Cloud9’s CEO reveals why he benched Fudge & signed Thanatos in LCS

Cloud9’s CEO reveals why he benched Fudge & signed Thanatos in LCS

Cloud9’s super team roster for their 2024 LCS run didn’t meet expectations, resulting in Fudge being replaced by South Korean top lane prodigy Thanatos. Dexerto sat with C9 CEO Jack Etienne in an exclusive interview to get the full picture of what happened.

Anything but first place was a disappointment for Cloud9 after the amount they invested in putting together their 2024 LCS roster. Long-term franchise players coming together with former MVP mid laner jojopyun and Vulcan’s return to C9 seemed like the best roster they could have built.

However, Cloud9’s team never came together on stage even if they looked incredible on paper. Cloud9 CEO Jack Etienne called the situation “frustrating.”

“This particular Spring situation with my LCS team was very frustrating because – out of [Cloud9’s] former LCS teams, that team, as far as relationships with each other and trust with each other, and their ability to communicate with each other – it was probably one of the best I’ve ever had. But, for whatever reason, they couldn’t play well on stage together. As we’re moving into Summer, I couldn’t… I didn’t feel like it was right for the players on the team and for Cloud9 not to change something.”

Fudge has been a core member of C9 for years, bringing the org a great deal of success as an extremely consistent top laner who grew immensely during his time with the org. He even roleswapped to mid when the team needed him to.

Moving Fudge off the roster for now was a hard decision for Jack, but one he felt he had to make to give Cloud9 a new lease on life so he could build a team that can put the org back on top.

Cloud9’s CEO reveals why he benched Fudge & signed Thanatos in LCS

Cloud9 have claimed many an LCS title, and Jack knew something would have to change with this roster if he wants to get his hands on the trophy again in Summer 2024.

There’s a world where Jack kept Fudge for Summer. However, Thanatos is seen in the eyes of many as a generational talent in the top lane, leading Jack to take a chance on him.

“Had I not had a really interesting prospect in Thanatos and seen something great in him, I would have still wanted to bet again on Fudge.” Jack claimed.

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“I don’t really have a conclusive answer as to what’s wrong with my current team, I see this potential upgrade I can go with – Am I just gonna run it back again without a clear idea of why this team isn’t functioning? The expectations for this team were very high, and it didn’t function well.” he lamented. “They weren’t terrible, they were the number three team in North America. But the expectation was for them to crush. How do we change this to make sure we can show up and get to Worlds?”

All that said, Cloud9 still hasn’t dropped Fudge even after benching him. Why are they holding on to this player if he’s not starting?

C9 CEO claims LCS top lane spot is Thanatos’ to lose

Fudge is a player who was often criticized when it came to Cloud9’s low points as a team, and that criticism is something he seems to have taken very seriously. According to Jack, Fudge did everything he could to try and stay with the team and prove his worth, which is largely why he’s still with them even if he isn’t on the starting roster.

“I do have a lot of belief in Fudge.” Jack claimed. “Even before Thanatos was a thing, Fudge recommitted, like, ‘Yo, I didn’t bring to the team what I think was needed for us to win. I’m doubling down. These are the things I’m gonna do. I’m gonna prove to you that I should have this spot, I’m gonna crush it in solo queue. If you have to replace me, pay me nothing and I’m gonna prove I should get the spot.’

Cloud9’s CEO reveals why he benched Fudge & signed Thanatos in LCS

Fudge has cemented himself as a franchise player for Cloud9, making the decision to replace him a hard one.

“You have to have respect for a guy that’s that determined. Obviously, I would never put him in a situation where he’s being paid nothing, but if you see someone that’s that dedicated to proving they deserve the spot? And then he’s absolutely crushing it in solo queue. So like, if you look last night, he was ranked 16 on the NA ladder. He’s gone up from probably like 200 to 16 since the end of Spring for us, he’s putting in the work. I imagine it’s gotta be a gut punch for him to hear, ‘Hey, there’s this other guy coming in.’ The situation with Thanatos is that the spot is his to lose.”

There’s a chance Fudge gets this spot back if things don’t work out. Whether it be VISA issues (Jack noted the current Moist Apex debacle when talking about the subject with us), problems with the team meshing, or Thanatos just underperforming, there’s still a chance Fudge comes back or gets an opportunity on a different team.

Fudge has been a huge part of Cloud9’s LCS success over the past few years, with him having 3 titles under his belt with the org. However, it’s Thanatos’ time to shine.

“For Thanatos, this is a golden opportunity for him to play in Tier 1, which is the way he wants to, with a very talented team around him and a new coach who happens to speak Korean fluently. It’s a golden opportunity for this player who definitely deserves a shot.”

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