Amidst the minefield of North American Counter-Strike roster swaps, the fate of Cloud9’s Mike “shroud” Grzesiek hangs delicately in the balance… or perhaps it has long since been finalised.
Cloud9 experience their fair share of ups and downs. The CS:GO squad were propelled to the status of the best team in NA after the bans given to the ex-iBuyPower players in 2015, continually improving the squad with multiple roster changes over the past 2-3 years. However, problems still exist with certain members of the team supposedly not pulling their weight.
Mike “shroud” Grzesiek joined Cloud9 in the summer of 2014 after the team (known previously as Complexity) had trialled various players in an effort to replace the void left by Braxton “Swag” Pierce’s departure for iBuyPower; their rivals at the time. He had ridden to prominence through his Twitch stream as well as playing in ESEA on teams such as Manajuma. The young Canadian carried a weight of expectation and was expected to soon become a superstar not just in North America, but worldwide, boasting incredible aim and raw skill.
During that period in 2014, Shroud seemingly struggled to find a balance between managing his new career as a professional player on a well known team, and fulfilling his enjoyment for streaming. The latter (according to ex-teammates such as Spencer “Hiko” Martin) often took place for long hours after team practice was finished and would result in the young Canadian feeling tired during practice the next day.
Despite the fact that Shroud has seemingly cut down on his time spent streaming since Hiko’s departure from Cloud9 in late 2014, his performances at LAN events have often left a lot to be desired, especially when you compare them to his performance in PUGs and 10-mans on his stream. Shroud often dominates FaceIt Pro League and ESEA Rank S games, leading to so many clips appearing on the front page of the CS:GO subreddit, to the extent that he has been dubbed the unofficial “King of Reddit”, but why is this the case?
The answer could be one of many possibilities. Some in the community (especially in-game leaders) will state that Shroud needs to be commanded and used properly by a somewhat competent captain. Following Seangares’ departure from the team in late 2015, Cloud9 have struggled with finding proper leadership. In recent months, Jake “Stewie2k” Yip has stepped up to the plate, though young Stuart’s in-game leadership hasn’t helped as far as the majors are concerned. Cloud9 failed to qualify for the last two major events, ESL One Cologne 2016 and the recent ELeague Major in Atlanta.
Putting aside issues regarding the major, Cloud9 posted some solid results last year, most notably their victory against SK Gaming in the ESL Pro League Season 4 finals. The stand-out performance during the finals came from Timothy “autimatic” Ta, putting teammates on his shoulders for much of the game; meanwhile questions were once again raised as to whether Shroud had missed his chance to become a super star player altogether? Evidence would suggest that this is the case, and many within the community blame his early dedication to streaming, over honing his skill as a professional player, as the root cause.
It is uncertain what 2017 will bring. Shroud may yet come back and silence all of his critics, but there is yet to be any indication that this will be the case; it’s becoming increasingly difficult to justify the Canadian’s place in the Cloud9 lineup. A spot on a well known North American team should never be a comfortable position, there simply isn’t room for complacency at the top of the NA CS:GO scene.