The 2021 LCS Spring Split is at its halfway point. Cloud9 are in first place, Blaber is deep in the discussion for another Spring Split MVP award, and all is going according to plan for the organization.
Throughout the first nine games of the 2021 LCS regular season, Blaber ranks third among all LCS players in kills with 45 and in KDA with a mark of 5.7. He leads his fellow junglers in kill participation (73.1 percent), kill share (26.3 percent), and almost every farming statistic known to mankind, including gold and CS difference at 10 minutes, as well as overall CS per minute, according to League of Legends statistics site Oracle’s Elixir.
A large part of Blaber’s early-season success comes thanks to his ability to completely reinvent himself on the fly. His ability to adapt his playstyle fluidly and mold it to the situation around him is unparalleled in the LCS. Through his team’s first nine games of the regular season, Blaber has played five different champions, finding ways to innovate and dominate on almost all of them.
Last weekend, when 100 Thieves targeted Blaber in champion select with five jungle-focused bans, C9 responded by placing its MVP jungler on Rek’Sai—an unconventional selection that ultimately paid dividends. Blaber used the pick to secure a victory over 100 Thieves and post an impressive 9/5/13 scoreline. Blaber ended up liking Rek’Sai so much that he ran the unorthodox pick back the following weekend against CLG and won once again.
“I think right now, if you’re a good player, you can really play anything,” Blaber told Dot Esports. “I don’t think one champ is more oppressive than another. Except Udyr, obviously. He’s just OP.”
In Blaber’s one showing on Udyr this season, he posted a KDA of 21.0 with a kill participation of 81 percent. The champion has been banned in every C9 game since that point.
And while there have been other junglers in the LCS who have played more champions throughout the first half of the Spring Split, notably including FlyQuest’s Josedeodo and Dignitas’ Dardoch, none have found the success that Blaber has.
“There’s other champs that are good, like Lillia and Olaf, who are really strong right now,” Blaber said. “But you also have counter-picks like Kayn, who’s been appearing. I’ve been picking Rek’Sai, who I think is good. Skarner and Jarvan are viable as well.”
It’s still up for debate how deep Blaber’s champion pool can actually go and how many answers he’ll have for teams looking to ban him out. Across his career, Blaber has played 28 unique champions. In 2021, he’s still yet to play some of his more iconic picks, such as Kindred, Gragas, and Lee Sin.
But perhaps the bigger question facing the Cloud9 jungler at this moment is how he’ll adapt to the major sweeping changes to the jungle position that are set to hit the LCS this weekend. Perhaps some of those more comfort-oriented selections could make an appearance in what might be a tumultuous time for junglers across the league.
“Next patch when jungle experience and gold gets nerfed, we might see a lot of different champs pop up,” Blaber said.
With Gromp, Krugs, and Razorbeaks all rewarding players with less gold and XP in Patch 11.4, pro junglers might be forced to switch up their approach. A meta that’s largely revolved around power-farming since the start of 2021 is set to take a drastic swing. Many of the camps in the jungle will have more base HP as well, making them harder to clear.
With less attention focused on the farming meta, Blaber—and other junglers around the LCS—could find themselves ganking more solo lanes and paying more attention to the PvP aspect of League rather than the PvE side. As far as C9’s situation goes, these changes could be good news for the team’s newly-acquired superstar mid laner, Perkz.
“Mid and jungle are moving more toward being a duo,” Blaber said. “Mid-jungle meta hasn’t been a duo meta in a while. Taliyah plays to her sides while Olaf and Udyr just power-farm. It [isn’t] really duo-focused.” After three weeks, Udyr and Olaf are the two most prominent champions at the jungle position with respective pick/ban rates of 100 and 96 percent.
But the upcoming changes to the jungle could force Blaber into a position where he’s playing gank-focused champions that allow his newfound solo laners like Perkz to develop a winning advantage.
“Me and Perkz are getting a lot better together,” Blaber said. “Especially this week, our synergy has gotten a lot better and we’re finally becoming really scary. I think we’re the best mid-jungle duo in the league.”
This past weekend, the duo posted a combined scoreline of 38/18/38 across C9’s three games—two of which were victories. Their best performance came on Feb. 20 against Dignitas when Perkz and Blaber combined for a total KDA of 14.0 during that particular contest.
If the two of them can play like that throughout the remainder of the split, it’d be hard to argue that C9’s mid-jungle duo isn’t, in fact, the best in the entire LCS. And with just three weeks left in the Spring Split, Perkz and Blaber could be coming into their own at precisely the right time. A playoff spot is on the line, the MVP race is heating up, and C9 are directly in the middle of all the action.
“I’m not changing my mentality. I’m taking it one game at a time,” Blaber said. “Every game matters for seeding and playoffs and I think we have a lot of leniency to try new things and experiment during the regular season.”
With a league-leading 7-2 record and a full game cushion over the next-best team in the LCS, leniency should be in abundance for C9, who have proven that they can beat nearly every team in North America with ease. Of course, there’s still room to grow and plenty of games remain on the docket before the Spring Split, let alone the 2021 season, comes to a close. But with Blaber and the rest of C9 just entering their wheelhouse as the season hits its first significant turning point, there’s nowhere to go but even further up.
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