No matches

You made the right choice bro….


Tarik “Tarik” Celik of Cloud9 posted this on Twitter to his former colleague Jake “Stewie2k” Yip after the reigning Counter-Strike major champions had just crashed out of ESL Cologne in 9th-12th with only a single map to their name. What Celik couldn’t have known at the time was that Yip’s new team, MIBR would shortly follow after being eliminated by a team that was there by invite only–the mostly-German BiG. What were intended as words of encouragement quickly became comedic fodder, a message passed between two professionals who found themselves on teams that were both operating a level far below their potential. Not long after this exchange Celik would follow Yip to play alongside the legendary Brazilians in a bid to turn around his personal fortunes or to continue the descent into mediocrity together.



Whether or not the tweet acted as a jinx, it did seem to stir up a few murmurings that maybe Yip had jumped out of the proverbial frying pan and into a much hotter destination. Some have speculated that maybe Cloud9 themselves wouldn’t be in a terminal nosedive had he remained. The less charitable have tried to portray him as something of a turncoat, which is typical for esports that contains fandoms that make the average sports enthusiast seem like Karl Popper. Outside of the realm of such whimsical theorycrafting, there can be no debate about it–It was most definitely the right choice and the kind that I personally applaud. It certainly wasn’t easy. Far from jumping ship this was more like a leap into the unknown.


For some teams, winning a major trophy is the final chapter in the storybook rather than the first and I always had this sense about Cloud9. It couldn’t have been scripted better, so much so the morons that lurk in the crevices of esports believe it WAS scripted by ELEAGUE for TV ratings. Such gibberish overlooks how much had to go right for the team to triumph, even with the home soil advantage. In particular, Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham played far beyond his regular capabilities, possessed by a force that has since been exorcised, never to return. If his drop off was the most pronounced, it’s not as if he was the only one it happened to. Each subsequent outing after their heroics made them look increasingly ordinary as if they had all left a part of themselves on that stage in Boston. Maybe that’s what it takes…


If you’ve ever wondered what happens after the credits roll on an underdog story, it’s pretty much this. Typically taking advantage of so many extraneous factors in order for victory to be assured, when all those additional circumstances are no longer present. If you made a movie about Buster Douglas proving to a disbelieving world that Mike Tyson was mortal, it’d only be fair to include how the champ’s cornermen didn’t bring their equipment or even ice-packs, contributing to his loss. You’d also not want to make a sequel. Douglas lost the belt immediately to Evander Holyfield, was never a world champion again and lapsed into a near-fatal diabetic coma after ballooning to four-hundred pounds. Disney it ain’t.


If North American players have been guilty of one thing down the years it is undoubtedly complacency.


How can anyone outside of Cloud9 fans then be angry at Yip’s prescience to get out before they got to that tragic end stage? If North American players have been guilty of one thing down the years it is undoubtedly complacency. Too many line-ups that needed to be tweaked held together based on personal relationships instead of talent, too many up-and-comers were cut too soon in favour of older, more comfortable options. The top players also could scarcely conceal their prime motivations from the pundits and the viewers alike; as long as the salary turned up every month and the losses weren’t too much of a blow to the ego – i.e. they didn’t come from NA rivals on anyone with a withering line in trash-talk – who really gives a fuck? Turn on the stream, leak private conversations for subs, cultivate the financially lucrative exit strategy when you can no longer be bothered to even phone it in. This was North American Counter-Strike even in the Global Offensive era.


Yip was nothing like that at all. A player who burst on to the scene amid cheating accusations from that old guard and then found himself with probably the worst starting point for a professional career imaginable – signed to Splyce – it really could have been over before it began. Fortunately Cloud9’s owner, Jack Etienne, deemed his ability worthy of paying $20,000 for and he went on to be one of the best rookies the game has ever produced. Equally, it wasn’t done solely on his terms like a lot of young star players seem to think is the way it should be. He didn’t get the plum roles on the team until he earned them and even then he was something of a wild card for the team. Need an entry-fragger? He’s up first. Need a secondary AWPer? He’ll step up again… The unwanted dead-man’s shoes of in-game leadership? Look no further. Hell, he even went out and “discovered” Timothy “autimatic” Ta, a journeyman player who was famous solely for having six teams in a single calendar year before he paired up with his friend. There are coaches who dine out forever on such things, talking up their eye for talent and ability to develop their players. Yip did all of these things just to win games. The plaudits were meaningless.


Both Tarik and Stewie bolted from Cloud9 (Photo: YouTube)

How refreshing then that he still wants to develop, learn and win more than he could had he stuck with an ailing Cloud9. These are his primary motivations as he looks to join alongside Gabriel “Fallen” Toledo, the greatest in-game leader that CS:GO has seen. And despite what people might say it’s not without risk. Who wants to be the easy scapegoat for this team’s failure should they never turn the corner? That was the prospect facing him when it was clear it would be four Brazilians speaking in English to accommodate him and not him learning enough Portuguese to make it work. That, coupled with the fluctuating statistics that accompany the feast or famine playstyle, could have easily seen him the latest target of a notoriously unforgiving fanbase.


It is a shame that what should have been very clear vindication has had to be deferred for a time and maybe this team will never achieve anything that makes the argument for the move obvious. The “Made In Brazil” project has been a mess since it’s drawn out inception, starting with a name that loses brand strength the more non-Brazilians play in it, to the fact that the star-player and team captain’s relationship appears to be at an all-time low. They go into each game looking beatable and teams are starting to lose the fear factor that these legendary players could leverage when games came down to the wire.


Amidst these problems you would have to believe there are more lessons to be learned than at Cloud9. It’s a different kind of failure and one that has a more easily perceived path back to success than that of his former squad. Watching Fallen try and tinker with a team has to be more fascinating and insightful than listening to the efforts of new, temporary in-game leaders with a fraction of his pedigree. Taking instruction from him, while simultaneously factoring in the reported pushback from Marcelo “coldzera” David, will develop a new kind of diplomacy. After all, here Yip isn’t the star player, just another piece of a clearly complex puzzle and a piece that is more likely to be discarded than the others if they cannot fit together. All of these experiences are going to make an already versatile player closer to being complete.


It’d be a ridiculous fantasy to expect the bulk of Cloud9 fans to be reasonable for even a moment, to ask them to come down from their titular heights and in to reality. Hell, I even saw a fan tear into Jack for simply answering explaining that their current roster problems were not about money. For everyone else though, see the bigger picture and appreciate it. North American players are creatures of comfort, rarely taking risks and thinking about things such as financial security and lack of stress instead of glory. These are practical and acceptable thoughts in any other field but they are gauche when applied to the world of sports, where we are all conditioned to believe that winning is what matters. Slightly more to it than that but mostly the right sentiment for the truly excellent. Do not be critical of this move. Either titles will follow or North America will see the return of a much better player. The right choice indeed.

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