Nicolaj “Incarnati0n” Jensen
Sink or swim.
In competitive LoL we often see high ELO players attempt to transition from SoloQ to the competitive circuit. This is normally a gradual process. The player would begin on a challenger series team and get promoted into LCS or get picked up by a current LCS roster. The process takes longer but the player is acclimatized to the atmosphere and stresses of competitive LoL.
This was not the case with Nicolaj “Incarnati0n” Jensen. As the most dominant SoloQ player in the west Nicolaj was the rank #1 player on the EUW servers. Oft compared to Apdo in his ability to climb the ladder Nicolaj was considered an untapped source of raw talent. Despite being a player that many teams would jump at the opportunity to pick up, he was yet unable to play as Riot Games banned Nicolaj from competitive play until May 11, 2015.
Directly after Nicolaj’s ban was revoked Cloud 9 put him on their roster as their starting midlaner. This was a huge risk for Cloud 9, they were replacing a key member of the team with a player who hasn’t played competitive LoL outside of SoloQ. C9 Hai was previously the core shot-caller and spine of Cloud 9; After his retirement a suitable replacement would need to be in place. Rather than find an already proven mid-lane from the pool of free agents, Cloud 9 decided to take a risk on Nicolaj. Many wondered if this risk would ever pay off.
Cloud 9 quickly sank to the bottom of the standings after the acquisition of Nicolaj. The team faced hard fought loss after hard fought loss, their only wins being vs TSM and the 1-9 TDK. With their confidence wounded the once great team sit at the bottom of the standings.
“.. Well obviously playing in a team in LCS and playing in SoloQ are completely different. I mean It’s C9, in C9 Hai did everything. Now that Hai left they’re probably having trouble shot-calling, Incarnation cant shot-call like Hai could. He probably has way better mechanics but because C9 played together for so long it’s hard for them to figure it out…”
– Honigdax (WTB Girlfriend), Challenger EUW.
When we look for the reason Cloud 9 is under performing many jump to pick/ban. Critics say that the team need to give Nicolaj the champions he thrives on, Assassins. In LCS Nicolaj has been picking AP Mages in mid such as Kog’Maw, Viktor and Azir. The reason I don’t think that we can criticize Cloud 9 over these picks is because these champions are some of the strongest in the meta. Control mages currently outperform any other mid lane champions.
The issue isn’t in the game, it’s a problem with team synergy and the solution is time. This is the first major roster change we’ve seen from Cloud 9 and as the longest standing roster in LoL. It’s expected that they don’t perform up to previous standards straight away.
Nicolaj has the biggest shoes in the business to fill. With the SoloQ/LCS transition, taking on the role of a shot-caller, and moving countrys we can only give Nicolaj time to find his feet. Who knows, maybe this time next split everybody will be singing a different tune about the new Cloud 9. We can only have patience, Incarnati0n may usher in a new age of Cloud 9 dominance. A man can dream.
About the author: Bernard McStout is an EU expert and insider in the scene.
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