It wasn't a surprise that Cloud9’s mid-week 7 roster changes were met with cries of confusion, outrage, and downright disbelief. Hotshot rookie jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang and mid lane ace Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen were benched in favor of starting Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer in their respective roles.
Cloud9 Head Coach Reapered explained his reasoning for the roster moves in a series of tweets before the match, but his brilliance wouldn’t be truly be displayed until the teams hit the rift. Playing his signature Lee Sin, Svenskeren put enormous pressure on the mid lane for Goldenglue’s Syndra, securing first blood on Eugene “Pobelter” Park and returning for several repeat-ganks to snowball the mid lane advantage to a Cloud9 victory.
As jaws dropped all around the arena, there was no grin larger than the one on the face of Goldenglue. Embracing Svenskeren in triumph, Goldenglue was still ecstatic and buzzing when sitting down with Inven Global post-game.
First of all, Goldenglue, congratulations on today’s win. No one expected to see you and Svenskeren on the main roster, and today, you guys were THE reason you beat Team Liquid. How are you feeling right now?
I feel amazing. This is everything I could ever wish for, it’s indescribable. I’ve put in so much work and it finally feels like it’s paying off.
Cloud9 has certainly been putting you to work. You’ve played both bot and mid for Cloud9 on both the main roster and Cloud9 Academy and switched between the two teams more than once in the past few months. Cloud9 has been trying things all summer long and it seems like something has clicked for you guys after several hard weeks. Is Reapered some kind of a mad, brilliant scientist?
Reapered definitely deserves a lot of the credit for what’s been happening with our team. He has done a lot of controversial roster swaps, but I think he did it for the best interest of the team to ensure we would grow at a good rate. In spring, we started off strong and ended weakly around the time of playoffs. But this time, we’re hitting our stride at the right time. Practice has been going really well, and everyone’s super motivated.
Are you and Svenskeren competing for the starting spots with Jensen and Blaber? Has this competition helped motivate the players?
Reapered wanted to give Svenskeren and I a shot today because we’ve been working really hard in scrims, and he felt like we deserved it. At the same time, the 2018 NA LCS Summer Playoffs allows 7-man rosters, so we have more threats going into playoffs showing we can play with both rosters. We have different champion pools, and we play the game differently.
Has specializing your role for Cloud9 changed the way you prepare for competitive games?
It just makes every game more important. I get less chances than other players to prove myself, so I need to be playing my best and I have no time to waste.
That’s quite a different mood than you calling yourself a “for fun” player on broadcast earlier today!
(Laughs) That was just a joke! I mean I had a blast playing today, there was a big grin across my face the entire game.
When things are going this well for you guys, it’s pretty easy to have fun while keeping your performance in top shape. Have you and Svenskeren developed any synergy in the past few weeks on Cloud9 Academy?
It’s been really great working with Dennis. He’s a very experienced player, and he’s gone to Worlds multiple times. He’s very consistent, whereas I can let my pro-activity take over and do some crazy stuff in game. He helps reel me back in from going too wild on stage, and his play style really sets me up to succeed.
If I communicate something to him, he does a great job at returning information and setting what our next move is. He’s very good at helping me push my leads further. Out of game, he’s really easy to get along with. We’ve become friends through working together, and I’m really enjoying working together.
Can you give us some insight on how the 7-man roster could give you guys an edge in playoffs?
I would say the biggest difference between our two starting rosters is how communication works and how that affects the team play. Blaber generally plays extremely aggressive, and Jensen’s a very consistent player, so he helps him get out of situations in which other mid laners may not be able to save their jungler.
Svenskeren and I play a more controlled, measured-out game, so we provide a change of pace and a different perspective when compared to “Oh my god, Blaber’s killing himself, save him.” And then somehow he will live and kill everyone with Jensen’s help. He’s super aggressive and I don’t think teams expect it enough to be able to punish it properly.
Does he get punished in scrims more often?
Oh yeah, he just dies. (Laughs) It’s not just like on stage where he 1v9s. In all seriousness, Blaber is a great player and I’m glad his transition to NA LCS has been so successful.
Do you think that Cloud9’s utilization of their roster will set a standard for other teams to think about ways they can use their substitutes?
I’d definitely say Jack is ahead of the game. He’s the only team owner who invested a lot into his academy squad, and he made sure we had a good roster and gave Cloud9 a lot more tools. Other organizations should follow and learn from him.
As a player, what’s your relationship with Jack as an owner?
Jack almost feels like a second father to me. He’s really nice to be around; I feel really comfortable and like I know he has my back. He’s got my best interests at heart and he’s going to help me out with whatever I need. It’s a really nice feeling.
Jack treats everyone like his family and really looks out for his players. He makes sure we have everything we need, so even the smallest worry will not arise and we can focus completely on the game.
How does Jack compare to your previous team owner Steve Arhancet?
Jack is around more often; he’s always at the house where we practice. Steve is a great owner, but wasn’t at practice as often and focused more on Team Liquid’s growth as an organization.
When you were on Team Liquid, you had success here and there but never put it together completely for more than a game at a time. What have you changed about yourself as a player to find continued success on Cloud9?
I would say I have a lot more confidence in myself and the people around me. For the first time, I feel like my organization and teammates trust me, and it makes it so much easier for me to play the game. I’m not worried about being berated for my mistakes or my teammates losing faith in me.
Reapered has been a big influence as well. People have always seen upside and potential in me, but Reapered’s been the first coach to focus on my weaknesses. In focus on my weaknesses, he was able to reveal my greatest strengths to me and help me play towards them.
Reapered is very good at finding the root of the problem for a player. He was able to identify the flaws in my thought process and help me work on my approach to put myself in a better position to succeed. Before Reapered, most notes I got were like “Why did you die here?” which doesn’t really help me play the game better or put myself in a better position next time.
Instead of focusing on the individual mistakes, Reapered will focus on the setup and the big picture macro of what I should be doing, or should have done if things go wrong.
You and Svenskeren have a unique situation where you play a big part now in both the main Cloud9 Roster as well as Cloud9 Academy. Is bouncing back and forth a difficult adjustment?
No, it’s pretty easy for me. I played on Cloud9 Academy all spring, so I’m already comfortable working with Westrice and used to his coaching style. Westrice and Reapered obviously have differences in their coaching style, but it doesn’t affect me. Since I’m playing with different rosters and several different factors, I’ve become pretty good at focusing on myself and what I can improve upon in any situation, regardless of the variables.
How did you feel yesterday when you found out you were going to start?
We actually decided earlier in the week that Svenskeren and I were going to start for Sunday’s game. I think a lot of people reacted to the news last night as a “last minute swap”, but it was already planned. We figured we were already at a significant disadvantage playing against Team Liquid, AND we were on red side.
Team Liquid is the top team in the league and had blue side, so the risk wasn’t very significant since we were expected to lose this game on paper. In addition, Reapered wanted to give us a shot because we’ve been working so hard, and he also wanted to see if this alternative roster would give us more options in playoffs. It wasn’t last minute at all.
What was your reaction when you found out you would be starting in place of Jensen?
Honestly, I was a little nervous. Team Liquid’s been looking really strong, and we’re on red side on a patch I’ve never played before on stage.
Well, not a bad first game on 8.15 then! Regardless of the patch, Cloud9 has been crushing it in the second half, looking pretty much unbeatable against everyone. Are there any scenarios with nightmare teams for Cloud9 in the playoffs?
I wouldn’t say there are any nightmare teams. (Any free teams?) A lot of free teams (Laughs). In all seriousness, I’m not really worried about who we face in playoffs.
Hard to argue with that right now. Thanks for the interview Goldenglue, and congratulations again on your victory! Is there anything you’d like to say to the Cloud9 fans?
I just want to thank all of the fans who have stuck with us through this trying season. It’s been really hard on all of us, but we’re all doing our best to make sure that we’ll keep winning games. Keep the faith in our players and our organization.