Cloud9 is unstoppable. With its seventh win in a row, Cloud9’s punched its ticket to the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs. The very next day, Cloud9 defeated FlyQuest in their final game of the regular season to secure sole possession of 2nd place, as well as a playoff bye.
Cloud9’s playoff qualification is nothing short of a miracle. After the benching of star carries Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi and Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen, a revolving door of different rosters emerged for the first five weeks of the 2018 NA LCS Summer Split. All seemed lost after a sudden trade of Andy “Smoothie” Ta to Echo Fox, but Cloud9 has emerged as the strongest team in North America heading into playoffs.
Led in the mid lane by Jensen on his legacy Fizz, Cloud9 made quick work of 100Thieves on Saturday afternoon. I sat down with Jensen following Cloud9’s playoff qualification to discuss the team’s tumultuous summer and the resulting triumph.
Jensen, with your 7th win in a row, Cloud9 has qualified for playoffs. What’s going through your head right now after such an amazing accomplishment and run for your team?
Yeah, it’s definitely been a roller coast of a split since we started out really bad as a team. The environment was...I don’t know how to put it, but it was really different because of all the changes. It took some time to adjust, but now we are looking better than ever. Throughout this rough split, I’m glad that we’ve ended things on a high note. We’re probably the strongest team heading into playoffs.
You guys are hitting your stride at just the right time, but you mentioned the multitude of changes that the team went through to get to this point. Throughout the entire split, where were you trying to focus on as you were bouncing between Cloud9 and Cloud9 Academy?
At first, I was really down about not starting. I thought it was really unfair to me, so I reached out to a close friend who had dealt with a similar situation. I asked him for advice, and I concluded that the best thing that I could do would just be to focus on myself and improve as much as I can.
I wanted to make sure that I was in top form in case the team decided I would start at any point, so even when I wasn’t playing I made it my ultimate goal to win. If I show up ready to play and keep working hard to be the best that I can, so if I got the chance to play, I would play well.
Since you’ve re-joined the main roster full-time, Blaber and Zeyzal have also become full-time starters. How have they grown as teammates and how has their inclusion changed the identity of Cloud9 when compared to this past spring?
I think it’s been good that we’ve been experimenting with different rosters. We were indecisive in spring and played very reactively. We were a passive team, but with our new lineup and identity, we’ve been able to change that. We’ve realized we need to be aggressive and play pro-actively, so we’ve shifted our playstyle a lot since our passive Spring Split. We’re a really strong team and we’re not playing afraid anymore.
With new players joining the roster, has the way the team communicates changed a lot since the Spring Split as well?
It’s definitely harder with two rookies coming in because they’re going to be a bit inexperienced relative to the rest of the roster when it comes to vision control, timings etc. So we’ve all been working hard together as a team to make sure everyone is on the same page at all times.
Specifically, I talk to Blaber a lot regarding how I think Mid Lane should be played and when we should get vision etc. We’ve been approaching it as a team, and things have been going pretty well.
We saw you pull out your signature Fizz pick today. Assassins are quite prevalent in the Mid Lane as of right now, has the wide-open meta in mid changed the way that you prepare for games?
It actually makes it easier for us to draft. I’m happy to absorb bans and pick my champion later if that sacrifice is better for our team. I have a really deep champion pool, so I know I’ll always have something I can play and be comfortable on in any situation.
Since I have a lot of solid picks into Zoe, for example, Fizz was the choice that made the most sense.
Have you been keeping your Fizz skills sharp in practice, or is this something you’re so familiar with you can just pop off at any given point?
It’s not something I practice too much. I think I’ve scrimmed with it a game or two, but it was mainly because we didn’t want an immobile Mid Laner against the Nocturne. That’s a scary situation, so I wanted something mobile and Fizz made the most sense given my comfort and the favorable matchup into Zoe. Moreso, it’s a pretty easy champion to fit into our playstyle, so we didn’t have too much trouble with that adjustment.
Now that Cloud9 is in playoffs, are there any teams that you have your eye on?
When I look at the other teams in the NA LCS, there aren’t any other teams that scare us. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best team, so I’m not concerned with who we face. A lot of teams are solid, but I think that we have an advantage over all other teams heading into playoffs.
Do you think that the way Reapered has coached the team and utilized your 7-man roster as of late will become a standard in the NA LCS in regards to substitutions?
Yeah, I think from a strategic standpoint, having a 7-man roster where all players have unique strengths is ideal. Not only are there strategic benefits, but in a best of 5 series, it’s great to swap someone in if someone is tilted. It brings a new atmosphere and a new mood to the team mid-series, so it can often help the other players re-focus for the new game in the match.
If you can get 7 players of equal strength and different playstyles, then that’s the future.
Without revealing the entire strategy behind the substitutions, can you explain what you and Goldenglue bring to the team in different ways?
I wouldn’t say we have very much difference in our playstyles. Obviously, we will have different opinions and preferences, but overall I think it comes down to how we work with our junglers. He’s been playing and practicing a lot with Svenskeren, and I’ve been practicing a lot with Blaber, so I think that’s where the main difference comes in. We have more comfort with our respective junglers, so we’ll discuss certain matchups and we scrim against each other at least once per week.
For example, if there’s a matchup Goldenglue and I are uncertain about, we’ll force the matchup in scrims to try and better understand it from both sides.
It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a split for Cloud9. Now that you guys have qualified for playoffs, has the team atmosphere settled?
I’m sure we all feel really good because we look really strong and made playoffs. I think it’s really good that both iterations of our roster have had success. Obviously, Goldenglue and Svenskeren have a smaller sample size, but the fact that they can play the game well on stage is a huge plus for us as a team.
Everything is going great right now, we’re just looking forward to playoffs.
Nick Geracie is a freelance esports journalist currently located in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Twitter here.