After recent reports, Cloud9 have officially released star player Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker. This comes after a tough round-of-16 loss to DRX at the VALORANT Champions Tour 2023 LOCK//IN Brazil tournament. In a video explaining the move, co-founder Jack Etienne and coach Matthew “mCe” Elmore announced and explained the change.
Now that it's over, it feels like it was all a dream
Thank you @yay! We wish you nothing but the best!💙 pic.twitter.com/lLSW0v053i
— Cloud9 VALORANT (@C9VAL) March 1, 2023
Yay becomes a free agent before the official season starts
This was a move nobody was expecting, at least until reporter Max “Purest” Katz tweeted this out earlier this week.
Sources: yay will not be apart of C9's active roster moving forward. It is unknown who will replace him at this time.#VCT pic.twitter.com/5ccdz29AK8
— Max Katz (@purest) February 23, 2023
He stated that yay would not be a part of Cloud9 and their future, with no set replacement as of yet. This was a shock to players and fans all over social media, for multiple reasons. First off, while Cloud9 didn’t do well at the LOCK//IN tournament, not many people were taking it as seriously as a Masters event. From the single-elimination format to the fact that teams could hardly prepare for each other, this was seen as a showmatch-like tournament with prize money and other benefits for the victor.
So, when Cloud9 beat Paper Rex handily and then lost to DRX afterwards, there were positives and negatives to take. The team didn’t get eliminated instantly as a lot of teams did, and proved their own against two of the best Pacific region teams. However, Cloud9 had that opportunity to beat DRX and let it slip away. DRX ended up beating Talon Esports afterwards and making it to the tournament semi-finals; the top four. Yay was hardly the issue from just a statistical standpoint, but it seems there was more turbulence under the surface.
Cloud9 clarify roster issues, plan to build for long term success
As mentioned in the video above, Cloud9 talked in-depth about their decision to part ways with yay. MCe was quick to state that it wasn’t a personality issue with yay, it revolved more around the way the roster was built before and after mCe’s arrival. These issues weren’t going to be fixed quickly, so the team decided to make a move, and that move was departing with the ‘best player in VALORANT’, as they stated in the video.
Cloud9 is currently holding tryouts to replace yay, but they do have sixth man Mateja “qpert” Mijović to fill in the meantime.
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.