vanity reflects on time with Cloud9 and yay: “I wish we leaned into our strengths more”

Declan Mclaughlin
yay and vanity on Cloud9 at VCT LOCK//IN

Anthony ‘vanity’ Malaspina spoke with Dexerto about his time on Cloud9 alongside Jaccob ‘yay’ Whiteaker and what he thought that squad’s ceiling could have been.

Cloud9 went through a flurry of roster moves in late 2022 and early 2023 as the organization created what was considered a Valorant super team for the partnered league era. The team picked up two high-profile free agents in yay and Jordan ‘Zellsis’ Montemurro and slotted them into a strong core of vanity, Erick ‘Xeppaa’ Bach and Nathan ‘leaf’ Orf.

But after less than six months as a squad, and only two VCT matches played, Cloud9 blew up the roster and let both yay and vanity go.

vanity told Dexerto the team expected to be top four at VCT LOCK//IN, the only VCT event that this iteration of Cloud9 attended, based on their practice sessions before the tournament. He also said he wished the team had more time together to shore up their weaknesses, but noted that he isn’t dwelling on it too much anymore.

“I wish, looking back, we leaned into our strengths, but I think nobody really knew what the meta was going to be at the time and we played what we thought worked for us at the time,” vanity said.

“Of course I wish we had more time as I think we were a really strong team with some weaknesses that we could have worked to fix. But it is what it is.”

That Valorant meta shifted after the 2023 season began as Chamber, one of the most picked Agents across 2022 and arguably yay’s best pick, was hit with some impactful nerfs.

vanity on playing with yay in Cloud9

After dropping the two players, Cloud9 picked up two relatively unknown pros and ended the VCT Americas regular season with a joint-best 8-1 record. The team then placed fourth in the playoffs, missing out on qualification for VCT Masters Tokyo and Valorant Champions.

Cloud9 yay
yay signed with Cloud9 after a successful 2022 with OpTic Gaming.

yay and vanity, meanwhile, were picked up by Challengers League sides Disguised and Shopify Rebellion, respectively. Both teams failed to qualify for the Americas Ascension tournament and had their seasons end early. Disguised were eventually relegated from the league, with the players released shortly afterward.

“I liked playing with yay, I think he tries really hard and works to improve on anything we would ask of him,” vanity said. “Obviously, he’s going to have a strong personality because of how good he is but I don’t think it was ever an issue with us.”

Both yay and vanity are currently teamless and have not announced their plans for the rest of 2023 and the upcoming offseason. Both players should be hot commodities when the season dies down and teams look to shake things up for the 2024 season.