On Day 2 of the 2021 Mid-Season Invitational group stage, at exactly three minutes and 24 seconds into Cloud9’s game against Detonation FocusMe, Cloud9 jungler Robert “Blaber” Huang’s Nidalee challenged Mun “Steal” Geon-yeong’s Udyr at top river by flashing in to smite the Scuttle.
And so for the next eight seconds, Blaber found himself all alone.
“But Blaber, be careful! Where is your team?” said shoutcaster David “Phreak” Turley.
Detonation FocusMe’s mid and top laner were closing in, while Cloud9’s solo laners simply could not. Cornered in the Baron pit, Blaber had nowhere to go, and gave first blood.
“That is the worst Scuttle take I’ve ever seen in my life!” exclaimed Phreak.
Fudge on Blaber’s first blood, and what Cloud9 can improve on
Reflecting on those moments after the game, top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami explained to ONE Esports that it was a “misunderstanding of the matchups”. Before the game, the team established that Fudge on Jayce will gain top lane priority against Shunsuke “Evi” Murase’s Gnar.
“I think when Blaber heard that, he pathed top side, and then realized that it’s not that simple,” explained Fudge. “I couldn’t leave the lane and hit the Udyr, so he tried to fight the Udyr, and then died.”
Even though Detonation FocusMe held on to a gold lead throughout, Cloud9 kept it competitive in terms of kills, turrets, and as close as 2,300 gold before they got aced 30 minutes in.
Looking forward, Fudge thinks that Cloud9 will need to start playing champions to cover up their weaknesses, and be more aggressive with initiators.
“I don’t really know yet, but I do think there are obviously a lot of weaknesses that we have,” Fudge reflected. “[There are] things we don’t take into account when we make decisions, and that’s why we’re losing.”
Fudge on NA standards and growing as pro player
Competing on the international stage a second time since Worlds 2019 has been an eye-opening experience for the young 18 year old top laner.
In Fudge’s interview with Travis Gafford on Day 1 of Groups, he pointed out that the biggest difference between Chinese and Korean top laners and North American and European top laners is that “mechanically they play for trades a lot better”.
“Before I came into this tournament, I didn’t realize how bad people were in NA, and how much worse they are,” Fudge elaborated. “In this tournament, you get a reality check.”
Fudge started in the Oceanic Pro League (OPL), playing for MAMMOTH in 2019 before getting picked up by C9 Academy in 2020, and has been Cloud9’s starting top laner in 2021.
As a pro player who’s competed across regions in different organizations, Fudge values having a safe, nurturing environment where players feel wanted and supported. In turn, he believes that the players will be “much more receptive to feedback overall”.
Looking back on his personal performance now compared to the first Lock In tournament of the year, Fudge feels that he’s improved a lot in laning, especially in the CSing department. Mastering these fundamentals, including map awareness and the understanding of other roles has been important for him.
Taking away what he can from this international MSI tournament, Fudge acknowledges that he’ll need to adopt a new mentality when he eventually heads back to NA.
“Even if I’m winning, it doesn’t mean I’m playing well,” said Fudge. “This mentality — looking for the mistakes even if they’re not obvious — I think is the most important thing once I go back to NA.”
Does Fudge really like fudge? What does Fudge’s IGN mean?
Interestingly, Fudge’s in-game name has nothing to do with sweet desserts even though his Twitter handle @Fudgecakey alludes to it.
“When I was eight years old, I used to swear the F-word when I got angry, so my dad would always get angry at me,” Fudge explained. “And then I started saying ‘fudge’, and that’s the reason why I named myself. I actually don’t really like the food.”
What’s more, Fudgecakey wasn’t even his idea.
“That’s what my brother told me to name myself when I was eight,” Fudge laughed.