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Cloud9’s new roster has shown promise through two weeks of VALORANT Champions Tour Americas 2023. C9 opened the season with a convincing 2-0 win over Evil Geniuses, and was expected to be competitive against VCT 2022 champion LOUD the following week. While C9 was unable to secure a win against LOUD, the blue and white took Split 13-7 to open the best-of-three before losing on Ascent and Pearl by respective scores of 13-8 and 13-7.

“I think Ascent was kind of a toss-up because we haven't played it in a match and we were kind of shaky on it in scrims, but in general, I feel like we kind of psyched ourselves out overall due to pressure and things like that,” Cloud9’s Nathan "leaf" Orf told Esports Illustrated after the loss to LOUD. “This was especially true on the last two maps. On the first map, we had a lot of momentum on most game stuff and the ult rounds that we had really helped us out, but on the last two maps, we weren't able to snowball into having momentum.”

There’s one play in particular that leaf pointed out could have been a big turning point for C9 on Ascent, and by extension, the series – but instead, disaster struck in the form of a 3v1 clutch courtesy of LOUD’s Erick "aspas" Santos, who clutched C9 out and snuffed out any chance at victory on the map.

“We just peeked him one-by-one, like morons,” said leaf.

C9 has gotten off to a better start than expected following the departures of Jaccob "yay" Whiteaker and Anthony "vanity" Malaspina, who were replaced by Jake “jakee” Anderson and IGL Dylan “runi” Cade before the start of VCT Americas. But the team has had very little time together, which leaf thinks leaves much to be improved for the roster to reach its full potential.

“I feel like we need more practice in general. We just need to be more of a team. I think the game plan that we have is good, we just need to fix a lot of the micro things,” leaf explained. “We know we can win -- to be honest, it's dependent on whether we throw or not. I feel like we make a lot of mistakes and that's kind of a given because we are a newer team, but it's still inexcusable.”

Cloud9’s next match will be against fellow North American squad 100 Thieves to kickoff week 3 of VCT Americas 2023 on Saturday, April 15 at 12:00pm PT.