Cloud9’s 2022 LCS Academy roster announcement has been turning heads on Twitter, but not for entirely the right reasons.
The video features head coach Nick ‘LS’ De Cesare explaining the team’s choices regarding their Academy and LCS rosters. Notably, the decision that veteran AD Carry and multi-time Worlds attendee Jesper ‘Zven’ Svenningsen will not be a starting member of either the Academy or the LCS roster.
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) December 27, 2021
LS put the decision down to a lack of import slots. LCS teams are allotted three major region import slots across their Academy and LCS rosters. Despite having played in North America for almost five years, Zven is still classed as a European import.
Cloud9’s LCS roster already has two of its allotted import slots filled by top laner Park ‘Summit’ Woo-Tae and AD Carry Kim ‘Berserker’ Min-Cheol.
In the announcement, LS explained that the organization chose to use their final import slot to start European jungler Sebastian ‘Malice’ Edholm on the academy roster. Malice and LS have history, having worked together in LCK Challengers team BBQ Olivers before leaving under controversial circumstances in May of 2019.
LS went on to explain that Zven will be taking a more active role in the academy roster’s scrims than the team’s actual starting AD Carry, Calvin ‘K1ng’ Truong. K1ng will mostly be playing in academy stage matches, and will not be getting anywhere near the amount of practice that Zven will be receiving, despite being the starting player.
‘Riot doesn’t care about Academy’
Outwardly, it makes very little sense to start a less-practiced player if you want your academy roster to succeed. But as it turns out, Cloud9 are much less concerned about the performance of their academy roster than they are about the quality of practice their LCS roster gets.
LS explained the organization’s controversial decisions with the statement that “ultimately, Riot does not care about Academy. Because they don’t, all that we care about is the best version of the Cloud9 team that we can possibly make.”
He has since clarified the statement on Twitter, explaining that “there is no incentive to do well in Academy”.
Clarity on my comment in the c9 video as not everyone will see my reddit comment (or even this tweet but w.e): The "doesnt care about academy" is that there is no incentive to do well in academy. 1st or last makes no difference since its up to teams/mngments to decide your play
— LS (@LSXYZ9) December 28, 2021
The academy league is essentially a proving ground for players looking for opportunities to move into the LCS. The franchise model in the LCS means that the only incentive for winning in academy is pride as there is very little external motivation to perform in a tournament that does not allow promotion to the tier-one league.
Microsoft sponsorship and controversial use of statistics
However, the situation regarding K1ng and Zven was by no means the most controversial aspect of the video. In explaining why the team would be starting support Jonah ‘Isles’ Rosario on the LCS roster, the video cites his high CS differential as the key statistic that sets him apart as a high-performing support.
The community was quick to point out that CS is one of the least useful statistics to examine when determining support gameplay, as a support is not responsible for killing minions in the majority of games.
I know everyone's focused on the roster stuff and zven/k1ng but
The lead data scientist for C9 just said Isles stood out and is deserving of LCS because not only was he first in KDA but also at [email protected], CS/min and CS%
As a support.
— Renato Perdigão (@Shakarez) December 28, 2021
The statistical section of the video acted as an advertisement for Microsoft’s Power BI data visualization tool – but many are suggesting that Cloud9 chose an incredibly poor set of statistics to highlight the tool’s usefulness.