Robert ‘Blaber’ Huang admits he’s chomping at the bit to face his “arch-rival” Lucas ‘Santorin’ Larsen in the mouthwatering Cloud9 vs Team Liquid showdown now scribed onto the LCS calendar in round two of the Mid-Season Showdown.
Blaber and his opposite number Santorin — both North American residents — have been locking horns since Huang first debuted in the LCS back in mid-2018.
For Huang, who has been scintillating in 2021, squaring off against Team Liquid is always “the big one.” It’s a rivalry, he told Dexerto after Cloud9 bowled past 100 Thieves in three, which has become the focal point of the LCS in recent years. Adding Santorin in the 2021 offseason has only turned up the heat.
“TL has always been our opponent, they are the team,” he said.
“Not just now, but the entire Spring Split, we’ve had one eye on them. It’s a big rivalry in my eyes, for sure, playing Liquid is a rivalry. Playing Santorin as well, that’s a rivalry. He’s always been there… my biggest competitor in my career, so far.
“Santorin, Team Liquid. They’re the ones to beat, for me.
“Even better, right now I think we [Larsen and Huang] are both playing really, really well. I think I’m playing a bit better, but not by much. There’s always a chance that I can pop off and carry, and he has that too.
“It’s the kind of matchup you just look forward to, every time.”
This time, the modern LCS grudge match carries an even richer prize too; if C9 and TL are the playoff favorites — which Blaber believes is “definitely” the case — then it’s down to the two of them for the split’s crown jewel: a spot at MSI.
For Blaber, it’s a tantalizing opportunity. Last year Cloud9 claimed that same prize after blitzing Spring with a 17–1 record and a near-perfect sweep in playoffs.
MSI 2020 was canceled, however, robbing them of the spot.
“It means a lot for me to get to the Mid-Season Invitational. Cloud9 has never been, and I’ve never played an international event as a starter,” he said. “I think everyone knows how valuable MSI can be for your season as a whole.
“It can be really hard to improve in NA because there aren’t many good teams. I want to play against all the best [teams] overseas. I’m feeling good. I see us as favorites. The chance to play those top Asian teams… there’s really nothing better.”
Blaber isn’t getting ahead of himself just yet though. Liquid still stands in the middle of the road — “potentially twice,” the Cloud9 jungler adds, if things go to plan — and they’re far from a walkover like other matchups could be for his star-studded squad in the early LCS postseason.
“We’re not talking MSI just yet, in the team,” he said.
“First we prepared for the 100 [Thieves] game, we had to make sure we gave them the respect they deserve, and now we prepare for the Liquid games.
“I don’t think our series against Liquid will be as easy as today. 100 Thieves is a lot easier. That said, we’re playing so clean right now, our coaching staff is smurfing. Fudge, Perkz, they are looking so good. I’m really happy with where we’re at.”
And, before MSI looms, Blaber is eyeing another prize: “I’m so excited to play on stage, even without crowds. It’s awesome… that feeling is like nothing else.”