Throughout Cloud9’s 2022 League Championship Series season, top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami has continued to establish himself as a franchise face for the organization. Fudge, known for his confidence in the last two years, has become one of the most bold and outspoken players in the LCS, leaning fully into the heel role assumed by other stars of the league like Evil Geniuses support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme.
Fudge has said time and time again that he uses trash talk in an effort to push himself forward and reach greater heights, and right now, the C9 top laner has a lot to boast about.
“I definitely think I'm a lot better than I was in 2021 just because of the experience I had in mid lane,” Fudge told reporters in a postgame press conference following C9’s LCS Championship win this weekend. “I think it allowed me to understand other roles a lot better. I also think I've just grown a lot as a person, so I feel much more calm in high-pressure moments. I think that helps me a lot in terms of my decision-making, so I'm pretty confident.”
He just won his second LCS title in two years, and he’s heading to the League of Legends World Championship as part of North America’s No. 1 seed in the best form of his career. After all these accomplishments since being promoted to the LCS in 2021, he’s confident that Worlds 2022 could be his -- and his team’s -- best performance yet.
“I think in previous international tournaments, I've shown I can have moments where I can compete against the best players in the world,” Fudge said. “Although Asian teams have kind of just dominated everyone throughout League of Legends history, I think that people also over-exaggerate the difference in skill between us and the teams that win Worlds. I think we definitely have the capability, if we're preparing well for our matches, to beat all the other teams.”
Photo credit: Riot Games
Fudge’s return to the top lane
It’s a far cry from where Fudge and C9 were at the end of the spring. After Cloud9 finished outside of the top three in the 2022 LCS spring playoffs, it was decided that Fudge would return to the top lane after spending the first half of the season as the team’s starting mid laner. The move was made after top laner Park “Summit” Woo-tae was heavily exploited for his aggressive, lane-dominant playstyle, a style that earned him LCS spring split MVP honors, but left C9 lacking dimension in the postseason.
Understandably, Fudge was far from his career peak in his first week back competing in the top lane in 2022.
“I definitely think I am not at the level of matchup knowledge that I had in 2021, strictly because I haven't been playing the matchups that often,” Fudge explained in an interview with Inven Global following Week 1 of the summer split. “Back in 2021, I think I had a really good grasp on all the matchups, especially in the summer split, which allowed me to usually go even in losing matchups. I would usually pick champions that outscale and then I would go even in lane.”
Fudge didn’t quite return to his full power throughout the summer split, but he did make good on giving Cloud9 a far less volatile top side. Fudge wasn’t the laning, solo-killing monster that Summit was, but per Oracles Elixir, he had the lowest death percentage among all top laners in the LCS. He also was second in KDA and kill participation -- behind only 100 Thieves top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Evil Geniuses top laner Jeong “Impact” Eon-young, respectively.
Fudge, and Cloud9 as a whole, had plenty of room to improve before they were considered a favorite for the title heading into the 2022 LCS Championship. However, fans were hopeful that Fudge and mid laner Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen would show up in their best form of 2022 in the postseason alongside the stellar AD carry Kim “Berserker” Min-Cheol.
Photo credit: Cloud9
All systems go for C9
C9 finished the summer split 10-8 and headed into the postseason as the fifth seed to face fourth-seed Counter Logic Gaming in their first best-of-five series of the summer. The young, exciting CLG roster had bested C9 for the fourth seed, but the gap between the two teams heading into the postseason was perceived as relatively small, and in a best-of-five format, experience among veterans on the C9 roster ended up making the difference. C9 took the series against CLG 3-2, but it was hard to see a scenario where C9, in the same form, would put up a fight against defending LCS champions Evil Geniuses in the next round.
Yet C9 pulled off the most shocking upset of the LCS season and dismantled EG 3-1. Fudge, along with Jensen, looked in far better form than they had all split. With both solo laners hitting their stride at just the right time, jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang was further unleashed to execute on his relentless, uninhibited style of play knowing that his solo laners had his back.
When EG showed signs of weakness in a narrow five-game win over seventh seed TSM in the lower bracket, some wondered if C9 got better or EG had gotten worse. However, Cloud9 proved that they deserved every bit of their win against the defending LCS champions in their next match against 100 Thieves. C9 took the victory 3-1, and Fudge’s pocket Kennen continued to be a revelation for C9 and an example of the superior champion pools of C9’s players, as was the Nilah of Berserker. No other team played these champions during the LCS Championship.
One week later, C9 found themselves in a rematch against 100 Thieves in the final and beat them even more soundly than the previous meeting, 3-0. C9’s win over 100T in the final was the only sweep of the entire LCS Championship. Fudge picked up yet another win on Kennen to bring the pick’s win rate to 4-0 in the postseason, and he once again got the better of All-Pro top laner Ssumday.
Read more: How Ssumday found a home with 100 Thieves
Photo credit: Cloud9
The sum of their parts
C9 came out of nowhere in the LCS Championship, looking far better than they did at any point in the summer split. When asked what had changed about the team before the start of the postseason, Fudge didn’t have an answer.
“Honestly, it's really hard to pinpoint anything specific. I think all of our players just stepped up really well. We all have quite a bit of experience except Berserker, and I would consider Berserker the best performer on our team,” Fudge explained in a postgame press conference, before adding with a chuckle, “Also, ADC is kind of broken, so it makes him look a little better.”
League of Legends is a team game, but everything about C9’s dominance in the postseason, at least compared to their summer split form, seems rooted in individual ability. Their mid-game teamfighting was second to none and was a crucial factor in winning the final against 100 Thieves, but the difference seemed to have more to do with individual players clicking at the right time than superior zone setups or objective focus.
With Worlds just a couple weeks away, it’s the right time for Fudge and C9 to be clicking.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games