Three games remain in the 2016 NA LCS spring regular season and Cloud9 (10-5) is continuing its run towards a first round bye. The former two-time league champion is in a reverse position of last split, when the makeshift starting five with in-game leader Hai "Hai" Lam starting at jungle had to battle out of the relegation zone in the final games of the season. The renovated C9 with reigning MVP Lee "Rush" Yoon-jae at jungle and Hai in a new role of support has brought back the winning culture.
"It's maybe the fact we insult each other the most of any other team," Hai said. "Rush, [Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen] and [Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi] are constantly trolling each other."
While other teams in the league have found success by tightening the ranks and embracing an environment more like that of the Korean league, C9 has strayed and taken the opposite approach. The team feels comfortable enough to joke around, win or lose -- and the players don't let the stress of the nine week regular season get to them. Similarly to first-place Immortals, C9 has risen up the rankings through building chemistry faster than its peers.
Although its win on Saturday has tied C9 with Counter Logic Gaming (10-5) for the all-important second seed, which grants a free pass to the semifinals, it wasn't the team's best performance. Renegades only has two wins to its name the entire season, and though C9 did have new faces in the starting lineup, it was a game Hai and his team would have liked to have a smoother win.
"It doesn't matter if it's F-tier or whatever team you think is weak," Hai said. "You just play every team like you want to win -- they're [all] the same team in the sense you treat them similar."
From going to his natural position of mid lane to jungle and now support, Hai doesn't feel like he had enough time in the jungle role to truly reach his full potential. Support, while not the mid lane, has brought back some reassurance to Hai's playstyle, as his supportive captain tendencies are easier to utilize in the bottom lane role. As a mid laner who was known for being more of a general than a soldier in his later seasons, the bottom lane duo with Sneaky has given C9's captain another chance to conduct four teammates on the Rift under his watchful eye.
In light of various other veteran talent from his mid lane prime retiring or transitioning to other roles in the esports field, I asked Hai how he felt about his future as a pro-gamer.
"I enjoy playing so it's not like I'm in any immediate rush to quit," he said. "I've been taking care of my health problems more and more, so it's not as big of an issue. I'd like to say it's better, but it's obviously not perfect or anything. I don't think it will be until I stop playing ... but I'm playing for now and seeing how it goes."