Sebastian “Malice” Edholm was the first ever Western player to ever be a part of a Korean organization. For those that don't follow the League of Legends scene in Korea, he, alongside coach Nicholas “LS” De Cesare, was once a part of the same team called bbq Olivers. His tenure with them is definitely far off from being a fairy tale, as there were external factors that ultimately led to the team’s breakup.
After 2+ years, these two, alongside some of the former members of bbq, have reunited once again; this time under the Cloud9 organization. LS was announced to be head coach for the main roster, while Malice was announced as the jungler for C9’s academy.
As Malice readied himself to embark on this new journey with C9, I had a chance to speak with Malice about his future with C9. In his answers, he held nothing back and was brutally honest in his answers.
It seemed like you were just done with professional play when you were leaving bbq Olivers, focusing on streaming and content creation at that point in time. What made you return?
I have two reasons why I initially never wanted to join a pro team in the first place. The first was that the team environment was always bad, and the other reason is that I had no interest in playing professionally outside of Korea. Then I tried playing in Korea, and the team environment wasn’t great, to the point where it ruined the experience outright.
Cloud9 however, seemed like the team environment was great, and the people on the team have a similar way of thinking about the game and how they want to get better. That was enough for me to spark my interest in joining, especially in seeing how much we can grow together as a team.
You’ve been out of the pro scene for a while now, and there are obvious differences when it comes to playing professionally vs playing solo queue. How do you predict the re-learning curve will be to get yourself adjusted to pro play?
I think for me, pro play is both better and easier than solo queue. I prefer pro play because I control the environment, whereas in solo queue, everyone is just doing whatever they want. It might take a few games to adjust, but once I’m in the zone, there shouldn’t be any problems.
How excited are you for NA solo queue by the way?
Ah shit… [Laughter] NA solo queue has really high queue times, and the quality of the games suck, so I think what’s going to happen is just in-houses. If we’re not scrimming and everyone wants to just play solo queue, we have like 15 people on our team, so we’ll probably end up just going to play custom games on the tournament server because of the low ping. This also allows other players to play and learn different roles, so I think it’ll be better practice.
I know that one of the main reasons behind your decision to join C9 was heavily influenced by the main team’s head coach, ‘LS’. What can you tell me about this team’s environment that’s different from others?
It’s the core people of the team. There isn’t anyone there that I really disagree with or those that I consider stupid to have power. That alone can ruin a team atmosphere. Having one head coach or having one big name can potentially ruin everything by themselves. Obviously, every team is different and all, but I’m pointing at authority figures that are really stuck in their opinion.
Fudge, Max Waldo and LS view and approach the game the same way, and to have multiple people like that on the same team is really rare. It’s a good starting point as a new team, and you can show ideas in-game. You can go into a replay to point them out, and even simulate some of the scenarios.
A lot of teams with those types of people will face internal drama, ultimately stagnating in improving. Finding partners that are willing to try new things even if it means losing and limit-testing various ideas is critical. That’s how you get better. As long as there aren’t any stubborn people that shut out external opinions, there shouldn’t be any obstacles in getting better.
One of the main forms of practice that LS likes to implement in his coaching is internal scrims. How do you expect yourself to be resourceful when it comes to practicing to improve both yourself and the team?
I’m obviously talking with Max and LS a lot, and I’ve been duo-queuing with ‘Darshan’ quite a bit as well. In terms of internal scrims, I think ‘Blaber’ and I can possibly get on the same page? Either way, we’re going to play against each other a lot, and there’s a lot of room to pick up from each other’s playstyles. At least on my end, I can make him see why I view the game the way I do, and I think it can help him a lot.
I think having a sister team is almost like cheating. You can run different simulations in scrims, whether that’s 5 min, 10 min scrims. You can also do this whenever you want, won’t have the other team cancel on you, and there won’t be any troll scrims either. You just have much more ground to practice on, so I think it’s a really good base to get better.
Can you expand on some of the training exercises that C9 will be implementing?
Stuff that we did on bbq, whether that’s silent scrims, blitz scrims; all of these methods have unique merits and will have a place in our practice regimen I feel. If our early game is the problem, then we’ll probably end up doing blitz scrims. If we have communication issues, silent scrims. If we need practice in teamfighting, we can even go to 10-man arams to practice teamfighting.
There are a lot of valuable exercises like these that teams don’t do, because it’s a lot harder to implement such ideas when you’re scrimming other teams. That’s where the value of having all these people on the team really helps.
Let’s start with the C9 academy roster. The roster definitely has the potential to be on top of the academy league, and you’re a jungler who’s expected to just crush your competition. How do you view your competition in 2022, and where do you think you stand against the other academy junglers?
This may sound arrogant, but with the exception of players like 'Inspired', I already think LCS and LEC junglers aren’t very good. NA Academy junglers would just be a step down from it, so I don’t see myself having any problems carving through. Jungling in general, especially when it comes to Western junglers; apart from ‘Inspired’, it feels like everyone copies each others’ playstyles. They all seem so similar.
Watching that not only bores me, but I’m also burnt out from watching it. Their playstyles are so easy to play against, and I don’t think any of them play efficiently. From the current standpoint, I don’t think I’ll have any problems against any LCS junglers as well.
So explain to me what the differences are between junglers of the East vs junglers of the West.
I don’t think they’re different; I think they’re just better. Obviously, I think players like ‘Tarzan’ and ‘Canyon’ stand out from the rest of the pack, but it’s even the same in the East to a certain extent. I think they do what the Western junglers do as well, but they just do it better.
People have criticized you for your ‘herbivore’ playstyle, where you want the team to play around the jungler, while keeping things efficient in your clears and just out-resourcing your opponent. Why do you believe that your playstyle is superior?
I think that the team should always play around how your jungler is pathing. That’s not to say that the jungler shouldn’t make sacrifices to his resources to get the laners ahead, or to not help them get out of a sticky scenario. I try to make as few coinflip plays as possible, while playing around recalls and power spikes as much as I can
I try to look at the game from an AI point of view. The current playstyle is acceptable because people can’t keep track and manage their waves and vision properly, so the better people are, the worse this coinflip playstyle will prove to be. I try to play as efficiently as possible and don’t take the coinflips that require people to make mistakes. Every time you see a level 3 gank/cheesy ganks or bad jungle pathing, they get bailed out sometimes because the enemy is bad.
If you skip two to three camps for a gank and it doesn’t work out, then you’ve lost 40-50 seconds. That’s a huge deal in the jungle. Whereas if you clear everything then gank, then you’re not losing anything even if it doesn’t work out. I don’t see why you wouldn’t do that. I really believe the way I play should be the way the game is played. I thought about this for a long time, so that’s why I play the way I do.
I also think that certain champions being meta picks shouldn’t affect this type of playstyle. Maybe based on nerfing/buffing camp timers or the gold gained from the camp can change things, but other than that, the playstyle shouldn’t change.
What are your impressions of the jungle champion pool in preseason and heading into the 2022 season? You’re obviously famous for your Evelynn and Karthus, so I’m curious what other champions you think are strong currently, and continue to be strong moving forward.
I think Fiddlesticks is no doubt one of, if not the best jungler in the game. Talon also clears super fast, so I think he’s good as well, but I don’t think champions like Lee Sin and Xin Zhao aren’t that great at the moment. Those two champions just scream “Better team alert!” because those two champions are so neutral and usually behind their team most of the time. They aren’t champions that stick out or can carry. I think champions like Eve, Karthus and Fiddlesticks do not fit the same criteria.
I think Hecarim’s also one of my favorite champions now because he clears really fast, scales really well, and his items are ridiculously broken. There’s also a few junglers like Poppy, but I’ll refrain from naming all of them because I want to keep it a secret.
How do you foresee yourself doing things differently this time around from your last tenure with bbq?
I’m not really sure how to answer this, but I think that with how much bigger the scale of everything is, I’m going to give more input into the team. I obviously don’t know in what shape or form this will be happening, but I predict that I’m going to be more hands-on with every player on the team.
Bbq Olivers was…a bit of a shitshow. I don’t think we’ll have the same problems, because we have new people on the team, and C9 obviously has a better infrastructure. Max, LS and I all learned from our mistakes on bbq, so we know what not to do.
I think I’ll have a clearer idea once actual practice starts, but ultimately, my goal is to get better, so I’ll be busting my ass to do whatever I can. Whatever in shape or form that is, I’ll be working hard.
Unlike other players, I want everyone on the team to get as good as they can. Winning is a nice bonus, and if we get as good as we can be, then that shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t have a long-term goal or anything, but I think that this is an interesting opportunity, and I’m going to do my best to get as good as I can, while helping my team achieve the same.
Some community members were very against and critical of you joining C9, mostly due to your negative behavioral issues. How do you address the negative sentiment surrounding your past?
Regretfully, I definitely said some shit in the past, and that was me being a disruptive person. It’s the same with bbq, right? I was never toxic in or outside of the team until the team fell apart. Most screenshots that people have about me were from like 5-6 years ago, so I want to say that I’ve reformed since then. In a team environment, I don’t necessarily cause drama, and I believe that I’m a very different person in comparison to such negative perceptions. Moving forward, I’m definitely going to cut all the shit and grind to get my team better. Whenever I do end up hitting some bumps along the way, I’ll apologize and move on.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports