It seems that Cloud9 forgot how to lose. With another perfect weekend in the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split, they’re on the top of the league with an undefeated 12-0 record. The mastermind behind the team’s successful ongoing journey was surprised himself, but thought the success wasn’t completely uncalled for. After their 12th consecutive win, Cloud9 head coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu went into detail with Inven about what’s been happening.
12 and 0. It’s an amazing streak. What in the world did you pull out of your sleeve during the offseason?
There wasn’t anything special. As soon as Zven and Vulcan signed their contracts, we started their bootcamp earlier than the actual bootcamp to build the bot duo synergy. During that process, they learned about their new teammates and was able to catch a glimpse of my coaching style, the team’s practice style, etc.
Afterward, we all bootcamped in Korea. Everyone worked hard during it, so I believe that’s why we’re doing so well up to now.
All of the team’s stats are dominating the league. What did you focus on the most this season? What’s the secret of your leadership?
I believe that our stats are high because we’re not losing. The main focus for this season was interpreting Season 10 and how we would go through the new season with these new players.
To me, leadership is setting a good example and becoming a role model. If I get lazy, the players get lazy too. Let’s say everyone exercises in the morning. By setting a good example, I would come out a bit earlier than everybody to warm up. More towards the game, I would need to think and share every morning how we would practice today or what kind of plays I want to see.
An average game time of 30 minutes was interesting as well.
My style of LoL is scoring more rather than reducing what we concede. If the opponent scores, we just need to score more than they do. This season, the team consists of players that perfectly fit my style. The roster is made up of players that are especially aggressive and greedy in the NA. I think the fast games are a result of the collaboration of my style and the players’ identities hitting off.
Zven has revived(?). What’s the reason?
I don’t know. I’ve always evaluated Zven as a ‘carry machine gun’. I’ve wanted to play with him if I had the chance and I believe he’s playing up to the expectations. There were bad times, obviously, but that’s also experience. If you can improve through experience, whatever experience is valuable.
Vulcan is also doing quite well. He seems different from the last World Championship.
Vulcan has a very similar style to that of Zven and Blaber. Since he had played with Piglet before, his laning fundamentals are decent already. After learning how to play smart, he improved drastically. I think he’s the player that has improved the most this season.
You parted ways with Svenskeren who was the MVP last season. Was it from trust towards Blaber?
Of course. When I pick a jungler, I prefer those who jungle as if they’re playing a fighting game rather than those who play the jungle like chess. Blaber is a player that’s exactly like that and he has gained experience in the academy and a sub player for several years.
After the last World Championship, both players knew that Blaber has improved too much for him to stay as a substitute. They were aware that it was necessary for either one of them to find a new team. In that situation, Svenskeren requested to move and Blaber became the starting jungler.
Nisqy also seems to have improved a lot. Was there a “special training”?
Last year’s Nisqy was a player that didn’t know how to play the game properly. To elaborate, he didn’t have logic to support his picks, laning, or plays. It felt that he was just raw talent, always playing to his instincts. So last year, I tried to teach him the logic and concepts. As he played against top players at Worlds, I think he was enlightened from that experience.
I was talking to Nisqy one day during the offseason about how to improve as a player. He seemed to have been inspired a lot by Doinb, so we discussed Doinb’s comprehension and logic of the game.
After that, Nisqy studied hard himself; he’s really a hungry player. During the bootcamp, I tried to help him improve what he studied himself. Especially, Rapidstar stayed aside him to coach him almost exclusively. It felt that having a talented exclusive coach was quite different.
Cloud9 seems to be a team that is quite cost-efficient. Did you predict that the results would be this good?
I did think that we would be 1st or 2nd for the season. Formerly, the players’ salaries weren’t that high and they were mostly rookies, but now, to say that we’re cost-efficient, all the players are being compensated well for their abilities and careers.
Anyways, I have faith in my own ability to read the game. There were a lot of changes in Season 10. The more I played, I gained more confidence in the direction of my style and the players followed me well. Being high in the standings is just as expected. Even so, a 12-game winning streak was surprising. It’s probably because the atmosphere is good while they play which comes from winning continuously.
Can you tell us about Sneaky’s retirement a bit as well? We know he was a good leader of the team.
Sneaky is a player that had played for the longest in the team and helped in many different ways. However, we needed some change after last Worlds, and we came upon a difficult decision. There are so many memories with him so it’s very regretful.
Sneaky and the team both knew that to move forward, we shouldn’t miss the chance to take a new challenge and the last offseason was the proper time. Now, the team is doing really well and Sneaky is also continuing his career well with the streaming and cosplaying.
How’s the coaching staff helping you?
There’s Rapidstar, Reignover, and Westrice. I wasn’t a head coach that used his coaches well, but I’m being supported by the coaches every year and improving myself. Reignover has been developing the prospects as the academy head coach. Rapidstar has been coaching Nisqy and helping out both Reignover and me. Westrice helps with the small details when I start steering my team in a specific direction. Personally, I think Cloud9 is the team that has the most ideal coaching staff.
Many fans think the LCS is quite ‘old’. What do you think?
I think it’s changing; more than you would think. There should be a lot of new players to have a good cycle in a league. Every year, new rookies and prospects appear and academy players are playing in the LCS more often. I’m quite sure that it’s improving and hopefully, it’ll accelerate at a certain point.
Compared to Cloud9, Team Liquid isn’t doing well.
Broxah wasn’t able to join the team until midseason due to visa issues. When starting practice with an incomplete roster, several mental issues can occur. Although it seems that they got back on their track now, those issues may have been the cause.
It’s been six years since Cloud9 won the LCS. Do you think you can win this season?
Yes. I’m not willing to lose this season. The players also have the same thought. C9 is the only team that doesn’t have at least one player with an LCS championship. In other words, we’re all very hungry to win the championship.
You’ve been managing C9 for a long time. There should have been a lot of good offers, but is there a reason you’re staying with the team?
That’s true. There were several offers and I had chances to take new challenges. The reason I’m staying as the head coach of C9 is simple. I want to meet the expectation of my players. I want to put the trophy in the hands of Jack who believed in me. I want to raise the trophy with my players. Every year, we fell short of the championship by just a few games. If I were to take a new challenge, I want to grasp that goal that’s glimmering in front of me. That’s all.
We know that you’re keeping an eye on the LCK as well. Are there issues or teams that are particularly noticeable?
Gen.G and T1 are catching my eye a lot. They both have clear identities. They interpret the meta a bit differently and in that matter, I think there’s a lot to learn from them. I’ve been creating Youtube content lately and I may be starting some LCK content with CoreJJ. We’ll probably discuss T1 and Gen.G a lot; if we do, please visit and watch.
Is there a team that you’d like to face internationally?
I’d like to meet Hanwha Life Esports where Kezman is coaching and Vici Gaming of kkOma. The reason is that it looks fun if the three of us meet up and have a drink after the game.
Do you think you may one day coach an LCK team?
I’d be lying if I said I’ve never thought of it, but it wouldn’t happen for a while. However, I do want to try someday since I know the Korean players are talented and that I have a spot in my heart for the LCK.
Lastly, a word to the fans?
Hello, it’s been a while since I had an interview. I used to stream often to communicate more, but this season was too busy for me to stream. This year, I’ll probably be communicating through recorded videos on Youtube. Thank you for all the support.
*All images via Riot Games