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Smoothie on Rift Rivals expectations: “Our team is affected by jet lag pretty hard.”

Smoothie says Cloud9 is affected pretty hard by jet lag at Rift Rivals.
Cloud9's Smoothie (Andy Ta) says his team has been affected by jet lag at Rift Rivals. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

Cloud9’s devastating loss to G2 Esports helped the team transition into a strong game against Fnatic. After going 1-1 on the first day of Rift Rivals, support Andy “Smoothie” Ta spoke to Slingshot’s Kelsey Moser about the adaptation they made, jet lag, and the impending Rift Rivals best-of-five final.

Kelsey Moser: First of all, there was an adaptation between your game against G2 and your game against Fnatic. You went for the deep scaling comp, and then you drastically changed your approach for the next game. What went into that?

Andy “Smoothie” Ta: Against G2, we didn’t really have lanes that could actually pressure early, so all we could do was just farm and make sure they don’t get to make plays with Elise and Blitzcrank, which is really hard. So they’re just invading our jungle all the time and getting wards in and just pressuring, and it was really hard to get wards out because wherever our jungler is, he has to play really safe. So it’s just really weird playing the game without any vision control and really hard to get back while we’re still weak and scaling up.

KM: You also went ahead and picked up Blitzcrank yourself after that. Would you say that changes the way you set up your vision?

AT: Yeah definitely. Blitzcrank in the right matchup is really really good because the enemy team has to play extremely safe. Especially if you have a strong ganking jungler. Actually, every jungler right now is a really strong ganking jungler. Like Elise, for example, if you get a hook, and you have Elise behind you, it’s really hard to live, so you have to play really respectful of that. We got lucky because we burned Orianna’s flash level one, which is insanely important for that matchup. If Orianna has no flash, then she will just die to every gank. Since Leblanc can just do whatever she wants then, Orianna has to play respectfully, Leblanc can always roam down bot and help us out. Once they free up Blitzcrank, I can move up mid and help out mid too. So it’s really really easy to play the game there.

KM: I feel like we’re seeing a lot more interference from support to mid lane since the mid-season changes. Can you talk to me a little bit about why that is?

AT: So right now, we’re moving away from ranged supports that are strong in lane. Nowadays, there’s like Thresh, Blitz, Rakan: those kind of roaming supports that do really well in small skirmishes around mid and with the team in general. It’s less about lane dominance nowadays. You see some Thresh players go Mobis rush first. It’s really hard to play the game if one side has an advantage. The game against Fnatic, I had like all pressure in lane. I could always always move up and down from mid and bot. It’s just really hard if that one side gets pressure to play mid lane.

KM: I feel like when I’ve watched Cloud9 this season, it’s been a lot more about going from these separated lanes to a team that kind of juggles pressure well across the map. Is that something you guys have been consciously working on?

AT: Honestly, I don’t think we’re really focusing on it. It hasn’t happened as much here in Europe, but when we’re back in NA, we usually win our lane. Through that, we can always pressure everywhere else. It’s just really easy if you win your lane. I think I’m pretty strong in lane. Even if the stage doesn’t show it, and we have the worst laning stats or whatever, I think in scrims, at least, I’m really strong. I think we don’t really work on it together. It just happens because we’re strong individually, and we use our resources to help each other more.

KM: Right now, it’s a little riskier to play side laning or 1-3-1 comps. Do you agree, and do you think that has worked in your guys’ favor at all since you’re not a known 1-3-1 team?

AT: To some degree, I agree. There are some outliers, like if you have a Leblanc in the game, it makes it really hard to kill her in side lane. She’s a strong champion if she gets ahead. For sure right now there’s a lot of team fighting mid laners like Viktor, Orianna, Syndra. Once you get a lead or something, it’s really hard to come back. They’re really strong in lane as well. It’s not really a disadvantage to us because Jensen plays every champion, and we all play every champion. Whatever style happens, we can play it. For example, we played Leblanc today, and we may not have the best practice on it, but we can always play it because we’re confident on those champions, and we used to play them a lot too.

KM: I would say there was a lot of pessimism for NA teams going into Rift Rivals. Did you expect the 4-2 result today?

AT: For us specifically, judging on how practice has been going in the most recent days — it hasn’t been going really well. Practice has been really unproductive. We’ve been not playing really well. Definitely part jet lag. Our team is affected by jet lag pretty hard. Even myself. I’ve been making a lot more mistakes I would never make before. For example, in Game 1 vs G2, I kind of killed myself and walked into the bush where I knew Blitzcrank was sitting in. He was channeling recall, so I thought he would just base, but Elise was there, and I just died. That’s something I would never do before, so I’m not sure why I’m playing so inconsistently right now. It’s something I have to fix for tomorrow and the days to come for sure.

KM: We’ve seen group stages between NA and EU go more in NA’s favor or be even, then teams like G2 do better in best-of-fives. Is that something you’re worried about, or do you think it will continue to be pretty even?

AT: If the trend is going to be like that, we could have just gotten lucky games. Honestly, it’s possible, but I think that NA, we’re pretty — our teams play pretty standard. For example, Fnatic and UoL, they play very different styles. I think G2 is a team that actually plays our style and plays very standard and follows the Korean meta and stuff. Their team is probably better at best-of-five scenarios. I saw the Zven interview where he was saying that Fnatic and UoL are better best-of-one teams. That could be true in some regard, but I’m not really sure how those teams work because we haven’t played UoL yet, and Fnatic is very — I won’t say cheesy, but they’re creative for sure. NA is just pretty good at best-of-fives in general because we all copy each other and it’s very standard play. We kind of play the same style every game. If we play well, and we do well, the game is pretty easy.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games