To say Cloud9's second week of the 2022 LCS Summer Split was a turnaround would be an understatement.
C9 looked far from perfect in their most recent wins against Dignitas and 100 Thieves, but the performance of their full roster — albeit with top laner Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami playing remotely at the tail end of his COVID-19 quarantine — was a marked improvement from their performance in week one, which ended up going 0-3 in part due to visa issues for AD carry Kim "Berserker" Min-cheol and support Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen.
After their first win of the 2022 LCS Summer Split against Dignitas, C9 mid laner Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen broke down the process of how he ended up without a team in the offseason, how he almost roleswapped to AD carry for Team Liquid, and rejoined C9 for the first time since 2018.
Congrats on your first win of the split! Was having your full roster the biggest factor in the difference between today's game and last week's games, or did the rest of your team make some improvements from week one?
I think strength of schedule had something to do with it. But I think we are more on the same page with this roster, even though we haven't had much practice together. Things are going well for us in practice, so, overall, I would say we are more on the same page. It probably has to do with experience to some degree, but it feels more comfortable in-game.
How long have you had to practice with the full roster?
We've had four days of practice and it's actually been going really well. I think our results have definitely been better than expected, even against the better teams, so things are looking pretty good in terms of practice and development for the team.
How do you feel you've played individually so far in the Summer Split and how would you compare your current form to your competitive peak?
It's hard to say. I'm definitely not where I want to be, by any means. I'm still making a lot of mistakes in places where I normally don't make too many, and I think decision-making and how many mistakes are made are the main difference-makers for top players compared to the rest. I made way too many mistakes this game, so if 10/10 is my peak, I played at like a four or five.
So there is plenty more rust to shake off, then?
Honestly, I don't really feel rusty when I play the game, even though I had the last split off. I think I'm doing pretty well and performing better than the players I play against, at least in practice. I don't know — maybe I need a bit more time on stage to get back into the groove because, so far, I haven't been too satisfied with my stage performance.
After Worlds 2021, were there any specific goals that you had in mind for the 2022 season, and how did you end up without a starting spot in the LCS?
After we lost at Worlds, my goal was to build the most competitive roster that we could field on Team Liquid. That's when I decided that I should swap to AD carry because it seemed like there were no good AD carries available and we wanted to move on from Tactical.
I thought that because there was no one available, I could fill that spot and we could find a mid laner that is close to me in skill, which would have been the best improvement overall. I thought I would maybe be more suited for the AD carry role. That's kind of how the offseason went, but then, I think Core kind of got cold feet about me swapping.
At the same time, it was when TL made a deal with Bjergsen, so everything kind of went south for me. I was left without a position. I wish I could have found a team, but when I found out, it was already pretty late into the offseason. I had a buyout, which didn't make things easier, so I definitely felt a bit f****d over in that regard. I guess that's esports for you. [laughs]
Do you think you would have been able to figure something out without the contract buyout?
I mean, there were teams that showed a lot of interest, but they didn't want to commit to the buyout, so it definitely played a big role. It's hard for me to say what really happened because I couldn't be a part of the conversation, so I'm not fully sure. I was told by at least Jack that if there was no buyout, things could have been different. It sucked, but I guess I have to move on. [laughs]
You weren't the only 'star' player affected by this in the past offseason. Do you think there was anything specific regarding the League of Legends esports ecosystem that contributed to this trend?
I know it happened to top players from other teams too, like Nisqy, for example. However, I don't really know if there's a solution. It's due to contracts, and in League of Legends, contracts usually favor the organizations. They obviously decide what they want to do, and I know people will say, "Why didn't you just sign or make a better contract?" but it's really not as simple as that. That's just how esports is, I guess.
Especially when we're talking millions of dollars, right?
Yeah, I don't really know what the solution is. Anyone can be f****d over, I guess, but it was hard for me to see it coming. I thought there was no one better than me, so I guess it wasn't really something I prepared for properly.
Honestly, though, it can happen to almost anyone. I guess that's just how most, if not all, contracts are, but I have made changes so that I won't have a similar thing happen to me again in the future. [laughs] I'm definitely more prepared for the future now if something bad were to happen.
I would assume that 'you made changes' means that you made sure certain things were included in your new contract?
Hard to blame you for that. Were there any other players in similar situations that you spoke to for commiseration or advice?
Not really. Honestly, I keep to myself for the most part, so I don't really know how situations are for other players. I think Nisqy was in a similar situation to mine, but to be honest, I don't really know for sure.
Earlier in our conversation, you mentioned that there were facets of your play that you felt could have been better at the AD carry role. What are those aspects of your play, and even though it didn't work out with TL, would you consider that roleswap again in the future?
When I think of myself, I'm always really smart about the game and I always make the right decision in a clutch moment. The most important things as both an AD carry and a mid laner are how you make decisions and how you play teamfights. I feel like these are my strong qualities as a player. I'm very good at understanding how to play fights optimally, so I don't think it would be an issue for me to transition into another role.
There are other things you have to learn, though, which require patience and understanding from the people around you. I don't think it's something I would ever do again at this point because I might just be scarred. [laughs] I think I'll just stick to mid lane.
How did you end up joining Cloud9 for the Summer Split and what was your approach to the mid-season break?
I already had an idea of how C9 worked and I liked playing with Blaber, so it kind of seemed like the best position for me to put myself in. I was definitely considering other options, but in terms of achieving the best results, I think this was the best decision for me. I also have comfort in knowing how things really run here. I've been playing for a long time, but my top priority is still winning, so I thought this was the best choice for me.
When you first left C9, you went to TL to win an LCS title, which you did more than once. Do you think this iteration of C9 is different enough from your last time on C9 where you could win a title, or did you simply go with the best option available to you ahead of summer?
It's hard to say because the game has developed a lot since the last time I was on C9. Everyone has gotten a lot better at the game and understanding it, but I just thought this was my best chance at winning. Even though there is some sort of risk to it, I still thought this was the option I had that had the most potential.
During your absence in the 2022 LCS Spring Split, there was plenty of talk about this being the weakest mid lane pool the LCS had seen post-franchising. While you were without a roster, what was your perspective on the mid lane talent in the LCS Spring Split?
Even though I had a split off I was still playing League of Legends for at least 12 hours a day. I definitely felt like I could play better than them, but it sounds a bit wrong to say right now since I feel like I am making a lot of mistakes. However, I'm still a very confident player and I still think I will be the best, I think I need just a bit more time before everything will come naturally.
Is there anything you want to say to those who are happy to see you back in the LCS?
Thank you guys for the support. It feels really nice to hear fans excited for me again and to just hear them being really supportive in general. I've been playing for a long time now, so I feel like I've started to appreciate my fans more and more over time. Thank you guys for sticking by me, I hope I can live up to expectations.