“Guardian waits, patiently; as Cloud9 steps the push up. Oh! They have made it happen. Cloud9 are your ELeague Major Champions.”

Years have passed since the momentous major win but it remains the fondest memory for both fans of Cloud9 and the North American scene in general. CEO Jack Etienne has tried several lineups since, including international ones. However, none have been able to match the same promise, let alone the camaraderie and the sense of connect the 5 players had with the fans and between themselves.

Cloud9 has fallen from the pedestal of being Major champions to another Counter Strike giant in slumber. Another North American organisation, by the name of Complexity, rose back to prominence, thanks to Jason BW Lake’s commitment and determination to build a Juggernaut, as he called it himself. The concoction included players from their last lineup, European imports and cultured North American pros.

The Complexity Juggernaut is well on its way to being called a successful concoction. Cloud9 have gone ahead and sanctioned their own version of it, with Henry ‘HenryG’ Greer the man in charge of building the Colossus. The former shoutcaster-cum-analyst has already introduced the industry to some much-needed transparency norms with the player announcements. However, the profile of the players have come under question, with many raising doubts on the viability of this lineup.

There are question marks over whether the individuals can come together to form the next great Cloud9 squad in CSGO. We try and put forth our views on the viability of the roster.

The Road from Raki to Redemption

Arguably the star of the lineup, it must have come as a shock to many when Ozgur ‘woxic’ Eker was benched at mousesports. Granted, the lineup had failed to deliver the desired results since the start of the online phase of 2020, thanks to the pandemic.

However, woxic had performed well boasting an average rating of 1.06 for mousesports in 2020, which meant rumours started piling up as to how it was due to reasons other than his performance on the server. Ozgur is known to be a passionate player and maybe, emotions do get the better of him. But, his ability is undeniable; much like another European bombshell at one point in his career, Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev.

In fact, before the advent of Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut, it was woxic was labelled as the man that would challenge s1mple. After all, the Turkish star did beat s1mple in 2017 in a pure 1v1 personal challenge that saw him pocket a neat 5,000 USD from the Ukrainian.

So, naturally, woxic would have been waiting patiently for a chance to show once again, just what he can do on the CSGO servers. Cloud9 has given him the chance, buying him out from mousesports and woxic, in his interview to HLTV, did promise ‘to bring back the real woxic‘.

The interview was detailed and saw woxic admit to there being personal reasons behind his and the team’s call to bench him at mousesports while also rubbishing the 1pv report that had labelled him as a ‘toxic’ player.

Every successful lineup needs an X factor; someone with flair and woxic has that in abundance; be it his AWP ace against Evil Geniuses in the ESL Pro League Season 10 finals in 2019 or his rifle Ace against Natus Vincere in 2017 during his time in HellRaisers, again in the ESL Pro League.

A wounded lion as woxic is right now, is far more dangerous and it will be exciting to see him be a part of this new-look Cloud9 lineup.

The Prodigy Prognosis

An essential part of any ‘Colossus’ is the promise it holds. In Complexity, it was all about Owen ‘oBo’ Schlatter and his gradual rise. Cloud9 have two interesting profiles in their current lineup.

20-year-old Ricky ‘floppy’ Kemery has already been a star for Cloud9 in 2020 and was the second highest rated player in their lineup (1.06). However, the structure will be much different under a new IGL and one that might have a different way of looking at things. This will be floppy’s true test of whether he can take the next step from being a bright young star in the scene to a star in general; and many have faltered at this stage of their career, forever remaining a prodigious talent.

On the other hand, William ‘mezii’ Merriman comes into the lineup, relatively as an unknown quantity to the majority of the csgo fans. Another product of the working-again British CSGO scene, mezii has been lauded for his composure and maturity beyond his years; things that convert into some solid plays on the server.

mezii has won more 1v1 clutches in officials than he has lost (50 v 42) and while one can argue that most of them have come against Tier-2 opposition, one cannot simply win this many clutches merely on the back of a superior aim. This does point towards his overall sense of the game, with the player also touted be a complete team player and one that is willing to sacrifice roles in order to help the lineup find success.

A player like mezii is necessary for a new lineup like Cloud9 as they can now experiment different setups and variations to keep things interesting and opponents confused. HenryG compared the situation to another Cloud9 prodigy Stewie2k, who came from the pug scene and ended up being a Major winner before moving on.

mezii has received high praise from all ends and his performances in 2020 has warranted a step up. The 22-year-old has that quirky X factor as well. We don’t know whether the ‘walking with mouse 2’ thing was a joke but it sure will make for a good headline, if he does end up atop the CSGO pyramid someday.

Back from Bagstiv

Ah, what a whirlwind of a 2020 it has been for Patrick ‘es3tag’ Hansen. From rising the ranks with Heroic to accepting a free transfer to Astralis, throwing the FPX Phoenix deal in jeopardy, es3tag has had his fair share of ‘controversial’ events this year.

However, once at Astralis, people realised just how powerful of a punch the 24-year-old’s talent is capable of packing. During his brief stop at Astralis, es3tag impressed everyone with his ability to make an impact on the server, especially being a cog in the organisation’s renaissance of sorts, after a lackadaisical period thus far in 2020.

es3tag lamented upon his Cloud9 transfer, iterating that he wished to stay longer at Astralis. However, considering the rumours that the Danish organisation were always looking to offload at least one of es3tag, Lucas ‘Bubzkji’ Andersen and surprisingly, Andreas ‘xyp9x’ Hojsleth, it is better he is now at an organisation where he is the marquee signing.

Established stars, a flashy AWPer, a credible IGL with considerable fragging power and a passionate fanbase – es3tag still seems to have all the tools for success alongside him in this Cloud9 lineup. It is now time for the 24-year-old to put his head down and work towards making this Colossal dream of Cloud9 a reality.

The Leadership and Success Hypothesis

Honestly, there wouldn’t have been a better IGL for this iteration of Cloud9. Alex ‘ALEX’ McMeekin proved himself at Vitality, both in terms of his ability to handle superstars and egos along with his prowess in terms of fragging ability and leading the team.

ALEX seems to exhibit patience for the lineup to gel well and has been seen to experiment with the tactical side of it as well from his time in Vitality. A master of clutch situations, the 25-year-old would be keen to prove his leadership capabilities without having ZyWOo to carry the lineup almost every damn time.

Also, ALEX would not have the same problem of over-exhaustion from travelling or home-sickness that played a major role in his request to be benched at Vitality.

The former Vitality IGL will have the task of grooming the likes of floppy and mezii into world-class CSGO players as well as ensuring the lineup can get the best out of woxic and es3tag. HenryG would have surely taken ALEX’s comments and wishes into account while building the roster, which means the 25-year-old has the players he wanted, more or less.

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Emma Lazarus

Essentially, this verse from the sonnet fits perfectly. The North American organisation have freed up the Europeans in peril, especially woxic and ALEX, and ushered them into a new light. It is now upto them to build ‘The New Colossus’.

Will this Cloud9 concoction turn into the Colossus HenryG set out for it to become or will this lineup be another Colossal casualty of the organisation’s attempt to build a successful lineup?