A year in America: Interview with C9 Impact, Cain, Ray, and Reapered


Among all of the League of Legends leagues around the world, the North American league is probably the one that has gone through the most changes in 2017. Many Korean players are now playing in NA LCS, and the league now has promotion tournaments which add to the league’s excitement. It is the perfect environment for a more competitive league.

Teams are learning to work together with their newest recruits, and one of those great teams is Cloud 9. C9 is probably the team that we as eSports reporters have met with the most since last year’s League of Legends World Championship. C9 was certainly an outstanding group among the many North American teams in last year’s League of Legends World Championship, and that greatness continues to this year’s NA LCS. The team is not only doing great in terms of game performance, but also has a fascinating story to share. Since we were so far away from home, it was nice to meet with someone familiar.

One day, when we were collecting news from NA LCS, we asked Head Coach Han-Gyu “Reapered” Bok and Top laner Eon-Young “Impact” Jeong if we could visit the team house, just like we visited Team Dignitas’ team house previously. A few days later they answered “Okay”, and we did not waste a minute in packing our stuff and driving to their team house. A familiar face with sleepy eyes greeted us as we entered the team’s abode.


Sawual: Around now is when you usually start your daily routine. We are curious about your daily routine. You mentioned last time that you like to separate your private life from your public life.

Reapered: It’s been raining all day recently, and I’m not very energetic when it rains. I’ve always been like that since a long time ago, so today is a day where I don’t separate my private life from my public life.

Cain: You mean you’re taking a day off?

Reapered: I’m just saying I don’t have the energy. [Laughs] But it’s not like I’m skipping practices. I always do my best when practicing, and then I enjoy my private time.

Cain: I have a lot more freedom here. The environment was pretty strict back in Korea.

Sawual: Like the military?

Cain: It used to be. But I’ve heard it’s not like that anymore.

Impact: The environment used to be really strict. I know the ROX Tigers are like us too.

Cain: Yeah, their environment is similar to ours. I think they are doing great in that environment.

Sawual: What about other North American teams?

Reapered: It seems like we have more freedom. When we were having scrims with another team, they told us they were going to be late. So we said “No problem. We’ll just be playing H1Z1 while waiting,” and they were surprised by this. They were like “We can’t even use a web browser while we’re having scrims and you guys can play other games?”

Sawual: Your team has been on a winning streak since the beginning of the Season. What could be the reason behind your power and success?

Reapered: Well, I’m not very sure. What do you think, Impact?

Impact: Like I said before coach, I don’t know how we are winning. We are not particularly better than the other teams, so I guess we are stronger as a team.

Sawual: Maybe you are strong especially in scrims or…

Impact: No, we are like punching bags in scrims.

Reapered: Yeah, we get beat up a lot.

Impact: I think there are times when we do not play very well but still end up winning.

Reapered: We won 3rd place last season. I didn’t think we were more skilled than the two teams above us. But when we got to the playoffs, I thought maybe we were. I think our guys know when to win. They know they have to win especially when they are making money; when there is a cash prize.

Impact: A lot of teams underwent roster changes for this Season, but our roster is not that different from last year’s. Even our new Jungler was already familiar with us. We didn’t have to learn how to play together as a team, unlike other teams, who had to. That has definitely worked as an advantage for us. Also Contractz is doing a great job as a Jungler so the rest of us can focus on attacks.


Sawual: Contractz, the team’s jungler, is often considered to be the best rookie in NA LCS. Would you like to use this moment to say some nice things about him?

Reapered: Isn’t Akkadian the best rookie?

Impact: Yes, he is. [Laughs]

Sawual: How cold.

Cain: He’s really good.

Impact: No, but he’s always out to get me. I was once laning with a 30 CS advantage over the enemy, and he waited for over a minute to get a gank on me. He also said in an interview that he’s killed all other toplaners except for me.

Sawual: No doubt we have many new capable junglers this season.

Impact: Contractz is still better. He also contributes more from the team’s perspective. Akkadian has excellent mechanical skills but has a limited champion pool, not to mention his lackluster Lee Sin. Contractz can comfortably play all meta champions.

Cain: Contractz is quite amazing on Lee Sin. There are two types of junglers in the world: those who simply play Lee Sin and those who excel at him. Contractz gets many first bloods, and his overall form is great.

Sawual: Since Contractz was new, were you ever worried about him when he first got on the big stage tournament?

Reapered: Not at all. I knew he could do well as long as we provided the opportunity and teamwork.

Impact: With four team members who already know each other well, it’s easier for an additional member to blend in and get up to speed with the rest.

Sawual: How’s life in the team house? It’s the second year living here for you two.

Impact: We have our own bedrooms and two computers each. One is for scrims and the other is for personal use in our rooms. We respect each others’ privacy, and people do their own things on their personal PC whether it’s solo ranked, streaming, or playing other games. We spend time in the practice room from 11 in the morning to 7-8 in the evening.

Reapered: How do you like living in the team house, Ray? You’re the only one who shares a room with someone else.

Impact: Ray and Contractz share a room together.

Ray: My room is quite spacious. I obviously want to have my own room. I shared a room with another person in my previous team, so I felt like I could really use my own room here. But the team’s owner thought it would be better if I share a room with someone else to assimilate and learn English because of my language barrier. He said he’ll get me my own room if it’s too inconvenient, but now it’s more fun than inconvenient. Contractz and I are only a year apart, and he’s sociable. My English is also improving.

Cain: Really? You guys are only a year apart?

Ray: I guess I look older than I am…

Cain: No, I wasn’t implying that…

Reapered: So mean.

Cain: No, no. Listen. It’s just that Contractz still has this boyish look about him. That’s why I asked.

Ray: I do look old.

Cain: Come on, it’s not like that.

Ray: Compared to my last team house, it’s nice that this place is close to downtown and close to many shops. There was nothing around the old team house. It did have an awesome view though. I can now go to a coffee shop or a supermarket in a couple minutes. I like the fact that the stadium is close to here the most.

Reapered: What about you, Cain?

Cain: It’s pretty good. The team’s doing well. Performance tends to dictate everything in pro teams. As long as the team’s doing well, everything’s good. If the team isn’t doing well, then even just relaxing can be difficult.The pro gaming life is more or less the same anywhere in the world, and I don’t see much difference since I spend most of my time in front of a computer.


Sawual: What games do you play during your off time?

Cain: LoL, obviously. I’m also into the Civilization series. I have about 200 hours played on Civilization VI.

Impact: I enjoy FPS. I played a lot of H1Z1 and some Overwatch when the game first launched. I’m sitting at around 3,400 SR this season.

Reapered: Isn’t that supposed to really good?

Impact: Not really. If I were to say I’m good, I should probably get higher than 4,000 SR.
Sawual: You and your pro gamer standards.

Impact: I mostly play Soldier: 76. I can’t play characters like Genji at all.

Ray: I main Genji and Tracer.

Sawual: Don't tell me that you are one of those...

Impact: Ray’s also like that in LoL. He’s obsessed with Riven. I think people’s playstyles and preferences carry over to other games. He looks really happy when he’s on damage dealers but he’s rather sad on tanks. We all have our own preferences. I prefer tanks because I can stably contribute more and stand my ground without much cover from the team.

Reapered: I agree. Back when I was a pro player, I didn’t play champions that I thought weren’t cool.

Impact: Is that why you didn’t play Mundo?

Reapered: That’s right. Jax, on the other hand, is cool. He fights with a lamppost to keep his immense power in check. A lamppost is enough for him because he’s that strong.


Sawual: Team Envy’s Seraph stirred up a controversy when he said in a recent interview that “NA solo queue is no help when it comes to improving my skills.” Any thoughts?

Impact: I think the most pertinent issue is that NA players in ranked don’t play as a team. Korean players in solo queue understand the flow of the game. They pressure top when their bottom lane is being heavily pushed. You know, they operate as a team. In NA, there’s nothing of the sort. People keep trying to win lanes long after lane phase is over. NA solo queue is probably better for practicing individual champions.

Reapered: I don’t believe NA solo queue has no merit. People in NA solo queue have mechanical skills and their own playstyles. Still, we see champions like Teemo support. Playing against Teemo doesn’t help in tournament settings. I do think solo queue helps with keeping composure.

Impact: Top Teemo is quite common. I’ve seen a Xerath player who’s amazing with skillshots but couldn’t play anything else. I’ve also seen some people who exclusively play Diana.

Sawual: They all sound like one-champion players.

Impact: Their proficiency with the champions is good. They just lack teamplay, so they overextend and try to do everything by themselves. There’s especially a shortage of capable junglers. That’s why whenever Contractz plays solo queue, he turns it into a stomping ground. I feel like they prioritize being good on certain champions over teamplay or victory.

Cain: Impact is currently a Challenger and often gets matched with Diamond players. It goes to show how small the NA solo ranked pool is, not to mention the long queue time.

Ray: I always have a Diamond V player on the team. In an extreme case, I was once matched with a Gold V when I was at about 1,000 LP. What’s interesting is that that Gold V player carried that game. I’m not kidding. Sometimes, Diamond players win lanes against Masters and Challengers.

Impact: Nothing is 100% in games, but NA solo queue seems to have a much larger variance.

Sawual: I wasn’t mistaken about the US being the land of opportunity then. I’m in Gold V myself, and you say Gold V can carry Challengers? I’ll make sure to give it a try.


Ray: To elaborate on that game, I thought I was in a normal game after looking up and finding out there’s a Gold player in the team. I sometimes pressed the wrong button. I still didn’t believe my teammates when they told me it was a ranked game. Once the game started, I realized it was indeed ranked. The game had players from Gold and Platinum to Diamond and Master. To top it off, the Gold V player apparently only played Vayne in recent games. It was his last promotion match going 1-1 for him.

Sawual: Sounds like something out of a novel.

Ray: That Gold player said in all chat that he was honored to play with people like us. He then got a triple kill with Vayne, and that was game. He literally bulldozed his way to the nexus. After he got a solo kill against the enemy bot duo, the enemy just gave up. I guess it’s one of the unintended consequences of poorly-matched games.

Impact: I can imagine the rest of the enemy team flaming the bot duo after the solo kill. Then the banter probably went back and forth, and the team eventually threw the game. Hurt feelings all around.

Reapered: I actually like NA solo queue for its weird quirks. No one gives you a hard time for experimenting. I often go bot duo with Cain. No one talks smack when others pick champions like Brand and Thresh. They may say something if you’re playing poorly, but people accept unconventional picks at draft for the most part. Even when I’m playing off-meta champions, I at least maintain a respectable KDA.

Impact: One other thing. NA players never surrender.

Ray: I still have my habits from China because I started my gaming career there, but I try my hardest not to surrender here. NA players are resilient. I think that’s the main takeaway.

Impact: What’s more interesting is that people are ready to surrender as soon as they see about three pro gamers on the enemy team. I guess they’re skipping this game to get to the next one faster. Also, the ping is atrocious at about 60 on average. When I practiced in Korea after the last season, I exclusively played Yasuo, Ryze, and Olaf. You need low pings to play these champions, and I can never play them here. Since I can’t do the trick with Sweeping Strike(E) under these conditions, I just max out Steel Tempest(Q) first. Playing solo queue here feels like fighting with weights strapped to my ankles.

Reapered: Scrims are the primary means of practice in any region. I recommend solo queue as a way to experiment with champions that may prove to be viable. It’s still better than not doing it at all.

At this point, Ray left the interview for a scheduled scrim.

Sawual: All of C9’s players seem to be getting along very well with each other. I remember Jensen posting a funny picture of Impact. What do you say about giving an honest opinion about each other?

Impact: As for Jensen, we just can’t get enough of trash-talking each other. For example, we’d name our scrim accounts that call each other by names. That’s how we get along and play games with each other. As for me…

Reapered: Leave that to me. I like Impact. He is good, cheerful and learned well from Jung-gyun "kkOma" Kim. He is pretty…'cute'. Same goes to Ray. The thing is, when I say a man is ‘cute’, it usually means that he has a lot to learn. (Laugh)

Sawual: Like a clean slate?

Impact: Am I that dumb?

Reapered: No, it’s just that you could have put more points on intelligence.

Impact: Well, it’s because I’ve put all of my attribute points on League of Legends. I wasn’t any good at any other games. I started with Gold when I first played Ranked Games, but I thought that was too low compared to what I thought of myself. Then I went to a tournament with my friends, and it turns out that they were worse than me although their tier was higher than me. So, I realized that I could do better, and then I really started to do better in Ranked Games. It was an epiphany that I reached while I was playing the game.

Reapered: Do you see how 'cute' he is?

Sawual: Yep. I sure do.


Impact: Sneaky is a huge troll. You can probably tell if you’ve seen him on air.

Reapered: He is carefree, just as you see him on air. However, he takes scrims more seriously than you’d think. He is very thoughtful too. I’d sometimes be too outspoken when I give out feedback, but Sneaky organizes his and other players’ thoughts and make counter-arguments. He is a valuable person.

Impact: That’s only on his good days though. Usually he goes nuts whenever I get picked off.

Reapered: Juan "Contractz" Garcia is still young and a bit shy. He is ‘cute’ too.

Sawual: Is this an Impact-cute type of cute?

Impact: Yep, Contractz is better than me in some aspects. Younger, more ‘cute’, stuff like that.

Reapered: Young and intelligent?

Impact: No. Young and stupid.

Reapered: It’s both a good thing and a bad thing that he doesn’t think too hard on anything. He’d always be dumbfounded after a feedback session. So when I ask him whether he understood any of it, he’d go “Nope.” and laugh. He is like a treasure.

Impact: Once in a scrim, he got killed by the enemy jungler as he was taking the red buff. The thing is, we knew that the enemy jungler was counter-jungling. I asked him why, and he told me that he didn’t want to give up the red buff. So obviously I told him that it doesn’t make sense because you’d lose the red buff while giving him a kill. Then he answered: “I just didn’t want to give him the red buff.” So I just went “Ok.” He’s like that.

Sawual: He is 'cute', alright.

Reapered: Smoothie is very diligent, but I think he needs to put even more effort in. He is full of positive sides. He is serious at gaming, has a desire to improve his gameplay, and works hard to achieve that. I hope he keeps it up. Let’s not go into his downsides though. (Laugh) Jensen is very carefree. I think Sneaky has been rubbing off on him, since he’s been trolling a lot lately, but he is still 'cute'. He is pretty serious in matches, but he is still the same old Jensen in scrims.

Impact: You’d think he was below human during scrims. At least he pulls himself together in official matches.


Sawual: You are currently in first place of the NA LCS without a loss. (Note: The interview was done when C9 didn’t have a loss yet. We are very sorry for jinxing it.) Do you feel any pressure to keep the winning streak?

Impact: I don’t think we have to win every match. Staying in first place and winning the Split is more important.

Reapered: I don’t pressure the players to win every match. All we need to do during the regular season is to just get into a position where we can get into the playoffs. It’s the playoffs that counts.

: Any teams that you are particularly wary of?

Impact: All of them?

Reapered: I don't think we are the best team in the league. We’ve received a lot of praise for our winning streak, but I don’t think we are the best. Of course, we are putting in as much effort as we can, but we are definitely not perfect. We are trying to be better than we have been.

Impact: Do you remember how somebody said that we were like the Spanish Armada? We ourselves thought that we are more of a dinghy sailboat rather than an armada.

Sawual: That’s a bit too much.

Reapered: Okay, maybe a dinghy with a motor. Anyhow, our goal for this season is to win the Split. I don’t know what might happen during the regular season, and I do say to the players: “You cannot not win every match that you play during your career, but make sure that we get the last laugh.”

Sawual: I assume you sometimes watch the LCK. What are your thoughts on it?

Impact: KT Rolster is very strong, but I don't think they are perfect; They often try to win from the botlane, but that leaves their toplane vulnerable. Still, their botlane duo and jungler are good enough to win on their own, and it’s often the botlane duo that acts as playmakers.

As for SK Telecom T1, Seunghoon "Huni" Heo is really good. I faced off against him last year, and I think I said that he will become much better later on. I'm sure some people didn't think highly of him because of his performance last year, but apparently Huni spent quite a bit of time playing other games last year; it would have been embarrassing for me if I had lost. He is still young, and has a lot of potential. The botlane duo is also very good. For Sanghyuk "Faker" Lee, although he has gone through rough patches, he is still one of the best, and he will continue to be one of the best, so I won't count him out by any means.

Sawual: Do you think the current placement will last till the end?

Impact: I think it might change, but only for the mid-tier teams. There are teams that turned their losing streak around, such as MVP. You know what they say: "It ain't over till it's over."

Sawual: What are your thoughts about the increasing number of Korean players moving into the NA scene?

Impact: Even more will come, I think. NA teams are pouring a lot of money into eSports and Korean players. You can tell which region is growing by looking at where Korean players are going. There are still plenty of good Korean players, and they will always be sought after.

I have some advice for Korean players who are looking to get into the NA scene though: You have to speak English for in-game voice communications. If you can’t get used to speaking English, then you won’t be talking in or outside of games for a month or so. You shouldn’t rely on speaking Korean, but speak English with everyone instead. It will be hard at first - I personally had to rely on Yoonjae “Rush” Lee to translate for me. However, you have to do whatever it takes to get used to it.


Lasso: We have some questions delivered directly from your fans about how Impact cooks occasionally and uploads photos of the foods he cooked.

Impact: Yes. I grill meat, stir-fry the veggies... I am not eating carbs as much ever since I moved here, and that naturally made me cook my own food. I make Tonkatsu, egg rolls... I like it. It's fun.

Lasso: Why did you cut down on carbs?

Impact: Eating carbs on a regular basis makes me get tired more often, and that makes everything more difficult than it should be. My life got a lot better in general since I changed my diet and also started working out.

: SKT T1 began livestreaming recently, and it's also popular in the NA scene. Have you watched their streams?

Impact: I didn't watch Faker's stream, but I’ve watched Bang's a lot. It was fun.

Sawual: Bang is really popular these days, especially with his alternate personality taking over...

Impact: Nah, that's actually what he's really like. Others may not have seen his personality manifest itself like that until now, but I find that really familiar. He also talks a lot, which I can do just as much if I stream in Korean... I just can't say everything that I want to say when I'm streaming in English.

Lasso: Isn't your English really good? You seemed to be doing well with interviews.

Impact: I'm not entirely good yet. I still need to improve.

Reapered: Hey, that English is your charming point.

Sawual: Like the cuteness we mentioned before?

Reapered: Similar, but different. When Impact speaks English during his livestream, people spam "Ah, Impact's English..." in the chat.


Lasso: Please leave a message for your fans.

Impact: It’s my birthday soon, which is March 7th. I will mooch off our team owner Jack’s wallet on my birthday.

Sawual: That’s a big ambition. How old are you in American age then?

Impact: 22. I couldn’t drink in America until my birthday last year. On March 6th last year I went to a bar at 11pm and waited for an hour until I could finally have a drink. I asked if I could get one at like 11:50, but they were really strict about that.

Sawual: Maybe it’s too late now, but I really do agree with you, coach, that Impact is cute.

Impact: And NA LCS matches are actually fun when you are a spectator.

Sawual: For sure. It’s an entertainment. It’s like watching WWE Smackdown.

Impact: I guess so. We don’t even set up a plan as they would do in wrestling, but the plays just fit in so well. Well, anyway, we have Ray this season, coach Cain is also with us, and we are gradually evolving. Please watch our fun matches, and congratulate me for my birthday! I will make Jack’s wallet ragged and broke.

Sawual: I will spread the word, for sure.

Impact: We will also make it to MSI held in Brazil. See you there.

Cain: When I came to Cloud9 and saw everyone, I soon realized that they were all just so nice and cute. We’ve had a good start, we are performing well enough, and it’s not bad at all. Of course, we still have things to improve on. We’ve had games in which we had to drag the game to the very end and flip it around to win, and also ones in which we made unnecessary mistakes when we could have pulled a perfect play. We will keep improving to become the NA team that can do well in Worlds, and also against Korean teams.

Reapered: Thank you!

▲ As much as we wanted to see the other players,
we couldn't go up as they seemed to be sleeping.
▲ Custom-made for Cloud 9
▲ Hearty American breakfast!
▲ Even the candle was C9-themed
▲ Nuri "Cain" Jang has been growing a beard.
▲ For a person who's been sleeping a minute ago, Impact was very talkative.
▲ Good luck, C9!

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