At 18 years old, Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol was one of the most discussed prospects in the world. A member of the prestigious T1 developmental system, he had all sorts of options in front of him. While not in a position to be promoted to T1’s main roster given the level of play from Lee “Gumayusi” Min-hyeong, there was no question that he would find a home on a professional roster. It was a matter of when and where.
When it turned out to be Cloud9 for the 2022 season, it was a “wow.”
Cloud9 had dropped the bag for effectively one of the most mechanically exciting prospects available. With a high display of skill available on film, it wasn’t a matter of him being good right away but how high his ceiling would be.
But just over a split and a half, it hasn’t necessarily been the storybook start you would expect for a star marksman expected to be recognized as one of the best players in the region. A second-place regular season in the spring followed by a fourth-place finish in the playoffs concluded what was a tragic season for Cloud9 filled with missed expectations and misconceptions of reality.
But one of the under-discussed things would be just how quiet Berserker would become during the season. An explosive start in compositions centered around his ability to potentially be the best player on the rift at all times fizzled and so did conversations around him. He would receive second-team All-Pro honors while watching the member opposite of him on the map receive a MVP trophy.
He would not be the reason for Cloud9’s decline yet also wasn’t the person getting the credit for wins. He fell into the dreaded trap some development prospects fall into: so, what are you actually good at again?
It isn’t the laning phase.
|Spring 2022||Spring 2022 Rank Among ADC||Summer 2022||Summer 2022 Rank Among ADC|
|GD @ 10||-158||7th||-114||8th|
|XPD @ 10||-1||5th||-239||11th|
Berserker has had playing time with three separate supports, arguably making it difficult to have laning synergy. He’s only played Senna once since coming over to North America and has found himself going relatively even when it comes to creep difference at ten minutes, averaging 10.5 creeps at ten minutes in summer. So to see a significant deficit at ten minutes when it comes to gold figures is somewhat concerning. Something is going wrong.
Despite having a name that would signal “out of control” or a tendency for violence, he’s relatively passive early, reacting to information rather than creating. Historically speaking, the bottom lane has been a cold spot where action typically does not happen early for C9. It was what made the former duo of Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme so valuable for the organization, operating with little to no resources. They could play weakside and crush it.
When Cloud9 would execute an early dive against TSM, likely a strategy taken given their early pressure with a Kalista-Amumu bottom lane and likely a reaction to TSM’s bottom lane’s performance, it was uncharacteristic. In 24 regular season games, Berserker has only participated in three first bloods. And at ten minutes, he’s participated in 13 fewer kills than his opponents in total.
It isn’t a good look, but it is somewhat understandable given the strategy. Somewhat.
There are still been moments where Berserker has been able to pop-off early — including a beautiful two versus three against Counter Logic Gaming. It just hasn’t felt like enough.
The focus for praise for Berserker has primarily been on his performance in teamfighting, showcasing his general strength to simply outplay his opponents. He averages the fourth highest average damage per team fight among marksmen which is impressive given the general limitations when it comes to his economy versus others. And then there are the moments ripped from Champions Queue where he clearly displays a different form.
But it isn’t always translating to the LCS stage. This is where the question comes in: why aren’t you paying Berserker to win you games?
He is widely recognized as not the problem on Cloud9 — with the blame often being pointed at other members or the coaching staff for a terrible draft. He ranks towards the bottom in kill participation percentage among marksmen and is one of the lowest in shares of total kills. The big hype around his signing what that he was going to be far superior than the talent available in North America. On stage, he hasn’t necessarily been able to prove that. At times, he appears to be a “KDA player,” not willing to go the extra mile to potentially make a player.
The best he looked since coming over was his time early in the spring season, where head coach Nick “LS” De Cesare would draft unique compositions centered around buffing the marksman. I mean, just look at his ability to die not. But even in those conversations didn’t necessarily highlight a skill difference. Rather, it would be the strategy that teams were learning to play against — and truthfully, were in a position to overcome before LS’s untimely departure.
The community is still onboard the Berserker hype train yet in a way, it feels as if the pay-off isn’t coming. Cloud9 haven’t necessarily signaled that they will change their strategic ways from putting their top lane in the best position to succeed — especially with Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami’s return to the lane.
In one way, his usage on C9 feels like one of the biggest misusages in all of the LCS but at others, you somewhat wish to see more given the expectations. His awarding of All-Pro honors back in spring didn’t necessarily felt “earned,” it felt “given” given all of the circumstances and was largely attributed to potential.
As Cloud9 looks to return to Worlds for the fourth time in five years, a lot of the intrigue will be centered around what Berserker can do to get them there. Despite still being under contract with the team until 2024, it could also potentially be the one shot Cloud9 has with a player of his caliber truly before he enters his prime.
As they sit with a 4-5 record, largely attributed to visa complications, unleashing Berserker may just be the wrinkle that puts them up towards the top of the leaderboards once again. Or for Cloud9, the hope could just be that Berserker attempts to do his best to execute with his given role.