LOL Teams Series

The Story of LoL Team Cloud9 – Part 1

League of Legends
Cloud9 lol team spring 2013

Image credit: LOL Gamepedia

Previously, we went through the history and achievements of CS:GO team Cloud9. We learned that Cloud9 is the most valuable esports organization in the world but only a few people know that it was actually created long before C9 stepped into the CS:GO scene. It all started with the League of Legends team back in 2013. Sit tight, stay tuned to this article, and find out the full story behind Cloud9's League of Legends team.

The Birth of LoL Team Cloud9

It all began with a little known team called Quantic Gaming. They had a solid run in 2012 but at the end of the year, the team was financial collapse and withdrew from competitive LoL. The whole roster went to play for Team NomNom and didn’t stick around for a long time. On January 8, 2012, team NomNom's players created the Cloud9 League of Legends team.

The first roster was composed of:

  • Daerek “LemonNation” hart
  • Hai “Hai” Du Lam
  • Zach “Nientonsoh” malhas
  • Gabriel “Yazuki” Ng
  • Jason “WildTurtle” Tran

First Moves in The Scene

Only a few days after its creation, Cloud9 attended the LCS Spring Qualifier at the LCS studios. They had a tough group and lost an opening match against MRN. The second match was against The Salad Bar which turned out to be an easy one. With that victory, they still had a chance to qualify for the LCS Spring Split. All they had to do was win against Azure Gaming but it was too much for the newly-formed team to handle and they were out before the bracket stage even began.

That loss impacted them badly and the team morale and organization were about to collapse. Nientonsoh and Yazuki left the team and went to play for Azure Cats, a team that qualified for LCS. The rest of the roster wasn’t so happy but they still decided to stay and try to work things out.

"We were all super depressed. Nien said he would leave and try to get on to a LCS team. Everyone else wasn't sure what they would be doing. Our manager, Agent, told us that it wasn't meant to be and that we should disband.
Hai said that he wanted to stay together if we wanted to. Turtle said he would be staying if I wanted to stay. I decided to stay, even though my favorite member of the team, Yazuki, decided to leave." -LemonNation

Struggles After the LCS Qualifiers

With two players leaving the team, there was a lot of space for experimenting, and Cloud9 did just that. Hai decided to switch roles and play as a mid-laner while the jungler and top-laner spots were available for new members. They decided to try a couple of different players at some online tournaments until one of them made the cut. It was the top-laner An “Balls” Van Le from team Meat Playground that had recently disbanded. The jungle position was later filled with William “Meteos” Hartman and the team was finally complete.

With Mateos in the team, Cloud9 entered two Rising Stars Invitational tournaments and won them both. They also won the LCS Summer Promotion qualifier with two victories against Velocity and Dignitas Academy. It was a successful run but those were still considered amateur tournaments and Cloud9 still wasn’t thought of as a real professional team.

As WildTurtle was TSM’s substitute player, he had to leave Cloud9 and join his team at MLG Dallas. He performed very well and they decided to try him on LCS, too. In a game against compLexity, WildTurtle scored a penta-kill earning the MVP award and a permanent place in the team.

That was great for Turtle but didn’t sit well with Cloud9 as they were once again a player short and had to look for a third roster addition. The most obvious solution was to invite ex-TSM AD Carry Shan "Chaox" Huang but he refused the offer.

Cloud9 LOL team 2013

Cloud9's roster at LCS 2013. (Image credit: Legit Reviews)

On April 1, the newly-established Cloud9 roster went back to Quantic Gaming. While there, they picked up Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi to be the fifth player and the AD Carry for the team. As Quantic Gaming, they qualified for LCS Summer, going undefeated through the entire Qualifier.

After a couple of weeks, the ex-TSM manager Jack Etienne decided to invest $10,000 of his own money and buy out Quantic Gaming’s roster. He decided to stick with the name Cloud9 and it became an esports organization with him as the CEO. To this very day, Etienne is still the proud CEO of Cloud9 and the owner of the team.

The North American Champions

The first day of LCS was again pretty tough for Cloud9. They had to play against last year's third-ranked team Dignitas and the best team in NA – TSM. However, they made a real statement after a complete underdog triumph against Team SoloMid.

The message they sent that day was clear and the other teams knew who they were now up against. Cloud9 also thrived against Dignitas and snatched victory in less than 30 minutes. Everyone was shocked and couldn't believe what had just happened.

Video credit: LeagueESAN via YouTube

Later on, Cloud9 continued a good run and finished the tournament with a 91% win rate which is also the highest win rate in the LCS history. They also set another record with 13 consecutive LCS victories and finished the playoffs with a 30-3 total score.

They were crowned North American champions and went on to play their first international match against European team Fnatic. Unfortunately, Fnatic didn't just roll over – Cloud9 lost 1-2 and finished S3 Championship as the eight-placed team. Still, they were the best-placed NA team of the tournament.

But Cloud9 also got to learn from their mistakes:

"We pretty much just played worse than them the whole time, the teleports were a lot of pressure for us that we're not used to, cos no one in NA runs teleport so we don't have much practice against it. We were doing a good job getting all the dragons, I think we got the first three, but they were never clean dragons. We never just got in and got out, usually we would have some deaths and be coming out low and behind in kills and we would lose a lot more time in lanes farming than they did, so we would end up really under-leveled. By the end of the game, almost everyone was down a level of two on their counterpart, and that made it really hard to win fights." -Meteos after Cloud9 lost to fnatic

European Adventures

Before the 2014 season began, coach Alex Penn left the team and Dan Dinh, the former player of Epik Gamer and the brother of TSM’s owner joined as a new coach. With him at the wheel, Cloud9 went to Europe to play at IEM Cologne.

In the semi-finals, they lost against Russian team Gambit Gaming and got knocked out of the tournament. However, they didn’t have to wait long for their revenge against the other European teams.

Just a month later, Riot Games prepared a series of exhibition games – the Battle of the Atlantic. Cloud9 faced EU rivals fnatic for the second time and took the series with a 2-0 final. That resulted in an overall victory for NA and they took home $10,000 as the champions of the tournament.

cloud9's lcs roster

Image credit: RedBull

2014 Season – Return of the Champions

After the incredible domination of 30-3 at the LCS Summer split, many doubted that Cloud9 could repeat that and continue to dominate the NA scene. However, they once again blazed through the LCS and finished with a 29-4 record without losing a single match in the playoffs. Cloud9 remained the NA champions and the most dominant team on the continent. Hai was undoubtedly the best player in the tournament and he deservedly received the MVP award.

The euphoria ended when Hai’s lungs collapsed and he had to step down from the team. Cloud9 brought Austin "Link" Shin as a temporary solution and he went with them to the All-Star event. There, Cloud9 finished the group stage with a 3-1 victory, only losing to SK T1. However, their journey ended in the first round of the bracket phase as they were eliminated by OMG, losing with a 0-2 score.

The same thing happened during the World Championship in 2014 where Cloud9 got eliminated in the bracket phase after losing 1-3 against Samsung Blue.

2015 – The Year of Roster Changes

In January 2015, Cloud9 decided to bring Benjamin "LOD" deMunck, David "Yusui" Bloomquist and Anthony "Hard" Barkhovtsev as substitutes while Brian "otter" Thomas decided to leave the team. In the pre-season, they went to play at IEM San Jose as a NA fan-voted team and won that tournament. That victory qualified them for IEM Katowice that was scheduled for March. Just before the tournament in Katowice, however, LOD left the team and Jonathan "Westrice" Nguyen joined as another substitute.

With so many roster changes, Cloud9 went to Katowice completely unprepared and it showed – they lost all matches, finishing in last place. Their bad form continued and they couldn’t perform well in the NA scene anymore, finishing eighth in the second week of the LCS Spring Split.

However, the team started slowly improving over time and managed to finish the season in second place somehow. Truth be told, they could have even finished in first place but TSM outplayed them in the finals.

Due to continued health issues, Hai announced his retirement from the professional scene and became Chief Gaming Officer for the organization. After a couple of tryouts, Cloud9 decided to sign Nicolaj "Incarnati0n" Jensen (who would later become known as Jensen) as a new mid-laner just before the Summer Split.

The beginning of the Summer Split was more than bad and the team managed to win only 3 games in the first 5 weeks. Hai saw the problem and decided to come back from retirement and replace Meteos. As soon as he returned, the team started to perform well and they finished in seventh place, nearly avoiding relegations after a victory against Team 8.

Even though it was the worst season for Cloud9, they still managed to finish as NA's third seed and qualify for their third consecutive World Championship.

In the first week of Worlds, Cloud9 won all of their games and needed only one more victory to qualify for the playoffs. Unfortunately, their luck didn't stick – the second week was a complete disaster and they were unable to find a single victory.

More Changes – More Problems

After the series of unfortunate events at Worlds, LemonNation decided to retire and he became the coach. That opened another tryout for a new jungler or support. Hai agreed to play any position just so the roster could find at least one new player. In the end, they found two new players – support player Michael "Bunny FuFuu" Kurylo and jungler Lee "Rush" Yoon-jae.

Video credit: OPLOLReplay via YouTube

With the start of 2016, Bunny FuFuu and Hai constantly switched roster spots until the team decided to stick with Hai as they had a better win rate with him in the team. During LCS Spring 2016, Cloud9 finished in third place and lost in the finals against TSM. Again. However, in the Regional Finals, they swept Team EnVyUs and Immortals and qualified for their fourth consecutive Worlds.

Still, nothing new happened at Worlds – Cloud9 didn’t achieve anything more than they did in 2014. After completing the group stage in second place, they went to the playoffs and were completely swept by Samsung Galaxy with 0-3. But their story is far from over.

We hoped you liked the first part of the story behind the League of Legends team Cloud9. Come back to EarlyGame for the second part and find out what the team did to become one the most dominant orgs in League of Legends today even after so many failures.

Also, if you like reading about famous esports organizations, check out our other stories here:

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Antonio Kaurinovic

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