Cloud9 continued its intriguing summer split of the North American League Championship Series by winning both of its Week 8 matches against EnVyUs and Phoenix1. C9 clinched a playoff berth over the weekend and is in third place, one game ahead of Team Liquid with one week of the regular season remaining.
After a third place finish in the spring regular season, Cloud9 lost its quarterfinal playoff match and then made some major roster changes, including the transition of long-time shot-caller Hai “Hai” Du Lam to the newly-formed Cloud9 Challenger team. For a team that was reliant on Hai for a long time, the transition has gone relatively smooth.
Slingshot’s Vince Nairn had the chance to talk to Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen over the weekend about the split, looking ahead to playoffs and the addition of Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu as coach.
Vince Nairn: Any takeaways from the win today?
Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen: I would say, since there’s a new patch, the mid lane meta changed a bit. We were one of the few teams to actually understand the meta better than other teams. For example, other teams didn’t know how to deal with Malzahar, and we found a pretty good pick into it.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results. We still have some improvements to make in the early game, especially, but I think we’re on the right track.
VN: With P1 coming off the win against TSM, what was your reaction to that? Did that change the way you were approaching this match?
NJ: In a way, it changed it, but we weren’t too worried. We were looking at some of their picks, and we thought, “Rengar snowballed out of control.” Ideally, that shouldn’t happen. We thought TSM’s draft wasn’t the best. I feel like they didn’t adapt to the meta too well. They picked Taliyah into Malzahar — which is good early on — but later in the game, Malzahar destroys the game, basically. I think we understood the meta a lot better than TSM, in this instance.
I wouldn’t say we were scared. We knew as long as we played our own game, we’d come out on top.
VN: Now that you’re in the playoffs, obviously the fight for third place is still alive. What’s the ideal scenario for you next week, in terms of placing and what side of the bracket you end up on, or are you guys even worried about that at all?
NJ: Personally, I’m not too worried. I think we definitely don’t want to face TSM in the semifinals. I think we want to be on the other side of the bracket. I don’t really care too much about the lower-tier teams, like who we face. It doesn’t really matter too much to me cause if we’re gonna to worlds, we have to beat some of the better teams.
VN: What are your thoughts, overall, on the announcement from Riot about the possibly huge changes to the lane swapping meta and how you think it will affect you guys?
NJ: It’s definitely a big change. It’s a bit surprising, but I’m not really too worried about it. I don’t like lane swaps that much,in the first place because there’s nothing worse than when the enemy support comes mid and just bullies you. I’m kind of glad about it, in a way. We’ll see how it turns out.
VN: Do you think it’ll affect your team’s mentality much? I know that it’s difficult to say, because you haven’t had a chance to practice anything, but, in general, do you think it’ll change what you guys do a lot?
NJ: I don’t think it’ll affect us too much. It’ll just change the meta a bit. I think ranged supports might be a bit stronger because melee supports can’t just avoid the early, rough laning phase. I’m not too worried about it.
VN: How have you guys kind of come together overall? You had a lot of talented players, but there were obviously big changes (from last split). How did you guys come together, throughout the course of the split?
NJ: Way back in Korea, when we started scrimming, we didn’t do too well. Then, as days went by, we actually became really, really good in Korea. We had a really, really good win ratio against the best teams. When we came back to NA, I don’t know what happened. We just started playing worse. There’s just so much that changed. We’re still adapting, I guess, and working on our big issues. We’re just slowly, but surely getting better.
VN: How have you guys adapted? For the longest time, Hai’s shot-calling was a big part of the team. With him firmly being on the Challenger team, what’s that transition been like?
NJ: Way back in Korea, Reapered told us we have to talk a lot more. We need to communicate much better. We’ve been working on that. I’d say the communication is better. We just have to work on our macro game, a bit. I think we can be one of the best teams if we just fix a lot of our issues.
VN: What’s it been like working with Reapered? He’s had an eventful career, playing and coaching.
NJ: It’s been an amazing experience. He taught us a lot of stuff about macro that we actually didn’t know about. He would point out stuff that we would’ve never had thought of. He taught us a lot of things that I didn’t think was even possible. Some things that I would’ve never recognized by myself.
He’s a really good coach. Before we got Reapered, I didn’t think a coach could have that much impact on a team. He taught us a lot back in Korea. He taught us about the game, communication, how we’re supposed to play the game and so on. All the communication aspects, as well.
VN: When you decided that you wanted to become a professional, was education something you thought you could push off until later? Was it something you weren’t interested in anyway? Was it something you were trying to balance? How did you come to that decision when you started your career?
NJ :I actually didn’t like school that much. I really hated it. I didn’t want to go to school at all. I saw this as an opportunity to do something big. I’ll definitely think about it after. Sometimes I would regret not going to school. But overall, I’m pretty happy with what I chose. I definitely recommend not dropping out of school because it’s definitely a risky move (laughs) but it’s kind of weird to think about. I don’t think about it too much. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after I’m done being a pro. That’s not something I’ve thought about, too much.
VN: Was there a moment where it was almost scary, taking a risk you really hope works out? Was there a moment when you realized the risk or if it bothered you that much?
NJ: At first, I thought I was really, really good and I could do big things. I didn’t really see it as a risk. I knew I was talented, in a way. I’m very dedicated when I want to do something. I’m not gonna half do something and half not. I didn’t really see it as a risk. When I first joined Cloud9, our standings were not good. I was kind of thinking, “Did I make the right decision?” (laughs) I think it turned out okay.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games.