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Before Cloud9 even signed the roster of Team MAJKL in October 2020, they were already well on the way to becoming more or less dominant in their field. Now, one year later, Cloud9 White are the undisputed best team in North American women’s VALORANT, a title they cemented this past week after winning VALORANT Game Changers for the third time in a row.

“I’m so proud of my team,” Cloud9 White player Katsumi said after the team defeated Shopify Rebellion 3-1. “We came in knowing that we were going to take over and do our thing, and I’m just so proud that we pull it off every time.”

Going into the grand final of Game Changers Series 3, Cloud9 White were defending champions who hadn’t dropped a single map in the tournament so far. They swiftly went up 2-0 over Shopify Rebellion but unexpectedly dropped the third map, Haven, which they have a 68% win rate on according to vlr.gg. Losing the map helped the team more than it hurt them, however, as it took off the pressure of making a perfect run.

“After, like, a year of not dropping a map, every tournament you play after that point is just more mounting pressure,” team captain Melanie “meL” Capone said. “Honestly, when we did drop that map, it was kind of a relief. It’s like ‘okay, now we don’t have that pressure to worry about anymore.'”

Cloud9 White’s roster has remained intact since their initial signing last year. Very rarely do teams strike gold on their very first attempt at putting a roster together. Usually it takes one or two player swaps to get a winning formula down, but Cloud9 White managed it when they first assembled as Team MAJKL and haven’t skipped a beat since.

Bolstered by young talent in players like Jasmine “Jazzyk1ns” Manankil and anchored by strong leadership from meL, Cloud9 White remain on a steady upward trajectory. Though the team, as a whole, still has things to work on, none of the individual players are ever the weak link. As Head Coach Chris “Dream” Myrick puts it, “everyone on our team can 1v3.”

Katsumi points to their roster’s stability as being the thing that really allows them to stay on top.

“Besides maybe Shopify, a lot of the teams keep making roster changes and keep staying at a similar level while we’re continuing to expand and grow,” she said. “I think that we come out stronger every tournament while other teams are still getting their foot in the door, honestly. We’ve just grown a lot, and it shows.”

It’s heartening to see a roster that’s stuck together for this long do so well, especially in an industry where it’s so easy to simply replace players rather than commit to them and encourage their development. According to Dream, the team’s work ethic and drive to improve also sets them apart from others — not just their direct competitors, but esports teams as a whole.

“I’ve worked with a lot of players in a lot of games, and I really feel like with this group of players, everyone is always willing to put their ego to the side and do whatever it takes to get better,” Dream said. “Whether that’s learning something new in game, learning a new agent, getting better at comms, being a better teammate, getting over weird personality clashes, putting stuff to the side… everyone is just so unbelievably, single-mindedly dedicated to getting better every single day. I’ve never worked with a group of players that are just so selfless in wanting to improve, and it just makes all the difference.”

Cloud9 White’s determination to improve and truly break into the Tier 1 scene is clear to see. Even with multiple championships under their belt, they’re still hungry for more and are prepared to take on any challenge that comes their way. Everything is a learning experience for them – including, and especially, failure. Playing in open tournaments against teams with more practice and experience may be a daunting prospect, but it’s also the only way to properly acclimate to a competitive setting. It’s something the Cloud9 White players wish other women’s VALORANT teams would take heed of.

“When I first started the team, there were no female tournaments,” said meL. “We were only playing in open tournaments and we were getting smashed. You don’t have to wait for that perfect opportunity or for the perfect roster or for when you feel like you have the right amount of practice. Just go in and lose. Get the experience. That’s really all there is. All these other teams really need to step up and take this advice and play in these tournaments. I’ve been repeating myself for a year now. I want to cheer for other female teams in these tournaments.”

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