Food for thought is a new segment where I’ll be toning down the analytics a bit and just giving my personal opinions on certain topics within the competitive scene.It comes as a bit awkward to post another article about Cloud9 after having just done a piece on the team. However there this is a topic that I would greatly like to discuss that I feel cannot wait until later in the split. Not to beat a dead horse here with the amount of articles being dedicated to this topic, but those don’t try to explore which player would be better for Cloud9. The team has been getting a lot of attention this split for their support shuffle in the bottom lane between Michael“Bunny Fufu” Kurylo and Andy “Smoothie” Ta.
Cloud9 had initially brought Bunny Fufu in last split to help transition the team into a roster that did not require Hai “Hai” Lam in the lineup. After Hai’s final departure from the team at the end of last split, Bunny was finally going to be able to be the starting support for Cloud9. However the team felt that Bunny had motivational problems and brought another NA support prospect in Smoothie.
The team now is in the habit of sharing the stage with the two supports in an effort to see which player will be the better fit for the team in the future. The team has found success with both supports so far and honestly don’t need to get rid of either of these players. Both Smoothie and Bunny have had great moments where they show that any team would be lucky to have either of them. However I feel that enough is enough and it’s time for Cloud9 to ditch Smoothie and bring Bunny on full time.
Don’t get me wrong having two supports with their differing styles in game adds a lot of strategic depth to Cloud9 in a best of series. However when it comes to living up to their potential the team should bring on one of their supports full time. Having this dynamic between the supports makes it so that they have to share time on stage and in scrims. It is my opinion that Bunny be brought on full time for more or less my personal beliefs on the game.
Building Towards the Future
Smoothie and Bunny are both good and it’s extremely difficult to say who is better this split. In post game interviews the team refuses to say which they believe is better and simply say “they both have their advantages and disadvantages” or “they play really similar styles so it’s hard to tell who is better.” If Cloud9 wants to become a world class threat they need to build a world class team. The change to best of three’s this split allows Cloud9 to experiment in this way with the two supports. However it seems obvious to me that if Cloud9 wants to be a title competitor they need to invest in Bunny.
My personal beliefs on the game are that teams such as Cloud9 need to forge their good players into great players. Teams should find the players with the most potential and build them into great players. Despite Smoothie’s great performances it seems obvious to me that in terms of raw skill Bunny has the edge. If I were in Cloud9 I would be trying my hardest to build Bunny up into a world class support.
Smoothie as a player is rather similar to Hai in what he offers to the team. Listening to Cloud9’s comms after games shows that Smoothie is much more talkative than pretty much everyone else on the team. He is shot calling and calling out enemy positions in a way that reminds me very much of how Hai communicated with the team. In game the team seems to play smoother and most complete when Smoothie is in the game.
However Smoothie as an individual player is just not on the same level as Bunny mechanically. In the words of Hai himself mechanics are something that you cannot teach to a player. It is much more plausible to train Bunny into a good communicator and shot-caller that Smoothie is than it would be to try and make Smoothie be on the same mechanical level as Bunny.
Smoothie is no doubt a good player, but he might not be the best in the long run. If I was Reapered I would be using Smoothie as a foil to Bunny so I could identify the strengths of Smoothie that Bunny lacks, then try to develop those strengths into Bunny.
Down the Rabbit Hole
The main harm that continuing the shuffle in the bot lane is the overall team synergy. Specifically with Meteos because the jungle support synergy is so critical to the way that Cloud9 tries to play. Cloud9 is a team that tries to get advantages early and the jungler and support need to have a good synergy to allow roams and vision control for ganks mid, jungle invades, objectives like dragons and rift herald. The constant switching makes it difficult for Meteos to develop such a synergy with either player as seen in the TSM series.
There were several opportunities in the early game of almost all the games against TSM where Cloud9 should have taken dragons or ganked mid that were ignored because Meteos and his support would be focused on different tasks. Early plays that are ignored by a team who plays for earlier advantages seem to be a major misstep that contributed to TSM taking the series.
We have not even begun to discuss the position that this puts Sneaky into where he now has to seemingly play two different styles at the drop of a hat. It could be argued that having a versatile bot lane style is good, but Cloud9 could accomplish the same thing by just developing those qualities in Bunny. I honestly think that in the long run if Cloud9 is still swapping their bot lane out it will prevent them from reaching that world class level.
It just seems so obvious to me that Bunny is the better choice for Cloud9 because of the amount of pressure that Cloud9 could potentially exert in pick and ban phase. Obviously pick and ban phase is important; the game can often be won and lost during this stage of the match. However there is an often overlooked quality to picks and bans that could be abused by having Bunny in the lineup.
We have seen this so many times throughout competitive play where a player is so good on a particular champion that it draws a ban against them. Such is the case with Aphromoo and his Bard, Wuxx and his Twitch in China, Rush and his Lee Sin. Imagine the amount of leverage that C9 could have by having Bunny in all of their games. Bunny is so good on Thresh, as well as other champions like Bard, that they become ban worthy because of how difficult it is for teams to deal with. This allows bans to be reallocated from Meteos and Jensen and gives a tremendous amount of freedom to the team. Teams that have multiple threats alleviate other players on their team to get OP picks because they draw bans themselves. This is a quality that Smoothie has not and probably can not match to Bunny and ultimately makes me put Bunny over Smoothie.
As I said before this is just my opinion on how teams should play the game and C9 does not need to do anything I said. Despite this I do feel that Cloud9 has a much higher skill cap with Bunny and can build into being something they have not been in years – a potential worlds contender.