After a slow start to the season, Cloud 9 appears to be back on track to becoming a top 3 team in North America. The team had an impressive 2-0 weekend; taking down both Renegades and NRG eSports with Hai playing Morgana support. Now tied for second place with a 5-3 record, Cloud 9 has once again has overcome early adversity and turned their disastrous start around.
Cloud 9 has only lost a single game this season with Hai in the lineup. This narrative is one that has been repeated countless times: Hai controls the teams shot calling. Listening to communication between Cloud 9 during a team fight reveals Hai is the dominant voice with occasional input from teammates in distress. Cloud 9 struggles without Hai to the point of looking like a bottom tier team. With Hai, they look like the Cloud 9 that has been a top North American team for years.
But What About Bunny FuFuu?
Hai originally “retired” from his mid lane role for Jensen (then known as incarnati0n) to take his spot. Cloud 9 tanked, forcing Hai to come back to the team, replacing Meteos in the jungle position. This year Hai moved to support under the premise that he would split time with Bunny FuFuu, training him to become the perfect shot calling replacement.
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Bunny FuFuu has only played 2 of 8 games so far this split. He opened Cloud 9’s season against the Immortals, who are still undefeated 4 weeks in, and then he played again the next day against Team Impulse. Cloud 9 lost both games in convincing fashion. They looked terrible, and Bunny FuFuu has yet to be subbed back in since.
If not now, when? Many organizations view the spring split as an opportunity to experiment with their team. Worlds is far away at this point in the year. If you could choose any time of the year to go through growing pains the spring split is when you want to do it. Cloud 9, potentially in an effort to maintain team morale, seem willing to slow down Bunny FuFuu’s development as a Hai replacement in order to finish higher in the standings this split.
Cloud 9 stuck with the same roster for years. Their struggles adapting to the addition of 3 new teammates over a single year are completely reasonable.
Slow & Steady: A Gradual Transition Ahead for Bunny FuFuu
Hai has come out and said that returning to retirement is not as urgent for him as it once was. His wrists aren’t bothering him as much and he feels content where he is right now. This will certainly result in a slower transition than initially intended for Bunny FuFuu, but is probably the better path for Cloud 9 as a whole.
This is a team that didn’t change anything for years… now they are undergoing drastic change in a short period of time. They went out and got themselves a new jungler, mid laner, and now a new support. It took Jensen a while to mesh, but now he is proving to be one of the best mid laners in the NA LCS as expected. Rush isn’t quite there yet, but he hasn’t had the same luxury of time yet. It’s easy to see how a Cloud 9 roster with both the newly added Rush at jungle, and the newly added Bunny FuFuu at support, would struggle to communicate effectively this early on.
Going forward look for Cloud 9 to sub Bunny FuFuu into games against bottom tier teams. Let Hai absorb the Immortals, CLG, and TSM, but allow Bunny FuFuu to earn experience playing on stage with the rest of the roster against Echo Fox, Renegades, and Team Dignitas. Not only is it important for Bunny FuFuu to get playing time to grow as a player, but it is also important the rest of Cloud 9 get playing time without Hai to prepare for his eventual retirement.
Upgraded C9 Still Have Time to Synergize
Cloud 9’s roster changes have undeniably improved their team on paper. From LemonNation to Bunny FuFuu, Meteos/Hai to Rush, and Hai to Jensen; the new team has no shortage of mechanical ability. Once the new Cloud 9 roster begins operating cohesively as a whole they will be a scary team to play against.
For Bunny FuFuu, patience is key as he adapts to the way Cloud 9 operates and spends time with Hai. Eventually he will be called upon to fill the shoes of one of the greatest shot callers in the world. It won’t hurt to take that transition slowly.