With four maps played and four losses on the board, it’s fair to say that Cloud9’s new look roster hadn’t quite justified the hype it commanded in the world of Esports when it announced the superstar acquisitions of Es3tag, Woxic, ALEX, Kassad and HenryG as general manager. However their two previous defeats had come against two teams in the top twenty in the HLTV world rankings, Virtus.Pro and OG, and there were glimpses of promise in both these matches that hinted at the talent this roster undoubtedly possesses.
Coming into this match at the BLAST Fall Showdown, Cloud9 knew that the single elimination nature of the tournament meant that one more loss would mean it would be two tournaments exited from in just a week for the Colossus. In their way were Ninjas in Pyjamas, one of the most decorated orgs active in CS:GO and comfortably ahead of Cloud9 in both form and ranking with their 11th place position.
ALEX said that Cloud9 wanted to have a map pool of six maps out of seven that they could pick into, which is a crazy ambitious statement in itself, but their pick of Nuke against NiP here seems to suggest it’s one of the maps they’re targeting the most, having picked it in their last map against OG and pushing them all the way into overtime.
And, for the most part, it was a really strong showing from C9 on the map. They won the first three rounds, lost the next four then went on a mammoth run of seven straight rounds of wins to give them a 10-5 T side lead at Nuke. They actually went on to technically lose the second half on their CT side, winning 6 rounds to NiP’s 7, but it was still enough to see them reach that magical 16 round mark and take their first ever map in competitive play.
It was a great all round effort from the Cloud9 team, with every member of the org bar ALEX managing to finish with at least twenty kills, a positive kill/death ratio and a rating of over 1.00. Es3tag looked particularly prolific playing the outside of the map, racking up 29 kills and a server high rating of 1.53 to justify his $2.3 million price tag.
What was arguably the most crucial of changes in Cloud9’s performance on Nuke this time around than their last match against OG was just how many clutches they were able to win. Against only a handful of wins previously, C9 were able to win 3 clutches against just 1 for NiP, with Woxic particularly standing out in that regard with the AWP.
Having never played the map competitively before, it wasn’t a surprise to see Cloud9 enter the second map on Vertigo as the outsiders in most Esports betting markets, despite taking the first map on Nuke reasonably comfortably.
But again Cloud9 were on hand to deliver a shock and outperform expectations, taking five of the first six rounds before ending the half with a 9-6 deficit. Once again however the Cloud9 T side was on hand to pull the team back into a commanding position and the side romped to nine winning rounds out of eleven in the second half.
Floppy, who is the only player in the roster to have been in the side before the takeover by HenryG and co, might have had a quiet start to life in the new era of Cloud9, but he came alive on Vertigo in a huge way. The young American superstar hit the only 30 bomb in the series, getting 31 frags with just 20 deaths, averaging 104 damage per round and capping off an incredible performance with a 1.51 rating, the best of any player on either map.
The 14-16 scoreline certainly made things look tight, and the team rating’s of 1.04-1.05 went a long way in showcasing there was very little to split the two teams apart on Vertigo. Once again, the 1:3 difference in clutches in favour of Cloud9 proved to be the difference between the two, but it’s clear that relying on winning clutch rounds to take a map is not a sustainable way of going about your business in the server.
Nevertheless, this was a serious step in the right direction for Cloud9. Their superstars all showed up, they took down a team they’re trying to emulate and showed an added steeliness not present in their previous games.