How jakee went from collegiate Valorant to replacing yay on Cloud9

Declan Mclaughlin
jakee Cloud9

Cloud9 signed Jake ‘jakee’ Anderson to replace the best Valorant player in the world in 2022, and according to his former collegiate teammates, the candy-eating Controller is a dedicated competitor who is more than capable of filling such large shoes.

When Justin Pelt, the former director of esports at the University of St. Thomas, first saw jakee’s Valorant statistics on his recruiting page, he thought the Florida native had to be cheating.

“Then I saw him play in our first trial and it lived up to the hype,” Pelt said.

The amateur player had competed at the second and third-tier levels on Team Reckaroo and NSIC but eventually decided to go the collegiate route. According to Pelt, jakee was getting offers from some of the top esports universities in the country, like Converse University and Northwood University, but he was only looking to play for schools in Texas or California.

The first option was to be close to his girlfriend. The second was to be near Los Angeles, where the VCT Americas league is taking place and many top esports organizations are based.

“Basically, the reason we won the jakee sweepstakes was that his girlfriend lives in Texas,” Pelt said with a laugh.

When he got to the campus in Houston, Texas, his teammates, whom he had met online and chatted with over Discord, were surprised that the confident and uber-driven player that had come to know was just another shy teenager.

“It’s your first time out of your parent’s home, he moved halfway across the country from Florida to Texas, and the only person he knew in the state was his girlfriend,” Pelt said. “So he was a little bit shyer, and his personality is still that way.”

jakee growing into his own at UST

His teammates from UST described jakee as one of the most driven people they had ever met in Valorant.

“He would literally be in the room unless it was for his class or for getting food,” his former UST and Reckaroo teammate Nathanael ‘Nate’ Miles told Dexerto. “Other than that, he would literally just be in the room all day playing ranked, playing scrims, doing his Kovacs routine, or talking to his girlfriend. So [meeting him] in person, I would say I was impressed by his dedication.”

The now-Cloud9 player would eventually venture outside of his room more and play ranked and scrims at the UST esports facility, where he would develop a deeper connection with his teammates, according to his former UST teammate Anthony ‘Tiger’ Colon.

Tiger said the two would go to the gym together and he would pester jakee for eating too much candy while Nate would point out his poor posture. While competing, Pelt said, jakee would often complain about how sweaty his hands would get and that he would sometimes show signs of nervousness in competition.

“It’s like my way of joking that, ‘Okay, like, you’re still human,’” he said.

While the team liked to joke around, jakee was a clear leader on the squad. The UST team did not have a coach or a manager so jakee took up those responsibilities.

“He would tell me something that maybe sometimes I didn’t want to hear, or my teammates, and we would pick it up,” Tiger said. “Usually, those types of conversations are the ones that coaches have to have with players, like, ‘Oh, you need to improve this, or you’re doing this wrong.’ But he had to have those hard conversations with us every day.”

Traditionally a Controller player, jakee took up some of the Duelists responsibilities for UST and eventually became the IGL, calling from the frontlines while also entering sites and making plays.

In the College Valorant South: Winter Tournament, jakee had over 80 kills in the upper bracket and lower bracket finals and the grand final. He was also top five statistically in Kill/Death ratio, kills per round and VLR rating. In arguably his best map of UST’s run, jakee recorded a 39% headshot rate and 32 kills on Phoenix against the Oklahoma Christian University esports.

Instead of coasting on his talents, jakee took it upon himself to try to make his teammates better as he led them to first place at the College Valorant South: Winter Tournament, which came with a spot in the College Valorant Championship.

“For him, collegiate is really easy,” Tiger said. “I’ve seen him drop 45 kills in collegiate. But he really wanted to see us grow as players and as a team. He could have just kept doing his own thing. But he decided to tell us what we need to improve.”

Cloud9 comes calling for jakee’s services

jakee was honest with his team when Cloud9 eventually messaged him that they were looking to trial him for their Valorant team.

The team and the director were shocked, mainly because they didn’t expect that a player of this caliber would have to go through a tryout.

For Nate, the trial was a long time coming.

“In my opinion, he had been the best free agent Controller on the market for like a year,” Nate said. “I was amazed that no one picked him up, genuinely amazed. If anyone watched a VOD of this guy, he doesn’t miss.”

The trial process went on for about two weeks before jakee signed with Cloud9. Afterward, Nate helped the future VCT Americas player move out of their shared dorm. The team tried to keep jakee’s rigorous practice schedule as normal as possible during his final day, barring a quick trip to the store to buy some travel essentials.

Tiger and Nate said they both choked up watching their teammate and friend they had grown close to over the course of a semester head to the airport. They have no doubt he’ll make a big splash for Cloud9.

“He is a different breed,” Nate said. “You’re going to see him on the international stage.”