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Vulcan: “I’m not playing too hot right now but I’m not worried”

Dan Smyth-Temple

Perkz’s transfer to C9 was one of (if not the) biggest roster move of the offseason. While he’s had some standout performances, C9’s core of returning players have been the primary force behind the team’s success, including Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme.

Vulcan LCS C9

Vulcan thinks his individual performance has dropped since Lock In, but doesn’t feel like C9 has anything to worry about (Photo via Riot Games)

We sat down with Vulcan after C9’s close call against CLG to talk about the win, C9’s team identity, and his thoughts on some of the new faces in the league.

Hotspawn: I wanted to start off by getting your thoughts on the game versus CLG. Winning always feels good, but I’m sure you’ve got some mixed feelings about how tough it was.

Vulcan: I mean yeah, I’m pretty disappointed with how we had to scrap our way to a victory versus a lower-tier team. I’m happy we were able to fight back and come back with a victory in a game like this, because last year with our team we had difficulties winning games when they’re this crazy. I think this year we’re a lot stronger mentally. It’s a good sign that we can come out on top in a game like this, but I’m for sure disappointed that we played at this level.

Hotspawn: You mentioned that you feel like you’re stronger mentally this year, is that a result of new additions to the roster, or just more experience?

Vulcan: I think [Perkz] is good at calming everyone down and trying to focus on winning the game. Perkz is pretty good at that. But I think it’s also just more experience together, realizing our flaws over time from what we did last year. We had the whole offseason to think about it, right? We came up with some answers and I think we’re better at it now.

Hotspawn: You mentioned that you’re feeling a bit disappointed. The big question after your game against CLG is whether they’re good now because of Broxah, or if it was just a misstep on C9’s part. What do you think happened?

Vulcan: I don’t know if it was Broxah specifically. I don’t think he played that much better than Griffin would’ve, but maybe he brings something to the team that we can’t be aware of. Like calls or macro decisions, stuff like that. But I mostly feel like if we’re gonna have a hard game versus a team like this, it’s mostly on our end playing poorly. And it’s hard to judge them off one game like this. CLG is probably better, I’d say they’re definitely better with Broxah coming in, but I don’t know how big an impact he’ll have over time with the roster. 

Hotspawn: A couple weeks ago I was talking with CoreJJ about the importance of teams forming an identity, and he said he felt that 100 Thieves already had one because of their preexisting synergy. Do you feel like C9 is developing a team identity? If it’s too early to say, maybe just some of the strengths that set you apart from the other top teams in the LCS.

Vulcan: I’m gonna compare [us] to last year because I think last year we had a pretty different identity where we would just fight every objective trying to stack soul as fast as possible and draft comps that enable us to do that. This year, we don’t focus on that too much. We draft whatever we think is best, and if we have a different win condition we try playing around that. We’ll see more of C9 giving objectives and trading on the other side, and getting fed on our carries and waiting for better opportunities to take a fight. That’s something we didn’t do too well last year so I think our identity is just…we play more for mid and late game, and less early game compared to how we were last year, so we’re shifting a bit from that identity.

Hotspawn: I’m interested in hearing how you’re dealing with the pressure on C9. You’ve been in this role for a while now, but I feel like expectations for this roster are probably higher than they’ve ever been. How’ve you been dealing with that pressure?

Vulcan: I mean yeah, it’s a little bit more pressure than the last year and for sure more pressure than when I joined Clutch in my rookie year. To me, last year was the biggest difference in pressure. I came into the roster with the huge buyout number, and everyone had expectations because I had a price tag on my forehead, and if I don’t perform to a certain level people question Jack’s budget decision. I think going from that to this year it’s not too bad, and pressure is just pressure. I think I’ve learned to handle it at this point in my career. I deal with it pretty well, and I’m able to just focus on myself.

Vulcan Zven

C9 bought Vulcan from Dignitas for 1.5 million USD, one of the highest buyouts in League history (photo via Riot Games)

Hotspawn: And how’re you feeling about your own individual performance at the moment?

Vulcan: I think I’ve played better in my life. In the Lock In I played better than I’m playing right now. I’m trying to play more aggressively now, and feel like I played maybe a bit too passively during the last year and I’m trying to have a more aggressive mindset, and look for more plays. That’s why I’m inting a little more, and I think it’s a good step forward to take and there’s a balance for me to find for sure, but I want to be looking for more plays so that’s why I’m inting a bit. I’m not playing too hot right now but I’m not worried about it, I think I’ll be able to turn it on when it matters and tone down the ints. I’m fairly confident.

Hotspawn: What’re some of your personal goals for the split? I’m sure you want to win LCS, but more on an individual scale.

Vulcan: All-Pro is something I’m looking at if I’m talking about individual awards. MVP [too], but I think so far if anyone on our team is gonna win it it’s gonna be Blaber again. Maybe that’s out of the question unless I start popping off every game. It’s hard as a support to consistently pop off.

Hotspawn: I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on some of the newcomers to the scene. Not only rookies, but players new to the LCS specifically in the support role.

Vulcan: Yeah, I think it’s cool to see new faces in the LCS and see them compared to the top players in the league. For supports specifically, I think CoreJJ is one of the best supports in the world, and he was my competition the last two years. I think SwordArt is worse than him, even though he’s a pretty good support. CoreJJ is still my main competition in NA. TSM is slowly coming together and right now the times we played them they didn’t look too good, but maybe SwordArt will be scarier when he’s more used to playing with this team. As of right now, it’s not too worrisome.

The new supports in the LCS… I think Diamond is good mechanically, but he has stuff to work on. Newbie is okay, not exceptional, right? Obviously, no one compares to CoreJJ so the new incoming supports don’t worry me at all.

Hotspawn: You said that CoreJJ is one of the best supports in the world. I’m getting the sense that you feel he’s the best in NA right now, despite both of you being in the conversation for it— is that correct?  

Vulcan: Yeah, I think he’s performing better now. I think when I play him it won’t stop me from maybe having a better game than him. Obviously, I can go toe to toe with him even though he’s more consistent, I think maybe I have a higher rise and I have no doubt that I can play better than him on Sunday.

Hotspawn: Alright, thank you! I think that’s all I have time for—  do you have any parting words for the C9 fans before I go?

Vulcan: Thanks for the support to all the C9 fans. The support is always insane with you guys, so I appreciate it. We haven’t even scratched our ceiling yet, so it’s gonna hype when we do.