mid laner in NA. I don't doubt myself in that regard, and I'm also quite satisfied with my performance this split outside of the two games we lost to TSM and TL. I was a big factor in those losses, so it was pretty sad for me to have two games of inting like that.
Other than that, given all of the circumstances of adapting to a new team and a new continent after playing in Europe for many years, I'm pretty happy. I think our level of performance will only continue to go up, and the better we perform as a team, the better I will perform as an individual. In my eyes, it's all correlated. I play to win, I'm not playing to have a good performance myself individually, so if I'm playing well and our team is playing well, I'll look insane.
However, if our team loses, I'm going to look worse, but to me, that's not that as relevant. I guess to an extent it is still relevant — obviously, you don't want to play super badly and make your team look bad as well. If I'm inting while I'm trying to win, I don't mind, but if I'm just inting and singlehandedly losing my team's chances in a game, that's pretty bad.
Now that you've had time to play against everyone multiple times, are there any NA mid laners that have stood out to you?
It's hard to say because different players have different strengths. For example, PowerOfEvil is very good at Azir, Jensen is pretty good on Azir and Orianna, and then Jiizuke is good at splitpush champions and has a lot of counterpicks. Everyone is decent at something, but there's no one who is really versatile and plays everything. However, I think that is true in EU to a certain extent as well, so it's not very different in that regard. I think the average champion pool amongst mid laners in NA is only slightly weaker than in Europe.
That certainly isn't the case for you. You've played 13 unique champions this split, the most of any mid laner. Is this an individual stylistic preference, or is it a team demand to have flexibility from the mid lane?
I wouldn't say it was only my decision... if it was, I'd have played a different champion in every single game. [Laughs] I can perform on every champion in League of Legends... besides maybe Aurelion Sol. He's not really my champ, so I hope he doesn't become meta, but other than that, I can definitely play anything. I think my biggest advantage over any other player is how many champions I can play.
"TSM and Team Liquid are strong opponents, but I believe that they are only good at a few champions and styles, unfortunately."
So that sounds like there will be some new C9 mid lane picks in the LCS Mid-Season Showdown?
Yeah, I certainly hope so, but we will see. Only time will tell, maybe we will get to MSI and I will be able to branch out my champion pool even further. As of right now, there are a few picks I have in mind that I want to play during playoffs, so maybe those will be exciting to watch.
I feel like your last three answers are just a giant bait so teams leave Aurelion Sol up for you in the Mid-Season Showdown...
Could be, yeah.
Regardless of what you play, best of luck in the Mid-Season Showdown. Is there anything you want to say to the C9 fans now that the 2021 LCS Spring Split has concluded?
Thanks for the support. I know a lot of people gave up on me after the first week of the LCS Lock In. [Laughs] People were really fast to want to send me back to Europe, but I hope I will get a trophy here in North America, and much more than that. I'll obviously be doing my best to achieve that, so we'll have to see how it pans out.