The demotion of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen
’s academy team following their mediocre MSI performance was the off-season’s most controversial change. It left many scratching their heads at C9 management’s decision-making, even though their replacement ADC Calvin “k1ng” Truong
was one of the many stars-in-waiting that fill up the Academy scene. The roster swap didn’t work out; three weeks of weak performances with k1ng lead to Zven’s triumphant return, and two weeks later, C9 seems back on track. As we’ve seen with the previously dominant C9, it’s difficult to swap a player out full-stop (especially such a high-profile one). But what about swapping out your duo partner?
For Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme
, swapping out Zven for k1ng is an even more monumental change. No matter how flexible the player, a duo’s playstyle can’t possibly remain exactly
the same across ADCs. Communication, champion pool, and philosophy all change with the introduction of a different half to the botlane whole.
Vulcan isn’t the flashiest, most aggressive support, but he’s known for consistently performing at a very high level. He and Zven were a shining star for the struggling C9 during MSI, showcasing that they could fight, beat, and even carry against the best botlanes in the world. Forced into the League of Legends equivalent of a custody battle afterward, however, Vulcan had to jump between ADCs three times in two months. Could he possibly remain consistent?
ADC and support players will always be the most difficult to rank and analyze, as their performance is so inseparably tied to that of their duo partner’s. A great ADC can make a mediocre support player look good, and vice versa.
Looking at raw stats alone, there is a small but noticeable difference between Vulcan’s performance alongside k1ng and his Spring Split showing. His average assists went down from 9.78 to 7.56, and his overall kill participation dropped from 65% to 60%. A newer ADC will inevitably require more “babysitting” from a support, leaving fewer opportunities for Vulcan to make an impact elsewhere on the map. Interestingly, he had the exact same first blood percentage and a very similar first blood victim percentage. Vulcan and Zven were never known for their aggressive 2v2 plays, though, a playstyle which k1ng comfortably slotted into.
Whether a result of proximity or mere coincidence, k1ng and Zven have almost the same champion pool. While the ADC champion pool is much shallower than other roles, they both favor Kai’Sa, Ezreal, and even fasting Senna, giving some semblance of a controlling factor when the two players are swapped.
The weeks following Zven’s reintroduction tell a much different story, however. Vulcan’s key stats significantly shifted: He’s scored first blood three out of six games, and even more impressively, his kill participation jumped from 60% to 75%. His average assists are actually down since Zven came back, though they are heavily weighed by two out of the six games being crushing defeats from 100 Thieves and TSM.
These stats don’t tell a complete story, of course. C9 went a disappointing 4-5 with k1ng — apart from remarkable outliers, the players on a team that often loses will inevitably have worse individual stats because of it. Exceptions to this rule are rare (such as the case of Alphari on Origen).
Such is the case even more so for supports. It’s more difficult to place and clear wards if your team is often losing, inevitably tanking a player’s average vision score. Tank engage champion meta also means that playmaking falls into the lap of the support, often leading to higher deaths for the sake of the team. It’s almost impossible to look good on Leona when your team is behind.
This leaves the important but difficult to quantify eye-test. While C9 can’t comfortably say they’re back on top until they beat TSM and 100 Thieves, they looked better in week five than they have the whole split thus far. Surprisingly enough, however, Vulcan had a very bad game against TSM. For someone known for his stability, he made some uncharacteristically silly mistakes that lead to them getting stomped bot and losing the game.
C9’s biggest individual resurgence since Zven’s midseason arrival has certainly been Perkz, but Vulcan is back to his usual quietly monstrous performances. He dominated Immortals’ botlane on Galio, putting up an impressive 0/1/11 performance to secure momentum going into the more important game against TL, which C9 also won handily. The big story of that game may have been Thomas “Jenkins” Tran getting piled on by C9’s topside, but Vulcan again put up a superb 0/0/13 scoreline, assisting in thirteen out of fifteen total kills.
While Vulcan was no slouch during k1ng’s brief tenure, the last two weekends have been a marked improvement for the C9 mainstay. That isn’t to say that he’s carried by Zven, of course — his performances alongside k1ng, while C9 faltered in the standings, were still impressive for the circumstances. It’s inarguable that Vulcan is a world-class player, but the experiment does show how inextricably tied the two roles are — no support can be great without a great ADC at their side.