After grabbing their ticket out Worlds 2018’s Group of Death, North America’s third seed Cloud9 convincingly beat the Afreeca Freecs to advance to the semifinals, a new record for the organization’s history. We caught up with C9’s jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen afterwards to talk about making semifinals, playing with rookies, and their chances moving forward.
Renato (Shakarez): So first of all, congratulations. This is the first time an NA team made it to semis—second if you count season 1, but that was a very different format. Can you talk to me about how it feels right now, and how it feels to represent NA?
Svenskeren: It feels amazing being able to go this far, especially because nobody believed in me after the last Worlds. I still thought I was a good player, but there was just nobody who believed in me. The players on my team also lost faith in me, so joining Cloud9 where everyone is on the same page and we believe in each other—especially Jack, he’s always making sure everybody feels at home—it’s definitely a super nice environment, and it just feels great.
I’m not sure about representing NA, because it’s always Cloud9 only, so I think we’re a different breed than the other NA teams. I mean, it definitely just feels nice.
When you found out about the draw, you guys celebrated, and I heard you guys were frequent scrim partners with Afreeca. Can you tell me a bit about facing them?
While we had groups and practicing for groups, we had a few scrims against Afreeca, and—I mean we’re not really “scrim partners” against them, we just scrimmed them like two days in a row or something, and we were able to have pretty good results against them. I think 90 percent win rate or something?
So we definitely had confidence from that going into the game, because it just seemed like we had their number, and we were able to win against them. So confidence definitely helps.
Even though you were happy for the draw, did you expect to come in and just 3-0 them? Were you that confident?
Definitely not. I think Korea has always been regarded as super strong in best of 5s. They might lose a game in groups, like a best of one, but in best of 5 they’re always able to come back.
So even when we were up 2-0, I told my team, “Okay guys, Korea is known for coming back in series. Don’t get too cocky.” So we were just able to stay focused and stay in the same mindset.
This year a lot of teams and analysts have talked about how everyone has their “style,” and they should stick to it. What do you think is C9’s style? How would you describe it?
I think our style right now is we contest everything. We just try to be as aggressive early game as we can. If there’s any opportunity, we just go forward. We don’t second guess ourselves, like, “Oh, could somebody be here? We probably shouldn’t go for it.” We just go in without thinking too much.
If we see a good play, we just go for it. And that just helps a lot.
So aggressive early, skirmish heavy?
And I want to ask about the Graves pick. AnDa told me about how it wasn’t exactly “meta,” but it worked alright. Can you talk about picking the Graves there? Because it’s not something we see a lot.
Graves is just a comfort pick for me, so whenever it’s a good situation, I always like to play Graves. If you just make the game even at like 20 minutes, he’s super strong. He just blasts everybody. Even game, don’t get snowballed on, and I can carry the game later on, so I’ll always feel pretty comfortable on Graves.
I wanted to ask about your teammates. You guys rotated a lot of players, you included. When it comes to Licorice and Zeyzal, which are the two new players you’ve played with most, what do you think about their growth from beginning of summer to now?
I think Licorice is one of a kind. I don’t think any rookie is going to come in and be as good as he is. I think he improved so fast. In spring, I was kind of doubling him because he wasn’t really as strong, but he was able to improve and really be able to adapt to the playstyles.
Before, he would only play carries, and it was really handicapping us, but then I think Reapered just taught him a lot, and he’s able to play whatever style we need him to play now.
So he’s super good now, and Zeyzal is also incredible. I think they played together on a team before, so they were already good friends before this. I think it helps a lot, because being a rookie in a team with veterans has got to be hard. If you’re a rookie, you have to respect the other guys a lot more, but we’re all on the same page, down to earth. We joke around, we banter a lot with each other. Literally we’ll tell each other “You suck” a lot, and a lot more worse words than that. I think we’re all very open to each other, and if there’s something we need to improve on, we get that done fast.
Going back to the games, the last game you picked Nocturne and Afreeca picked the Galio into it, which is sometimes a bit of an awkward pick because Galio can never really ult when Nocturne goes in. What do you think of the pick? Do you think it was suspect, do you think it was them going for comfort?
I think they just went for comfort picks. I think Kuro is going to perform good if he’s on a tank mid kind of, like a pick that doesn’t really have to carry the game. He just supports his teammates, so they went for comfort picks.
Galio is decent into Nocturne if you have something that can go in first. Like against Nocturne, you want to be able to engage harder than Nocturne, so they just didn’t have anyone to deliver the Galio, so that’s why it was awkward. They could only use it defensively, but you can’t ulti when Nocturne goes in first. So it’s pretty awkward.
Looking towards the semi-final, how do you look towards the Fnatic matchup? Do you guys think you can make it all the way?
Yeah, I think right now it’s anyone’s Worlds to win. All the teams can beat all the teams on a given day. I’m kind of hoping EDG takes out Fnatic for us, but obviously we’re super hype for EU vs. NA match in the semis, but definitely Fnatic is super strong. So yeah, it’s going to be exciting.
Finally to end, will you get a sippy cup for semifinals? You’ve had two incidents already, do you think it’s becoming a bit of a problem?
As long as Cloud9 can keep giving me those new keyboards, then I don’t think it’s a problem. Gotta keep doing what we’ve been doing to win the games, so if the tradition is I spill on my keyboards, then that’s what we’ve got to keep doing.
Images via Lolesports Flickr
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