ESTNN sat down with Cloud9's support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme ahead of the 2020 LCS Summer Split.
First off, how has the break been for you and the team?
"The break’s been pretty good. Obviously, we had a longer season than most teams and were boot camping in Korea early so we had a pretty early start to the season. It felt really good to reset and take time to whatever it is we want to do and relax. We’ve been hanging out a bit with the team, we still live together so we still get the chance to do activities together and hang out. So, the break’s been pretty good for us."
I noticed you’ve played quite a bit of solo queue over the break and you and Zven are both at the top of the ladder. What’s helped motivate you to keep up the grind?
"Well, we’ve seen a lot in the past where teams will win once and then get complacent and let the success get to their head. I want to make sure that does not happen to me. I still want to work just as hard as I was before, make sure my mechanics are still on top, my meta knowledge and matchup knowledge is still good. If any champion comes out in the meta I want to be able to play them. My motivation to play solo queue is to make sure I stay at the highest level I can be."
With you reaching such a high rank and having such a dominant split in spring, do you think you can call yourself the best bot lane in the west yet? Or do you have to achieve more?
"Honestly, I think our competition is not very good in NA so its hard to say best in the west because we haven’t played any of the EU duos. It's really hard to gauge there. We could easily be the best in the west but it would be a little too fast to call us the best without having played any EU duo."
You said your competition in NA is not great, who would you say your biggest competition actually is?
"Bot lane specifically, I think Bang is very good, but Zeyzal is not that good. But they’re still a pretty good duo because of Bang. For both players, I’d say either TL or EG probably, they have the better bot lanes."
What do you think about the Doublelift-Biofrost duo then? What do you think that will be like?
"Having played versus them a little bit I don’t think they’re that good. I think CoreJJ was much better than Biofrost is and Doublelift was kind of hurt with changing his support. I think they’re not looking that scary right now. Maybe they’ll improve, I don’t know, but it doesn’t seem too good."
So, looking forward to Summer, will this be another easy title for Cloud9 or will it be a little tougher?
"It should be a little bit tougher. Last split, Team Liquid was supposed to be the best team. But they kind of crumbled and had visa issues but that won’t be the same this split. Every team will start working together from the get-go and teams have had more time to watch us, analyze us and figure out our weaknesses to think about how to beat us. Maybe some teams will come up with new ways of taking us down, so in theory, it should be harder. We have an even bigger target on our backs and everyone wants to beat us so it should be harder.
But at the same time, it's not like any team made some crazy [roster] moves, I guess people consider the TSM move to be a crazy move where Doublelift and Bjergsen are reunited, but TSM has bigger issues than just Kobbe last split. Or Dardoch since he also changed for Spica."
Cloud9 on top
You’ve been on a good few rosters in the LCS, but none as successful as this C9 one seeing as it’s the most dominant one ever. What do you think makes this lineup so special?
"Well, I think we’re all, as individual players, the best in our position. Obviously that’s a big help, we’re all very good mechanically, we all have good English. Some teams have communication problems because of imports and stuff like that but we’re all able to communicate well. We all play a lot of solo queue. When it comes to criticism and scrim reviews, we’re all very direct and not scared to bring up issues. We also have a really good coaching staff. I think it’s a lot of things. But, in the end, we have five really good players and we all work well together."
Talking about your coaching staff, what’s it been like working with Reapered, who’s renowned as one of the best coaches in NA?
"Working with Reapered has, obviously, been pretty great. In the past with coaches, I’ve had issues where coaches wouldn’t be willing to bring up a point because they would be afraid of a player’s reaction or it would be a big name player and they had more authority over the team than the coach in some ways.
But that’s not the case with Reapered. He can call out any player for any mistakes. He’ll call them inters if they’re inting or call you stupid if something stupid happened. He’s really good at brining up issues so that the players don’t have to feel pressured to bring them up and you can just focus on your own points you want to bring up or your own gameplay and mistakes you made in the game. So he’s really good at being direct with constructive criticism which works very well with all of our personalities."
Is that problem of beating around the bush a problem with other NA teams and players?
"It was definitely a problem I had with Clutch last year at different times. It was specifically with Piglet where the coaches will just kind of be scared to bring up issues because of the way he would react because he had more say in the team compared to the coach. This turns it into a hard situation where you can’t really improve on issues if you’re not willing to bring them up."
Looking forward to Worlds
Assuming that C9 is essentially locked for Worlds, are you NA’s chance to finally make a mark at Worlds this year?
"I think so, yeah. We have an aggressive playstyle compared to some of the past NA teams that represented the region at Worlds. So I think we’d have more success versus the top LPL, LEC and LCK teams. It wouldn’t be like the classic 2016/2017 TSM where they’d just farm and then get out macro’d and lose. We’d take the fight to those teams and be able to play aggressively enough where we can snowball games. If there was ever a year for NA, this is probably this one."
I’ll definitely be looking forward to that! So, at Worlds, who do you think you will be most excited to play against?
"Probably G2 because they’re the best team in the west, they went to Worlds Finals, they have good players in every role and I think it’d be really cool to compete versus them."
Looking back at NA, do you have any favorite teams or players you enjoy playing against?
"I like playing versus Huni because he's a pretty good friend of mine on Clutch and we’re still pretty good friends. And also Damonte, since he’s in the LCS now. So I’ll be looking forward to our match versus Golden Guardians too."
To wrap things up, is there anything you want to say to your fans and the C9 fans?
"Thank you for supporting the team and I! We’re looking to win our second split in a row and we hope you’ll be cheering us on!"
Featured image via LoL Esports Flickr.