The absolute best of a professional teams ability is their performance on the world stage. Cloud 9 has had a unique international career in the short time they have been a professional team. After 4 international events, Cloud 9 has played 4 other international teams and boasts an even match record outside of North America.
After a dominating Spring season, Cloud 9 now looks to compete with the best teams each region has to offer. To find out more about what All Stars means to the team, I spoke with LemonNation about the value of international experience, Cloud 9's past performance on the world stage, and their preparations for All Stars.
Lets start off with a general question. What is the value of international experience to a team?
LemonNation: International experience gives us first hand experience into how teams around the world are adapting to the current meta. It gives us the best opportunity to stay at the very top of the current meta.
Are scrims with teams from other nations similarly valuable?
LemonNation: Yes it certainly is, for the same reasons. We are hoping to scrim SKT and OMG a lot.
With that in mind, do you think seeding first going into Season 3 worlds may have been disadvantageous?
LemonNation: I would say that not going through group stages gave less experience.
What were your expectations going into IEM Katowice?
LemonNation: We did not have strong expectations. Especially after the weaker Chinese team dominated in group A the first day we heavily expected to lose in groups.
How do you think the teams performance measured against your expectations?
LemonNation: We fared much much better than I expected.
Did Cloud 9’s matches at IEM influence the teams future play?
LemonNation: Yes they certainly did. Without going into specifics too much, we learned how the teams we play against valued champions on that patch and it certainly had an impact on our valuation. Seeing what worked and what didn't work against such.
Among the teams participating are Fnatic, with whom Cloud 9 has something of a rivalry, and SK Telecom T1 K who were the Season 3 World Champions. Both teams, however, have had very rocky season. How do you feel about these match ups?
LemonNation: Fnatic is coming off an extremely strong end to their season, and I expect will be playing extremely well. Even though SKT is not at their top performance, I still expect them to be the strongest team at All Stars.
Do you have overall expectations for the event?
LemonNation: We will see how scrims go with our sub mid laner, but I expect it to be an extremely tough transition without Hai. He is certainly the most important person to our overall play, as he is our primary shot caller.
Beyond working on developing synergy with Link, will the team be doing anything in particular to prepare for international play?
LemonNation: We will be scrimming against international teams and learning as much as possible once we travel to Paris. Besides that we treat every game the same.
Given what you know about the other regions, do you think any regions have an advantage in the 4.6 patch going into Paris?
LemonNation: As a general statement on patches: I believe every region has a somewhat equal opportunity on adapting to the current patch correctly. I don't believe that a regions natural play style makes too much of an impact on being strong on certain patches, it's more about just being able to adapt correctly. Given all that, there are slight things that could benefit certain teams more than others such as the Kassadin buffs in 4.6 likely helping out Fnatic, or to a smaller degree the rumble buffs helping us out.
As a region, NA's past record internationally has been fairly poor. Do you think that this is changing?
LemonNation: It is hard to say, but if it is changing positively I think it will take a long transition. I don't think the US will be taking any 1st places anytime soon, but I think slow improvement is likely.
Is there anything in particular that will need to change in the NA region for us to improve?
LemonNation: The creation of a stable amateur scene, such as their exists in Korea would likely have the biggest impact of anything I can think of. I think professional video games will naturally become more accepted and popular in the US, and this will also have a very positive impact on the number of skilled players entering the NA scene. But that is a very slow and long process.
Best of luck at All Stars. Thank you for your time, Lemon. We would also like to thank our sponsors, Logitech, Alienware, Lol-Class, NEEDforSEAT, Homejoy, sideqik, and, of course, HyperX!