Cloud9 made a name for themselves last year when they became the first North American team in forever to make it to the semifinals at Worlds. This year, they’ve built on that success, sitting in second place in the region and threatening to dethrone Liquid from the very top.
Perhaps basking in the confidence of their play and position, the team announced that Academy jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang will sub in for Saturday’s game vs. Golden Guardians. The news was first announced by coach Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu, who’s known for experimenting with his roster.
This doesn’t mean that starting jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen is benched, however. It seems like this is a one-game deal to give Blaber some more time on stage with the main roster. It’s a smart move to make sure that both he and the team are prepared for anything. It’s also a move born out of the culture that Reapered’s built over the last year.
Cloud9’s journey to Worlds last year actually started in the depths of the Summer Split, when a few tough weeks saw them go through a dramatic series of roster substitutions that we had never before seen from a top team. One gem they unearthed through the changes was Blaber.
His play was aggressive—perhaps too much so. But it seemed to galvanize the team to play around him and collapse together to save him from some of his mistakes. That attitude carried through even when Svenskeren was brought back as the starter and led to the team’s successful run at Worlds.
Saturday’s change culminates a series of roster swaps in the LCS, all focused on junglers. Echo Fox is benching starter Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae after a rough start to the year, including his first 0-2 week in the region. And OpTic continue to juggle their duo of Williams “Meteos” Hartman and Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett. OpTic are one of the other teams in region that have grown comfortable with fully utilizing their 10-player roster.
The fact that junglers are being targeted wasn’t lost on the analysts hosting the LCS Countdown show. “The changes are all junglers,” said analyst and former pro jungler Hai Lam. “It’s gotta be something against junglers, people like, ‘I don’t like my jungler, give me a new one.'”
Cloud9 will play Golden Guardians at 6pm CT on Saturday.