Last November, Cloud9 AD carry Zven took over the bot lane from long-standing player Sneaky following the team’s ninth-place finish at the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.
It was easy for fans to criticize the former TSM player since Sneaky had been with the organization since 2013; fans were losing an icon. Additionally, Zven had failed to make it to Worlds for two years running while on TSM and didn’t lift a single trophy.
But Zven didn’t let these shortcomings affect him. After joining Cloud9, he took over the LCS with an iron fist. In a single split, he became the best ADC in the LCS and finished the 2020 Spring Split with a dominating 17-1 record with the team.
Some of the best teams in North America had stumbled while others reportedly turned up late to practice, which Zven and the rest of Cloud9 took full advantage of. This led to the Spring Split becoming “one of the worst splits in NA, probably,” Zven told Dot Esports.
With the other two best teams in North America, TSM and Team Liquid, crumbling during the split, this made it easy for the best team in North America to sweep lower-tier opponents. But the overall quality of the split was diminished as a result, according to Zven.
“I think the level of play was very low this split and I think most people would agree that this was probably the worst split in terms of performance or level of play in the last couple of years,” Zven said.
Although Zven said that issues off the Rift had the biggest impact, it was clear that Cloud9’s ability to draft effectively was one deciding factor. Teams weren’t adjusting their compositions effectively against Cloud9 to actually dictate the game; teams wouldn’t pick the best champions to counter a carry.
Cloud9 mid laner Nisqy said on Summoning Insight that if he picks a champion like Zoe, his opponents would choose Viktor, whereas teams in Europe would change their entire composition to deal with Zoe and pick champions like Braum or Gragas.
But it isn’t just drafting that makes Zven and the rest of his team shine. His mentality makes him stand out from other ADCs in the region.
“I try harder than a lot of other people in this region, which sets me apart,” he said. “I think a lot of people are a bit complacent or lazy. I think I’m just better and I work harder than a lot of people.”
On the one hand, TSM struggled to “find their style” while Team Liquid struggled following visa issues with jungler Broxah, according to Zven. But these problems weren’t an excuse. With “Worlds-level players,” Team Liquid should be contending for the title, Zven said.
This doesn’t mean that TSM aren’t still a threat, however. The organization re-acquired legendary ADC Doublelift in April from Team Liquid. Going into the Summer Split, Zven said that Doublelift is still the biggest competition in the bot lane.
“I think me and [Doublelift] are the top two. You can argue in splits, who is better, but he’s my best practice right now,” Zven said.
Behind closed doors
With some of the best teams in North American history performing poorly, it was clear that there had to be issues occurring behind the scenes.
It seemed that discipline was the hidden issue in the Spring Split. Teams were turning up late to practice while others wouldn’t even practice in advance, according to the Cloud9 ADC. Zven said that Immortals began practicing just three days before the Spring Split began, for example.
Teams were bootcamping at the wrong time, also. Some teams enjoyed their time off until January, with the split itself starting later that month. “You should go on vacation first and then bootcamp in January,” he said. This meant that teams lost out on crucial practice against other teams.
Overall this meant that teams were struggling out of the gates, with some being their own worst enemy. “I think a lot of things that have nothing to do with the game made a lot of teams worse this split,” Zven said.
The endless cycle
Considering the poor level of League during the Spring Split, there are methods of improvement for LCS teams on Summoners Rift, however. Unfortunately for teams, players have to endure North American solo queue, which is known to be filled with toxicity and low-quality League compared with other regions.
The issue, for Zven, lies in an endless cycle between solo queue players and professional players. Since some don’t play enough solo queue, they don’t improve as much as others. But this means that regular players can’t practice or improve either, since they aren’t playing against professional players.
This results in somewhat of a talent deficit for North American League. “I think there’s no good system in America. It’s hard to fix it now. There is no talent in NA, or there’s very little talent because solo queue is so poor,” he said. Therefore, players end up being “recycled” to other teams, which hinders the overall quality of the LCS.
Since some players have lost motivation to compete in solo queue, this means less practice time, which Zven has taken advantage of. The Dane recently climbed to the first on the Challenger ladder, playing as an ADC.
Typically Zven has seen success on champions like Aphelios or Varus, both of which are incredibly powerful in the current meta. Depending on the composition, Zven found success in zoning opponents away from objectives to ensure his team gains the upper hand. But his aggression didn’t stop there, however. His Aphelios ultimates almost always granted some form of kill over to C9, culminating in a 71.3-percent kill participation and 100-percent win rate on the champ during the Split, according to Games of Legends.
But this had another direct impact on each game. On Summoning Insight, Zven said that Aphelios is capable of destroying towers much quicker than other ADCs because of his Severum Q ability paired with his Crescendum Q. This meant that Cloud9 could destroy objectives much faster than their opponents, forcing them to play on the defensive.
Compared with other ADCs, Zven is one of the most aggressive and impactful during teamfights and roams in the mid to late-game, but this doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of winning lane or just taking down enemies, either. Zven had three solo kills during the Spring Split, compared to 100 Thieves’ ADC Cody Sun and DoubleLift’s one each.
With this dominating performance during the Spring Split, it’s clear that Cloud9 is capable of competing at an international level. But the bot lane of Cloud9 needs to prepare for their old counterparts, which could put up more of a fight.
Zven is more than ready, however. He’s been grinding solo queue while others decide not to and has been practicing daily. He’s the one dictating the bot lane, and it looks like it’ll stay that way for the Summer Split.