Cloud 9 was my first and only Esports Team love. I’ve been following them on League of Legends since 2014 which is also the year I was introduced to League. The thing I enjoyed about Cloud 9 was the trust and the friendship between all the players. That’s really what drew me to them above all the other NA Esports teams such as TSM.
When I first discovered Cloud 9 I was nearing the end of my foreign exchange student program in Japan. I was pretty new to League of Legends and I decided I would get better by watching the professionals play. I didn’t know the first thing about Esports or even what it meant as an industry. I thought I could root for whoever was winning and then study them. However, the more I watched, the more I realized that each team had its own individual story. I enjoyed the fact that Cloud 9 didn’t go through as many roster changes as other teams. It seemed like they really worked well with each other and they seemed to work out a lot of their problems.
In Season 3 of the Summer Promotion Qualifier Cloud 9 went 5-0 to earn its spot in the LCS summer split. They would then go on to finish the season with a 91 percent win rate and 13 win streak under their belts. The fact that they did so well isn’t even what made me a fan, it was that they were truly a team. It wasn’t about one person making the plays, or about Hai making the calls. The whole team seemed to be in sync with each other. It was a chemistry that no other team in the LCS had. They weren’t always about being flashy or making the most spectacular of plays, but it looked like they were actually having fun. Even though they didn’t become the World Champions, I was highly looking forward to their future and how they would do in the future.
Season 4 was an emotional journey for me and for Cloud 9. The Spring Split, which started on January 17th, Cloud 9 got first place after defeating TSM in week 7. That momentum turned into another undefeated 13 win streak. Then sometime in April, Hai suffered from a collapsed lung and we didn’t get to see him play in the All-star event in Paris. It was incredibly disappointing and at the time I didn’t know what had happened. However he came back and it was a wondrous for Cloud 9 and all of its fans. Unfortunately, their streak ended at the hands of TSM and they ended up coming in second at the LCS playoffs. That disappointment was short lived when Balls and Hai went off, helping C9 become the first North American team to ever beat a Korean team.
The year 2015 was not a good one for Cloud 9 and they ended up coming in 10th place. During this time there was also the announcement that C9 Hai would be stepping down due to a chronic pain in his wrists. He was replaced by Incarnati0n (now know as Jensen). They had several issues with shotcalling due to Hai being the main shotcaller. I was upset to see the team I had come to know and love fall apart. Just when I thought all was lost, Meteos stepped down and Hai took over the jungle position saving them from being relegated although not enough to make the playoffs. However, it showed just how important Hai was to the rest of the team and how it simply just hadn’t been the same without him. The morale had been visibly improved with Hai back on the Rift.
Unfortunately, Hai’s injury took it’s toll and he retired. Cloud 9 had set the record for the longest unchanged roster before Jensen joined the team. Hai leaving was something I had a hard time coping with. My hopes weren’t high as I saw how poorly the team performed without him. I still believed that Cloud 9 could be the team they once were because Hai didn’t make the team. On top of that, they made even more roster changes and Balls nor LemonNation would be returning. With so many changes I felt I was losing the Cloud 9 I once new. As time went on, Cloud 9 continued to struggle, but they were also proving that they could adapt. They still perform like the best team in North America and while I haven’t quite warmed up to the new changes, they’ll always have me as a fan. I look forward to seeing them excel in the future seasons to come.