When it was announced that European superstar Perkz was crossing the Atlantic to join the LCS, the hype surrounding Cloud9’s 2021 League of Legends roster reached new levels of intensity. It only made sense because C9 had acquired one of the most successful Western players of all-time.
As the weeks went by, however, all eyes actually started to shift toward another new player on the team once fans got used to seeing Perkz in that baby blue jersey: C9’s new top laner, Fudge.
With a whole tournament’s worth of experience under his belt from the 2021 LCS Lock In, Fudge talked with Dot Esports about what he’s learned so far in North America, what it’s been like playing alongside players like Zven and Perkz, and why he likes using trash talk to motivate himself to constantly improve.
Trial by fire
Although Fudge lit up the NA Academy scene as the best top laner in the league last year, the LCS is a clear step up from what he’s used to. There are plenty of things that a budding new star must learn before diving headfirst into the deep end or else they risk sinking to the bottom of the talent pool.
During the LCS Lock In, C9 played 17 games through the group stage and playoffs, which is almost the equivalent of an entire split’s worth of matches. He also played in series against Ssumday and Alphari, which ended up being a real test of strength for the 18-year-old.
Even though C9 ended up losing in the finals, the tournament provided the perfect setting for Fudge to get practice against the competition and to learn more about himself and what he needs to change to keep up with the rest of the league’s best.
Fudge, for example, said he’s started to improve on his ability to work with his teammates to help him get ahead in the top lane. He brought up 100 Thieves as an example and how Closer and Damonte both played around Ssumday really well during their series.
“I think that something I didn’t focus on before the tournament or before those games was that I can use my teammates to help me as well, and not just me one-vs-oneing,” Fudge told Dot Esports. “Top lane isn’t just one-vs-one, even though it’s sort of the narrative.”
It’s easy to fall into the mentality that top is an island, but thinking like that can limit how much you can grow your synergy and coordination with your teammates. By leaning more on his talented teammates like young star jungler Blaber, Fudge should be able to reach his full potential as a part of one of the best rosters in the LCS.
No punches pulled
Speaking of his superstar teammates, Fudge explained how his teammates have helped him improve his game through tough, blunt leadership. He praised his star AD carry Zven, for example, for being an extremely good leader on the team—a fact that actually surprised him a bit when he joined the team.
“I think it hasn’t really been talked about, how good of a leader [Zven] is,” Fudge said. “I think Perkz and Zven lead the team and they have very concise ideas on how to play the game. They aren’t afraid of telling you that you messed up, which I think is very good for improvement. And it’s sort of like a European thing almost, where they just tell you what you’re doing badly, straight to your face—which is good.”
Fudge also addressed all the trash talk he did before the LCS Lock In, saying that he did this to intentionally pressure himself and to place higher expectations on his play. His actions did backfire a bit when he and C9 lost games and faltered during the tournament, but even then, he took everything in stride.
“I feel like a lot of the public comments are sort of lacking in actual, constructive criticism,” Fudge said. “And I intentionally brought the pressure upon myself by shit-talking people before the entire tournament, which I think was actually a good thing. I think it brought a lot more attention, plus I think it put more expectations on me to act on myself to actually play well.”
In the end, these expectations—whether they’re from him, his teammates, or the general fan base—should help motivate this team to lift the LCS trophy by the end of the season. In fact, Fudge thinks that “if [C9 doesn’t] win, [he thinks] it’s just like a complete failure.”
Most of the cards have fallen right for Fudge so far. He has a great organization behind him with a great coaching staff and some of the best teammates any new LCS player could ask for. Now, the ball is in his court. He must prove to himself and everyone else that he’s worth some of the hype that C9 have coming their way too.
Make sure to follow us on YouTube for more esports news and analysis.