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Mixing it up: Smoothie and C9's Secret to Success

Having six-man (or in some cases, even 10-man) rosters is becoming increasingly common in the LCS, but it doesn’t always work out. Kikis recently left European Champions G2 after being expected to share the top lane with Expect, and Pobelter reportedly left CLG for the Immortals instead of splitting the mid-lane starter spot with HuHi. Smoothie is optimistic about his current role: "I like playing with Bunny a lot, him and I have similar but different strengths. His champion pool is smaller, but he's really good on those champions — I like to branch out and play different stuff. Having both of us brings different strengths to the team."

The support spot brought its own kind of pressure with it: Bunny had been groomed to take over Hai’s position as the team’s shot caller, working closely with Hai. As Cloud9 grew and evolved, so too did its shotcalling, especially with the acquisition of head coach Bok "Reapered" Han-gyu.

"When I first came on the team, I thought Hai's shotcalling was a one man job," Smoothie says, talking about his initial expectations. "As I played with them more, the way they want to play now is not with one person calling all the shots. Everyone voices their opinion, and we make a decision."

This is an unorthodox strategy, especially after a period in League history where shot callers and assertive players have been highly discussed, praised and valued. However, there are merits to this democratic approach, especially as Riot adjusts the game to be more team focused. "I like it a lot. [I’ve tried being] the one shot caller a couple of times, and being a big voice in a team works to an extent, but I can’t fill Hai’s role. I don’t think anyone on the team can. The game has so much depth to it now and you don’t know things that everyone knows. The way we play now is more effective; I think it’s more how other teams are going to do it."

The team’s new approach where every player adds their input is especially interesting when you consider the new roster: Impact and Meteos are both legendary players with long histories, and it becomes easy to see how a single shot caller could shut their perspectives out. This becomes important when you consider how Cloud9’s new head coach is reorienting their perspective on the game.

"Reapered fits the team really well, the team all have respect for him," Smoothie says. "He looks at the game at more than micro and mechanics kind of way, he looks at it in a macro sense where map movements matter. Of course a coach can point out fighting here is bad, but we talk about the big picture things — you should have moved here, you should have rotated — the big picture things that really make or break a game, not the random fights that break out. In this season, the last year, it's been turning into macro play being really really important in the game right now."

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