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Jensen: “Now we’re the ones making the plays and forcing stuff to happen, so the game feels a lot easier to play, and we feel more in control.”

Jensen says Cloud9 is finally making decisive plays instead of being reactionary.
Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen says playing proactively and not reactively has helped Cloud9's recent surge. Photo courtesy of Riot Games.

After an 0-2 Week 6 and a slightly shaky 2-0 Week 7, Cloud9 kicked off the second-to-last week of the North American League of Legends Championship Series regular season with a 2-1 win against Team Liquid and finished it with a decisive sweep of FlyQuest. Slingshot’s Emily Rand caught up with mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen after their series against Team Liquid to discuss C9’s previous inconsistencies and recent improvement.

Emily Rand: Going into this week, you had said in previous interviews that Cloud9 really had needed to address core issues with the team. How do you feel like the team is coming along with that after this series?

Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen: We fixed our core issues a lot. Although the series was far from clean, I think the problems lie elsewhere. Game 1, for example, our draft was pretty weird since we drafted three split pushers and no waveclear and they had a really good team fighting comp. Game 2 was pretty easy I’d say. And then Game 3 again, I think we just had lanes that all get shoved in, plus they had Elise, so it was really hard to make plays. But the core issue we had before was that we were just playing reactive to what our opponents were doing. So we weren’t really forcing fights or getting into a comfortable position where we could fight evenly. We would always just react and win team fights simply by being better than them, if we were to win. But now we’re the ones making the plays and forcing stuff to happen, so the game feels a lot easier to play, and we feel more in control.

ER: Do you feel like that’s what happened in Game 3, which was decided by an advantageous team fight in mid lane?

NJ: I think Game 3 was a bit weird because, like I said, we did draft lanes that get shoved in early and they had Elise, which is the strongest early game jungler. The game was naturally going to be hard, so we just kept scaling and eventually we got the fight we wanted. It was kind of weird how it happened, I think, but that was more just playing to our win conditions.

ER: Is it at all difficult to prepare for a team like Team Liquid that has been using a lot of substitutions or does that not affect your preparation?

NJ: In some cases it will affect us because some players will have higher priority on some champions, but in Liquid’s case it didn’t really affect us in any way. It’s not something I thought of, and I think the games played out fine.

ER: In terms of evolving as a team, this split, and this entire year, your team really seems to have come into its own. In previous interviews with Contractz (Juan Arturo Garcia) he’s talked about how his play improved over the course of the split and that your jungle/mid synergy finally clicked by spring playoffs. How do you feel like the team has improved and more specifically how has your in-game synergy with Contractz evolved from the beginning of last split?

NJ: When you first start out in LCS there’s just a lot of stuff you have to learn so it makes sense. He’s being a lot more talkative and being a lot more demanding in what he wants and needs. It makes it a lot easier because we weren’t always on the same page before, so it makes it hard to force stuff and make things happen if we don’t talk about it in advance together. Whereas before I think we kind of clicked because we’re two good individual players so we’d just end up in fights that weren’t planned out correctly. We’re just working more together as a team overall, not just me and Contractz. As I said before, I just feel like we’re forcing stuff more and making things happen. That’s kind of the main point to our play style that has gotten better is that we’re just a lot more proactive now.

ER: How do you feel like C9 adjusted to the recent patch? Did it throw you off at all?

NJ: We’ve been doing fine. A lot of people were saying that the patch changed a lot. I don’t think it’s that much different. Sure, there’s some other champs that just showed up, but the patch was pretty decent to read with tanks coming in. Some lethality champs are good but generally speaking lethality generally doesn’t do well against tanks, so the patch was kind of whatever to me. It’s just a lot more tank-focused now and I think that’s a meta that we do better in. Impact, for example, excels on tanks. He’s probably the best on tanks of any top laner in NA, so I like the patch a lot.

ER: Does it affect how the team approaches play style generally? You had mentioned previously when talking about Game 1 today how you were trying to move away from split pushers to more 5-v-5 team fighting compositions. Is that more of a play style choice or a meta shift?

NJ: Game 1, we’d practiced Twisted Fate into Taliyah specifically. The problem was that we had Tristana with it and Trundle which are all kind of split push champions. It’s kind of a split push comp and they drafted a heavy team fighting comp so it was just going to be an awkward game overall because of the way the draft turned out, with three champions that want to split push and pressure not really team fighting. We were trying out a different style this time and it didn’t really work out because the main thing was that we wanted to try the TF into Taliyah. It was just a really awkward comp.

ER: Previously, you’ve been oddly identified as a “KDA player.” This isn’t an argument that we’d typically see in say, traditional sports, where one player is seen as trying to save himself and not helping out the team. What do you think it is about League of Legends the game that draws this type of criticism to certain players?

NJ: I think the reason why people think that is that they don’t know as much in depth into the game as the pro players themselves. All they do is look at the end score and they’re like, “Wow, that guy had like 10/0 and he lost the game, therefore he’s a KDA player, why didn’t he kill himself?” It’s really stupid. I think in games where that happens, I just make fewer mistakes and in those situations. I’m just not dying as much, and therefore if we still lose and I have a good score, I’ll be called a KDA player, which I think is pretty stupid. I think that’s the way it works.

Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games