At the start of the season Imperial’s IC9 LUL lost six straight maps to Aberdeen in scrims. Things weren’t good. During the semifinals, a few weeks ago, they beat the same team 2-0, and will face Underwatch in the finals at NUEL live on 28th April. This incredible turn in form didn’t come without hard work and some drama, however. I sat down with IC9 and Team Captain Lood to find out how their season has gone so far, and their expectations for the final.
IMPERIAL esports are the suprise finalists from the playoffs
E: Underwatch have an unbeaten record across the whole NUEL season, regular and playoffs. How do you rate your chances?
Lood: Underwatch aren’t a team without weaknesses and we are a decent enough team to capitalise on those weaknesses. However I don’t think we’ll be at our peak when playing against them due to unfortunate scheduling between NUEL live, exams, and holiday breaks.
TSG: Underwatch from what we’ve seen are a very strong team made of some very individually skilled players. Going undefeated so far this season is quite the testament to that. Having said that, I think our team is actually one of the strongest teams in NUEL due to how we’ve built our roster.
Electro: Do you feel IC9 has evolved substantially over the season?
Ronin: Our goal was really only to get playoffs. We did a roster shuffle before NUEL and Lood and I were playing really bad as a tank duo. Somehow we’ve managed to sort it out enough that we’re here now. I guess we’re also lucky we didn’t face Cambridge or York [in playoffs].
Cosmos: We put most of our practice time into coordinating dives, sorting out shotcalling, and analysing strats.
Lood: At the beginning of last winter season we were very reliant on random plays to initiate a push. After a lot of analysis and self-reflection we’ve becoming very flexible with situational changes and can make our own plays a lot more effectively. Just us shouting at each other in voice chat over a bad decision while watching a VOD really helped.
TSG: Our team has started this season with very defined roles. We organised who played Tracer whilst I learnt to flex. Aside from this we’ve learn to do a lot more in-game such as tracking ults, identifying counter switching, etc. All this together, I feel, has catapulted us through the QF and SF with 2-0 wins, even beating Aberdeen’s Reservoir Hogs.
Electro: So, looking forward to playing in the Red Bull Gaming Sphere? You can be mad at each other close-up?
Cosmos: You wouldn’t say that if you’d seen TSG irl.
Lood: Definitely looking forward to playing there, not looking forward to getting mad in front of TSG. He’d one shot us IRL.
Cosmos: Our one and only LAN experience was an Imperial vs UCL varsity and the settings were pretty s*** but we still enjoyed the whole thing. Definitely looking forward to play in a real setup.
Ronin: I personally play on a laptop connected to a monitor so that’ll be something to look forward to. Also, the atmosphere at LAN is also something very different from online.
Electro: …so, I’ll admit, I lost my s*** watching you guys in the semis. Zelco in particular was really fun to watch. Would you say you rely on any particular players to show up for the finals?
Lood: We don’t really have a hyper-carry player that must pop off to win, but I’d say we have some strong DPS players. We as a team are good at setting up our DPS to get kills, and if that doesn’t go well, we’re all very capable of covering for them.
Cosmos: I’d say SilverHusky, ‘cos i think his Ana is fantastic and he could really crack Underwatch’s notorious triple or quad-tank strats, plus TSG’s Pharah. Very effective against multi-tank strats.
Electro: Well, you wouldn’t be the first to try Pharmercy against Underwatch…
Lood: I think SilverHusky is incredibly underrated when spectators watch him in games, he hits the fattest nades on EU and is almost always the reason why our DPS are in a position to clean up.We as a team are good at setting up our DPS to get kills.
Electro: What are your plans going into the next season and academic year: continue the upward trend? Are you all sticking together?
Ronin: Lood, TSG, and I are probably not playing next year. I hope we get some good freshers or the 2nd team players step up.
Lood: Next year you probably won’t see much of this team together. TSG will be going to final year medicine so he won’t have as much time to play, and I’ll be going into my hospital placements so it’ll be difficult for me to regularly make scrims.
Electro: You’re in the same boat as Underwatch and a lot of the other top university teams… Is there anything else you’d like to say to the world?
Cosmos: Playing NUEL was an awesome opportunity i’d say, making new friends and having fun with them.
Lood: Agreed, meeting these Korean teammates really helped me complete my Korean extra credit homework. As feedback for NUEL: I think there should be a more refined system for teams that drop out, Bristol chose to not compete for the last few weeks yet were still included in the top 8 playoff tables until the last week…
Electro: Good feedback I guess, thanks for talking to me, and best of luck in the finals on the 28th.
Imperial’s IC9 LUL will be facing York’s Underwatch on the 28th April at the Red Bull Gaming Sphere. Tickets are available now.