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Cloud9 has looked like one of the top teams in the North American League of Legends Championship Series ever since they got their whole roster together. On Sunday, C9 took one more step towards the top of the standings with a massive win over Team Liquid.
C9 leapt into joint third place in the NA LCS with TL after beating them, adding a layer of insult to the injury. According to C9’s jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang, his team has even more to show.
“In the last week or two, I would say that we are definitely the second best team in the league,” Blaber said in an interview.
There’s plenty of adversity ahead for C9, though; they may have beaten TL and FlyQuest, but they still have matches against the league’s top two teams, 100 Thieves and Evil Geniuses, in their near future. While Blaber is confident that his team is better than 100T, he still feels that there’s work to be done to reach the level of EG.
“EG is definitely the best team fighting team in the league,” he said. “And I think a lot of teams have catching up to do — including us — to team fight as well as they do.”
C9 makes heaps of improvement
Blaber attributes a lot of C9’s rapid improvement to time spent practicing together. Visa issues, lane swaps — and in Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s case, an entire split away — all took their toll. Initially, it was hard for the team to find their rhythm. What’s more, Blaber made it clear that his individual growth played a part in C9’s glow-up.
“I wasn’t playing the best at the beginning, either,” Blaber said. “I was underperforming, I would say. I’ve been playing better, but still not where I want to be.”
Blaber’s self reflection may seem like he’s being overly harsh on himself, but the 22-year-old American is just as critical with his teammates. That includes Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol, who is coming off a strong showing during Week 6 of the NA LCS. While Blaber believes Berserker is performing well, he has a long way to go, especially when it comes to game IQ.
“He still isn’t super smart about the game,” Blaber said. “He just hasn’t been playing pro for so long, you know? So there are a lot of concepts that I feel like he’s missing. But he’s been improving really fast about that and he’s really easy to work with.”
Certainly, Berserker’s flawless 8/0/6 Kalista performance against TL was crucial for C9 coming up on top.
C9 overcome TL in a nail-biter of a match
The match between C9 and TL was an absolute treat for fans. The game teetered on a knife’s edge for almost its entire duration. Ultimately it was C9’s objective control that gave them the advantage as they stacked dragons and secured an Ocean soul.
“We were fine playing it slow,” Blaber said. “Overall, the game was not so clean. I could’ve played a lot better.”
It was a big win for C9, both in terms of the standings and going up against a strong regional rival. But while C9 and TL may have a rivalry at the org level, Blaber doesn’t feel that pressure in the game.
“They’re a good team with a lot of veterans so it’s never going to be an easy win versus them,” he said. “So that’s why it’s different, but it’s not because of the org they’re a part of.”
With TL in the rearview mirror, C9 are looking ahead to next week. They face off against Counter Logic Gaming on Saturday. And while CLG are no pushovers this split, it’s the match against 100T on Sunday that will be the true litmus test for C9’s form.
“I think that with a couple more weeks and playoff practice that we will be the best team in the league,” Blaber said.
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.