Cloud 9 AD Carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi caught up with Nick Geracie following a shocking 3-1 defeat at the hands of Team Dignitas. Despite being favored to win the series, Cloud 9 looked outclassed by Dignitas and found themselves exiting the NA LCS summer playoff picture far earlier than anyone expected.
Nick: I’m here with Sneaky, following the series against Dignitas in the Quarterfinals. You guys were favored to win, but things didn’t end up going your way. What do you think went wrong in this series?
Sneaky: I think it’s pretty hard to point out what exactly went wrong for us. I mean, every game was a whole lot different, but I know the first two games felt really weird for me because it just kinda felt like we were ball-comping the entire time. Like…specifically the second game, when I was Kalista, I think there was one opportunity that I saw to actually throw in Thresh with my ultimate, so like, just from that perspective, the game is going to be super awkward. So we were just sitting mid the whole time.
It’s really specific, but it just kind of speaks to the whole series. Game 3 and 4 were better for us. Game 3 we won; we snowballed; we were playing really well. And then Game 4 was kind of similar except (laughs) I guess their late game was a whole lot better…well actually I don’t know about a WHOLE lot better…I don’t know…It seemed like things were going pretty well in practice, but it just didn’t end up translating to the stage.
Nick: You mentioned that you only got one opportunity to take advantage of Kalista’s utility. Do you think that was just a symptom of how the game was flowing, or do you feel like it was more because of you guys not maximizing the opportunities to make this Kalista pick work?
Sneaky: It seemed more about the lane setup than anything, because there’s four people together. I can’t just throw Thresh in, because he’ll just drop dead, and I have to use it as more of like a “save Thresh” when he tries to go in, so it’s not my turn to initiate. But yeah, normally with Kalista you just find opportunities to just throw your support in. I did it once on Keane, but he reacted pretty well to it, and it was really far. The ultimate barely couldn’t hit, and then he just knocked me and Smoothie back, so we just couldn’t get anything out of it.
That’s normally what’s supposed to happen with the ulti. You just find picks, and then in team fights, as it breaks out, you can just throw your support all over their backline. But all the fights were really awkward, like, Twitch ended up getting strong enough to a point where he could just sit around and we couldn’t kill their frontline at all. Alistar, Maokai, and Nunu just had an insane amount of health/tankiness. I could never even get in an auto attack, really.
Nick: So then, when those kind of situations occur, where you guys have things working well in practice and it just doesn’t translate on stage…after all the hard work, that’s gotta be frustrating. How do you stay focused on the next thing?
Sneaky: Well, we were definitely hoping to not have to play in the gauntlet, because this year it’s a whole lot worse because you have to play into the worlds play-in thing, just like all the wild cards. I think we’re basically tied for second seed NA anyways, but yeah, it’s just a whole lot more stuff you have to do. Because you have to play the gauntlet, and then you have to play the play-in, so…we were hoping to not get into that, but unfortunately we are here. We definitely need to look forward to that because it’s just the next thing that’s coming up for us. I think the best thing we can do is to just talk about what we’re gonna do moving forward. I mean, I don’t know if there’s anything big we need to change, but I think we’re just going to try and improve.
Nick: This is a question specifically for you. People always look to you as a constant in Cloud 9 — you always seem to have a very level head. Some of your teammates looked very distraught after the loss, but here you are doing an interview. Do you have a certain mantra, or something you tell yourself? Because you seem pretty calm right now, considering the circumstances.
Sneaky: I don’t really know what it is specifically, but I think it’s hard to get me to have insane feelings about stuff. I mean, I’ll enjoy what I’m doing…I feel sad about this loss, but it’s not the end of the world. You win some games, you lose some games; this happens. It’s not that that mentality that I’m carrying that makes me not super sad about this, but it’s something about me as a person. I just don’t get over-emotional about anything that goes on.
Nick: What do you guys think you need to work on mostly for the gauntlet? We don’t know who you’re going to play, but it’s going to be either CLG, DIG, IMT if they go out early, potentially FlyQuest…is there anything specific that you can point out that you think you guys need to improve on, or is that going to take more review?
Sneaky: I think we’re going to need to review more to pinpoint exact stuff we could have done better. But I don’t know, it’s not like in scrims there’s never any games that completely stall out. So it’s kind of just like trying to make the scrim environment closer to the stage environment because I think scrims were going really well for us, so it felt weird even losing today. So I don’t know if there’s a possibility of making the games less chaotic in scrims, but that would be super ideal because then you just have less gold to work with, and less advantages to play around.
Like, say we were winning bot lane every time in scrims, and we got used to having an advantage there, and then on stage, they just play too far back for you to get that advantage, and that can really throw off games. It’s the same thing for mid; literally any lane. If you’re just constantly getting some sort of advantage, and then you go on to stage and they’re just playing too far back…I know Keane, this series…I don’t know if he was just super aware of everything that was going on, but he very rarely gave us opportunities to jump on him, except for the final game where he died a lot more. But yeah, I think it’s just trying to replicate LCS in scrims as much as possible is the best thing we can do.
Nick: So you and TSM just announced this really cool T-Mobile sponsorship; you and Bjergsen did an AMA on stream in the new pink jerseys which was a lot of fun. With all that big sponsor stuff going on close to playoffs, do you think that could have contributed as a distraction to the loss today, or did it not really matter?
Sneaky: No, it’s completely fine. It’s just literally an hour out of my day, so it didn’t really matter. I mean, I guess technically I lost a solo queue game because I lost the time to play one.
Nick: Oh, that must have been the entire reason for the loss then, right?
Sneaky: (Laughs) Yeah, I mean, as long as that stuff is stress-free and not super time consuming, it has no effect whatsoever. The only time it’d be that is if we’d have to go out to some type of event for a sponsor for like a day or a few hours during practice times. That’s when that kind of stuff really interferes, but this was all the way after scrims. It was 9 o’clock starting, where I was just playing solo queue. It had no effect on anything, and that stuff’s really cool to do, you know? Sponsoring up with big companies.
Nick: Yeah that’s definitely a really big, cool move for you guys. Alright, Sneaky, so coming up in the gauntlet, is there any specific opponent you’d like to face? Realistically, you’ll only have to face one opponent due to circuit points, so is there a specific team that you guys want to play against that you think you match up well into?
Sneaky: I don’t really mind facing anyone, honestly. I think the teams that are going to be there will deserve to be there because, let’s just say that TSM wins the whole thing and Immortals lose, so they’re second place. So then they would get the second seed, so then it’d just be third, fourth, whoever won those matches going into the gauntlet. So I think whatever team it’ll be if we have to play only one, they’ll deserve to be there, and we can strengthen up ourselves to beat them.
Nick: Do you think that it’s a contributing factor – the fact that you’ve been on previous miracle run teams like the Season 5 Cloud 9 team that ran the gauntlet with Hai in the jungle – you don’t sound very worried about your chances of going to worlds. Do you think it’s just because you’ve been in so many against all odds situations?
Sneaky: Well, I mean it’s more about like…you can’t really change anything about who you’re going to play. We already put ourselves in this situation; we got second place in spring so we set ourselves up pretty decently for this split to go to worlds. And then, this time, we ended up failing before we could get further in the bracket, so it’s just basically luck of the draw now. We’re going to have wait and see our fate rather than us being able to do much about it at this point. It’s not like I’m super comfortable and think I have a free trip to worlds; I think that’s a really bad mentality. We’re going to be working hard for sure, and whoever we face, hopefully we’re ready for them.
Photos courtesy of Riot Games