Cloud9 Blaber wishes that “competition was better” in NA

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North America hasn’t had the best luck at Worlds 2022 so far. We sat with Cloud9 jungler Blaber to ask about the level of competition in North America, and how that’s prepared him for playing at Worlds.

It’s no secret that North America has had a rough go of things at Worlds 2022. The first two days of competition in the Group Stage were winless, and the only major region team that NA has beaten is MAD Lions, the team that didn’t win a single BO5 in their region.

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On top of that, Worlds is in North America. If all 3 NA teams are knocked out in the Group Stage, it’d be a massive blow to the LCS.

We spent time with C9’s Robert ‘Blaber’ Huang. During our chat, he talked candidly about some of the issues with Cloud9 and the LCS as a whole. And, while his view on NA at international events was sobering, he also didn’t seem deterred or dejected by having a rough start to their Worlds 2022 run.

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Wading through the Worlds meta one game at a time

Worlds 2022, like many world championships before it, has had some massive meta shifts in comparison to the patch players were competing on in Summer. We asked Blaber about Cloud9’s experience coming to grips with the new meta, as well as his opinion on how changes have affected the jungle role.

Blaber had this to say about the changes to his role: “I think you definitely have more ability to play through other lanes because, before, it was like Zeri and Sivir will carry the game by themselves no matter how far ahead the other members of the team get. So, even if they’re losing lane or something, you can still go to late game teamfights and win.”

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“But it feels like now, the other roles have more impact on the game. Just because the ADC is fed doesn’t mean you can’t win. Mid laners have a lot more carry potential I’d say. Jungle is still more of a roleplaying role, not a carry role, but it depends on the team, right? A lot of teams will pick carry junglers, and I think they’re good right now in the meta, which is the fun thing, right?”

We’ve certainly seen some players carry from the jungle role this tournament. For instance, JDG jungler Kanavi has hard carried multiple games in the tournament. And, despite Kanavi’s strong performance against Damwon jungler Canyon, Canyon was still able to influence the game on his more supportive, tanky jungle pick.

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From what we’ve seen so far, Blaber is right. Carry junglers do have a place, but aren’t necessary to win games. There’s space for the best junglers in the world to show off their skills with any playstyle they want.

But how has Cloud9’s draft adapted to the Worlds meta? What is their backup plan if draft isn’t going well?

“There are definitely points that you think the draft isn’t good. You try one style, lose with it and maybe switch styles or something. But, generally, it’s best to stick with what you think is best at these tournaments. Every team drafts differently internationally until the meta is really figured out.”

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So far, Cloud9 haven’t had the best of luck sticking to their style. That said, it can be hard to tell if your draft is the problem, or if the issue is the way you’re playing it.

Our conversation led to Blaber’s view on North America internationally, and he didn’t hold back when it came to being honest about NA’s position in comparison to other regions.

Cloud9 Blaber gives his opinion on NA’s international woes

For Cloud9, their journey to the top of the LCS in Summer 2022 was a tumultuous one. They didn’t even start the split with all their players present, and ended their regular season in fifth place.

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However, Cloud9 also proved the regular season only means so much. Simply put, they squashed every other team in NA as they warmed up through the playoffs. It wasn’t close. Though everyone on Cloud9 played well, particularly their new ADC pickup, Berserker, Blaber had an MVP performance.

This was a big win for Blaber. It wasn’t just a victory for Cloud9, it was a 3-0 win where Cloud9 looked like the best team in the region by far, a win where the crowd chanted MVP when Blaber walked on stage.

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That said, North America always gets a ton of flak before they play internationally. It can’t be easy to stare down a wall of criticism and still show up on stage for games during competition.

“I don’t mind it too much. I think me, as a player, I’ve been kind of s**t on a lot. I’d say a lot more than is normal for sure. My team as well, NA as a region. I’m not too worried about it, it’s pretty normal. If we win next week, if we win tomorrow, if we win after, they won’t be saying anything. Last year it was like, ‘NA is so trash, blah blah blah’. Week 1 of Worlds we make it out, and it’s like ‘NA hopium, maybe they can beat GenG’, you know?”

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“So… for me, I try to tune it out. Obviously I don’t like hearing that NA sucks, my team sucks, that’s not something I wanna hear. Other regions perform better than us on average, so it’s easier for other fanbases to kinda s**t on NA, right? It’s true, NA has the worst performances internationally. Hopefully we’re able to do really well at this tournament even after our loss to show NA isn’t that bad.”

The question we posed to Blaber is whether or not he wished the other NA teams put up more of a fight, and his answer didn’t bode well for North America’s chances at Worlds this year.

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“I always wish the competition was better, but it’s hard to say, right? I don’t feel like we’re super strong either as a team internationally. I’ve never felt like we’ve been a really strong team in the previous years. At the beginning of the tournament, for some reason, we ramp up and take wins.”

“Obviously, I wish the competition was higher, but I don’t think that’s the main problem— I mean, it probably is the main problem, but I don’t think there’s something we can do about it.”

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