No TenZ, just friends: How Cloud9 Valorant can start on a clean slate in 2021

Published: 13/Jan/2021 6:29 Updated: 14/Jan/2021 9:39

by Andrew Amos


Cloud9’s Tyson ‘TenZ’ Ngo shocked the Valorant community on January 12 by suddenly stepping back from the squad. However, it could be just what Cloud9 Blue needs to start on a clean slate and relaunch after a disappointing 2020.

There was a reason Cloud9 started out as just TenZ and Friends. Their former Canadian CS:GO star was their first signing in Valorant. The team always centered around TenZ. More often than not, the Jett main would find himself on the top of the leaderboard in any event they played.

Well before they signed the whole squad, Cloud9 would follow TenZ’s progress religiously on Twitter, just as if TenZ and Friends was Cloud9. The team’s branding was plastered on streams. TenZ had become synonymous with the team, but the rest of his four teammates were just his “friends.”

When Cloud9 ended up signing those “friends” of TenZ ⁠— Skyler ‘Relyks’ Weaver, Mitch ‘mitch’ Semago, Josh ‘shinobi’ Abastado, and Daniel ‘vice’ Kim ⁠— the team’s pet name never changed. Without TenZ, it felt like Cloud9 didn’t exist. Now, fans are fronted with that reality.

With the Valorant Champions Tour kicking off in a matter of weeks, Cloud9 aren’t just forced to find a replacement for their star player after his retirement. They have to find a totally new identity.

There is no TenZ now.

It’s just friends, but that could be what Cloud9 needs after a disappointing 2020.

Failing to live up to the Cloud9 name in 2020

While Cloud9 Blue ⁠was meant to be the face of the North American franchise in Valorant, looking back on 2020, it didn’t really pan out that way. They were arguably outshone by their Asian counterparts, Cloud9 Korea, who actually made it to First Strike and finished 3-4th.

After all, Cloud9 Blue spent most of 2020 failing to make an impact where it mattered. Early on, TenZ was able to carry the squad to decent performances in various events ⁠— 2nd in Immortals First Light, Pulse Invitational, and the PAX Arena Invitational.

However, their Ignition Series and First Strike record was subpar. Outside of that PAX Arena 2nd place, they failed to crack the podium. They didn’t even make the First Strike Regional Finals, bowing out to both T1 and Renegades in the qualifiers. The latter was heralded an egregious loss by the community ⁠— one that ought saw heads roll.

Heads did roll ⁠— it just wasn’t TenZ at first. Shinobi stepped back after First Strike. They brought in Nathan ‘leaf’ Orf, fresh from his Counter-Strike departure, for the final few events. One change seemingly wasn’t enough though.

While TenZ cited the main reason for his departure was the lack of LANs and endless online grinding with no end in sight, you can’t help but feel these 2020 results impacted the team’s morale. His loss might hit even harder. However, there’s no denying the 2020 squad failed to live up to the lofty Cloud9 name.

Cloud 9's TenZ
Losing TenZ is without a doubt a blow for Cloud9. However, now they have a chance to build something more than just “TenZ and Friends.”

A new identity, not just TenZ and Friends

With just the “friends” left to their own devices, it can appear like Cloud9 are going to be headless chickens once Valorant Champions Tour rolls around.

There’s no doubt ⁠— trying to find a replacement for TenZ is going to be near impossible. When it comes down to mechanical skill, TenZ is arguably the best player in North American Valorant. However, teams are made by five players. In Cloud9 Blue, it only ever felt like one mattered.

We’ve seen unassuming squads surprise almost everyone ⁠— just look at Envy and Renegades in NA, and Heretics and SUMN FC in Europe. They feel like proper Valorant teams, not just CS:GO stars playing a CS:GO clone ⁠— something that can actually be hard to distinguish.

Cloud9 now has the chance to build that for themselves. They still have the remnants of a decent squad in Relyks, mitch, and vice. However, there’s a number of free agents that could help fill the void ⁠— Immortals’ jmoh and Neptune, as well as Gen.G’s PLAYER1 spring to mind. They could scrap it all and go entirely fresh.

What they do is in their hands. They have been presented with the perfect opportunity to leave 2020 behind and build a new squad on a clean slate.

TenZ isn’t leaving forever either. He’s going to come back once there’s more LANs and more to play for. He’s still streaming under the Cloud9 banner.

However, once TenZ returns to the stage ⁠— if he does ⁠— Cloud9 will no longer be “TenZ and Friends.” How they perform in the early stages of 2021 though will determine whether that’s a good thing or not.

League of Legends

LIVE: LCS Lock In 2021 Day 1: Perkz’s debut for Cloud9 goes awry

Published: 15/Jan/2021 23:00 Updated: 16/Jan/2021 2:52

by Andrew Amos


The LCS has kicked off 2021 not with the Spring Split, but with a new tournament called Lock In. Similar to the KeSPA Cup or Demacia Cup, NA’s top teams will duke it out in a pre-season event right before the main season. Here’s what you need to know.

  • 100 Thieves, Liquid, Evil Geniuses, Dignitas open up LCS Lock In with wins.
  • Perkz’s Cloud9 debut goes awry with 4/7/2 statline on Yone.
  • Golden Guardians vs CLG next at 7pm PT / 10pm ET.

LCS Lock In: Stream

The LCS Lock In tournament is the 2021 starter for League of Legends in North America. All 10 LCS teams will take part in the two-week competition that gives fans a taster of the year to come.

They’re not playing for pittance either. The winning team will take home $150,000 USD, and a lot of confidence heading into the start of Spring 2021 in February.

LCS Lock In 2021: Teams & groups

As we mentioned earlier, all 10 of the LCS teams will be taking part in the Lock In tournament. Some teams may choose to field their academy rosters instead of their main rosters, but with $150,000 on the line, there’ll definitely be some teams gunning for the flag.

Among them, Summer 2020 champions TSM would be favorites. Having made a number of moves in the off-season, only keeping jungler Mingyi ‘Spica’ Lu, the new squad will have a hard task in front of them. Team Liquid, CLG, and Cloud9 also made some big moves in the off-season to catch back up.

The 10 teams will be split into groups of two, with the top four from each group making it to the single-elimination playoffs.

Group A Group B
TSM FlyQuest
100 Thieves Cloud9
CLG Dignitas
Golden Guardians Evil Geniuses
Team Liquid Immortals

LCS Lock In 2021: Schedule

Groups Day 1: Friday, January 15

Group Match PT ET GMT
Group A 100 Thieves 1 – 0 TSM 3pm 6pm 11pm
CLG 0 – 1 Liquid 4pm 7pm 12am (Jan 16)
Group B Cloud9 0 – 1 Evil Geniuses 5pm 8pm 1am (Jan 16)
Dignitas 1 – 0 FlyQuest 6pm 9pm 2am (Jan 16)
Group A Golden Guardians vs CLG 7pm 10pm 3am (Jan 16)

Groups Day 2: Saturday, January 16

Group Match PT ET GMT
Group B Immortals vs Evil Geniuses 1pm 4pm 9pm
Group A Golden Guardians vs TSM 2pm 5pm 10pm
Group B Cloud9 vs FlyQuest 3pm 6pm 11pm
Immortals vs Dignitas 4pm 7pm 12am (Jan 17)
Group A CLG vs 100 Thieves 5pm 8pm 1am (Jan 17)

Groups Day 3: Sunday, January 17

Group Match PT ET GMT
Group B Immortals vs Cloud9 1pm 4pm 9pm
Group A Liquid vs 100 Thieves 2pm 5pm 10pm
Group B Dignitas vs Evil Geniuses 3pm 6pm 11pm
Group A CLG vs TSM 4pm 7pm 12am (Jan 18)
Golden Guardians vs Liquid 5pm 8pm 1am (Jan 18)

Groups Day 4: Friday, January 22

Group Match PT ET GMT
Group B Dignitas vs Cloud9 3pm 6pm 11pm
Group A Golden Guardians vs 100 Thieves 4pm 7pm 12am (Jan 23)
Group B Evil Geniuses vs FlyQuest 5pm 8pm 1am (Jan 23)
Group A Liquid vs TSM 6pm 9pm 2am (Jan 23)
Group B Immortals vs FlyQuest 7pm 10pm 3am (Jan 23)

Quarterfinals Day 1: Saturday, January 23

TBD vs TBD 1pm 4pm 9pm
TBD vs TBD 5pm 8pm 1am (Jan 24)

Quarterfinals Day 2: Sunday, January 24

TBD vs TBD 1pm 4pm 9pm
TBD vs TBD 5pm 8pm 1am (Jan 24)

Semifinals Day 1: Friday, January 29

TBD vs TBD 3pm 6pm 11pm

Semifinals Day 2: Saturday, January 30

TBD vs TBD 1pm 4pm 9pm

Grand Finals: Sunday, January 31

TBD vs TBD 1pm 4pm 9pm