It was announced recently that Cloud 9’s long awaited fifth and final player for their Counter-Strike lineup would be Jake “Stewie2k” Yip. Browsing the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive subreddit in the immediate aftermath, one might be forgiven for thinking that the American eSports org had committed murder(this being eSports let’s not tempt fate on that one) in signing the 18 year old talent. Fans seemed to be extremely angry that Cloud 9 had picked up such an inexperienced, unproven player and the general consensus among the community is that this was a bad move, that Cloud 9 will not benefit at all and that they will still lose to European teams, day in, day out. However, is this too harsh a generalization to make, and does this roster move have any merit at all?
A lot of the negativity surrounding Yip stems from his dramatic departure from his previous team, Splyce(formerly known as FollowEsports). There were allegations thrown around suggesting Yip had poor levels of commitment to the game, missing official games. Now I won’t get into the whole drama now, and since I personally don’t know any of the players involved behind the scenes I can’t attempt to make character judgements based on such little information, but I can see that this would be a potential turnoff. Similarly his relatively unproven record is also a question mark. He has only played two offline tournaments with only 9 maps played, hardly any information there worth forming conclusions upon. As such, going for Yip was a huge gamble and one that a lot of fans criticised. However, there is a firm case to suggest that such a gamble would be worth going for.
It is a widely known fact that North American Counter-Strike has long lagged behind its European counterpart, and there has been much analysis and reasoning into why. Of course there is the attitude issue behind the scenes and lack of in game leaders, but the principle reason often stated is that North America has a shortage of talent compared with Europe, and there is merit in this statement. With the iBUYPOWER players being banned, and the scene in general moving towards longer term contracts and higher buyout clauses(remember the alleged €150,000 Titan paid G2 for ScreaM?) it is going to become more and more difficult to procure accomplished talent even for a large organization like C9, and so with this out of the question they are faced with either going for an old name that is well past its prime, but will perform as expected to a known level, or take a complete shot in the dark with an unproven character that may turn out to be a dud or flourish. Clearly Yip falls into the latter category, and a gamble that is perfectly reasonable for an org even as big as Cloud 9 to take. Given the right circumstances, ie a strong management structure around him and experienced teammates that can best work to refining and honing his raw talent(which is arguably his greatest merit as a player right now) and generally trying to fit him into the team’s setup, we could very well see Yip turn out to be a future star or at least have some good performances offline against some good teams. Of course, the very opposite is equally likely, but given that Yip is only 18 years old and is relatively new to the scene, it’s likely he has at least some potential left to realise within a team setting.
I’m not saying that the community’s reaction was totally without merit; given that this is a gamble it’s perfectly reasonable to make an argument that it won’t turn out well, but I feel that quite a few people instantly dismissed the idea without giving it any further thought. However, it also seems that there is finer nuance that a lot of people either missed out on or failed to explain, and that is that the criticism of the Stewie2k move may be harsh in isolation, but when analyzed in the context of other potential roster moves it is a poor choice and an act of settling for second best. And it’s hard to disagree here. Tarik was a potential target that was rumoured to be close to completion, and at least Tarik is slightly more proven against some offline competition, however given he plays at rival NA org CLG there may have been a contract/buyout issue etcetera. However players like the ex-Dignitas star Pimp, controversial CIS superstar s1mple or accomplished in-game leader Pronax were all free agents around the time of the roster change, and as such all could have been picked up. I think we can all also agree that Pimp or s1mple are much more proven, consistent, experienced talents than a bright-eyed 18 year old who has played only 2 LAN tournaments. That last point with Pronax is especially pertinent; following the departure of veteran in-game leader Sean Gares, a lack of leadership within the team is certainly an issue and Pronax, or fellow free agent Gob B, would’ve been good potential considerations to address this. However as it is, n0thing will be leading the team, but his efficiency in this position is yet to be seen.
As such, Cloud 9 moving to pick up Stewie2k is not without its criticisms, especially considering some of the other talent available at the time, yet it definitely has some potential benefits should all the pieces fall into place and the team work well to integrate Yip into their existing designs, and I think the community’s reaction to this was a little hyperbolic in nature.
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