C9 Smoothie: "Jensen getting solo kills is great but I want us to use our leads to take clean games"

After joining Cloud9 in the summer of 2016 NA LCS, Smoothie quickly rose in prominence as one of the best young supports in North America. Since C9 is in an excellent position to contest Summer Split and get revenge on TSM, the weight on Smoothie’s shoulders grows ever heavier. We had a chat with C9’s starting support to hear his thoughts on the split so far, goals in the playoffs, and some anime recommendations to catch up in the meantime.

▲ Cloud9 Andy "Smoothie" Ta

Congratulations on another 2-0 week for C9. With the playoffs secured, how do you feel about where the team stands now?

C9 stands at third or fourth right now. This week was tough at the start because of the new big patch. We had trouble finding out the best meta, and we’re figuring out what the best picks are. Our goal is to be more consistent.

C9 has been in the middle of the pack throughout the split. Has the pressure of neither being in the top nor bottom gotten to you?

Honestly, the regular season doesn’t really matter for us. Every team is thinking of playoffs. Some teams are out right now, of course. After Rift Rivals, I'm not sure why but we played very poorly. Before we left for RR, we won against TSM. After coming home, things well downhill  we all got sick to some extent, just playing badly, not quickly learning new meta. We’re trying to improve again by figuring out how to play the game again. Our team has flaws, but we’re slowly addressing them as we go on. During playoffs, we’ll have a good chance to be on top again even though our placing may say otherwise.

The current struggling teams — P1, FLY, and TL — don’t look like 4-12 teams on paper. Do you have any insights as to why that’s the case after facing them this and last week?

I’m not sure. P1, FLY, and TL all have strong rosters. TL has Reignover and Piglet as well as good NA talents, while P1 finished in second place over us in Rift Rivals. I honestly don’t know what their issues are because they’re all talented players. It could be some internal issues like shotcalling or getting nervous on stage. For example TL has very good early games, but I don’t understand why they can’t translate those early leads to advantages.

Which top team — TSM, CLG, IMT, and DIG — poses the most threat in the playoffs?

I think TSM will give us the most trouble. In recent games, Jensen is getting fed almost every game, even getting solo kills. I don’t think it’ll happen as much against TSM because both teams play around mid lane well and use that advantage to snowball the other side of the map. For instance, bot lane would call mid to help us down when we need it, and it goes really smoothly. I’m not really worried too much for other teams based on the experience of playing against them. I didn’t feel like they were so insane that we couldn’t do anything against them.

What are some challenges C9 needs to address to do well in the playoffs?

For me, my biggest struggle is grasping the actual support meta. This is the first time I’ve actually been questioning myself when I pick champions. It feels like blindpicking a support is almost impossible because you’ll get countered pretty hard unless you pick later on. My catching up on the meta will be a big advantage for the team in addressing our macro mistakes, random deaths in lanes, and picking bad fights.

The new patch brought on the prevalence of tank junglers and interesting picks in top lane. Do you feel the same about the bot lane as well?

With the new patch, there’s diversity everywhere. For support, there’s room for almost everything. We don't see much ranged supports like Karma and Lulu these days as much, but Janna and occasional Karma make an appearance. I think melee supports are really dominant right now. It’s really hard to survive all-ins right now as a ranged support. You have to be careful in picking squishy supports because there’s a lot of threat in laning phase after level 4-5.

You’ve been playing with Sneaky for quite some time. How do you like playing with him?

Playing with Sneaky is really fun because he has a troll personality, which helps in the team’s atmosphere. He and Jensen are really close and poke fun at each other. Even if we're losing in scrims and someone’s tilted, one of the two starts making jokes. They always say something funny that gives us good spirits. We always have a good mood in our team whether we win or lose. It’s really important because often times if you get tilted, players eventually blame their teammates for losing, which is a bad mentality to have in a team game. If you fix one mistake and you’re still losing, there are obviously more mistakes; It’s not just your teammates being bad. Everyone is right in their own minds. If it doesn’t work out, then something has to be changed. I think keeping good spirits, staying focused, and being open to criticisms are keys.

You’re among a handful of support players in NA who have playmaking genes, according to Aphromoo. Why do you think that’s the case?

To be at the top level, every player should know how to engage. If you’re on a tank or someone has CC, you have to be able to make plays. If you don’t have that, you’ll never be at top tier. You can get by to some extent being on passive champions, but you can’t be too scared to fight or walk up even on those champions. It’s really hard for me to not make plays because that’s just who I am. That’s what the champion does. If you’re not playing the champion to the best of its ability you’ll always be behind.

C9 is facing important matchups next week against NV and FOX. What would be the focus in those matches?

For me going to playoffs, I want to play as cleanly as possible. I’m not saying those games will be easy. If we get a lead, I want us to be able to push that lead as far as we can so we can cleanly close the game instead of picking random fights. Jensen getting solo kills is great and all, but I want us to use our leads to take games cleanly.

How far do you see C9 going in playoffs?

I see C9 going to the finals again. I’m not worried about other teams going into playoffs. I think our team has strong individual players, and we can get advantages early. Right now there are jokes about C9's having a bad early game and our not looking for dragons so much. Everyone’s playing a big part in changing bad habits from the last split. If we get those things cleanly, we’ll be able to get back into form.

You recently tweeted watching an anime. Would you like to recommend any series?

I do watch a lot of anime on my free time. Right now, I would recommend My Hero Academia. I also enjoy Dragon Ball Super because I’ve watched the series in the past. So, I’m really in on the hype train and it’s fun for me. I would recommend those two.

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