Blaber: C9 Has a “Good Chance of Beating” Any Teams At MSI
Cloud9 bounced back dominantly from a shaky first half of the Group Stage at the Mid-Season Invitational. On Group C’s roundup day, the LCS champions took down all their opponents, including reigning world champions DWG KIA, to secure their ticket to the Rumble Stage.
At the end of the long day, Cloud9 jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang joined us for an interview. He told us how he and his team shook off the disappointing start to the tournament and managed to learn from their mistakes to strike back convincingly in the second half of the Group Stage. Blaber walked us through the day as well, explaining how his team maneuvered through the games, and told us what we can expect of his squad heading into the next phase of MSI.
Hotspawn: Thank you so much for joining Blaber and congrats not just on making it to the Rumble Stage, but also on a very dominant showing today.
Blaber: Thank you very much! I’m very proud of our performance today. I think we showed up on the day when we needed to most. I had no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t make it today, but I’m glad that we were able to do it in a convincing fashion, with a 3-0 on the day.
Hotspawn: Dialing it back a bit: after the first round ended, it was looking a bit dire as you were down 1-2. How did you spend the days leading up to today, to make sure you could bounce back?
Blaber: Ehm, we honestly didn’t do much outside of just scrimming and practicing like we normally would. We honestly didn’t have the best scrim results, but they weren’t horrible or anything either. Regardless, I knew we had a good idea of what we wanted to play and what we wanted to draft. I’m really glad that we were able to execute it. We had a team dinner on the night before, but otherwise, it was just a normal two days of practice.
Hotspawn: Was the team morale heading into today still the same as it was heading into the tournament?
Blaber: Yeah, of course. We went into our matches feeling extremely confident. We were really fine. No one was shaken by the losses or anything: we just knew that we wanted to change our draft and that that’s how we would go forward and win our games.
Hotspawn: You personally had a few rough games in the first half—was it easy to shake that off and ignore the pretty vocal criticism you were receiving?
Blaber: It was fine for me, honestly. I don’t really care about getting flamed on social media. When I’m getting attacked or people are saying my play isn’t good, then I just don’t go on social media. That’s just what works for me. I think fans should be upset if the players that they are supporting aren’t performing well, that’s just how it is. When we play well, they praise us, right? So it goes back and forth. It’s pretty normal. I’ve been playing for a while now, so I’m used to getting flamed sometimes. [Laughs] And sometimes you get praised. It just comes and goes.
Hotspawn: The draft preparation you mentioned is something I want to talk about. Today we saw your team leave Rumble open and first-pick Lee Sin for Fudge instead. It paid off massively, of course, but is that one of the draft adaptations you made after evaluating your first games?
Blaber: So, I think Rumble is a pretty strong champion, but I also think that Lee Sin is very strong as well. I don’t know if people have noticed, but Lee Sin has been banned five out of six games against us. In the one game, we played Lee Sin, we beat Damwon with it. So I’m sure that people can see that Lee Sin is a really strong champion as well. We, as a team, also utilize it very well. We can flex it in three roles and we’re all extremely good at it.
Regardless, I still think that Rumble is a good champion. From week one to week two, I just started playing a lot of the stronger junglers. In the two games we lost, I was playing Nidalee and Kindred, some pretty weak skirmishing junglers. When I was able to play the Morganas, the Udyrs, and the Rumbles, I felt a lot more comfortable.
Hotspawn: Before we talk about the specific games want to touch on the ‘Perkz buff’. While it’s obviously something that has been exaggerated to mythical proportions for the memes, he’s still known as a player who’ll step up as a leader and get everyone in a great state when it matters most. What did he say or do today to get the team in the right mindset?
Blaber: There wasn’t anything like a speech that he gave or anything special he did to hype us up. But he definitely brought us all together and told us that there was no reason to be worried. I don’t think anyone actually was worried: I think we were all extremely confident going into the matches of today.
Hotspawn: Then you head into today, and DWG KIA is the first team on the menu. Though it was a close game, you guys played very confidently and actually toppled the reigning world champions. Walk me through that game.
Blaber: That game was pretty bloody. There was a lot of fighting and I think all of us played extremely well during that game, honestly. We all had our moments and we stepped up. I think that we just had pretty coordination in that game. No one thought the game was actually won at any point in the game. It’s Damwon, right? They’ve come back from way worse deficits versus other really good teams as well. So you can never really count them out. But I think that, after we got the Mountain Soul, versus their Jayce and Rumble, we were pretty confident that the game would be an easy win.
Hotspawn: Wait, was there no excitement during the game when you were beating Damwon? That’s taking ‘keeping a level head’ very strictly. [Laughs]
Blaber: Eh, after we killed the Nexus! Even after we killed two people and took down both Nexus turrets we were all saying: “Please just hit the Nexus, please just hit the Nexus, please just hit the Nexus.” [Laughs] So pretty much after we actually won the game, we were all extremely ecstatic.
Hotspawn: Everyone’s eyes were, of course, on your match against DetonatioN FocusMe. How did you use the break between your game versus DWG KIA and the game versus DFM to make sure you were fully prepared for that ‘do or die’ game?
Blaber: We just had a short draft meeting after they played, and we saw what they prioritized. We pretty much concluded that their jungler is just an Udyr one-trick. So, if we just don’t give him Udyr, then the game should be a lot simpler. And it turned out to be a lot simpler.
Hotspawn: Perkz locked in Yone for that game—was that decision made on the fly, or was that one of the trump cards you’d been saving for a game as important as this one?
Blaber: I don’t want to reveal too much about what we want to draft, right, but we thought Yone was just a very good pick there. We were all diving in with Kai’Sa and Nautilus, so we thought it was a pretty good pick to go with the champions we had.
Hotspawn: At what point did you realize “Hey, we’re winning this one as well, we’re probably gonna make it out now”?
Blaber: We didn’t really think about it, honestly. The win wouldn’t matter, ultimately, if DMF beats Damwon and we lose against Infinity. We were really happy still, and we did realize that we would probably make it out. There is no way Damwon loses, right? But it’s also not 100% sure.
Hotspawn: Is it then weird to ‘win’ your ticket to the Rumble Stage while sitting backstage and watching Damwon lock in that spot for you?
Blaber: We celebrated it a little bit—obviously, we were happy. But I think we didn’t really mind if they won or lost because we wanted to beat Infinity anyway. We were saying that we should win our last game regardless of how their game goes. We were feeling super confident going into the last match, regardless of the result of the game.
Hotspawn: Looking ahead, you’re going to face RNG, Pentanet.GG, MAD Lions, PSG Talon, and DWG KIA again in the Rumble Stage. Are there any standouts to you?
Blaber: I think all the teams are beatable for us. RNG is probably the strongest team in the Rumble Stage; I think they will be our toughest opponent. But I don’t think they are unbeatable by any chance. I think we have a good chance of beating any of the teams in the Rumble Stage.
Hotspawn: You didn’t want to talk too much about your own draft plans, so let’s talk in more general terms: how much do you think there is still to explore in this MSI meta? Is there room for picks that we haven’t seen yet to become dominant?
Blaber: There are always new strategies that can be brought up, in my opinion. Today, Damwon played the Diana/Yasuo combination, which is actually a really strong pairing together. But I think, even on the same patch throughout a whole tournament, the priorities will always change. At the beginning of the tournament, Rumble was perma-banned. Now you can see that it has dropped into the fourth or fifth bans. Damwon doesn’t even pick it. Priorities will always change throughout the tournament because we are the only tournament playing on this patch, and the meta isn’t figured out yet. We will all be figuring out the meta slowly as the tournament goes. That’s just how all tournaments go. MSI, Worlds… there are always things that will be changing.
Hotspawn: To round up, Blaber, is there anything you’d like to say to the Cloud9 fans, who can finally unclench their butts after a long day?
Blaber: [Laughs] Thank you all for your support. I know you guys didn’t give up on us even though we had a rough first week. I did see a lot of supportive messages for me, even after my play in week on, telling me that I can do it. It really means a lot to get all that support, so thank you. I hope we made you proud. It’s not over yet: we still have the rest of MSI to play.
Cloud9 plays its next game against Royal Never Give Up on Friday, May 14th, at 6 PM CEST.