After a subpar showing at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational, Cloud9 announced that C9 Academy AD carry Calvin "k1ng" Truong would be starting for the team in the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split. This came as a shock to the LoL esports community given the domestic dominance that star AD carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen had showcased on Cloud9 since joining the team three splits ago.
Cloud9 is 0-2 throughout k1ng's LCS debut weekend thus far, and after the second loss, the AD carry joined Inven Global to discuss his process of joining the LCS roster, what has contributed to the teams struggles early in the Summer Split, and his thoughts on his home region's representative Pentanet .GG's performance at the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational.
C9 has lost its first two matches since you joined the roster, but how would you evaluate your individual play in the LCS thus far?
I think in the past two games — moreso in the first game than the second game — I've been playing okay. The most important thing for me is that I'm not really feeling any sort of nerves on stage. The standout thing for me right now is that my gameplay isn't being affected by anything else.
How long have you had to practice with the team since your substitution? Do you feel like you guys are still getting your bearings on stage this week?
We've been scrimming since four days ago. We only had three days of scrims prior to LCS starting, and I think the most important thing about that was that we really didn't get to see what other teams were playing. We only scrimmed two different teams, so we haven't scrimmed seven of the teams in the league and didn't really get a good read on the meta.
Right now, we're watching some of the LCS games and we're like, 'Oh, wow. There's a meta that other teams have that we haven't seen at all." That's probably the biggest downside of not scrimming a lot for us.
What's it been like returning to playing on stage after such a long time?
I mean, like I said, I haven't really been affected by any nerves yet, so I'm not really feeling it. I guess it's not the same without the crowd, you know? If there was a crowd I think it could be different.
Do Cloud9 and C9 Academy work closely together, or are you just now getting to know some of your teammates?
Obviously, I've played with Fudge in the past, so I've known him for a while now. As far as everyone else on the team, we all stay in the same house and we're just a few meters apart from each other, so we do see each other and talk to each other on an everyday basis. Because of this, I got to know my other new teammates a little bit before actually joining the LCS team.
Fudge has grown a lot since his promotion to the LCS. From your perspective, how has he changed as a player?
Honestly, I don't think Fudge has changed a lot. Specifically, his openness to playing everything and his attention to detail when mastering champions are things that really stood out to me as a player, and I feel like he still has those same qualities that make him one of the best players in the LCS.
Because of your experience, it's been widely thought that you were LCS-ready long before your debut this weekend. However, did you actually expect to start in the LCS at all this season?
I actually didn't expect to start in the LCS for Cloud9. I thought that there would potentially be a mid-split shuffle where I'd go to another LCS team, but I did not expect to play for Cloud9's LCS team.
Were you just told abruptly that you were being promoted? What was that process like and what was your reaction?
It felt pretty abrupt, and it was a big surprise, obviously. I respect Zven a lot, I think he's a really good player. The first two days after finding out, I was more in the mindset of having to come to terms with it. I kept having to pinch myself to be like, 'Yep, okay, this isn't a dream.' I think I've gotten over the jitters of the whole thing. It's just normal to me now.
How do you feel like your time on Cloud9 Academy helped you grow as a player and prepare you for the LCS?
I think my time on Cloud9 Academy taught me a lot. It introduced me to the NA ecosystem in terms of the level of play. Obviously, in OCE, the practice is comparatively a lot worse, whereas on Cloud9 Academy, we get to scrim a bunch of LCS teams. We get to have a taste of what the best of the best is, so that really puts a different perspective on how good people can be. That's given me new goals to strive for and has motivated me to get better.
If you're the best in OCE, you can only watch people better than you play instead of playing against the best players and actually seeing what they're doing against you in real time. That helps you improve a lot.
Speaking of OCE, did you feel any regional pride seeing Pentanet .GG exceed expectations at MSI 2021?
It's kind of a bittersweet feeling. *laughs* As a player who has played internationally many times without being able to break past that first round point, seeing someone else do it makes you like, 'Damn, I wish I could have done that.' But yeah, it's nice to see; BioPanther is one of my former teammates.
Also, it's kind of funny, but at Worlds 2019 when we represented OCE as MAMMOTH, we were vs. Unicorns of Love and were one tiebreaker away from making it through to the next stage. Then, Pentanet .GG actually beat Unicorns of Love in a tiebreaker at MSI, so it's sort of like a passing of the torch.
Thanks for your time, k1ng. Is there anything you want to say to the Cloud9 fans?
I don't think there's much to say, but obviously, starting off the split with two losses is not the best thing. However, there's a lot of games left to play. There are 25 games left in the season, so what we've played this weekend isn't even 10% of the split yet. We've got a long time to go and get better, and I think we're going to be able to do that.
All images by: Cloud9