All-Star 2018 was the perfect way to cap an amazing year of League of Legends esports. Pros and streamers gathered at Esports Arena Las Vegas in the Luxor Casino to play a multitude of fun game modes for a packed crowd across the three-day event.
Equally exciting as the game modes was the fanfare and festitivites that accompanied the events. All-Stars is an event where players get to relax and spend time together after a long competitive season, and no one lets their hair down quite like Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi.
Cloud9's AD Carry spent the first day of the event in a Xayah cosplay, and he wasn't alone. Korean All-Star and recently signed 100 Thieves AD Carry Bae "Bang" Jun-sik upped the ante, matching Sneaky in Xayah cosplays and even playing together in the tandem modes and against each other in the 1v1s.
On the last day of the event, I got the chance to catch up with Sneaky and ask him about his personal and professional growth throughout the year.
Okay, I'm here at All-Stars 2018 with Sneaky from Cloud9; changing it up in street clothes today Have you had a good time at the event so far?
I've been good. I think this format is a pretty cool twist compared to the past All-Stars. Normally, it's semi-competitive where you have one person for each role coming in, but this time, we have me, Imaqtpie, and Doublelift on the same team! It's a lot more fun, honestly.
Yeah, you played Mid Lane in the NA vs. EU showmatch to kick off the event and got camped out of your mind. What was it like playing in your off-role and integrating streamers into the comms for a 5v5?
I mean, Imaqtpie is a former pro...but he was also off-role'd on Support. So that was interesting. Nightblu3 is really good too, so it wasn't like Platinum streamers coming in and playing with pros. It wasn't that bad; they played their roles pretty well.
I had fun being off-role'd. I had played some LeBlanc in solo queue, specifically into Cassiopeia. I ended up losing the lane, but it wasn't because of the matchup.
And mostly importantly, you won the game. Outside of game, you've been the center of attention with Bang and your double Xayah cosplay. Now that Bang is in NA, is he issuing a challenge to you for best cosplayer in NA LCS?
*Laughs* I don't know, I think he just wanted to do it to get into All-Stars. I think his fan vote wasn't that high at first. He was in 3rd place, so he wanted to do think of something crazy he could do to push it. He decided to do a Xayah cosplay with me and I was like, "Wait, that's happening?"
I don't know if it'll be a continuous thing for him, but I'm going to keep doing it. Maybe other pros will join in, too. Fionn did an interview with Peanut and he said he would cosplay Nidalee if he was voted to All-Stars next year.
Really awesome work on the cosplays, by the way. A lot of work goes into the craft.
Looking towards next year, Cloud9 has had some roster changes with Jensen moving to Team Liquid. Have you gotten the chance to play with your new Mid Laner Nisqy yet?
I'll be getting to play with him soon. Licorice and I are going to go to Korea after All-Stars is finished, so we'll have two weeks that we'll play together before Christmas break. Then we'll come back to practice before the spring split. But yeah, we haven't had the chance to play together just yet.
Cloud9 showed over the past year that roster depth gives a team a lot of flexibility. Do you think having more substitutions and platoons is the future of roster construction in the NA LCS?
Yeah, definitely. I think we did show that it works and I think teams will invest more in trying it. If you saw at the end of the Summer Split, CLG played Wiggily instead of Reignover. People questioned it, but they won both games that week. He was just killing people at level 2 and snowballing games off of it.
A lot of people have their own way to play that's totally different and works really well sometimes that maybe a veteran player like Reignover would never see because he already has his own style developed. When Blaber first joined our team, he was so aggressive and confident in his aggression and I was like, "Okay, I'll follow you." Then we would just get kills everywhere and I'm like, "I didn't know people could die that way."
That will happen a lot more if other teams start trying that kind of stuff.
A change of perspective and pace is always good. For someone who is playing competitively for so long, how have you managed to remain at the top of your game and not get stuck in old habits?
It's a lot of just being able to adapt to the changes that the game provides and being able to accept them while still enjoying playing the game. If you don't enjoy playing as much, you won't play on the new patch as much and you'll get more frustrated by the game itself rather than more accepting of the changes.
For example, turret plating has come under criticism, but if you look at it from another perspective, it's like, "Ooooh I'm getting rich! Look at all this gold; keep hitting the turret boys!"
There's obviously so many changes that go through the game, but I think it's just my willingness to adapt that keeps me going. Maintaining a positive attitude within the team through how we improve and think about the game is important, too.
This is the 3rd generation of Cloud9 where you have been the consistent mainstay with you in the marksman position. You've played more than almost any active player in NA. Are you planning on taking a break anytime soon, or going into full streaming at some point?
No, I don't really consider that because pro play means a lot to me. It makes it really easy to enjoy playing the game because you are always playing for something. If you're just streaming, you're either climbing the ladder, which is pretty difficult, or you're going for entertainment. Even if you do reach rank 1, what then? Get more LP; go to a different region; I don't know.
In pro play, you're always getting tested. Every week, your record either goes up or down and at the end, you get to examine your results and based on how you did, you get to travel to international competitions. There's always something interesting going on in professional play.
You just had your best international performance of your career, you have one of the most successful streams in the scene, as well as a relationship. There seems to be a stigma that having anything outside of "the game" is bad. Do you think it's just dependent on the person?
No, I think everyone has to have a good balance. If you are just purely playing the game, you can only do that for so long. If you're just playing 24/7 non stop, there's risk of burnout. I'm not sure if it compares to real sports, but for streaming, if you play another game people come and ask you, "Why are you not playing League?" Your whole life really is out there.
What's something new that you learned about yourself or competitive League of Legends in 2018?
I can't tell if it was meta-oriented, but the thing I said earlier about the aggression from Blaber was super helpful. There were some other things that I had to re-learn within the game, I guess, like when to go for vision control and how far back I should be in the lane. It feels like this year I had to stand pretty far back and not do things that I normally would.
A lot of times before, I would just be walking around in the river by myself and I'd be fine. If someone walks up, I just smack them until they walk away. If I walk up to Mid, I'm going to get roamed on by the Top Laner and he's going to kill me, or the Jungler will be behind me for whatever reason. There was a lot more waiting back this year that I had to get used to that I normally wasn't.
There are changes to the way the lane phase plays, too. In years past, AD Carries controlled the pace of the lane. They would be pushing and harassing people who walk up and starting their own fights. But nowadays, you can't really start the fight by yourself. You have to wait for your Support to do something before you can get away without even following up.
For example, if a Thresh lands a hook, I just back away because I'm going to die if I try to hit him back even once. There are a lot of things I had to re-learn about the game.
Thank you for sharing your insight, Sneaky, and congratulations on all of your success at Worlds this year. Is there anything you'd like to say to close out the interview and the year?
Thanks for reading!