Eric “Licorice” Ritchie is a well known League of Legends top laner that, at the age of 22, enters in the LCS veterans club.
His story began with a few different teams in the Challenger Series of North America. There, he pursued success and didn’t find it until he joined a team called eUnited in December of 2016.
With eUnited, Licorice dominated the North American Challenger Series that year, ending in both the Spring Season and the Summer Season in the first place, but failing in both playoffs runs.
The same thing happened next year when eUnited was trying to win in the 2018 Spring Promotion… but it was not the end of Licorice’s story: at that moment, he left his team to join Cloud9 as their new top laner.
It was not the first contact of Licorice with the legendary North American organization. Before joining eUnited, he was a substitute on Cloud9 Challenger for a while.
Later in 2018 Season, Licorice had a nice first year with his new team. Cloud9 were in second place for most of the Spring Season, however, on the final day of LCS, they fell to fifth place, losing to Team Liquid in the Spring Quarterfinals.
2018 Summer Season was a bit harder for them. After a terrible start, they could manage on the second round-robin to climb to the second place and secure Playoffs, where they defeated Team SoloMid 3-2 in the Semifinals and lost to their nemesis, Team Liquid, in the Finals.
They qualified for the 2018 World Championship, where they made it through the Play-In stage and succeeded in the Main Event, being able to reach Semifinals after defeating Afreeca Freecs. It was the first time since the Season one World Championship that a North American team had made it that far in the tournament. In the Semifinals, the lost to Fnatic.
2019 was a pretty bad year for Licorice, who amazed the world the previous year being a rookie and going that far.
In Spring Season, Cloud9 qualified to Playoffs after finishing, once again, in second place during the regular season, but losing to TSM in Semifinals. After that, the Summer Season wasn’t much different. They placed again in the second position during the regular season, but this time they made it to the finals, where once again Team Liquid destroyed their dreams.
Nevertheless, they again qualified for Worlds, but the story was very different this time… they couldn’t make it through the Group Stage, after ending 2-4 in Group A, were Griffin and G2 Esports dominated.
This year 2020 is being an amazing year for Cloud9. It seems like they grew up more than anyone in the North American League, and not even the eternal enemy, Team Liquid, have been able to follow their steps.
The LCS Spring Split was crazy for Licorice and his teammates. They only lost one match in the regular season, qualifying in the first place to Playoffs, where they again dominated and won the LCS Spring Split in the finals against FlyQuest.
Now, in the Summer Split, they have only lost two games out of twelve, setting a record of 10-2 that only Team Liquid can match.
After their first win in the second round-robin, Licorice granted an interview to Hotspawn were he talked about his current situation in Cloud9, his feelings about it and how does he work, and try to improve.
In the interview, Licorice was asked about Colud9’s goal to get to Worlds, and if he has been studying any players from different regions. His answer was clear:
I always try to keep up to date as much as possible in the other regions. Right now, I’d say that the top laners I’m most interested in–and I wouldn’t say that they’re necessarily the best, but I can learn the most from them– would be [Kang “TheShy” Seung-lok] and [Jang “Nuguri” Ha-gwon]. I think they’re just insanely aggressive players and always manage to get CS leads in lanes where you technically are not supposed to. So I’m very interested in watching those two play and I think it’d be really fun to play against them internationally.
To concrete about Licorice’s situation in his team, the interviewer asked him about these years we have already talked about, and the top laner has been very honest with his detailed answer:
Being able to play a bunch of different playstyles is something that I’m actually really proud of as a player because I think that it’s really rare, especially among top laners where people really get slotted into these carry versus tank roles where you’re either a carry player or a tank player and I think I’ve worked really hard to be able to do both. That’s something that I take a lot of pride in. There’s something really funny though. I read this comment, I think it was on Reddit or Twitter, I don’t remember, and what it said was “Licorice was the best in his first year on Cloud9.” I read that and [thought] “Woah, that’s crazy,” because I have gotten so much better since I first joined C9. I didn’t consider myself the best at all during that time. I think briefly at the start of Summer I was performing the best, but other players were better by the end.
That was super crazy to read because I think fans like it when players get resources and are able to make flashy plays and carry the game because that’s what they notice. Even in my last game against FlyQuest, I could pressure so much more than I did, but Pantheon was missing most of the game, Trundle was missing on the top side of the map, so I just couldn’t walk up and trade, but the fans don’t notice that kind of thing. If I had my jungler there and I’m pressuring then they’re like “wow, Licorice is so good.” Otherwise, they’re looking at the CS difference and they’re like “wow, is Licorice supposed to only be up to five CS here?” [Laughs] It’s just really hard, and the casters try to do a good job of explaining that kind of nuance for the average viewer because I think that’s something that escapes most people, but obviously they’re not gonna catch it all. So at the end of the day, I try to not focus too much on what the fans are saying, because I just don’t think they have as nuanced a view of the game as I do.
It seems like we will enjoy Licorice’s plays for a long time. He looks very happy with Cloud9, and he can still grow as a professional.