Reignover talks Cloud9's win, the team's draft, being the head coach, and Team Liquid's performance.
Cloud9 qualified for the finals of the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Mid-Season Showdown (MSS) after a dominating 3-1 victory over Team Liquid in the second round of the upper bracket. Up until this point, Team Liquid had won all of their encounters dating back to the Lock In tournament finals.
We had the opportunity to interview head coach, Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, after the team’s series win over Team Liquid.
I felt like today a lot of things showed; our prep was better, our play was better. So I’m very happy about everything.
Team Liquid has had your guys’ number all season long. How does it feel to qualify for the MSS finals and do so by defeating them in the process?
Pretty much for the Team Liquid matches against them in the regular split, I think the first game was just us having really bad drafts. And the second game, I felt like we really just lost ourselves, not like Team Liquid were doing something really good. I was always thinking that even in practice, we got really good results.
I think everyone was really confident going into playoffs, and the two weeks of practice were nice to clean up all the things and actually be on really good form to face Team Liquid. I felt like today, a lot of things showed; our prep was better, our play was better. So I’m very happy about everything.
You mentioned that you lost that first regular-season game in the draft, and Vulcan mentioned in his post-match interview that draft was very important in this series. How much has the team hammered in working on them?
Preparing drafts for playoffs is always really difficult — if we tried to do it in one day, it was really hard. We just had draft meetings pretty much every day, always discussing what’s good for us, what’s bad for them. I think just daily effort — we’re at a point where everyone’s memeing about draft meetings because we have it so much, right? But I think it kind of paid off today, so I’m pretty happy about it.
You guys dominated Team Liquid in three out of the four games. Did you expect this series to be this fast?
I think every game wasn’t a long game; it was pretty much one-sided for the team that was winning. The series ended up finishing pretty fast. I was thinking that it could maybe go to a fifth game. I’m really happy that the series ended fast and that it was a pretty convincing win every game that we won.
At the start of the season, during the Lock In tournament, Fudge received a good amount of criticism for his play. He performed pretty well in this best-of-five series; both he and Blaber worked great together to nullify Alphari. What’s it been like seeing his improvement since then until now?
For sure, Fudge has improved a lot; I think Fudge is playing really, really well, especially on this patch, so I’m really happy about him. Blaber’s always been playing well; it’s always jungle diff for Blaber, it’s very easy to play the game with Blaber. I think today it was even easier because we had a pretty good idea of what Alphari wanted to do, and Alphari didn’t show much stuff when we ban his champs. I thought that Alphari had a pretty small champion pool, and even as we were banning out his champions, we expected him to prepare something good and be good at it, but it turned out that he wasn’t good at any champs other than the champs that he usually plays. I think that’s probably why it was looking even more into our favour.
I think they [Team Liquid] performed worse than how we expected.
You’ve been on Cloud9’s coaching staff since 2019, and prior to this season beginning, you were promoted to head coach. What differences are there in coaching now that you’re the head coach and not just part of the coaching staff?
It’s for sure a big difference, it’s my first year head coaching the LCS team, and I do think our team is probably one of the hardest teams to coach. The guys are really smart and have a lot of opinions, and everyone is an insanely good player, so everyone has a different approach to the game. I think it’s just hard because it’s basically just different compared to what I was doing before. I’m also happy because I’m improving a lot because of this opportunity. I’m generally happy.
As you’ve been in Cloud9’s coaching staff, you’ve been able to coach different sets of players. What have you learned from this particular group of players you’re coaching right now?
It’s pretty hard to say one thing; I think it’s a lot generally. Getting to see the players’ approach or perspective — it’s just very hard to tell something or someone, it’s just everything.
Do you expect to meet Team Liquid in the finals, or do you think Team SoloMid or 100 Thieves can do something different?
I’m actually not sure because practising against both of the teams — to be honest, looking at today’s game, Team Liquid didn’t give us too much of a challenge. Not sure if it’s because they’re struggling on reading the meta, but I feel like the way they pick champions is a bit different compared to TSM and 100T. It’s really hard to tell which team is better. We’re pretty much confident against any of the teams; we just have to prepare for both of them.
Was this the Team Liquid you expected going into this series?
No, not really. They also didn’t show that big of an adaptation or change of how do they want to draft. I assumed that when they picked the Renekton, Orianna, and Udyr one, two, three, that was probably their last and best draft, and they haven’t shown dominance with that draft, so I assumed that they don’t really have more. I think they performed worse than how we expected.
Reignover and the rest of Cloud9 will face off against the winner of Team SoloMid and Team Liquid in the MSS finals on Sunday, April 11.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
Images via Riot Games