With Cloud 9 defeating Team Liquid and putting their stamp on the league as one of the best teams in North America currently, Izento got to speak with the birthday boy Andy “Smoothie” Ta after his victory and to get his thoughts on his shotcalling role, supports not receiving MVP awards and what it takes to practice being a top tier support.
Cloud 9 demolished Team Liquid! How is C9 able to close out games so quickly?
We’re really good at getting advantages early game through the lane phase, more so on stage than in scrims…not saying too much about that (laughs). On stage we play well and calculated, so it’s really easy to net advantages.
For example, Jensen has historically always been a great laner, so he can always get leads by himself somehow. Though, I think all of us can do this and we’re in good form. We get leads in the early game and we translate that into helping each other out.
With the game against TL, I translated my lead in the bot lane over to helping Licorice in the top lane and then he carried his lead over to helping mid lane. So, this is just a constant cycle of using our pressure to benefit the entire team as a whole instead of just trying to play for lane and solo killing people. I mean, if you can get a solo kill, good on you, but I think our team is playing great around each other.
You’re currently viewed as arguably the best Support in the league. What do you think separates yourself from other supports?
I think on stage I’m not really scared of doing certain things. Some other teams are hesitant on engaging but I view myself as the type of player that just wants to push my limits. I want to tell my team when we should fight or disengage. There’s never really any hesitation when I make my calls. Now, if I make a bad call, sure, you can cancel it, but if it’s a good time to engage, I always back my team up. Me and Svenskeren are usually on the engaging roles and we both work really well trying to mediate how to engage and disengage or simply when to just get vision. So, I think our synergy is good in that regard.
As far as being a leader on the team, it’s been said that you’re quite vocal in comms. Was there a massive pressure to be a leader in the absence of Hai?
I guess from an outside perspective, yeah, definitely. Hai had just left the team and was fabled as the super good shotcaller and that no other player could do his job as well as he could, besides maybe Aphromoo at the time. When I joined C9, I had really big shoes to fill in that respect.
Honestly though, I learned this way from the start, even on Team Liquid I was a vocal player because the role of support isn’t an incredibly mechanically intensive role or to be insane at micro plays. You don’t play LCS to go for the “MadLife plays”. Sure, it’s fancy, but I don’t think it’s necessary and if I’m not focusing on sheer mechanics, I can then focus on what’s best for my entire team. I think this is just my playstyle and the way I shotcall is simply using my brain to help out my team as much as possible rather than playing for my own highlights; I don’t really care about the Reddit highlight.
Speaking of being in the spotlight, I noticed that Supports rarely win Player of The Game or better yet, MVP of the split. Do you think the community (as in casters, journalists and analysts) underrate supports in the larger context of a team lineup?
Yes and no. That question is a bit weird because I ask myself and my team about that a lot, but it’s just a balance of a couple things:
One, the meta has an influence.
Two, how good your team is playing in relation to the setup they get. For example, if you engage as a support, people see the ADC or mid laner doing half the hp bars of the enemy carries and not necessarily the actual engage.
Right now, the meta is great for me because there are a lot of playmakers that are available, such as tank supports, but I got lucky and got Alistar plenty of times in my games, so I can look good in that regard. Really though, I don’t care too much about it. It’s nice to have the recognition but support players are just chill, do our job and want to be better than our counterparts…silently (laughs).
How do you study other support players? Outside of lane phase, a lot of what a support does is extremely contextual, in terms of ward placements, roams and actions of that nature. So, does this make support the most difficult role to learn from other players?
I think when you’re in the loop of the top tier supports, it’s much easier because you already have adapted to past meta.
I’ve played in C9 for two years now and I’ve learned so much…it’s incredibly how much I’ve been able to learn in this amount of time, but I think for starting support players it’s a tall task to learn the appropriate times to roam and ward. It’s just difficult to do your general macro if you don’t know how your team is doing. There are just a ton of factors that go into being a good support player and I think the position is underrated.
Do you think stats are a good metric in determining the value of a support?
Definitely not. You can have 100% kill participation in all your games but lose all of them. For me, my stats haven’t been that great. I used to be like, “my KDA, my KDA, help me”! Nowadays, it’s just whatever. If I’m on a tank and I’m going to die, I’m going to die for my team. It’s better that I die instead of one of my carries. If my fantasy points need to take a hit from that, it’s fine, I’d rather take the win.
Do you have anything you want to say to the fans?
Thanks for everyone hyping me up. This really motivates me to work that much harder to get MVP. It’s going to be really hard from here on out; keeping my standard right now is going to be a difficult task. I’ll keep working hard and making my team the best they can be. Right now, the first-place title doesn’t mean too much, it only matters during playoffs.
Thank you very much for your time!