On November the 22nd 2013, Speed Gaming etched its name into the history books as they took their first big tournament ahead of Na’Vi and DK, who they beat 2-1 in the grand finals. Over the next several months, they transitioned from a team more likely to win big rares on their bets to an elite contender at every tournament they attend. Now known as Cloud 9, here's a deeper look at the controversial team that has made fans either love them or hate them.
Cloud 9 is known to be one of the greediest teams in the world. Back when the Hand of Midas recipe cost only 1400g, they were one of the most prominent buyers of the dreaded item, often farming for the majority of the game, dodging fights and then finally starting them when they were one or two items ahead of their opponents. Led by EternaLEnVy, item builds such as the famous Blink Clinkz - consisting of Soul Ring, Hand of Midas and Blink Dagger - wormed their way into the minds of every Dota player. Other examples include Bone7's traditional Hand of Midas on Dark Seer among other offlane heroes that get off to a good start, along with Aui's farming Visage and Enigma, which always managed to farm as high or even higher than the other cores in the game.
Cloud 9 seems to run plenty of four-protect-one strategies that rely on SingSing and Bone7 picking up-tempo controllers and giving EnVy a strong late-game hero who is also good at split pushing and ancient farming. Heroes like Luna and Gyrocopter often made their way into Cloud 9’s team composition as they are known for their strong late-game abilities and extremely quick farming skills. Combine that with a Bone7 Puck/Dark Seer/Batrider/Clockwerk and a SingSing Mirana/Doom/Invoker/Ember Spirit and you have a traditional Cloud 9 lineup.
There's a reason why Cloud 9 is deemed to be a controversial team with an extremely divided fanbase that loves them one day and hates them the next. Many of their item choices often seem questionable to most of the Dota community, with the classic no BKB on Luna and getting Manta Style instead. However, there is a logic to it all, as many of their innovative builds do make their way to the competitive and pub scene such as the ultra defensive Doom build, which consists of Frost Armor, Mekanism, Shiva's Guard and Assault Cuirass and is not only great for tanking damage but also for protecting allies. In recent months, Cloud 9 has transitioned from a one core lineup to what is often a dual-core lineup, with SingSing playing a traditional farming mid hero such as Templar Assassin and Ember Spirit.
After Winning MLG Columbus in 2013, Cloud 9 has transitioned into a powerhouse team able to go deep in any tournament and go head to head against the best in the business. Although they haven’t won any major tournaments since that time, they did finish second in the Dota 2 Champions League Season 2 in a 3-1 grand finals loss to Na’Vi two months ago, where they collected over US$30,000, while also achieving another second place finish in DreamLeague Season 1 in a 3-2 grand finals loss to Alliance, earning over US$41,000. Apart from these major tournaments, they also finished second in DreamHack Bucharest behind Alliance, third in MLG TKO America (in which they were knocked out by EG and Team Liquid before getting to the finals) and second in Monster Energy (in which they lost to Evil Geniuses).
Even though these tournament results are a huge step up from their early years, Cloud 9 has not always performed so well. They finished seventh in the recent WPC League in China, where they faced a multitude of Chinese juggernauts, and did not even qualify for Starladder in the previous season as they lost in a knock-out match to RoX.KIS. Although Cloud 9 has not always been a consistent team, their unique and innovative playstyle will definitely excite audience and commentators alike as they look towards their second major championships.
Known affectionately as EE-Sama to his fanbase, EternaLEnVy famously started No Tidehunter (now known as Alliance) and was removed from his own team in favor of a complete Swedish juggernaut before they became the TI3 champions. More mature and confident in his playstyle than before, EternaLEnVy has moved from the supporting role to that of the carry in his second team, and has carried his team to numerous grand finals due to the efficient and risky playstyle that has polarized the Dota universe. Creator of the Blink Clinkz, Blink Drow and classic one-protect-four strategies, EE-Sama will surely be the bringer or giver of rares at Frankfurt.
Favorite heroes: Luna, Naga, Tinker
With one of the most popular streams on Twitch, SingSing has brought entertainment to millions of fans across the world with his patented catchphrases and ‘innovative’ decision-making in pub games. Known more for his goofiness than competitive Dota until recently, SingSing began his first major foray into the competitive scene with mousesports in 2011, and has been a well-known personality ever since. Now known as the "shoot arrow, hit arrow" guy, SingSing has made himself into a brand name with a stand-out performance on his signature hero Mirana as well as his dominating Templar Assassin and Ember Spirit, both of which have carried his team in a number of crucial games.
Favorite heroes: Mirana, Templar Assassin, Ember Spirit
Even though Bone7 has only recently started streaming, his farming capabilities on his offlane heroes and his choice of proper music has boosted his fanbase by an extraordinary amount. Known primarily for his space-creating heroes such as Clockwerk and Batrider, he has also played the occasional farming core such as Doom, but his ability to shine lies in making plays with his limited farm and allowing EnVy and SingSing to farm up their items. One of the most proficient offlane players around, he has wowed audiences in competitive play and pubs alike, and will surely continue to do so.
Favorite heroes: Batrider, Clockwerk, Puck
As a former carry player for Dignitas, Aui_2000 has had to make a difficult transition from carry player to secondary support, but has handled it extremely well. His item builds regularly include the patented Rod of Atos or Rod of Aui build (depending on which side of Twitch.tv you are on) as well as a number of items that seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere. Cloud 9 has often given Aui plenty of space to farm, and he has rewarded them with a number of games where he managed to outfarm most of the other cores and helped carry his team to victory. As an exceptionally versatile player who has not lost his carrying abilities, he is sure to be one of the richest supports in the game.
Favorite heroes: Visage, Enigma, Chen
As one of the founders and captain of Cloud 9, Pieliedie has made his name in drafting unique and ground-breaking hero compositions including dominating games with 5 range heroes including Drow and occasionally questionable compositions that gives the other team a quick win. Known for being one of the best wisp players alive, many games have featured the quick fingers of Pieliedie and the clutch saves of his relocate designed to break a Batrider's lasso or a carry being caught out in the middle of nowhere. Although Pieliedie may be one of the lesser-known personalities in the DOTA scene, he has been responsible for creating the most unique and original teams around and will surely contribute to some exciting games at Frankfurt.
Favorite heroes: Wisp, Rubick, Sandking
For more information about ESL One Frankfurt, check out the official site, and be sure to come back to ESLGaming.com for more team profiles and ESL One coverage throughout the week.
All images of players courtesy of Cloud9.gg.