Getting the band back together. Cloud 9 reunited and hungry for victory at TI
With this year’s iteration of The International fast approaching, it seems appropriate to offer fans both new and old a breakdown of who it is they’re going to be watching in Seattle. This series of posts will each be dedicated to one of the 18 teams that will be participating in The International 2017, with the aim of giving readers a brief overview of the teams, their position coming into TI, and what their expectations might be. Please note that these posts will not contain a comprehensive history of the teams, nor will they go into minute detail for each of the players. There are more thorough breakdowns for teams and players available out there, a la SirActionSlacks’ “TI Down Low” series. These posts aim to provide something more akin to an “in a nutshell” level of information. Today we will cover the first of the North American qualified teams, and a team making a long awaited return to Dota 2’s biggest stage – Cloud 9.
The North American Qualifier winner may come into TI7 under the Cloud 9 banner, but that isn’t where the squad began its journey. The squad previously played under the name Team NP, being signed by the Cloud 9 organization following the team’s qualification for TI7. The move actually constitutes a return to the organization for the squad, as all of the team’s member have previously played for Cloud 9. For the North American squad, it’s organization wasn’t the only thing that the team changed, as the inescapable force that is roster changes struck the former Team NP as well.
If it comes as a surprise to you that we have a TI team that has made recent changes to its roster, then you haven’t been paying enough attention. Before this Cloud 9 squad was picked up by the organization, it traded out two of its players and added midlaner “FATA-” and support player “pieliedie” in May. The moves built a roster on Team NP full of ex-Cloud 9 players, which gave the squad’s signing by the organization a sense of poetic justice. Though the roster underwent some changes, the leadership has remained stable, as the squad continues to be led by one of the most well known and experienced players in the North American scene. Cloud 9, and Team NP before it, is led by “EternaLEnVy”, a veteran of Dota 2 and one of the most popular players in the world. Cloud 9 is one of the few teams to have its captain be at the carry position rather than the support, and it speaks to EternaLEnVy’s leadership and skill that he holds this position. EternaLEnVy has led many teams to fantastic successes in the Dota 2 world, but he has also seen his fair share of crushing defeats as well. No one can be sure what fate awaits Cloud 9 at TI, but with EternaLEnVy at the helm, the team will have an interesting tournament if nothing else.
Cloud 9 come into TI with high hopes for a strong performance, along with the confidence to see that it happens. The team may have only recently finalized its roster, but the fact that all of these players have previously played with each other and been associated with the organization before is a significant benefit. The team’s recent results suggest an ability to contend with both NA rivals and international opponents. If the team maintains the level of play that it has showed of late, then it could be in for a deep run in Seattle and a chance to win the Aegis of Champions.
The recent roster changes have done little to hinder Cloud 9 in its recent performances. The squad’s pre-TI resume reflects dominance against other North American teams, as well as impressive showings against teams outside of its home region. The squad has participated in three North American qualifiers since finalizing its roster, placing 2nd in the EPICENTER 2017 qualifiers and winning the qualifiers for both Dota Summit 7 and the North American region for TI7. Outside of North America the team again had three opportunities to display its skill, opportunities that the squad took advantage of. At the Manila Masters, the squad managed a 3rd place finish despite a first round loss to OG. The team was able to rally to defeat Team Secret, Invictus Gaming, and Team Faceless in the lower bracket before finally being eliminated by fellow NA powerhouse Evil Geniuses. Just days later, the team participated in the Zotac Cup Masters, winning its group in the group state to advance to the playoff bracket. In the playoffs, Cloud 9 scored a victory against fellow TI participant Invictus Gaming.Vitality before losing in the final to Newbee for a 2nd place finish. Cloud 9 ended its tour of international events with Dota Summit 7. Despite losing its opening series to LGD Gaming, the team has able to defeat both Team Empire and Na’Vi in the lower bracket before running into Virtus.Pro to end its tournament run. This loss put Cloud 9(then Team NP) into the 4th place position, a more than respectable finish in an eight team pool that featured six TI participants. These performances went a long way to show that Cloud 9 has the ability to contend with the best, and set the team up as a serious threat to opponents in Seattle.
Cloud 9 seem to be in a strong position coming into TI7. The team have an experienced roster that should all be comfortable playing with one another. Its players are talented and tested on the biggest stages, and led by a veteran player in EternaLEnVy. The team has shown itself to be capable of standing up against the best teams in the world, and if all goes well it should be able to maintain that trend at TI. The Cloud 9 reunion tour is heading for Seattle, and there we will see if this team can soar above the clouds or if it will crash and burn.