Of all the teams in attendance at this season's APAC Finals, Cloud9 is one of two that can trace their history all the way back to the day Siege had released. Since then, they've made quite a name for themselves under the mantisFPS, Element Mystic, and Cloud9 banners, being signed by the latter just prior to the Season 9 APAC Finals.
The signing proved to be more of a pressure cooker than a release valve for them, however, as the team was overwhelmed by the weight of securing a good first result under Cloud9 and crashed out 1-7, 1-7 against Aerowolf in the quarter-finals. Having been considered one of the favourites, the team was heartbroken, but finally being able to go full-time in Rainbow Six meant that they could put their heads down and focus on the next season.
With only three other teams in the Korean Pro League, qualification to the APAC Finals was hardly ever in doubt for Cloud9. Going up against the Season 9 second seeds, SCARZ (previously Ageless), in their opening game, Cloud9 brushed their opponents aside, only conceding a round on each map. The team followed it up with 2-0 victories against TRIPPY and Team uR as well, and then geared up for the Six Major Raleigh Qualifier LAN.
Having never missed a Major event save for the Six Invitational 2017, it was safe to say that they were once again the favourites to qualify. However, a struggle against TRIPPY in the online qualifier -- losing the first map in overtime and then winning the third also in overtime -- seemed to be a poor omen for them, and it was.
Their first match against 0RGL3SS (now Wildcard Gaming) at the APAC qualifier LAN would also be their last, as the Australians won their first-ever APAC match 2-0. Much to the disappointment of many, Cloud9 would not be at Raleigh.
Coming back home to Korea, Cloud9 once again beat all three of their opponents -- though with less ease than they had before. Now, going up against a struggling NORA-Rengo, they are once again the favourites, and will be keen to ensure they do not fold in the first round against another APAC giant.
To know more about their Season 10 campaign and their approach to these APAC Finals, SiegeGG spoke to Cloud9 head coach, Inyeong "SummerRain" Kim:
Your team has once again finished top of the Korean Pro League with ease. Are there any games in the season that worried you?
While it is still a small pool of teams, they're getting stronger, especially TRIPPY. However, we knew we already had an APAC Finals ticket, so we were just a little bit worried about our flawless victory record this season.
Your team failed to qualify to a Major tournament for the first time since the Six Invitational 2017, and this was right after you crashed out 7-1, 7-1 to Aerowolf in Season 9. How have you been improving to come back strong?
It's simple. Basically, we changed every single one of our strategies, and had a small roster change, adding CATSang.
How do you fancy your chances at the APAC Finals? Your side of the bracket is incredibly difficult, featuring NORA-Rengo, Fnatic, and Aerowolf.
Yes, it's going to be super hard, but we don't want to think any further about that. It only makes us nervous. Now, we don't predict our matches, we really don't care who we play anymore, but just try our best to play with confidence.
How have the facilities and support from Cloud9 helped since you were signed last season?
We get a salary and a bootcamp… I can't tell you everything, but it is super helpful to our team. We just hope we can pay it back to our organization this time.
What was the key motivation behind signing CATSang from your second-placed rivals, TRIPPY?
Personally, I was trying to recruit him for over a year now, but at that time other players refused the move because he did not have any history in the Pro League, But, I knew he was a great support player also great communicator, and we needed a more flex player, so that's why I recruited him.
How much of CATSang will we see in action at the Season 10 APAC Finals, if at all?
He had a personal issue recently but it has been solved, so we are going to the APAC Finals with him as part of the main roster (in place of Neilyo).
If you had to predict, how do you expect the other three quarter-finals to go?
Fnatic, Cyclops Athlete Gaming, and Wildcard, in my opinion.
Do you have anything to say to your fans at home and internationally?
We get emails, letters, and DMs sometimes from those who love our team, and that is really helpful and cheers us up. Our fans always gave us a motivation, we truly thank you.
Catch Cloud9 in action this weekend, as the Season 10 APAC Finals run from the 19th to 20th of October, with games starting at 10 AM AEDT (GMT+11) each day. Getting a struggling NORA-Rengo first up, it remains to be seen if Cloud9 can break their first-round duck and move on from the quarter-finals, and will then face either Fnatic or Aerowolf.