After the end of the Spring Split, some teams cried in celebration while others wept. With C9, they belonged to the latter. Despite qualifying for playoffs, Cloud9 was defeated by Team Liquid 3:0 and unable to make it past the 1st round. The result was lackluster when compared to C9’s previous reputation.
As a result, there was a catastrophic change during the Summer Split. There were as many as 3 player roster changes. Being the face of Cloud9 since anyone can remember, Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie were sent to Academy by Reapered. Their empty seats were filled with once Academy players: Goldenglue, Keith, and ZeyZal. It was a change that no one could believe.
After Sunday’s game, we got to meet and talk with Coach Reapered. Reapered openly revealed the questions and reasons regarding the roster alterations.
¤ First of, how do you feel about today’s win?
I’m happy that we got to win our first game of the split. It means even more to me that we won today with the same team comp we lost with yesterday (Saturday). Yesterday’s game didn’t go as planned. I knew that our Shen-Nocturne comp was certain to win as long as we played well. Unfortunately, we made a lot of mistakes. Today, I am pleased to see that my feedback paid off.
¤ Last split’s results were a bit unfortunate. You must have received a lot of criticisms from fans.
I only realized that we lacked ‘a lot of the basics' in the last moments of the Spring Split. I was late on recognizing the player’s problems/drawbacks. If the coach has no idea what the problems are, it is not unusual that the players have no clue as well. It was my mistake. Despite trying to cover for my mistakes at the very end, I lacked the time to accomplish it.
¤ The thing that caught everyone’s eye was the roster changes. Could you tell us the reasoning behind the change?
I have sent the so-called three C9 key players (Jensen, Sneaky, and Smoothie) to the Academy team and brought 3 Academy players up.
Recently, RapidStar had just joined Cloud9 as a new coach. He had practiced two weeks with the previous roster, and I talked a lot with RapidStar. It was not a problem of lack of motivation or not. We both came to the conclusion that the team’s atmosphere was the issue. The team’s atmosphere was too lenient/relaxing, and there was no sense of competitiveness.
Being with C9 as head coach for two years, I get a good grasp on how we will perform. From the previous roster, I had the feeling of 'I don’t think we will make it to playoffs'. It is not necessarily the players not giving it their all, but they easily accepted defeat and cared less about the scrim results. However, this is not the same for all the players that got dropped to the Academy team. They all have different reasons. The most deciding factor was team atmosphere.
People say that the players on the winning team have lasers coming out of their eyes. These players have full concentration because they hate losing. We didn’t have that on our team. It was not the eyes of someone who wanted to compete in order to win. The eyes were loose. I came to the conclusion that a change had to be made.
¤ Since they were considered the key players for C9, were there any complaints from the players when moving to the Academy team?
Of course at first, there were a lot of complaints. Although these guys are the players for my team, they are also my closest friends. Also personally, I never felt completely comfortable moving these players to the Academy team.
However, I learned that the 3 players from Academy are extremely dedicated. These players consume Academy scrims and watch/analyze all the LCS team VODs. The amount of effort they put into improving themselves is staggering. Not giving the opportunity to these once Academy players is just not fair. This was a fact that no one could argue.
The players who have just moved to the Academy team still have plentiful amounts of opportunity. I told them "If you guys are ready to fight for it and want a seat at the LCS, you are always welcome. But, you have to fight for it". It is very similar to the Korean style of competitiveness.
¤ How are the current scrim results and team atmosphere?
Our scrim results are extremely good. First of, the players are giving it their all. We have also increased the number of scrims we play. Usually, the higher the quantity of scrims, the quality decreases. However, the quality of our scrims has also increased. C9’s scrim quality was never that good. Whenever we would practice, our concentration would drop and the player’s goal to take something away from practice decreased. With this roster, I am able to feel what I have never been able to feel from the previous roster.
¤ Has RapidStar helped you a lot since his recruitment?
RapidStar puts in a lot of effort in teaching the players the basics. Being once the head coach for EDG and learning under SKT T1 Kkoma for a year, RapidStar’s experience seems to be quite prevalent.
Because he worked under a lot of head coaches, RapidStar understands how to coach. He figures out what my coaching direction is and coaches them accordingly to detail. If there is ever a moment when I miss something, he never fails to give me advice/counsel. Due to his active personality and attitude, he is of immense help.
RapidStar was also active in regards to the roster. The decision to bring ZeyZal onto the LCS team was sparked from RapidStar’s suggestion. While ZeyZal is talented and tries his best, the unique attribute he brings to the team is his method of communication. RapidStar had told me ZeyZal was different to other players, so I took a look and he really was different.
ZeyZal communicates with the future in mind. This means he thinks several steps ahead. For example, ZeyZal would say "If we do this, we can immediately do this." or "If we don’t do this, the opponent is going to do this.". Due to this type of communicate never being present on our team before, I had decided to experiment and put him in the LCS team.
¤ Let’s talk a bit about the meta. It almost feels like NA is not that experimental?
While studying other regions, I believe that NA is not lacking in experimentation. Rather, they lack the proficiency. When you play a scrim, you actually get to see team comps you have never seen before. Due to us lacking in proficiency, I decided it was best not to experiment with the new meta on stage. I assume the other NA teams are thinking the same way.
¤ This meta doesn’t do too kindly to traditional AP mages. Despite this, we have recently seen Viktor and Orianna find success. What do you think is the reasoning behind this?
Right now, the bruiser meta has settled down a bit. The Lulu-Nocturne comp is rated higher. Due to this, there are a lot of Lulus. However, Lulu is not particularly strong at 1:1. In particular, Lulu is fairly weak against traditional AP mages such as Viktor and Orianna. I believe this is why these champions are finding some success.
¤ Lastly, is there anything you want to say?
I am fully aware that a lot of people have several complaints regarding the roster changes. In addition to those players being the face of the team, I believe people were even more so frustrated because we didn’t explain why we did what we did.
To be honest, we want those players to come back to the LCS team. However, everyone needs an equal chance of opportunity. The former LCS players are always ready. If they are willing to fight for it, they are more than capable to grab that opportunity. I would appreciate it a lot if you guys continued supporting us.
Towards the end of this roster change, C9’s owner, Jack, received a large amount of criticism. When it comes to the roster, the coaching staff is fully responsible. We should be the ones receiving all the criticisms and not Jack. I hope there are no misunderstandings.