Zven set to soar with Cloud9 at MSI

Zven set to soar with Cloud9 at MSI

by Xander Torres

Jesper “Zven” Svennigsen is one of the world's best AD carries and one of Europe’s many global premier talents. Even so, since moving to North America, his teams have continually missed the chance to compete internationally, whether it was Team SoloMid’s blunders in 2018 and 2019 or the pandemic that ripped away his chance to compete at the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) in 2020 with Cloud9.

The year is 2021 now, though, and Cloud9 picked up the pace to dominate the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) this year and run it back for an MSI appearance, with Zven eagerly awaiting his chance at international competition.

Zven’s initial landing spot in North America was with TSM, the most popular team in the region and well-known for almost always making the League of Legends World Championship. The key word is “almost” because once Zven joined the team, TSM failed to make Worlds two years in a row, as well as the Mid-Season Invitational. Paired with support Alfonso “Mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez -- with whom he was teammates with on Origen and G2 Esports -- and eventually Andy “Smoothie” Ta, Zven was consistently at the top of the league as an AD carry, but it wasn’t enough.

Read more: North America’s salty sweet history at the Mid-Season Invitational

Photo credit: Riot Games

It was so disappointing for Zven that he was quoted as saying, “After the year, I said I hate it here, I hate solo queue, I hate living in NA, I don’t have any friends here,” on Duncan “Thorin” Shields and Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles’s show Summoning Insight last year. Zven experienced a level of frustration that would push any player back home, but he eventually persevered and found a new home in Cloud9 where he has been able to shine brighter than any AD carry in North America.

In an interview with Dot Esports, Zven remarked that he felt super comfortable with this team and felt like he could be the best version of himself, “both as a player and as a person -- on Cloud9.” Even then, Zven faced a significant roadblock after winning his first LCS title with Cloud9 last year: COVID-19.

Cloud9’s dominance over the LCS was clear -- they went 17-1 in the spring -- and when fans and analysts alike talked about their strength, it wasn’t relative to North America, but relative to the world. Cloud9 was destined for the global stage, but Riot Games had no choice but to cancel MSI without reasonable preparations or conditions for the event to happen safely.

MSI may not have happened last year, but the 2020 World Championship still took place after Riot Games made the appropriate preparations for a safe event to be held in China. Zven and Cloud9, though, did not match their form of the prior split and failed to qualify for the World Championship after losing to TSM and finishing in fourth place in the 2020 LCS Summer Playoffs. It was a burn for Zven and yet another year without international play.

Read more: Welcome to IceLAN: Your guide to MSI and Masters

In 2021 so far, Cloud9 and Zven’s performance have been dominant once again as they continually trampled the league on a weekly basis. There were a few stumbles at the end of the regular season, but Cloud9 jungler Richard “Blaber” Huang said that “they weren’t taking the games too seriously.” At the end of the day, Zven was finally in a position where he could shoot for an international event.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Zven took home All-Pro team honors this spring as the consensus best AD carry in North America, and showed it consistently as he pressured Team Liquid’s bottom lane during the LCS finals alongside star support Philipe “Vulcan” Laflamme. The series itself was a close 3-2 game, but given the domination of Game 5 and the overall flow of the series, Zven had no trouble calling the final couples games “stomps” in their favor.

Even so, those stomps led to a magical moment for Zven where he was finally an LCS champion with no strings attached, with a ticket to Reykjavík, Iceland, for MSI. Zven was so excited that he literally ran off stage and toward the LCS trophy, outrunning his teammates and even dodging the cameraman along the way.

It was a childlike display of joy and it couldn’t have felt better for anyone, but Zven. After struggling for years with TSM and having a pandemic block his path to the international stage, he had his win, the trophy and the chance to prove that he’s still among the world’s best. Zven might have been frustrated with North America a year ago, but he found that positive energy on stage again and was ready to soar.

“It was a hype moment because last year, we didn't celebrate that much. We were at home and playing online, and we knew we were going to win, so it wasn't that hype,” he said after this year’s LCS spring finals. “This series was kind of close, so it was much more of a hype moment. It was a fun win, and I was really excited and had a lot of energy.”

Zven laughed during Cloud9’s champion press conference as he called his team “too slow” for falling behind in the festivities, but it’s clear that this is the team where he’s really ready to do his best. MSI is coming, and among the field, Zven might actually be the best AD carry at the event, but it will still be a challenge for Cloud9 as they finally have a chance to face off against the world’s best.

Lead image credit: Riot Games

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