Cloud9, the hope of APAC? That might just be the case for this Six Invitational.
APAC’s hopes this event have been significantly dulled since the start of the year. Then, it had seemed that Wildcard Gaming and Giants Gaming, winners of their respective November Majors in APAC South and North, would prove to be strong competition in Canada.
However, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, three major issues cropped up.
First, Wildcard Gaming was effectively ruled out of the tournament, being unable to travel back home if they left Australia.
Next, the event was first shifted to Paris, France, before being postponed three months.
Finally, the postponement affected the Giants Gaming players’ mindsets, alongside their forced move to APAC South, and left the team reeling in sixth place at the end of Stage 1.
As such, Cloud9 and Cyclops Athlete Gaming are the only two APAC teams heading to the event and in form. And of those two, only Cloud9 has appreciable international experience.
Ergo, the only realistic hope from APAC, for some.
Cloud9 themselves have not had flawless form, losing to DWG KIA and Talon Esports in the regular season of the Korean Open 2021 Spring, before failing to win their first domestic title in almost one and a half years after a 1-2 upset loss to SGA eSports in the playoffs.
Furthermore, they lost in rather quick fashion to Elevate in the APAC 2021 Stage 1 Championship earlier this month.
However, their results in the past year, despite those losses, speak for themselves. An August Major victory, a second place in the November Major where all maps went to overtime, and an APAC Finals 2020 victory are all stellar achievements. Furthermore, the Korean roster has been flawless in Stage 1 of the APAC North Division.
Cloud9’s last international appearance was quite some time ago, however, in Valencia for DreamHack in June 2019. Their only Invitational appearance was in that year as well, while they had been without an organisation, working at McDonald’s, and when they had pushed eventual title winners G2 Esports to overtime on the first map.
Now, the team gears up for its fifth international appearance, hunting for its first win on that stage.
To know more about his team’s preparation, SiegeGG spoke to Cloud9 captain Seongsoo "EnvyTaylor" Kim.
Your team, in this 2021 season, has essentially picked up right where it left off, finishing first in APAC North and second overall in APAC. What has been the key to such consistency in form and the continuous improvement?
It seems to be due to having the chance to perform well through practice to eliminate ups and downs with existing members without changing the roster.
There was a big surprise in your loss to DWG in the Korean Open 2021 Spring, however, which was your first loss in all competitions since 3 Jan. What happened there? Were you ‘saving strats’ for the APAC Championship and the Invitational?
There was no strat-saving at all, Static was in poor health, so our coach, OCN, had to play instead. Because of this, we were forced to deviate from our existing play style, and we remember losing because we were a little behind in terms of individual gunfights compared to our opponents.
Korean Siege has seen a dramatic rise in commercial attractiveness with the Korean Open, and now with the entrance of DWG KIA and T1. How important are events and organisations like this to the scene’s longevity and growth and how far do you see Korea going in Siege?
The entrances of organisations in the Korean Siege scene will increase the number of fans cheering for those organisations in R6, so we think the gradual increase in such organisations will make the domestic league more active and help it grow.
Some would say that you are APAC’s ‘only hope’, or ‘best hope’ at this event. Does that add pressure on your shoulders, or has your team learnt to handle it well?
We think our motivation is stronger than pressure. This is because the current C9 is stronger than the Six Invitational 2019 MantisFPS. And this time, we want to come back with good results.
This will be the fifth international event for your team, although only you and Static (SweetBlack) have been here all the way. How is your team preparing to match other league leaders like BDS Esport, Oxygen Esports, and FaZe Clan?
There has been quite a long hiatus between our last big international competition and this Six Invitational 2021, so we will prepare for it by analyzing opponents and finding their weaknesses rather than relying on previous (outdated) experience.
What is your goal for the Invitational and how confident are you that you'll achieve it? Is a trophy perhaps on the cards?
It will be very difficult to reach the big goal of winning amongst the prominent teams in this Six Invitational, so we think it is worth aiming for the maximum of semi-finals or perhaps quarter-finals.
What is your opinion on the changed format for the Invitational and how do you rate your chances in the group?
In the old format, if we lose a game against one or two teams, we're gonna have to be frustrated (as we would be eliminated). But, we think this Six Invitational 2021 is a good change because we can survive to some extent, just staying in the middle and upper ranks of the group stage.
Is there anything you want to say to your fans and maybe your competitors?
We had a long break until this Six Invitational and we also prepared a lot, All our players will try to put on a good performance as they have practiced for this invitational.
Catch Cloud9 next in action on the 11th of May at 6 PM KST (UTC+9), when they take on Team oNe live from Paris.