Cloud9 started 2020 as the most dominant League of Legends team in LCS history with jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang winning Spring Split MVP. The team ended 2020 limping its way through summer, struggling to beat middling rosters. However, with the addition of mid laner Luka “Perkz” Perković, Cloud9 is looking to once again be a dominant force. Stropse caught up with Blaber to discuss Cloud9’s new roster and rejuvenated environment.
2020 did not end the way Cloud9 envisioned, and the team was very proactive this offseason, making change where needed. In order to afford the massive buyout which G2 Esports had set for Perkz, Cloud9 moved its star top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie to FlyQuest, sending Academy players David “Diamond” Bérubé and Cristian “Palafox” Palafox with him as well.
Cloud9 also shook up its coaching staff, bringing in Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez, Marius “Veigar v2” Aune and Max Waldo after losing long time head coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu.
Facing Old Friends
In their second match of the LCS Lock In Tournament, the Cloud9 players faced off against their old pals on FlyQuest, dominating them in a 23 minute, near-perfect game.
“It didn’t really feel weird at all,” Blaber said of playing his old teammates. The Cloud9 jungler had a KDA (kill/death/assist) of 4/0/5, securing the Player of the Game award. “I’m pretty close with Diamond and Palafox; Diamond I played with for a year and Palafox is someone that I actually went to Korea with for a month. For me, it doesn’t really feel weird. It’s just like, you gotta beat your friends and your old teammates, you know?”
When asked if anyone on the team gave advice to newcomer Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami on how to lane against Licorice, Blaber laughed and responded, “No, we didn’t really give him any specific advice. That’s just a him thing, top laners can brawl it out. But obviously, we know how Licorice plays and his tendencies because we did play with him for a year with this squad and I have been playing with him for almost three years now. So I do know some of his tendencies. So I definitely played around that.”
FlyQuest is an exciting team itself with their new young core, along with breakout bot laner Johnson “Johnsun” Nguyen and Argentinian jungler Joel “Josedeodo” Villegas. “Flyquest will do decently this season,” Blaber told Stropse. “I think they’ll definitely be a middle of the pack team, like, top six.”
With the FlyQuest guys still good friends with Blaber and crew, it’ll be interesting to see how they stack up against each other in the future.
Welcoming New Faces
“I definitely think the team atmosphere has changed a lot,” Blaber said. Cloud9 was known in 2020 for having a very open and fun team culture, and bringing in a League of Legends staple such as Perkz has to shake around how the team is conducted.
“We’re still very serious when it comes to playing. But then we like to joke around outside of the game. I do think Nisqy was more like, I don’t know, a team punching bag… someone we make jokes off of. He’d relieve a lot of people’s stress. It was just really funny.”
The former Cloud9 mid laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer was very beloved by Cloud9 and its fans, and Perkz is definitely a big shakeup in the midlane.
“Perkz is someone who’s a lot more serious and in-command. But, he’s now the one that’s making the jokes of other people. So I definitely think like that dynamic has changed a lot. But besides that, I think our team dynamic is generally the same.”
Speaking about Mithy, Cloud9’s new strategic coach, Blaber only has good things to say. “He helps bot lane a lot with specific lane picks or matchups. For me, he helps me with my pathing, and to assist better. But I think the biggest thing that Mithy brings, is that he has a really good understanding of the game. He has a lot of theories on how we should play the game, and I think it’s really helped us a lot, changing the way that we think about the game or helping us understand a better overall way to play.”
Looking Toward the Future
“I’m pretty excited to play against Team Liquid. Their roster looks really good,” Blaber said. Team Liquid and Cloud9 have emerged as the favorites to win it all heading into 2021, with TL bringing in import Barney “Alphari” Morris and jungler Lucas “Santorin” Tao Kilmer Larsen.
With the expectations so high, the former LCS MVP doesn’t really feel any pressure from the fanbase to live up Cloud9’s spring form or right the mistakes of summer. “Obviously, the fans are really disappointed, that we didn’t make Worlds. But I don’t think anyone’s more disappointed than us as players,” Blaber explained.
“Not making Worlds is kind of a failure of a year for any professional player. My goal is to just make it back to Worlds and prove that we really are a good team. So I don’t feel any pressure, I feel more motivated.”
All eyes will be on Blaber and Cloud9 as they compete in the LCS this year. With their own eyes on the LCS title and Worlds 2021, the team will look to put last year behind them and enter a new era of Cloud9 League of Legends.