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Smoothie: “Us not playing well is our fault. I can blame jet lag or whatever all I want, but at the end of the day it’s our fault, and we need to fix those problems ourselves.”

Smoothie says no excuses, Cloud9 needs to play better.
Smoothie (Andy Ta) says Cloud9 needs to play better. No excuses. Photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration.

It’s been a rough week for Cloud9. Although the team impressed at Rift Rivals, its return to the North American League Championship Series summer split did not go smoothly. The team lost both Week 6 series, which included a surprising sweep from Team EnVyUs and a close match with Immortals. Slingshot’s Emily Rand caught up with support Andy “Smoothie” Ta to discuss Rift Rivals results and returning to NA.

Emily Rand: How is the team feeling, especially having just come from Rift Rivals and having to play this week?

Andy “Smoothie” Ta: So, ever since we left for Rift Rivals, we didn’t play very well at all. Our scrims in Berlin were awful, completely garbage. We didn’t actually learn that much from scrims in general. Some EU teams were sandbagging a bit, so we won some games, but it didn’t really portray how well we were playing before we left for Berlin. The other factors, like being sick or jet lag, which I don’t want to blame our losses on, but I just don’t think we played well.

ER: Before Rift Rivals, I talked with you about the event and you said you really wanted to learn. So what was the event like for you and what did you learn from it?

AT: EU teams are really weird. They do some stuff that NA teams would never do ever. They don’t value tempo as much as we do. For example, usually if you have one mana and one ranged support and their ADC needs to buy or something, NA teams would obviously recall. But against one of the teams, they just stayed in the bush and camped for me and killed me. I was like, “OK, you got one kill, but you guys are going to be behind in tempo. Sneaky’s already bought, I’m buying, but whatever.” A lot of their picks are really creative. They had some Irelia there, some Hecarims. It was fun. It was a good experience.  

ER: Did you feel like you learned things that you could bring back to North America?

AT: Yes and no, because we went there and we were like hot garbage. We didn’t play very well but we did learn a lot from the EU teams by how they swap, actually. If they ever have timing at seven minutes when the turret armor is down, they just go top and disregard everything else to take the turret first or do herald, which they have a really high priority on. So that’s something that NA teams don’t do as much because, for whatever reason, laning phase gets extended a lot more and I don’t think teams look for that as much here.

ER: Phoenix1 also had a rough week. Do you feel like the scheduling may have not been in teams’ favors coming back from Rift Rivals or is it just a coincidence?

AT: Well, it’s a bit of everything, honestly. Us not playing well is our fault, though. I can blame jet lag or whatever all I want, but at the end of the day it’s our fault, and we need to fix those problems ourselves. Coming into this week, our scrims at the beginning of the week were really bad as well, but nearing the end of the week, we actually started learning. And actually, these losses today and yesterday taught us a lot. It’s really rare that I learn something that is so valuable that I can’t wait to see it or learn it again and practice with my team, but I think I found something that could be really valuable to our team and can help out a lot of aspects that we didn’t really grasp before.

ER: The big thing to come out of Rift Rivals was how important jungle/mid synergy and mid priority are along with supports detaching and roaming around the map. In establishing mid priority for your team and jungler, how do you see your role as a support?

AT: Well, my role as a support is always interconnected to that whole system. Me being on a really strong support and Sneaky being on a stronger ADC is really valuable and means I can roam more. It’s not like I’m instinctively giving over resources to Jensen or not playing for my lane. It’s just way easier to play with that vision control. People think that all of C9 is putting all of our eggs in the Jensen basket and Jensen will 1-v-9, but that’s really not the case. We do all we do to make the game easier for all of us. Vision around mid is just too important to not have.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration