Update – 10:57 PM: Reapered, the team’s head coach, sent out a message acknowledging that the fans are frustrated and asking for positive energy nonetheless:
This decision may not make everyone happy. I am also not comfortable. But there are games that are meaningful to both teams this week and can not start with negative energy. Send some positive energy so that all players can work harder, and I will do my best to answer it.
— Reapered (@Reapered) June 14, 2018
Original story: In what can only be considered an earth-shattering development for Cloud9 fans, the team has announced its starting roster for the NA LCS Summer Split — and Jensen, Sneaky and Smoothie aren’t on it.
Jensen was replaced by Goldenglue, Sneaky with Keith, and Smoothie by Zeyzal. All three replacement players were brought up from the Cloud9 Academy team. Unsurprisingly, there has been mass confusion throughout the industry over these roster changes. Many doubt the seriousness of the announcement and wonder if it’s all just a meme. Others think the organization is punishing its players for undisclosed reasons. While team owner Jack and head coach Reapered indicated that the reason for the moves was as simple as the Academy players outperforming the main roster in practices, League of Legends’ shoutcaster Joshua “Jatt” Leesman thinks there is definitely more to the story:
In all seriousness I feel like there has to be more to the story of the C9 roster change.
Is it punitive? C9 starters are tweeting out #benched like it’s a huge joke.
Is it strategy? There’s a chance the academy guys have prepped some specialized strats for the new meta.
— Josh Leesman (@esportsjatt) June 13, 2018
Jensen is regularly touted as a Top-3 mid-laner in North America, with many considering him to be the best in the region. Smoothie has placed on the first or second All-Pro teams every split since he became a full-time player in Spring 2017. And Sneaky is the only remaining member of Cloud9’s original roster. The bot lane main has been an absolute beacon of consistency throughout the organization’s entire history, the only player in the league to play with a single team since Cloud9’s inception back in 2013.
Whatever the case may be, it’s hard to imagine that the decisions were made based solely on performance. After all, the three benched stars all made All-Pro teams for this past Spring Split, with Jensen and Smoothie placing second-team and Sneaky making third-team. They were the only C9 players to take home All-Pro honors.
As is tradition, the announcement was met with ridicule and disbelief throughout the scene:
where were you when Jensen and Sneaky were benched for Goldenglue and Keith
— Yiliang Peng (@Doublelift1) June 13, 2018
Due to Mid, ADC and Support no longer existing? What's your new role gonna be? :>
— Thorin (@Thorin) June 13, 2018
C9 beginning some crazy roster changes.
But maybe this is just the beginning.
Qt just moved to California the opening week of summer split…..
— scarra (@scarra) June 13, 2018
The players themselves made light of the situation as well, which raised further confusion about whether or not the announcement was serious:
Outside chillin with the boys #benched pic.twitter.com/0oNptPyKb2
— Andy Ta (@Smoothie) June 13, 2018
Me Jensen and smoothie are benched 😀
— Zach Scuderi (@Sneaky) June 13, 2018
— Nicolaj Jensen (@Jensen) June 13, 2018
And finally, Cloud9 themselves sent out a message to thank their fans for the continued support, biting the popular Philadelphia 76ers slogan of “#TrustTheProcess:”
No one said it was easy being a C9 fan. We appreciate everyone who sticks with us regardless of what changes are made. #TrustTheProcess pic.twitter.com/AWxWOSET0E
— Cloud9 (@Cloud9) June 13, 2018
What does this mean for Cloud9?
Are these roster changes really just an elaborate troll job by Cloud9? While you can’t put anything past an organization that prides itself as a meme-stream dream team, the serious tone of Jack and Reapered in the announcement video definitely gave an indication that there is more to this story. What remains to be seen is exactly how long these star players will toil in the Academy League and how their absence will affect Cloud9’s LCS results. If the team has a poor Summer Split, it could mark the first time in organization history that they fail to make the World Championships.
The team’s Week 1 games will mark the first time that they’ve ever taken to the Rift without Sneaky. After a disappointing 5th place finish in the Spring, a lot is riding on this barely recognizable Cloud9 roster.