Years after winning three back to back EU LCS titles and attending two World Championships, former G2 Esports trio Luka "Perkz" Perković, Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen, and Alfonso "Mithy" Rodríguez rejoined forces on Cloud9, this time with Mithy as a coach rather than a support. With his move to Cloud9, Mithy not only reunites with two former teammates, but he also returns to NA, where he played on TSM with Zven in 2018.
Mithy is coming off of a season with Fnatic, where he and the team advanced to the Worlds Quarterfinals, nearly taking down Top Esports, but falling 2-3, ending their 2020 season. He operated as Fnatic's head coach but has now moved to an assistant coaching role with Cloud9, a move that he is excited about so that he can have more freedom to research other strategies and learn from the rest of the staff.
Cloud9 and Mithy are expected to contend for an NA title in 2021, and expected to attend Worlds at the end of the year based on their roster compared to the rest of NA, but after their fall from glory last summer, everyone knows there's always a possibility to falter. Regardless, Mithy is confident in the team, and he is looking forward to helping C9 return to the top and secure an NA Worlds seed.
Read our Lock In interview with Mithy below.
You reunited with some old friends on Cloud9 - Zven and Perkz! How does that feel?
It's great. It feels really easy to get accommodated here, everyone's doing a really good job to help me and Luka getting used to everything here.
After the first game, what was the team atmosphere like, especially after Perkz tweeted that he wasn't gonna die and then the first game happened... [laughter]
I think the guys were just joking around. Perkz is pretty much renowned for joking and bantering. That's something I also did when I first started — you just experience your own way of how you want to deal with the media, playing in front of people, and all that stuff.
Losing sucks. It's never nice to lose, but sometimes it's necessary. I don't think anyone was affected by our loss.
Last time in NA, you were playing with Zven, then went back to Europe and became a coach. Now you are coaching Zven. How has your relationship with him changed during that time?
I don't think our relationship really changed. I have more time to do research and present the players with data, which is what I'm fond of, so I don't have a hard time adapting to the new role. It's not like, "This is my opinion on how we should do things", that's not my job anymore. It's more like, "Hey, this is how other teams are doing things, it's something you guys should be open-minded to."
Other than that, if there's ever an issue, we've gone through thick and thin together, so it's easy to sort our stuff without getting too weird like it usually gets in the very beginning.
Last time I talked to you was at Worlds, towards the beginning of the group stage. How was the rest of Worlds, and how did you go into the off-season? How did you end up on Cloud9?
I wanted to take a step back for a year and experience a different role than a head coach, just to see how other people are coaching from a non-player perspective. Either that, or head-coaching an Academy team. I really needed to take a break too, which I had the luxury to do. I went back to the Canary Islands where COVID is not as huge and I could do outdoor activities without putting anyone at risk.
That was really helpful for me. I got a lot of sunlight, which I barely could when I was in Berlin.
I wanted to slow myself down, build myself up. And then this whole project came into talks and fit into what I wanted. It was very easy for me to transition to this [assistant coaching] role.
The off-season was pretty crazy overall. Not only Perkz left G2 to join Cloud9, but then Martin "Rekkles" Larsson took his spot. What was your thought when he went over to G2 and your thoughts about the LEC this year?
LEC sounds fun, definitely. A lot of the mid-tier teams strengthened their rosters too. It's going to be super exciting to see how the teams develop.
About the Rekkles thing, his decision was fair and square. His contract was running out, maybe that's something Fnatic should've dealt with like 2-3 years ago. This is the nature of things. The same things are happening with Messi over at Barcelona, right?
I hope Rekkles does well, and I hope Fnatic do well without him. They are not my adversaries anymore, so I wish everyone luck.
Just for clarity, can you talk about what your specific job is at Cloud9 because I know you have a couple more coaches alongside you? You mentioned that you wanted to take an assistant role. Is there something more specific you're looking to learn or experience?
I'm trying to be an assistant coach to Kim "Reignover" Yeu-jin, helping him with whatever I can. He's in charge of draft and day-to-day things and just general head coach stuff. I'm there to advise him on how to give and receive feedback so we can both grow together.
I have a lot more spare time, so I try to spend it on researching and watching other teams from all over the globe, and then just jot down my thoughts on it...
Soak in, observe, make up my own thoughts on how things are going, try to craft a plan for the team with Reignover. It's not like I have a contract that says "You have to do this at 8 a.m. and this at 9 a.m." I am there as a resource, and I try to be a useful resource.
What are the expectations for the roster this season? I talked to Team Liquid and they seemed pretty confident that they should get first. I imagine you have the same thought? And also beyond the LCS, what are your expectations for international play?
Our expectations should be to get the best out of each other and be a contender for all of the top spots in NA. By a contender, obviously, I mean we want to win, but we want to make sure we're playing our best during that time and that the level of the region is strong so we can go into international tournaments and confidently play against these other teams and win. We want to be up there and to get there, we need to make sure that at the base level, everyone feels confident with each other, with the progress, and the journey.
You have a couple of new players, the coaching staff is entirely different. Do you think there's going to be any underlying nervousness if you guys are doing well, just based on how last year went where they just dropped off halfway through the summer?
I'm a fan of "experience builds character". If they really had a shitty summer last year, it'd probably mean there's going to be this constant thought of "Are we gonna be slumping", which is a fire that can keep them going when things get easy. It sucks for C9, but I'm happy they had a rough year. That builds fire.
Images via Riot Games
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