Steven R. June 14, 2019
One of North America’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams will be watching the StarLadder Berlin Major from the couch.
Despite entering the minor circuit as one of the favorites to earn a spot in the upcoming event, Cloud9 was among the first eliminations in the North American qualifier to the Americas Minor. As a result, Cloud9 is likely going to be forced to watch the major from the sidelines.
Cloud9’s run in the qualifiers began inauspiciously as the team dropped its first series against New Identity. The team formerly known as MASSIVEimpact were trampled 16-2 in the first game but bounced back thanks an impactful performance from Jonathan "Jonji" Carey. The match point saw Collin "wrath" McSweegan step up in similar fashion to seal the series 2-1 with a 16-9 win.
That loss sent Cloud9 down to the lower bracket where it met The Quest. The team largely comprised of former members of Team Dignitas wasted no time asserting itself over Cloud9, dominating the favorites on Nuke despite playing much of the map on the disadvantaged T side. Cloud9 regained their footing on the second map and held the lead for much of the way, but the team sputtered out towards the end, resulting in a 2-0 loss that eliminated them from the qualifiers.
The loss is a devastating turn for Cloud9 and may mark the end of the organization’s time as a top-level team.
Despite being one of the most recognizable and popular brands in all of esports, Cloud9 has been struggling mightily in CS:GO over the last 18 months. After winning ELEAGUE Major: Boston the organization was marred by roster issues throughout 2018 due to the departures of Jacky "Stewie2K" Yip and Tarik "tarik" Celik.
Cloud9 still managed to find premier talent in the months that followed and brought a star-studded lineup to the IEM Katowice Major that included Robin "flusha" Rönnquist and Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey. The team showed flashes of greatness during the event and came just one map shy of making the top eight of the tournament. Despite that, Cloud9 cut the majority of the team in the weeks that followed which relegated the organization into the minor circuit for the Berlin Major.
The team rebuilt with the addition of René "cajunb" Borg and the return of Maikil "Golden" Selim, but the organization has been unable to post strong results. This has included early exits from multiple BLAST Pro Series events and, most recently, a last-place finish at DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019.
There is still possibly a backdoor option available for Cloud9 to sneak into the event. Cloud9 will technically retain Challenger status should it re-sign one of the players that competed with the team at the IEM Katowice Major. That wouldn’t necessarily guarantee re-entry as it would grossly violate the spirit of the rules, but it would allow the organization to stake a claim for a spot that may or may not be granted by Valve.
That said, it is clear that the troubles within Cloud9 are running deep at this point and those ills wouldn’t be magically fixed with a dubious berth at the major.