The difference I see in myself between now and before I joined Cloud9 is huge.
When I was coming up through the scene, I could’ve been a better teammate. Like a lot of other younger guys, I kept everything to myself and didn’t communicate properly with other players.
This slowly caused frustration and resentment to build up. I would think about the mistakes that were being made and harp on them instead of figuring out a solution. That negativity builds in your head and you end up playing worse because of it.
I have never tolerated being average, but now I know how to express my thoughts a lot better and turn that negative feeling into a positive change.
When I first joined Cloud9, I was still carrying some of that negativity around, but never felt it because more than anything I wanted to prove that I had the skill to be a great player. A lot of people didn’t think I had the ability to make it here.
One of the things I neglected was the team aspect of the game. I was so focused on making sure I was good enough, that I really didn’t put enough emphasis on getting to know my teammates. Bonding as a team, in my head, wasn’t essential to winning matches.
But I began to shift away from that mentality through each iteration of Cloud9.
That’s not to say I stopped being critical of my teammates. You have to be critical of each other to a certain degree if you want to improve. But instead of focusing on negative thoughts, I’d trust their judgement in the moment, and catch up with them afterwards to understand their thought process.
This process helps me see things from their perspective, much more than I used to be able to do. It allows me to make the best of whatever situation we’re in instead of dwelling on a mistake or an unlucky round.
I don’t know exactly how much that improvement on my end actually helped the team, but we did become a lot more successful as I learned how to articulate myself better.
And then we became the first ever North American major champions.
That feeling was euphoric and the storyline is something that I can never recreate.
Although I was surprised to win it, there was a part of me that somehow didn’t feel completely satisfied with it. Winning “the big one” after so long didn’t have the lasting feeling that I expected it to have.
I didn’t feel like we had the structure and the foundation needed to be a great team consistently. Instead, we were the type of team that could win a tournament based off of our individual skill and risky gambles.
Long story short, I realized that winning wasn’t enough, how you win and how you lose is far more important.
Everything became a little muddled in early 2018. I had a few opportunities to leave C9 for very strong teams.
The reason I ended up staying on Cloud9 was largely because I wanted to continue building something that I would be a big part of. Not just a team of talented players, not just a one-time champion, but a consistently strong team.
After almost 18 months since that decision, the team and I are nowhere near where I want to be.
I’m not happy about that, but I’ve learned more in the past 18 months than I have my whole entire career and I still have the motivation to apply my new-found knowledge and to get to the level I want to be at.
This new lineup is a fresh start because there is nobody on the team that I’m familiar with.
There’s no Valens who I’ve known and played/worked with for the last 4 years and no RUSH who I’ve played the last 2 years with. Everyone on this team is new and I’m excited to learn more about each one of them.
While this current iteration is primarily a product of Daps, I am mainly focused on learning where I fit in on this team and also contributing to the process we use to get better. I normally have a lot of ideas on things I think we should try or ways we could’ve played a round better so I spend a lot of time talking to Daps and Jamez.
What I like about this team is that we are not afraid to make mistakes and step out of what is the comfort zone for us.
The one that has stood out to me is Tenz. In a way, he reminds me of Shroud.
The major difference between them being that Tenz is much more willing to push out of his comfort zone, and he does that every single day. We talk a lot, I try to give him advice, and I think he’s taking it to heart.
Daps is the guy who holds the team together really. He’s the kind of leader that I haven’t really had before, not even in the major winning lineup. I’m learning a lot about leadership from watching him.
My main goal is to relearn how to rifle and how to have more impact for my team. This process is oftentimes uncomfortable but it is meant to be. I had a lot of fun and satisfaction learning how to AWP so I am excited for the challenge of learning how to rifle again.
Despite what a lot of people have said I have no regrets with my decision to stick with Cloud9. Going through this difficult period of horrendous results will make our period of winning that much sweeter.
I see a lot of potential with this team and I hold all of my teammates and myself to a very high standard.
This is an opportunity for all of us to accomplish something great.
Image Credit: Cloud9 & BLAST Pro Series
Sage Datuin assisted in the creation of this article.