Following Cloud9's tiebreaker win over Team 8, Hai spoke to theScore eSports about jungle Shyvana, Incarnati0n's growth and his future with Cloud9.
With your win over Team 8, you've officially saved your season and have a chance to compete for a spot at Worlds. How does it feel?
It feels a hell of a lot better than losing because being in relegations is a bad feeling whether you win or lose. If you win you stop the other team from getting to the LCS and if you lose you are out of the LCS. There is no winner in that scenario in my opinion, so avoiding that all together is a lot better and the fact that we can get to go to Worlds is huge because we have Jensen on our team and if we get to Worlds it will be his first time. I’m sure he could use the experience and use that level to improve our game for the next split.
What did you need to tell your team before the Team 8 game?
I was just hyping up our team since we just beat TSM. I wanted us to stay in good spirits regardless of what happens because we play a lot better when we’re happy, energetic and ready to go hard. So I was just trying to keep the morale up and we were in good spirits going into the game.
Why does Shyvana work for you in ways it might not work for others?
I think Shyvana takes a different mindset from other junglers because she’s not really a tank. She is kind of a split pushing damage dealer which is like a different mindset a lot junglers have.
When you are playing Gragas and Rek’sai, all you do is team fight group and get vision control and things like that, but when you are playing Shyvana you kind of like greed on the item buy and you farm a lot and you just keep track of the enemy jungler so he can’t kill your teammates. So it's a different mindset playing and it's harder to play that champion and it helps that I'm the shotcaller, meaning I can play a little around Shyvana whereas other junglers might not be able to do that since they have to listen to their team’s call. For example, if they go for vision control Baron, they’ll force a jungler over whereas I can tell my team to do it and I can be somewhere else and they won't argue against that since I think that's a good way to play the game. So it just works out for our team.
Over the past few weeks, Incarnati0n has really come alive, especially on Orianna. Has your return to the team taken some of the weight off of his shoulders or did he just finally hit his stride?
I think him and Meteos didn't really synergize that well. They had different viewpoints on how to play the game and I’ve said that to Meteos before so I can see where he is coming from.
He [Incarnati0n] has started playing better because he's gained a lot more confidence in his own play since he had people who trusted him completely regardless of what he did. So if he dies, people aren't going to be mad at him or anything like that. He's gained a lot of confidence back in those plays, and my entire job is to protect our carries and so I try to protect him in the lane phase and Sneaky, whether that be just warding or telling him where the enemy jungler is. So they can play accordingly with that information and I just gave him a lot of information so he can play correctly. With that information, he can go hard whereas before he was a lot more afraid to do things since he wasn't sure where the jungler was and things like that. Plus, I let him know if I have his back or not if he's is going for a fight. So he has a lot more confidence knowing that his team is behind him.
What has the swap to Bubbadub done for the team in a coaching sense? What sort of message did he bring to the squad coming from the Challenger side?
So I think Bubbadub coming in instead of Charlie was good because it gave us a different mindset on how to approach a game as far as picks and bans go and things like that. It also gave more power back to Lemon in a sense that he can do more picks and bans now that Charlie isn't there. So I think Lemon got more confidence and things like that since the team started trusting his picks and bans again since Bubbadub came in and Charlie wasn't really involved in it. He still helps out of course, but he doesn't have final say. So I think that confidence boost helped Lemon a lot too, so bringing in new players is good just because there are new perspectives and just the fact that it boosted Lemon’s morale.
Cloud9's pick-ban phase has been a lot more focused and decisive, often building around shield compositions and damage junglers. How did this come about?
Well everyone has champions they are good at. For example, I'm really good at playing damage champions and split pushing champions. I can also play the tank junglers like Rek’sai and Gragas. I just feel like they’re a bit underwhelming because if you go with a tank top and a tank jungler then you have two damage sources and that’s sad to do. But at times you could have a damage jungler, a damage top and a supportive mid like a Lulu or Orianna that makes a jungler tanky and that's still as good because you have a lot more damage. Well just for us we find like champions that work well with the team, and who plays what well and do our best mold our comp around it.
Are you still planning on stepping away shortly? Or are you thinking you'll stick with the team until the Worlds picture is a bit more clear?
We have a lot of time from this split until next split. If we make to Worlds, we will have a lot more to play. However, if we don’t make it to worlds then there is a huge offseason, so we’ll see what happens with Worlds first.
If we make it, I’m going to play there just because there isn’t time to switch anyone out just in case we wanted to. During the offseason we’re going to look at all the options available for our roster to make it the best roster coming into the next split. We don't want another seventh place finish. I want us to field the best roster whatever position we play or whatever.
You now have a few weeks to sit back, plan and observe the other teams in the playoffs. What do you need to do to make sure you're ready for what comes next? How much will watching teams play multiple best-of-fives help you in your preparation?
Well we’re still going to practice from now until playoffs because there is no harm in practising. Even if we don't make it to the gauntlet, we’ll lose like two weeks of practice or whatever but in case we do make it to gauntlet then we’ve been practising to keep up with it.
Our main thing we need to do is keep up with the meta and even be ahead of it in a sense so we can know what kind of champions are good, what champions are weak. So if we are already currently doing that, I feel like we’re already ahead of the meta in a sense so if we keep up with that pace and keep it going towards the gauntlet it will be very good for us. Most of the teams in the playoffs want to scrim us because we’re not in the playoffs, so we don’t have to worry about playing or us taking strategies or anything like that. We have a good choice of teams that we can practice against or be able to see their strategies anyways.
This interview was conducted with the assistance of Nicholas Doucet and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Skye Bui has a passion for dry humor and eSports. Follow blahblahblah on Twitter.