The moment the NA region enters a debate to pitch its quality of Counter-Strike, Cloud9 are the first team that immediately jump to mind as a measurement for the regions quality. Despite keeping the core of their roster together for over two years, the team have consistently under performed in the playoffs of big tournaments, despite picking up a victory at ESL Pro League Season 4.
Throughout the history of the roster, Cloud9 have epitomised the fortunes of North American CS:GO teams – impressing online and in the early stages of LAN tournaments, but more often than not failing to seal the deal on the big stage. The North American tournament drought was finally quenched last month, with an impressive display to end a decade long thirst for a top-tier tournament win.
Although Cloud9 managed to impress with their ESL victory, inconsistencies still plague the lineup to the core, with the stars of the team being unreliable to deliver big numbers time after time.
The roster has changed cosmetically over the years without ever changing its stripes. Starting with the departure of Spencer “Hiko” Martin in late 2014, Cloud9 have switched out a player every few months in an attempt to stay atop the NA throne and muscle into the big-boy club – the elite tiers of competitive play.
In spite of the team’s interchangeable fifth player, there are two cornerstones of the team – Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert and Michael “shroud” Grzesiek, who have competed with the team since the very beginning.
Micheal “shroud” Grzesiek has carried the label of “Pug Superstar” for the entirety of his time with Cloud9. Once considered the rock of the team, shroud was renowned for delivering solid performances map after map. Over time however, shroud has consistently struggled to post strong numbers in a LAN setting… there’s a reason players pick up the pugstar title.
This downwards trend is obvious within the stats, with a clear negative relationship between high pressure scenarios and performance. Shroud has a career average of 0.23 lower rating in majors when compared to online games – it’s discrepancies such as this one that make Cloud9 a ‘spoiler’ team, rather than a title contender.
Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert is shroud’s partner in crime, the pair have had a self confessed bromance for as long as the team have been together. As a result of this unfortunate combination, Cloud9 have struggled to find top tournament placings consistently throughout the lineup’s history.
If the organisation made a bold move to remove one of these core players, Cloud9 may find themselves regularly being title contenders, depending on which player they get as a replacement and the length of time it takes for the team to gel.
But although both players are inconsistent at putting up top tier numbers, it is extremely unlikely for Cloud9 to cut even one of them, as between their charisma and streams, they’re extremely lucrative players. C9’s roster will likely stay as it is for the coming months, sitting in purgatory as a team forever on the fringe of tier 1 status.