• Lukas DeWitt

Correcting the Cloud9 Lineup Crisis

2019 has been a rough year for Cloud9, to say the least. They have found no consistency with their team, fielding four different lineups and ending with an official record of 46-69 on the year. Things seemingly could not get worse for the North American organization, but they have. According to a report from DBLTAP, in-game leader Damian 'daps' Steele and star talent Timothy 'autimatic' Ta are close to departing the team and signing with Gen.G Esports to form its first Counter-Strike lineup. As the year closes, the former kings of North America have to prepare for yet another rebuild. With the departure of autimatic, they will be out both their longest-tenured player and an in-game leader that was supposed to bring in an era of stability and long term strength for the organization after over a year of inconsistent rosters. Daps’ arrival was supposed to ring in a sense of stability, but it just did not pan out, and the abrupt end to the lineup has left the fans of the team feeling uneasy about the future.

Losing a star player and in-game leader is enough to send a team into chaos, but trust me when I say that their lineup can be salvaged. Earlier in the year, Tim’s departure would have been a killing blow for the team, but this version of the lineup is well-suited to endure it. In a rebuild, a team needs a strong foundation piece to start with. If Cloud9 wants to address the rebuild the right way, signing AWPer Matthew ‘WARDELL’ Yu has to be the first priority. WARDELL is a high impact fragger that can dictate the server in any given round and is one of the most skilled free agents available. Acquiring WARDELL would bring firepower that the previous lineup was not able to provide.

After bolstering the firepower, the organization has to address the in-game leader role. This position is near impossible for teams to fill because of the difficulty and the thin talent pool at the pro level. Believe it or not, they have the perfect replacement already in the lineup. Kenneth ‘koosta’ Suen is a multi-dimensional player capable of impacting the game without firing a bullet. He has the intangible skills to make his teammates better and has received high praise from his former teammate Josh 'steel' Nissen, who is also one of the most knowledgeable in-game leaders in North America. He already has experience helping with in-game tactics with steel and coach James 'JamezIRL' Macaulay, and now is a prime opportunity to step up and do it full-time.

After solving those problems, the rest of the work is significantly easier. Yassine ‘Subroza’ Taoufik is readily available to continue his services in the lineup and should find comfort playing again with former Ghost teammates WARDELL, koosta and coach JamezIRL. Subroza has shown flashes of brilliant mechanical talent as well as willingness to play in a system. Subroza has experience in a team but is still young enough that his style of play can be molded around the new offense. With time, he could be an effective utility rifler for the team.

Objective number four is finding an explosive talent that has a high ceiling to add to the lineup. Once again, they have that. With daps’ departure, it is time to go back to rookie prospect Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo. It is clear the young talent did not want to play in daps’ system. With the system now thrown out, both parties should try again to get the most out of the situation. A talent with his potential should be in the server. Get TenZ into the right system and you certainly have better results.

The final problem to address and the obvious elephant in the room is Spanish star Oscar ‘mixwell’ Cañellas. It goes without saying, they are better with him in the server. His impacts as a hybrid talent are world-class, and any team with him in the lineup is only a beneficiary. However, the best version of Cloud9 with mixwell in it is a lineup with him as a secondary AWPer behind WARDELL. The amount of firepower the two would bring together in normal rounds would be powerful and the strength in their double AWP setups would be truly immense.

Things seem dark right now for the North American organization, but brighter days are certainly coming for the lineup. Koosta’s growth as a leader combined with the sheer talent of WARDELL and TenZ could usher in a new big three in North American Counter-Strike. Mixwell would absolutely be a welcome asset, but they cannot be stuck on retaining him. Should mixwell decide to walk, former eUnited star Kaleb ‘moose’ Jayne is a replacement deserving of a roster spot.

No team wants to rebuild. As far as rebuilds go, this one can, in fact, be painless and offer some serious promise to its fans. If either one of these lineups is representing Cloud9 in 2020, fans should feel hopeful:

Connect with me on Twitter, Reddit, or YouTube.

Tune into the Crouch Peek Podcast every Wednesday.

All statistics used are from the HLTV database.

Join the conversation at r/csgodiscussion.