Philippe ‘Vulcan’ Laflamme is looking forward to reaching Cloud9’s potential this year. The 21-year-old Canadian is already seeing C9 “really abuse” most teams in the LCS, and he’s not convinced they’re anywhere near their ceiling yet.
From Lock In to Week 1 of the Spring Split, we’re already seeing the different shades of Cloud9 as they adjust to Luka ‘Perkz’ Perković in the mid lane. Some days will look great, some days Perkz will go 4/7/2 on Yone.
Regardless, Vulcan and the rest of Cloud9 are going to play through their mid lane a lot this year. After a blockbuster buyout pried Perkz away from the G2 army, C9 expects the superstar talent to demand a lot of attention on the Rift.
Admittedly, it’s been a work-in-progress.
But LCS teams don’t have the best track record with the macro game, so refining their synergy is what’s ultimately going to separate the three-time LCS champs from the rest of the pack. Luckily, Vulcan and co. have a head start.
“[Cloud9] has a lot of built-in synergy from last year with [Robert ‘Blaber’ Huang and Jesper ‘Zven’ Svenningsen], so we’re able to bring that into this year,” Vulcan told Dexerto. C9 already has their foundation built, but adding someone as impactful as Perkz will naturally come with its growing pains.
“At first we were pretty bad at playing around Perkz, because he’s a very different player than Nisqy, obviously. Whereas Nisqy was always willing to sacrifice for the team and reserved about what he wants or needs, Perkz is [more direct.]
“‘Alright, you path mid no matter what… I need you here doing this,’” Vulcan recalled what Perkz would say. Perkz is very straightforward about the plays he wants.
But margins and windows-of-opportunity get really tight in League. And C9’s first outing, a 45-minute loss to Evil Geniuses, in the LCS Lock In event showed just how bad ego or miscommunication can make this team look.
The very next day, the team retreated to a standard draft and demolished FlyQuest in 23 minutes. Their longest game of Lock In was followed by C9’s shortest game of that same event.
Vulcan knows that a lot of the teams in the LCS are really vulnerable. He was just short of calling some of them ‘dysfunctional,’ but he meant teams weren’t always on the same page when it matters the most.
That’s something Vulcan can somewhat relate to.
“Perkz doesn’t really need to call me [over] like his little dog anymore,” Vulcan said with a smile. “I can read his mind where I know what he wants and I learned to play around him better.
“That synergy is helping because a lot of the teams are – the word that comes to mind is ‘dysfunctional,’ but that’s not really what I mean – they’re not on the same page all the time, so if you are, you can really abuse these NA teams.”
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Cloud9 have started the 2021 LCS Spring Split with a perfect 3-0 weekend. All three matchups, one of which was against storied-rivals TSM, were convincing wins that each took a hair longer than 30 minutes or less to complete.
C9 has been playing through their power spikes to give Perkz and Blaber a lot of agency on the map. That’s translated to priority all across the Rift, giving C9 a 100% rating on First Blood, First Baron, and first Dragon take through three games.
They have a league-high of 62 kills notched so far and have closed out Week 1’s matches with the fastest average game time at 28.6 minutes, according to data by Oracle’s Elixir. They’re winning the games they’re supposed to be winning, and they’re doing it with finesse.
With just a few months of practice under their belt, this five-man roster still expects to trend upward even though they’re one of the last two undefeated teams in the league – 100 Thieves being the other.
Perkz and Blaber can match each other’s aggression. Ibrahim ‘Fudge’ Allami is starting to activate in the top lane. While the rest of the team is carrying Zven is always farming to be a late-game closer. And Vulcan is there to facilitate every play as it’s needed.
In their current form, fans can expect C9 to make quick work out of most teams in the LCS. But there’s still a lot of work to do, and Vulcan doesn’t want to lose sight of that lest it comes back to bite them in the ass.
“We’re going to try to keep improving even though the competition might not be the greatest,” Vulcan said about the 2021 campaign in the lead up to Worlds. “We’re going to keep focusing on ourself and making it to [Worlds].
“I don’t want to say we’re going to go no matter what, cause I had that mentality last year and it ended biting us in the ass, so just focus game-by-game.”
The LCS is, so far, following suit to pre-season expectations where Cloud9 and a few other teams would stand above the rest. But of course, games are going to get harder and championship contenders, like Team Liquid, are only going to get better.
Vulcan let a tinge of excitement escape his steely demeanor discussing C9’s experimental style in scrims. They’ve been trying out different things in practice to see what could translate on the big stage; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
But it sounds like LCS fans are going to be in for a treat once they start clicking.
Cloud9 face-off Evil Geniuses next on February 12 at 5 PM PST, then it’s a battle of the top teams versus 100 Thieves on February 13 at 2 PM PST.