Cloud9 are once again LCS champions and will be heading to the org's first-ever Mid-Season Invitational appearance — a tournament they should've been at, only denied by the COVID-19 pandemic that canceled MSI 2020. In a long, drawn-out, tug-of-war series, Cloud9 clutched a 3-2 against rivals Team Liquid on the back of a rare Sion lane swap that caught TL off-guard.
The following is a full transcription of Cloud9's post-finals press conference with members of the media.
Perkz, are you disappointed that you can't face G2 at MSI? What are your thoughts on their loss?
I am quite sad that they lost because it would have been fun to have a 'grudge match' against my old teammates. Part of me is a bit satisfied that I won and they lost, but because they are my friends, part of me is a bit sad that they lost, especially once I saw their faces after they lost. I know that they will come back in summer and we will see each other at Worlds, so that's all that matters.
Fudge, you've now won every split you've played, and you are now the first OCE player to represent NA at an international event. What kind of prestige does this come with, from your perspective?
It feels really good to be considered one of the better OCE players, I guess. The last time I went to an international tournament, I was on an OCE team and I pretty much got stomped by the other regions. Going into MSI, I don't want to get stomped by other regions and I think that's the main focus for me. There's a lot of hopes resting on me from the OCE community, so I just want to play well.
"I think Alphari ended up being scared of any time I pulled a wave because he was scared Blaber was going to come from behind him and kill him." — Fudge
Zven, we saw you buzzing as you sprinted towards that trophy. How does this championship compare emotionally to your 2020 LCS Spring title?
It was a hype moment because last year, we didn't celebrate that much. We were at home and playing online, and we knew we were going to win, so it wasn't that hype. This series was kind of close, so it was much more of a hype moment. It was a fun win, and I was really excited and had a lot of energy.
Fudge, you went from being tower-dived constantly and flamed on Reddit to orchestrating first bloods on arguably the best top laner in the LCS in Alphari. How do you feel about your growth, and what's next on your list of goals?
After playing in the LCS Lock In, a big weakness of mine was that I didn't really communicate well with my teammates in terms of them helping me around the top lane. We worked really well for the entire split to improve on this, especially between me and Blaber, Perkz, and... [laughs] sometimes Vulcan to gank top a lot. Blaber has also become really aware of top waves, when to gank, and the timings in which the enemy top laner is vulnerable.
Obviously, we showed that really well in this series — I think Alphari ended up being scared of any time I pulled a wave because he was scared Blaber was going to come from behind him and kill him. [laughs] The progress has been really good, and obviously, we'll keep working to punish top lane even more coming into an international tournament.
Reignover, TL played with Armao all weekend after announcing his substitution Friday. Was there any specific preparation put in specifically for Armao?
In my opinion, pretty much any player is playing the same champions over and over again in the jungle right now. We didn't really have to prep differently, the only thing we were worried about was that Santorin was much better at coordinating vision with CoreJJ, but with Armao, it was a relief that we didn't have to worry about that. I think we kind of expected it to be easier.
Perkz, now that you've returned to the international stage, what is your next goal?
The goal is to win MSI and every single game and tournament we play. Even though DAMWON looks quite strong right now, I believe that the teams playing at MSI will give us a lot of good practice. We might get some reality checks regarding some stuff, and then we can improve from there. I think we've shown in every best-of-5 series we've played so far that we are quite good at adapting, and I think we've improved well throughout the split. I'm very hopeful about continuing to improve during our MSI bootcamp and showing really good performances there.
"It [the outdoor stage] was a fun experiment, but if we had lost I would have been really tilted because I think the environment wasn't fit for competitive integrity." — Zven
Zven, this finals had a lot of similarities to other finals you've competed in, but after winning, did seeing an empty field take away from the hype?
I didn't mind the empty field so much, it is what it is. However, I think that the venue, playing outside with the sun in your eyes, a breeze once in a while so by the time we got to games 4 and 5 it was really, really cold, the stage would shake any time someone would move — it was a fun experiment, but if we had lost I would have been really tilted because I think the environment wasn't fit for competitive integrity. I don't like when I can't see the timers of the dragon and Baron because there's a glare, and I don't like that people had to use two handwarmers in between games because of how cold it was in games 4 and 5. It just feels like this whole thing was a bit of a failed experiment, to be honest, but I didn't think it was a big deal to not have any fans in the venue.
Blaber and Perkz, some players lie down and play safe in a game 5, but the two of you seem to get more daring as a series goes on. What are your philosophies on the mental state of 'game point' and the optimal way that you specifically can gain advantages in that game state?
Blaber: I'll go first, I guess...I will never play safe. *laughs* I don't care what game it is. I think there are a lot of players who play really aggressively in scrims and then they go on stage and are really scared to engage or take what should be theirs. I'm not really thinking about what game it is, and if I see an opportunity to punish an opponent, I'm going to take it and punish them. Sometimes it turns out bad, but you have to do what you think is right.
PerkZ: When the series goes longer, some players do have a tendency to become more scared. After game 4, I saw Team Liquid's faces and I knew we were going to win. I didn't want to mention it to give my teammates false data or anything, but they looked really destroyed after losing game 4. Blaber and I played aggressively, but it doesn't matter what game it is. In this case, I knew the game was won before we started it, so I think it's just the mental strength, I guess.
Blaber, how are you feeling about the team's chances in your first international event as a starter, and is there anyone specific you're looking forward to facing?
I'm excited to play internationally for the first time as a starter. I never really got to fully experience it before then, and last year, we didn't really go to any international tournaments. I want to scrim against the best junglers in the world and see how I compare to them in context of our team, instead of being there as a substitute for a specific strategy. [laughs] I'm excited for that. I know Canyon is in our group, so I'm excited to play against him at MSI as well as whoever the LPL representative ends up being. I like the LPL playstyle, so I'm excited to play against whatever team they send.
Mithy, C9 punished Alphari throughout the series but really put some flavor on the early game in game 5 with an unexpected laneswap. What was the methodology behind this strategy, and what facets of the series led to the team using it in game 5?
Basically, we think Sion is very strong in this meta. He'd been showing up a lot; almost every game in the LEC, so eventually, I thought of the lane swap because it's something that has been done in the past. It's something coaches of mine used to annoy me with and run drills for. I got the idea and used a reference of Rogue's game from last year—
[Perkz, interjecting] It was against me. [laughs]
—Right! It was against Luka, so that was also convincing since that lane swap made the game pretty rough for G2 when Rogue did it, so we gave it a few tries in practice. We utilized Cloud9 Academy to help us out, and we were convinced it was good, so we decided to show it when it really mattered, basically.
Zven, I'm just kind of curious why you left all your teammates behind at the end of the match. Why did you decide to abandon your team?
[Laughs] They were too slow. Nothing I can do. Also, the cameraman was in my way, because he was like, trolling. I was very excited, this whole series had a lot of adrenaline. Winning game 4 and 5 was kind of a stomp, in a way, but it was still so hype. It's been such a long time since we've played on stage, so when I finally got on stage, I guess I had too much energy to hold back.
All images via: Riot Games