The New Boys in Baby Blue
In the summer of 2015, Cloud9 were easily the best team in NA. They made it to the finals of three major tournaments, losing to only the best teams in the world. They were true competitors at the international level, spearheaded by the two best NA players, Mike “shroud” Grzesiek and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham. Unfortunately, the team’s summer hot streak quickly came to an end, and they came back down to earth without any big tournament victories.
The current roster has not only matched the level of that old lineup, but has easily exceeded it as Cloud9 is not only an international contender at the top of NA, but they have actually won a premier international tournament. While shroud and Skadoodle have been constants for C9 since last summer, they are no longer the star carries. The team is now spearheaded by two young rising stars, Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and Timothy “autimatic” Ta. Stewie2k and autimatic are the new star carries and led Cloud9 to victory at the EPL Season 4 LAN finals, the first premier international tournament win for an NA team in over a decade.
Gambles That Pay Off
Since their success last summer, Cloud9 has gone through multiple iterations. After Sean “seang@res” Gares stepped down from the roster, C9 was not left with many options and gambled by picking up Stewie2k. Ryan “fREAKAZOiD” Abadir would also step down and the team picked up Alec “Slemmy” White who took up the in-game leading. While the team did improve tactically, Slemmy’s fragging left something to be desired so the team would bench him and pickup autimatic from Team Solomid. It seems quite unlikely that the gamble from C9 to pick up two unproven players would pay off, but it has.
Stewie2k and autimatic quickly developed into the stars for Cloud9. With Slemmy still on the team, Stewie2k became the top fragger for the team. Many accredited the team’s improved tactics to Slemmy’s in-game leading, but it has come out recently that Stewie2k was a big proponent of the strategy for C9 and he is the team’s current in-game leader. During his stint on TSM, autimatic never looked like a star player. He did show potential, but him joining the C9 lineup and working with Stewie2k as an entry duo unlocked him as a player. His performance at this past EPL Final was the best of his career and he was undoubtedly the MVP of the tournament.
The Hope of NA
Previous iterations of the C9 lineup seemed to suffer from too much passivity. With shroud and Skadoodle as the stars in the team, there was not enough aggressive play, especially after the removal of fREAKAZOiD. With the two new young stars taking off, they bring a level of aggression and unpredictability that teams seem to struggle with. While shroud and Skadoodle have taken a back seat to the new young duo, Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert has found his niche. n0thing has slotted in nicely behind Stewie2k and autimatic as the third option and a hybrid carry for the team.
Cloud9’s recent success, multiple top four finishes and their victory at EPL, slots them right into the top ten teams in the world. While they have been very good as of late, they have still struggled against the elite teams in the world. Their EPL finals win over SK Gaming was impressive, but they will still have to prove themselves against the likes of Virtus.pro and Natus Vincere. With Dignitas also rising to elite status, the top of the CS:GO mountain is getting quite crowded. C9 still has room to improve, specifically Skadoodle’s consistency with the AWP, but if Stewie2k and autimatic can continue their standout play then C9 certainly has the potential to be an elite team that can threaten to be the first NA major winners in January.