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C9 Zeyzal: “I think our mentality was definitely to push. There were a lot of times where I was like ‘Wow, I think this game is over.'”


Cloud9 closed Day 2 by bringing back a win for North America in an extremely back-and-forth game with Europe’s Team Vitality. Vitality was able to defeat Gen.G on the back of its unhinged aggression on Day 1, but C9 weathered the storm and turned it around against VIT to stay alive in Group B.

We had the opportunity to chat with Tristan “Zeyzal” Sidam about C9’s match against Vitality, his surprise Nautilus pick, and what it’s like to be at the World Championship.

That looked like a really taxing game. There were so many times where it looked like Team Vitality was going to win and you guys were done. What was the team mentality like and how did Cloud9 stay in it?

I think our mentality was definitely to push. There were a lot of times where I was like “Wow, I think this game is over.” But obviously when you’re playing the game, you’re trying to call that you can win the game the whole time. Everyone still has the mindset that you can win.

There are some games where you’re just broken and you can’t win, but when you’re in a close game and you feel like you can win like that, you’re a lot more resilient. And I think that no one ever really tilted. Everyone was still in the game thinking about our win conditions and were definitely still discussing them in comms after we had lost fights.

Obviously, Team Vitality had a pretty significant win against Gen.G, one of the tournament favorites… Did you feel any extra pressure in your game against them today because of that? It made the group situation pretty different from expected.

I felt no extra pressure… not because they’re not a good team, but because I already know that their playstyle is the same versus every team. I think they’re a team that has a good chance to beat any team. And that’s something that we have to respect about them already so there wasn’t any extra pressure. We focused on not disrespecting them more than anything. I don’t think there was anything extra that we weren’t already giving to them.

What exactly is their style? How did you deal with it?

Their style is pretty interesting. It’s actually just Jiizuke going down a side lane, pushing as far as he can, and his team grouping as four mid to try to fight you while Jiizuke either pushes or rotates down to fight you in a 5v5. I think that’s pretty much what just happened in our game. I don’t think there’s much you can do. You pretty much can play side lane, like split-push against it, or you can fight them like we did and then the game gets pretty interesting.

Very interesting for sure. I also want to ask about the Nautilus pick. It’s not too common, but historically, it seems like it’s pretty good against Thresh. What went into the pick and how did it function in your game?

The Nautilus pick was something we initially prepared because of draft scenarios where we thought of what situations I would [play certain matchups] a few days ago. We didn’t have a pick if they blind picked Thresh and Reapered previously suggest Nautilus and we had it played into us by Gambit… I thought it looked good.

I’ve had like five games of solo queue on it and a few scrims and I thought it seemed good into Thresh… I didn’t get to showcase why it was good this game, but it’s so good because if he ever stands still and you just hook him for free. You’re naturally way more tanky early on in the game so you just push him out.

You’re a young player who has been around the NA scene for a bit, whether it was EUnited or Academy… What is it like making that jump from Academy to a world stage like thus?

I think going from Academy to LCS was really interesting… I knew at the time that I would be able to play LCS at a 7th place level at the time. I figured I would be a decent player and I had a lot of flashy plays in Academy because I was just better than a lot of the players there and just abuse them. I kind of felt a bit of pressure [when I joined the LCS]… specifically because it was Cloud9 and there’s so much expectations when you join Cloud9.

You’re already on a winning team so you have to win and do well. And then I was replacing Smoothie who has a big fanbase, is a good player, and a very nice guy. I had big shoes to fill. I think going from that alone, Academy to LCS, was hard. Worlds was more of a redeeming factor than something to be worried or pressured about. I think I was more nervous about LCS than Worlds.

Moreover, what has your experience been like at the World Championship?

It’s been a lot of hardships… a lot of lost scrims for sure. In general, a lot of it has been recognizing our weaknesses and recognizing how we can abuse other teams in the ways they abuse us. The teams here are very strong and their playstyles are what they’re good at. It’s taking one thing from another team and then applying it against another team and things like that. That’s how you build up to be a strong team.

Lastly, I have to ask… who do you think is going to win the whole thing? And how are Cloud9’s chances looking?

Starting with my prediction for who will win… I think it will be RNG because they’re the best team. They should win, but I also think that teams are not as strong as they should be. You could see in Play-Ins, we looked weak and now if we played those same games, we would look better. I think that’s something we benefited from. We got to get our nerves out in play-ins and we also got more experience.

I would say our group could go to anyone right now. Anyone can win.

Photo: Riot Games


C9 Cloud9



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