Kumo: "my goal is to start for LCS, and I'll take the opportunity to prove I'm good too."

Plus more on his first LCS win and his thoughts on C9's success.

League of Legends's Icon Steven Paul · 7 Jul 2019

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Image via Riot Games

After a disappointing Rift Rivals, Cloud9 bounced back in the LCS summer split with a win against first place Team Liquid. This game seemed especially hard beforehand because Academy top laner Ziqing “Kumo” Zhao was subbed in for an injured Eric “Licorice” Ritchie. 


Upcomer had an opportunity to sit down and talk with Kumo about his LCS debut, the reason for his starting spot, and relationship Licorice. 


Congratulations on your first win starting for Cloud9! Right off the bat, what’s going through your mind after that victory?


It just feels good to win and to show that I’m one of the best top laners, especially proving that I deserve a spot in LCS. 


Did you have a lot of time to practice with the LCS team before today’s game?


Just one week, but I’ve already played with everyone on the team before since I’ve been with the team for a while now. It was really easy to just fit in again. 


What was going through your head before the game?


I felt pretty good honestly. I feel like I haven’t been getting too many opportunities to prove myself, and this was a big one that I wanted to grab. I was just really focused on proving myself to the coaches and to the fans. I was so focused that I didn’t even think about nerves or who I was playing against.


Well what a way to make an impression, beating both Impact and Jensen in 1v1’s during that game. How did it feel to get those kills?


*Laughs* well the 1v1 top, I feel like I should have died… After he trolled it was pretty funny⁠—I just got the kill for free. Then the Jensen one—I didn’t expect to do that much damage actually. I was just trying to hit my Q and then auto him with my Duskblade, but my Q missed and I just autoed him to death. It was pretty funny.


Considering it was your first showing on the LCS stage, what was the communication like with the rest of the team during those moments? Were you making the calls or was the team telling you to pop off?


Those kind of plays you don’t really talk about it beforehand. You just see the angle and go for it. It’s hard to talk about it beforehand because the situation just comes. If you see it, you can do it. It’s all about self confidence. 


After that win, Cloud9 is now tied for first place in LCS while still in possession of first place in Academy. How much of Cloud9’s success is because of their focus on playing around their top laners?


I honestly don’t really know too much. I think it just has to do with how well Cloud9 develops all their players. They put a lot of time and energy into developing our mechanics while also learning how to play macro. We just learn how to play the game. Everyone on Cloud9 really wants to win and wants to improve.


Why do you think Cloud9 particularly is good at that?

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I think it’s mainly just the coaching staff. Reignover, Reapered, and Westrice are a really big part of it. They’re really good at teaching people how to play the game and they’re really knowledgeable. For example, Westrice is the one who initially scouted me and helped develop me in academy. A lot of what I know now is from him. 


What did you think of his performance in the Rift Rivals showmatch? Did you get a chance to watch?


*Laughs* I actually didn’t watch it but I saw the scoreboard and saw that he went 1v9, which was great to see. I was like, ‘Sweet, he’s still got it.’ 


How has your relationship with the Cloud9 players developed with your time on the academy team? In particular what’s it like playing with Zeyzal again?


I’ve always liked playing with Zeyzal a lot because he provides a lot of information and communication to the team. It’s a lot easier to play with a lot of information, and he provides that. I can just focus on my mechanics and listen to all the information that he’s relaying, and then make my own decisions based off of that. 


If Zeyzal provides information, what do you think you provide to Cloud9?


*Laughs* My hands I guess. Mechanical skill, for now, since I’m still trying to develop my macro play. I’m really confident in my mechanics, so I’m trying to focus hard on that and just follow my team’s calls. 


Well on that note, are there any top laners in LCS that you’re most excited for an opportunity to play against?


Hmm, definitely Huni or BrokenBlade. I want to play against BrokenBlade because he beat Eric (Licorice) and I want to see what he’s like. 


*Laughs* so do you feel like, by the transitive property, if you beat BrokenBlade then you’ve beaten Licorice?


I wouldn’t say that. He’s just really mechanically skilled and did well against Eric, who’s also mechanically good. I just want to see how good he really is on stage. 


Being able to scrim against the LCS team, what’s your lane-win record against Licorice? 


*Laughs* It was quite low when I first joined, but lately it’s been skyrocketing. But again, he hasn’t been feeling really well lately, and that’s why he needed a break. I think that’s part of why I’ve been doing so well against him. The reason is really unfortunate, but my goal is to start for LCS and I’ll take the opportunity to prove I’m good too. 


From the outside that sounds like a stressful relationship! What’s your relationship like with Licorice? 


I think we’re actually pretty close as friends and we respect each other a lot. I don’t feel like we’re competing for the spot, it’s just whoever is better will get the spot. I’ll take this opportunity today and tomorrow to prove that’s me.

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