We know Incarnati0n has the mechanical skill to be good; hCloud9e has reached the number one spot on the European solo queue ladder countless times and even achieved a 94% win rate on one of his accounts over 67 games. Judging by these statistics it is safe to assume that Incarnati0n will be an upgrade over Hai in terms of mechanics and could stand toe to toe with a player like Bjergsen in the laning phase. This mechanical upgrade would solve the problem that plagued Cloud9 throughout the 2015 spring split and in many international competitions: Hai losing lane nearly every game.
The “shot calling” issue:
Removing Hai from Cloud9’s roster has the aforementioned benefit of improving the team’s laning phase, but creates a gaping hole for a shot caller. According to sources like Monte Cristo, who have listened to cloud 9’s in game communication, Hai is often the sole voice commanding the teams map movements and strategy. While losing this strategic edge may seem devastating, I believe that with some time and adaptations it won’t be. All one has to do is look back to All Stars 2014, where former CLG mid-laner Link was used as a substitute for Hai when he suffered a collapsed lung. Without their primary shot caller Cloud9 was still able to win games against world-class teams including Europe’s Fnatic and China’s OMG.
“Any idea, plan, or purpose may be placed in the mind through repetition of thought.“ – Napoleon Hill
The remaining members of Cloud9’s roster have played hundreds upon hundreds of games with Hai; this massive amount of repetition ingrained in the Cloud9 players a strong enough understanding of strategy and macro-game decision to replicate Hai’s work as a shot caller. When they were able to win games at all-stars, those games were not “blow out matches” – in which they were up 20 kills over the opponent team – the games were similar to the rest of Cloud9’s matches: paced and strategic. Even if Hai was the one putting their strategies into words, it stands to reason that the rest of the players on Cloud9 understood what they were doing and will be able to replicate it.
League of Legends is further evolving into a strategy and teamplay based game with every season. Due to this increased demand for strategic play, it is important to look at how a player will fit into a team when determining a successful roster change. Teams are most successful when they are able to focus their ganks on the mid and either top or bottom lanes. Because Meteos rarely ganked for Hai, his jungle route was inefficient. Instead, he needed to travel between bottom lane and top lane to make plays. Now Cloud9 can choose which side of the map they want to focus, which greatly increases the efficiency of Meteos’s jungle pathing. If the team chooses to focus their resources on mid and top, they will very likely find success by either snowballing Incarnati0n or Balls, both who are both major threats in the game. Lemonation and Sneaky have proven to be a very self-sufficient bot lane through their time in competitive play. Ganking bottom lane was often unsuccessful as seen in games against Elements where sneaky got kill leads and was unable to carry the game. Sneaky is a very good player, currently in his prime as a team fighting ad carry, but thrives on going even in lane with his enemy ad carry and out team fighting them later in the game. Previously Meteos’ best option was to gank top lane. Adding this additional lane for Meteos to gank creates additional strategic diversity for Cloud9 and puts far more pressure on their opponents in the early game.
Incarnati0n seems to be very motivated to play with the Cloud9 players. Nearly every day on twitter there has been posts by him or his teammates saying they are “duoing” and linking to a stream. This motivation to practice after scrims and to do so with your teammates speaks of good things to come for Cloud9’s team environment with their new mid laner.
“You have to believe that you can beat anyone in order to effectively execute a cutthroat playstyle in and out of lane,” he said. “If everything goes well and I stay in the learning curve I’m currently in, I’m confident I have the capacities to be one of the best mid laners in the world by the end of the year.” – Incarnati0n
It is very rare for players to have this attitude of self-confidence and fearlessness in the North American scene. Players and teams are often afraid to be aggressive for fear of failing and the almost certain backlash that will come from the community if they do. Incarnati0n’s aggressive play style will be refreshing for the North American scene and will take Cloud9 to a higher level.