C9 Jack at Rift Rivals: "Everyone’s sick and just trying their best."

Jack Etienne on Malzahar one-tricking.

League of Legends's Icon Steven Paul · 3 Jul 2019

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Photo via Riot Games

Leading up to Rift Rivals, many fans were excited for the opportunity to watch perennial powerhouse team Cloud9 face off against the best of Europe. Many were then disappointed to hear that the entire team of Cloud9 became sick the day leading up to the event. After substituting in their second jungler Blaber for Sneaky, who was too sick to play, Upcomer spoke with Jack about the team, his experience playing in the TFT showmatch, as well as the future of Cloud9. 


Well, day one’s done and past. How has the team been feeling?


Jack: The team’s been really rough, everyone’s sick and just trying their best. We’re trying to limit their exposure to anyone so they’re not doing any interviews, so sorry you’re stuck with me (laughs). 


Does the team feel that their sickness has been affecting their play much at Rift Rivals?


Oh totally, I mean have you seen us on stage? We had to sub Blaber in for Sneaky! But honestly, this might disappoint the international fans but if I could choose a week for this to happen, this would be the week. Hopefully we’re all feeling better by next weekend for LCS and that’s what we’re focused on right now. 


On a slightly happier note you personally were able to partake in the Teamfight Tactics showmatch last weekend. How fun was the whole event?


It was awesome sitting there with Steve and Rick because usually we’re across from each other. Being on the same team was a rare and fun experience. Steve has played a ton but me and Rick were a little green, so we were just joking around about what we were gonna build. 


Did you know anything about the game going into it?


Yeah I played about six games ahead of it. I knew the basics and thankfully we had a little cheat sheet. I’d also been playing Auto Chess and messing around with Underlords so I really love the genre already. I think that I had the basic idea of how things should flow in order to build higher tier units and items. I just didn’t know the synergies. 


What was your strategy going into it?


Honestly my strategy was to build as many tier two units as possible because I didn’t know all of the synergies. The idea was around level six to sell everything and hope to the RNG gods that I find something (laughs) which I did! I got a level two Draven, a level two Aurelion Sol, I even got a level two Gnar. I got really lucky! It was the round before that I killed Kobe that I sold everything and bought all of this stuff. I was suddenly like, “Oh my god I actually have a good team.” I honestly think that if I didn’t face Contractz and had another round to build up, I could have gone way farther. Unfortunately I faced Contractz and I almost even beat him too; I had two units left but his Darius got an ult off and then killed me. 


Well clearly that was just revenge for replacing him with Svenskeren, right?


(Laughs) Yeah you could say that. 


That’s what you call the “Long Con.”


Oh yeah, that’s what he was going for!


How did Riot approach you about joining the tournament?


They just sent me an email and said, “Hey, we’d like you to come out and do this showmatch for TFT,” and I said, “Hell yeah.” Then I went to log in and play some games and the queue time was like nine hours. I thought, “Oh my god I’m not gonna get any games in,” but I was able to get a few in to help figure things out on stage. 


Well that’s time out of your day and time out of your schedule. What motivates you to take that time to interact with the community like that?


Well that’s the whole reason I’m here, right? I used to volunteer my time to work with TSM because I loved it and that’s never changed. Yeah, I’m a lot more busy now than I was back then, but I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have a chance to interact with the community at some level. 


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Would you identify yourself as a hardcore gamer? Do you have that kind of time?


I would have, but I wouldn’t say I am anymore. Now I’m a hardcore spectator. (laughs)


What kind of games have you been playing lately?


Well, most recently I’ve been playing TFT. I was even playing after we lost today’s game because it was super painful and I wanted to get my mind off of it. I do play Auto Chess, I do play Underlords, and I also still play League but not as much as I’d like to. 


What rank are you?


I’m currently Silver Two. I’ve literally capped out at Silver Two for seven years. I’ve always wanted to get beyond it but I’ve just never had the time. This time though I actually want to try and break into gold this year. 


If Rick Fox gets into bronze four, would you consider duoing with him?


Hell yeah. That should be some motivation for him! Rick Fox is seriously one of the most positive, fun guys to be around and it would be fun to play with him. 


What role do you play?


Mid, I’m a Malzahar one-trick. I literally play nothing but Malzahar. 


That’s one of the least interactive champions in the game!


Hey, I tell yah when you’re an old guy and you have something that can just spread around a DOT and control pets, plus a point-and-click ultimate, that’s really good for me. You can’t miss skillshots, so you look good. 


So the Cloud9 organization has been around for years and is considered one of the legacy orgs from before franchising. What’s your goal for the future of Cloud9? What can fans be excited about for the future?


I think we’ve had a lot of success bringing on a fantastic group of team managers that I trust that will operate the teams. I’m still involved with them pretty heavily, but if for some reason something goes wrong I know that it’s going to be covered if I’m not watching it.


That was my last year’s project. This year I plan to bring on very experienced veterans to flesh out the fantastic group of people that we have. We have got a ton of really smart, dedicated, passionate, and very young people that have been taking on a ton at Cloud9. Now I need some strong leadership so that’s my focus this year. To see who else I can bring to Cloud9 that can bring with them different business experience. 


Is it hard to find people with that level of experience currently, given how young the industry itself is?


Historically it was very difficult because esports wasn’t very attractive for folks that I would want to work for me. What I’m finding now is the applicants I get are really quite experienced in the industry. It’s exciting to see these people who can bring really great learnings to Cloud9 actually being interested in Cloud9. I’m excited to see how those potential future hires could impact Cloud9. 


Imagine the perfect candidate is reading this article right now, what’s your pitch for them? Why should they want to work for Cloud9?


Something that I found when I was going out and receiving investments was that there’s a lot of dollars going around at companies that don’t look like a lot of fun to work at. There are very few job opportunities where you can put on your company shirt and go to an arena packed with fans and scream your head off. You can just dive into the experience with your fans and there are so few companies in this world that you can actually do that with.


If you are someone who loves competitive sports and loves competition then a job at Cloud9 can bring something very special that you’re really passionate about to the industry. People who are looking to be able to say, “After working at this company for five or six years I actually made a huge impact on this whole industry with my experience.” Plus you get to have a whole lot of fun doing it. 

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