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C9 Mithy: “The level of individual laning and the early-game at Worlds is much higher and it takes a while for Western teams to adapt”

C9’s head coach Alfonso "Mithy" Aguirre Rodríguez spoke to us after their tiebreaker matches and talked about Cloud9’s preparations going into the second-round robin and his thoughts on regional strength.

Cloud9 put on a heroic display in the second-round robin in Group A, coming from a dire 0-3 position to win two crucial games against Rogue and FunPlus Phoenix to force a group tiebreaker. They then defeated Rogue again in the deciding match to advance from Group A in astonishing fashion. North America’s story at Worlds 2021 is not done yet.

First and foremost, massive congratulations on defeating Rogue and making it to knockouts! The first question I’d like to ask is, how are you feeling right now after this crazy day?

Mithy: Honestly, I still can’t believe it. It’s pretty crazy. After the first week where we went 0-3, I was really trying to have hopium but it was hard. I think the guys also learned a lot from just playing on stage against better teams all the time. Maybe even now, but I don’t really know with best-of-ones.

I think they learned a lot from how the games were going and how the other teams were playing and how we wanted to play. Yeah, so I think we adapted well in the few days that we had.

Speaking of delicious hopium, from going 0-3 to bouncing back so strongly, talk to me a little bit about what your preparations were like going into the second-round robin?

Mithy: Our preparation was to go home after ending the day with a 0-3 score, play some board games, have a beer, and just talk things through a little bit. We talked about the challenges that we have, what we want to do moving forward and just roll with it. We just tried to keep our morale high and try our best.

That’s one method to do it. Coming into matches, DWG KIA was the one that everybody was talking about as being the strongest, but which team were you most wary about facing in particular for the second round?

Mithy: I mean… DWG KIA. I think they’re a very, very good team. Conceptually speaking, they play very well. They just play extremely well individually but most importantly, I think they’re a very smart team.

Since you’ve given such high praise for DWG KIA, who do you think will win Worlds 2021? Is it going to be DWG KIA?

Mithy: It’s hard to say. I think EDward Gaming has been looking good in scrims and in their groups so it’s hard to say right now. EDG feels like another giant. Yeah, it’s just hard to really say.

That’s fair enough, I won’t push you on that. Cloud9 came from the Play-Ins and a lot of people, I think, didn’t have that high expectations for Cloud9, especially after you lost to DetonatioN FocusMe. Was losing to that DFM a ‘wake up’ moment for Cloud9, or was it just you guys getting used to the meta?

Mithy: Yeah, we’re getting used to the meta obviously, but at the same time playing more games helps you know what you want to play, and figure out some things that we’re doing wrong that maybe like in reviews, we will touch on but not so much. Or like seeing other teams play and being like “hey, they’re doing something that we are not doing, let’s try to implement it to our play style or to our games”.

The biggest thing really is you’re playing best-of-ones. The teams that are here, they earned their way here. They fought all the way in their respective regions so they’re not terrible, they’re actually quite good. Because the tournament system is so bad, there’s always a chance that anyone can spring a surprise on you.

Regarding your thoughts on scrims when you mentioned EDG, I just wanted to bring it back a little bit, because there was an interview with your support player, Vulcan, for Upcomer and he mentioned getting f****d by Asian teams. What are your thoughts on the differences in regional strength at Worlds this year?

Mithy: Yeah, we’ve been struggling against the Asian teams. Their playstyle in the mid-game, it’s a lot more pressure based and they’re playing a lot more compact. With EU not as much but NA especially are playing a lot more trying to be efficient around jungle camps and just getting the most farm possible. When you play against a team that’s pressuring you so hard, they’re basically hand shaking the situation of “you don’t get farm, we don’t get farm”, but the difference is they are going to pressure you a lot harder to force a mistake from your side.

That was something that we really struggled with in mid-game. And then the early game… I mean, these guys, they just play on a server that hosts at least five regions or something like that, it’s completely crazy. Whereas we play on a much worse server in return and they get to play against each other, and just practice against each other. The level of individual laning and in general the early-game at Worlds is much higher and it takes a while for Western teams to adapt to them.

In terms of this disparity in scrims, there is a lot of talk on social media on the disparity between regions, especially after week one. Now Cloud9 has flipped the narrative a bit, perhaps. I’d like your thoughts on the strength disparity of EU and NA teams and the teams from China/South Korea?

Mithy: The way I see things, when it comes down to the top level, a lot of it is about preparation. How the team learns, how the team works together, and how they play towards their strengths and cover their weaknesses.

Let’s say a good, strong, solid team will be able to learn from a better team than them and adapt, and maybe even overcome that team eventually. The biggest problem right now is just that the eastern regions have their own server, they all play on the same server and scrim against each other. They just are able to upgrade their level of play and they’re just so much better because they have the tools to be that much better.

When the West gets to Worlds, we get to bootcamp and we get to scrim them, we can play a little catch up. However, you know, we’re always playing catch up. Some of these teams, they’re also working very hard and they have fantastic players, coaches and support staff behind them. So it’s a hard road ahead for the western teams, but we just try our best to try to learn, keep an open mind, and stay humble. This week, we showed that we can learn and overcome… FPX at least.

What I’m getting from you is that basically LPL and LCK teams are very strong, because they play one another… but NA is greater than EU.

Mithy: (laughs) I don’t know about that! I think that EU has gotten a bit worse this year, because G2 Esports was a very experienced team and they had a very beautiful thing going on there. They were able to, like I said, adapt and overcome so well to the other teams.

Everyone else was kind of ‘meh’, like Fnatic had their own style with Hylissang and Bwipo, and they can always create chaos in such a fantastic way. So those were like the strengths that the EU has had for a while, and now because things have been shaken up, it’s up to the new coaches and the new players to show what they’ve got and how they can prove themselves on the big stage.

I really hope to see that happen. This is the final question, we’ve come to the end of the interview. Anything else you’d like to say? Any shoutouts you’d like to give?

Mithy: I just like to thank our fans, thank everyone who actually stuck by us and betted on us, maybe, and won a lot of money because you know, that was definitely a long shot, so yeah! Thank you to everyone that supported us, keep supporting us and we’re going to try our best and make you guys proud in the next round of the tournament.

Special shout out to the people from La Palma who are going through this whole volcano situation going on there, and it’s pretty tough with some people losing houses and stuff. I’m from there or like low-key close from there so yeah, big shout out to them too.

Thank you Mithy and best of luck to Cloud9!

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