For most rookies making their League of Legends Championship Series debut, playing on a team as illustrious as Cloud9 — alongside the best western player of all time in mid laner Luka "Perkz" Perković, no less — would be plenty of pressure. But Cloud9 top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami is not most rookies.
After a strong season on Cloud9 Academy in 2020, Fudge made his first impression on the LCS with massive confidence, and he was quite vocal about it in comments ranging from bold to brash to the point he got under the skin of even some LCS veterans.
"I sort of intentionally set expectations highly for myself by s**t-talking every other player in LCS,” Fudge told Inven Global in an interview during the 2021 LCS Lock In, laughing, knowing people would expect more out of him than if he had stayed humble.
“I knew it would force me to play better, and if I didn't, I would get flamed and want to play better. I look like an idiot if I play badly, but I also improve more because I feel bad from losing and getting flamed.”
In Cloud9’s sweep of 100 Thieves in its first match of the LCS Mid-Season Showdown last weekend, Fudge looked like a completely different player than the one sheepishly grinning through CS deficits in the Lock-In. Not only did Fudge look more coordinated with his team than Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho looked with the rest of 100 Thieves, but he also outclasses the veteran top laner individually in game 3 on his trademark Sett.
Fudge’s individual play on carry champions was never in doubt, but throughout the Spring Split, he has shown an improved level of consistency on a wider champion pool than previously shown and far more resiliency when put in a disadvantageous situation. By comparing Fudge’s statistics in the Lock In and the Spring Split, it is evident he has improved in the areas C9 needed.
|Fudge: 2021 LCS||KDA||KP||DTH%||GD10||XPD10||CSD10||DPM|
Fudge’s damage numbers aren’t anywhere near the top of the table, and his kill participation is the lowest in the league among all top laners. Signs of weakness? No, it’s simply because Fudge has been comfortably slotted into a weak-side role. He ended the regular season tied with Team Liquid’s Barney “Alphari” Morris for least deaths among top laners, and his KDA of 6.0 is second only to Alphari’s 6.1.
But the standout statistic? Fudge’s 13.4% death percentage is the lowest of any top laner in the LCS. The next closest is (once again) Alphari with 16.8%.
In addition, Fudge has also become far more comfortable on a much more diverse array of champions. Camille, Jax, and Sett have made their expected appearances, but an improved level of play on Karma has allowed C9 to become the only LCS team able to viably flex that champion. In addition, Fudge’s Sion has become a reliable tank pick that still allows the C9 top laner to have some autonomy in the early levels of the laning phase.
“In terms of the champions I'm playing, I'm definitely much more comfortable on them,” Fudge explained. “In the Lock In, I was playing a lot of Camille, which is my most comfortable champion, but I also think I had a lot more clutter in my mind then when thinking about the game.”
Fudge continued to elaborate on what exactly led to his improved performance on the weak side of the map: “In terms of my actual gameplay, the thing I think I've improved most at is CS'ing when I'm getting pressured by the enemy top laner. In Lock In, when I played losing matchups, I was getting shoved in and hit on every minion. However, even if you get hit on every minion, you can still CS really well, and I think that's something I've learned to do.”
When comparing the closeness in certain statistics with Fudge and Alphari, it’s not a surprise that Fudge picked up a few things from watching Team Liquid’s top laner’s approach to various matchups. Fudge noticed that the reason for Alphari’s otherworldly 12.5 CSD@10 did not have much to do with depriving his opponent of farm.
“Alphari is not necessarily better than other top laners at punishing opponent CS, but he is better at not missing CS,” Fudge explained.
It’s undeniable that Fudge has improved, but opinions on his play in the community span a wider range than any other player in the LCS. However, Fudge isn’t bothered by those who think he is only performing better because he is getting carried on a Cloud9 with improved synergy. In fact, if anything, he admits that there might even be seeds of truth to that.
“Even if I'm getting carried, I still think I'm playing much better than I was. I think that I've improved the most out of any top laner in the LCS Spring Split,” Fudge stated.“If I keep improving like this, I'll definitely become the one that's carrying, so I don't mind too much if people say I'm getting carried. Maybe it's true, I don't know, I'm just trying to focus on improving, and I think if I can keep improving, everyone will stop.”
Fudge has continued to play better and better, but is it good enough to justify his boastful introduction to the LCS? The C9 top laner thinks he still has a ways to go to back up his talk with action to match.
“No, I don't think I'm playing at the level that I need to be to justify it,” Fudge admitted. “I raised the standard coming in sh*t-talking like that. To justify that, you have to just 1v9 the game.
I don't think I'm playing at that level, but I did this intentionally at the start of the split to raise my own standards because I knew people would expect more of me. I don't think I'm playing at a level that justifies me shit-talking everyone, but I do think that I'll get there eventually. I don't think it's that far off in the future.”
Fudge won’t have to wait long for a chance to prove himself on a whole new level. Alphari has been an absolute monster all season long, and if Fudge can stand up to his pressure when Cloud9 and Team Liquid meet in the LCS Mid-Season Showdown in two weeks, his increased flexibility, reliability, and durability could be what C9 needs to take the series and move onto the finals.