C9 Blaber: “I don’t feel like there’s a single specific thing that will make me feel satisfied…”
Cloud9’s star jungler sat down with esports.gg for an exclusive interview. Blaber spoke about his journey to be the best, how EMENES fits into the team and more.
Despite only being an LCS starter since 2020, Robert "Blaber" Huang is already considered one of the greatest players to ever play in the LCS. The North American jungler was featured at number ten on the LCS's top ten players of all time list. Blaber has already hoisted three LCS championships, two MVP titles, and a Worlds quarterfinals appearance. And in Spring 2023, C9 Blaber was again highlighted for his dominance, featuring in the All-Pro first team.
Cloud9 later today faces Counter Logic Gaming, an opponent who has historically given C9 a run for its money, even when the former has been considered the heavy favorites. Ahead of their series vs CLG, I caught up with C9 Blaber for an exclusive interview.
How the second round-robin shaped Cloud9's identity
It is fair to say Cloud9 are a completely different team at the end of the split in comparison to where they were a few weeks ago. The introduction of Jang "EMENES" Min-soo has transformed how Cloud9 has drafted. The five-time LCS champions have opted into early-game compositions, maximizing the tools they have at their disposal with three lanes that can carry when given the ball.
Despite going 7-2 in the first round robin, Cloud9's early game was the poorest it had been in a while. Across the first round of games, C9 ranked sixth in the early-game rating according to Oracle's Elixir. The team struggled to get anything done early. Relying on their strong teamfighting to get them through the game.
Compare that to after EMENES came in, Cloud9 ranked only second to Evil Geniuses in the second round-robin. While there is no forgone conclusion that the mid-laner switch was the key to unlocking the Cloud9 door, it is safe to say they are two completely different teams.
"I felt like as a team we were quite consistent throughout the year. We went 7-2 in both the first and second-round robins. We have been playing a lot more early-game team comps as of late and it feels like we've been able to push our leads and end games. I think all our players have really big champ pools and that's allowed us to have an advantage starting from the drafting phase."
Blaber followed up on the appraisal of his teammates, citing C9 is a multi-threat team that can hurt you from any role.
"I think now we are able to play any style. We've shown we can play the carry tops and play through fudge and win. We've also shown we can play the tank tops and allow Berserker to carry. I think our mid-2v2 is also extremely good so I'm confident we can win with any team comp or playstyle. "
The EMENES introduction
Blaber has worked well with EMENES - the two have formed a formidable partnership, one that was not easily visible with Diplex. It is safe to say Blabers best performances have been with mid-laners who are aggressive and are on the same page as him. The C9 jungler had a lot of praise for his current mid-laner, illustrating how easy the game is for a jungler when their lanes are winning.
"I think EMENES plays a very aggressive lane-dominant style and he has been able to make advantages versus almost all of his opponents. The game is quite easy when you have prio in all of your lanes and it's allowed me to get advantages for myself or my team, which could be individual CS leads or securing objectives."
C9 Blaber was pressed on the comparisons of his current mid laner, and his former mid laners in Nisqy and Perkz, two players who Blaber had success with. Blaber did not go into detail on the differences, focussing on EMENES and his journey in the professional scene.
"I think EMENES is quite good but he's not the same player as PERKZ or Nisqy, he is definitely also a newer player in the scene. He is extremely talented as an individual but there are definitely things he will need to learn and experience for himself."
C9 Blaber's journey towards greatness
As mentioned earlier, C9 Blaber's career trajectory will put him up there as one of the greatest players to play in the LCS. Earlier in the split, Blaber echoed on the broadcast he wanted to go down as one of the greatest to ever play in the region. This quote stuck with me ever since I heard it, and it was something I wanted Blaber to expand on.
I asked Blaber what he would personally need to accomplish to be satisfied he has achieved that goal of becoming one of the greats.
"I don't feel like there's a single specific thing that will make me feel satisfied. I have accomplished most of the accolades possible but I just want to add on and continue to win titles year after year."
While Blaber is still a long way from reaching the territory of Bjergsen and Doublelift, winning consistently will definitely help his case. With Cloud9 being the defending champion, this is Blaber and Cloud9's first opportunity to defend a title since the early days of the LCS. Blaber is confident he and his squad will do just that.
"I personally don't feel any pressure. I've been in these situations many times and I feel confident that we'll be able to take the title this split as well."
"I want to be the best in all metas and jungle styles" - C9 Blaber
Blaber in the past has expressed his annoyance towards the term "coin-flip player" The two-time LCS MVP feels he is more calculated than the plays can look on stage. That is one of the attributes that makes Blaber an elite-level jungler. The best players in the world are not only ready to pull the trigger at any given moment but also aware this play could cost them the game.
Earlier in the split, C9 Blaber visibly struggled to get involved in the early portions of the game. One of the avenues that could be explored was the type of compositions Cloud9 was picking. Blaber and the rest of Cloud9 have stated multiple times they have been opting into early-game team compositions, giving Blaber more agency to affect his lanes.
This doesn't mean Blaber was completely invisible, however, LCS analyst Emily Rand sang the praises of Blaber multiple times throughout the split, citing his intelligent pathing and counter-jungling despite the changes to counter-jungling in Season 13. Blaber gave an assessment of his early season performance. I asked the North American player does being credited for playing different styles help shape the narrative of Blaber in a more positive light than the previous "coin flip" narrative.
"I appreciate the praise I've been getting for my counter-jungling but early in the split, there were points where I thought I might've been farming too much in a meta that maybe I shouldn't have been. I don't think this is an important narrative for me since I want to be the best in all metas and jungle styles.
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