After an 0-2 start, Cloud9 seems to be back on track after another 2-0 week, bringing its total series record up to 5-3 for the summer split of the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS). Emily Rand caught up with Cloud9 support Andy “Smoothie” Ta to discuss the current support meta and Cloud9’s start to the split.
Emily Rand: Congratulations on the win. How do you think the team has been doing recently?
Andy “Smoothie” Ta: I think as a team, we’ve become a lot stronger in this meta. At first we were struggling to play meta champions like playmaking supports because we still thought that ranged supports were good. We never really adapted that fast. But now that we’re doing better, this is pretty evident.
ER: Is this what you attribute your somewhat shaky start to more than anything else?
AT: In my opinion, yes. In scrims before the split started, we were doing really well with these champions. But it turned out to be that we didn’t just scrim a lot of the better teams like TSM, CLG, the teams that know how to play playmakers. Once we faced TSM and CLG onstage they really abused the fact that it’s more difficult to play ranged supports in the meta. There’s a lot of playmakers, so it’s really hard for ranged supports to push them out of lane. You have to play really scared. If the jungler is ever around bot lane, it’s really hard to play the game from the ranged side. This meta just isn’t as good for ranged supports.
ER: So with that shift, one of the things that changes is that you are now the primary initiator. How does that affect overall communication on the team?
AT: Honestly, being an engager gives me so much more power on the team. I’ve always liked engaging and I’ve always been a playmaker in that regard. Playing the ranged style didn’t fit me as much, even though I was still pretty good at those. In game, we all have ideas, but if I see a chance to fight, my teammates might not see it. In this meta if I see that, I can go for it myself so it’s really empowering for me to play these champions.
ER: Then it falls on the rest of C9 to follow up, right?
AT: Yeah, my team sees a lot of opportunities too, but there are some things that only a support or an engager can see. Usually I just ask and they’ll give me a yes or no. If it works out, great. If not, we’ll talk about it later. But it usually works out because my team is really good at team-fighting in general.
ER: Somewhat related to this, Cloud9 has been the only team in North America to see success with AD Kennen bot. This makes your entire bot lane, both you and Sneaky (Zachary Scuderi), key initiators. Take me through why you think that pick has been successful for you and your team.
AT: The way I look at it is that AD Kennen is really safe. He has insane movespeed and that opens me up to roam around the map and do whatever I want. In the Team Liquid game, their bot lane couldn’t do anything. I was Blitzcrank and just roamed everywhere. Their mid laner Taliyah couldn’t roam, couldn’t play the game because there could be a Blitzcrank in the bush so it’s really difficult to play against as the enemy team. It really opens me up to make plays.
ER: One thing a lot of teams have struggled with regarding AD Kennen is properly splitting pressure on the map. How do you think C9 handles this?
AT: We didn’t have that much success with AD Kennen top. But we have more success with other top laners. I think Sneaky is really good at knowing when he can win a fight and when he’ll lose a fight, and that’s really important when he becomes a split-pusher.
ER: We touched upon your shaky start but actually you lost to some of the top teams in the standings right now in CLG, TSM, and Immortals. Having faced them, why do you think they’ve been so successful?
AT: They should already be strong on paper. I think for Immortals, Pobelter has been playing really well compared to last split. He didn’t really have that great of a split, but now he looks really good. Individually they have really strong players and Cody and Olleh have improved a lot as a duo. And everyone has really good mechanics in general. I think the trade between CLG and Immortals worked out really well in both teams’ favors. Dardoch is an aggressive jungler who needed strong lanes to follow up without hesitation, and Immortals needed a leader, which Xmithie brings. So that’s a big factor as to why those two are so strong right now.
ER: Lastly, Cloud9 is headed to Rift Rivals soon. Is this something you’re preparing for specifically?
AT: We’re not really preparing anything in advance. We’re just going to go and play. My biggest hope is that we just come back a better team. Winning would be nice, but I just want to be the best team for playoffs, for NA. I’ve been to the finals twice so far in NA and we’ve been super close to winning, the second time at least, and I just want to be in the best form possible to take that championship. I haven’t really won anything aside of the top NA support last split, and that’s only one step. I want a physical trophy or a championship so I really want to win NA Finals this split.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration