The situation could not be more dire than it currently is for Cloud9 at the 2021 League of Legends World Championship. The #3 seed from North America's team currently sits in last place after starting Group A 0-3, and for the squad to even have a chance to qualify for the knockout stage, a 3-0 in the second round-robin in the group is a pre-requisite, not a guarantee.
Following the conclusion of Cloud9's first round-robin of Worlds 2021, AD carry Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen spoke to Inven Global about C9's strengths and weaknesses at Worlds thus far and the current meta at large.
I appreciate you taking this interview after a rough start to your group. What do you think Cloud9 has done well despite the results, and what do you think you need to improve on to makes the results better, especially when considering you had a chance to win all three of these lost games?
We had a lead at some point in all of the games whether it was in gold or map state. There was a point in every game where if you asked someone, right then and there, who would win each of these games, they'd say 'C9.' Against Rogue, it was mostly the early game that went wrong for us. We had a lead bot, and we had the time to play for bot side, but we had a bad invade earlier in the game.
Against FPX, our mid game was a disaster. We got caught out over and over again and we also didn't get anything done in the mid game despite having a lead. Against DWG KIA, it was more of the same. Our early game was okay; we had one or two good fights where we got some kills, but from there on, the mid game was once again a disaster.
They just made plays better, which is what happens when you have former world champions on champions like Twisted Fate against a LCS team. We were getting out-macro'd, for sure. It feels like they kind of ran circles around us a bit. In the mid game, it felt like they were making fun of us sometimes.
We just slowly lost in the mid game — we lost every rotation of jungle camps and we lost control of the dragons, and it felt like every time we were trying to get more minions, Twisted Fate was there to punish us. Sometimes our drafts are hard to execute, but we also don't play well even with a good draft. It's a mixture of everything, but mostly, our mid game is what is losing us games.
How would you evaluate your individual performance thus far in contrast with the other AD carries in Group A?
I think in our first game against Rogue that the lane went really well for us. We got a 2-for-1 double kill in lane against Lucian/Nami as Miss Fortune/Yuumi, which is pretty good, in my opinion. I don't want to say that the game should have been over from then onwards, but once we killed their Lucian bot, Vulcan and I dove him afterwards and killed him again. We had two kills in lane, and from that point on, the game shouldn't be very tough for us.
As I mentioned earlier, we had a bad invade that game. We assumed that after we double killed them in bot lane that they would go to Rift Herald, but we saw Nami on the bot side of the map, so we thought they were trying to duo dragon while the rest of the team was on Rift Herald, but they weren't on Rift Herald. Instead, they used Xin Zhao E over the wall and then the TF ultimate ended up with us getting killed.
I think that was our biggest mistake in that game, but I played well in the early game. For the first 10-15 minutes of the game I was playing really well, but there was a point in the game where I went mid lane and we didn't have any vision control. From then, I felt like I couldn't do anything in the game. I had a lot of deaths — some of them were unnecessary, and some of them were just team mistakes in terms of trying to do something we couldn't do, so we went down for it.
I think we were outdrafted and outplayed in that game, but I think my early game was pretty good. As far as the FPX game, I was playing a losing matchup. Our matchup was more even in the 2v2, but we chose to leave me alone in that game so Vulcan was allowed to roam, which gave Perkz and Blaber a big lead, so I think that was worth it.
I made one mistake in the early game where I got caught at top side pixel bush. FPX jungler Gao "Tian" Tian-Liang had a good flank on Jarvan IV where he got around me. That was my bad, but besides that one mistake, I think I played fine in that game. In that game, they kind of made fun of us in the mid game — you know, a situation in which a world champion team is playing against a LCS team, right?
Against DWG KIA, I think I played fine. In lane, we were benefitted by their duo using all four of their Summoner Spells while we only used Cleanse and Ignite, respectively. That meant that the wave being frozen on our side, plus DWG KIA's bot lane having no Summoner Spells, meant that we would get another kill, which we did. We killed their Jhin one more time and I still had a freeze, so I built myself a bit of a good advantage.
I think that in this game, I probably should have tried to move to Rift Herald around 8-9 minutes in to try to fight for it instead of staying in the bottom lane to get more farm. Miss Fortune's scaling didn't matter as much as the top side's scaling in that game.
Overall, I think my laning has been pretty good in all three games. FPX didn't really do anything, but me being alone in a bad matchup for the whole game meant that my teammates found leads. Sometimes, you don't win lane, but you're still not behind. I think overall, I've played fine. My group's AD carries are not the greatest when compared to other teams at Worlds 2021.
I think that some teams in this tournament are bot-side focused — for example, EDward Gaming has a very good ADC, so they play around that role a lot. However, our group is more of a top-side focused group aside from Rogue. DWG KIA and FPX didn't win their world championships because of their bot lanes — don't get me wrong, though, I still think they are all very good players.
I think Lwx has had a good tournament so far and I think Hans Sama has also been standing out. Even though Hans Sama and Trymbi have died 2v2 in lane in every single game, Hans Sama has still had a very good performance so far, though I'd say Trymbi has been dying a little bit too much in lane.
Still, Hans Sama has been finding kills in the mid game and he has played a lot of Lucian, which I think is an OP champion. Lucian is a good champion, but I think Hans Sama has been playing well, especially against the likes of two former world championship teams. Laning phase hasn't been the greatest for Rogue's bot lane, but I think individually, Hans Sama is in a good place. He's almost individually carrying his team to victory, so I'm happy for him.
You mentioned you've had some drafts that have been difficult to execute, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you think is good in the meta that C9 is playing, and also, without giving away too much, what else you guys can focus on going forward that maybe hasn't been as high of a priority up until this point.
I just think that we aren't as good at playing around these new matchups like Jax top into Graves top, for example. That's not something we practiced much or something we know the conditions of inside and out. We don't know what levels Jax needs help and what levels he can win as well as we know other matchups in top lane, for example.
In that sense, we are a bit behind in the meta because I think other teams our much better than us at the current meta matchups as a team. I don't think it's Fudge — I think Fudge is doing fine on his own, but top lane is a team role. You can't win top lane all alone; you need help. Always. You need to at least match numbers on the top side and I think DWG KIA is better than us at doing that — same goes for FPX.
I also think that we were a bit slow to board the Lucian/Nami hype train — we only played two games of it in the Play-in which I had one bad game and one very good game. I think we play most things that everyone else plays too, so we're not behind in that sense, but we just play it a little bit worse, especially in the mid game.
I don't think that the meta or our drafts are holding us back, I just think that against Rogue, we had a worse draft than them if we didn't win the early game really hard. However, I don't think that drafts are the primary reason behind our losses in Group A thus far. I think our mid game has been our biggest problem, and then, we tend to have some bad mistakes like getting caught out randomly or our invade against Rogue. It's not really draft-related, I would say.
Speaking more towards the meta, we've had unexpected trends in the bot lane with Amumu being far worse than expected in terms of results, but Yuumi coming out of nowhere as a premier pick. What are your thoughts on these picks and what have led to their respective struggles and successes, albeit unexpected on both counts?
I think Amumu was good at first, specifically with Miss Fortune, but he's a very one-dimensional champion. You go in, you press R, and you either kill everyone or you die. Sometimes, Amumu can't really go in because the enemy has too many bruisers building Mercury's Treads and a ton of HP thanks to Goredrinker and Sterak's Gage.
Even in the game Gen.G won against Team Liquid, you could see that Gen.G's support Kim "Life" Jeong-min just couldn't go in and press R on his Amumu at any point of the game.
Irelia with Sterak's Gage and Guardian Angel won't die, Sejuani and Jax won't die, and Ziggs won't be in range, so if you don't find the target you can one-shot with the followup damage from the Miss Fortune ult or whatever other ult your composition has, Amumu will always die. He goes in, he gets hit by a Sejuani spell, and he gets one-shotted.
Amumu is a melee champion similar to Leona, but way too one-dimensional. If the fight ever starts ON Amumu, it's all bad. That, paired with things like Sylas that can counter Amumu, makes Amumu not as good anymore. I also think people have just probably learned how to play against it.
As for Yuumi, it's a byproduct of ranged supports like her receiving buffs and the fact that they nerfed Leona and Nautilus a couple of times recently. I think the meta is very bruiser-centric — there is a bruiser almost every game in any number of combinations in mid lane, top lane, and jungle.
The other option is that there is a mid lane champion that can completely take over the game with Yuumi's help like LeBlanc, Twisted Fate, Tryndamere, or Irelia. It feels like if Yuumi is even in lane — which is very easy — and you have at least one champion on the top side of the map that wins for your team, you just win the game automatically.
For example, if LeBlanc wins lane, then you put Yuumi on top of LeBlanc, LeBlanc will just kill everyone. She gets 50-100 AP and two extra Summoner Spells from Yuumi and she can just run the whole server. No one can do anything against Yuumi because she's very hard to play against when she's top of fed, strong champions. It's a very easy win condition.
In our game with Yuumi where we were winning pretty hard, we just didn't have any good champions in which to utilize Yuumi, so it's hard to win at that point. I think Yuumi is very strong in the current meta and you can see how highly prioritized it is in our group. It's been picked or banned pretty much every game, and that will probably continue for the entire tournament. It sucks for the fans to have to watch Yuumi gameplay, but it is what it is.
My last question is about the other LCS teams at Worlds 2021. It sounds like based on your last answer that you've had a chance to watch the games of the other North American teams, what do you think of their performances so far, and what do you think they can do to get out of their respective groups and move on to the knockout stage?
I think 100 Thieves and Team Liquid have easier groups than ours. That's for sure. However, I don't think TL is doing too well right now. Their draft against LNG Esports was terrible; that game was kind of lost in draft, in my opinion. Their most recent game against Gen.G was winnable because Gen.G played horribly after the early game. However, I think that because of the difference in draft, Gen.G would still win that game almost every time.
I think TL is putting too many eggs in the Alphari basket and Alphari can't carry that hard against all of the top laners. Gen.G is one of the top lane matchups he can carry against, but Gen.G's mid/jungle duo are much better at matching in the top lane than that of Team Liquid. Alphari can't actually 1v1 because he has to play against the opposing mid laner, jungler, and occasionally support as well depending on the team.
I think that Team Liquid will have a tough time because they are a bit one-dimensional. 100 Thieves' group is easier than the other group, but only because of the inclusion of DetonatioN FocusMe. I think 100 Thieves are still struggling in their group, so it's looking bad for NA right now, for sure. However, I think 100 Thieves can beat DFM again, and Team Liquid has the most hope of any of our groups.
I think every team in TL's group is beatable — that group is the group of life in which every team could make it out, but every team could lose. I guess Team Liquid still has a good chance, though their drafts have been pretty bad the last few days. They had a really good draft against MAD Lions, but their last two drafts have been really bad. If MAD Lions fixes their draft, I think they can win Group D and definitely make it to the knockout stage.