There was always something special about the first iterations of Jacky “EternaLEnVy“ Mao’s teams, from Kaipi to RattleSnake to Speed to Cloud9. They were never the best, and out of 11 title challenges they only won one in any iteration, the one being MLG Columbus 2013. That was won under the worst circumstances, as they had more than 20 travel complications and lost every game on the first day. They turned it around after getting into an argument with their stand-in Artour “Arteezy“ Babaev, who showed an incredible misplay with a boot treads toggle that got himself killed, sending the entire team rollicking in laughter. In many ways, that tournament was emblematic of the entire team’s’ history. Unique, incredibly skilled, and on a very thin line between geniuses and clowns.
The Chinese liked to call them “artists.” Ask any fan of Cloud9 Dota fan at the time and they’d probably tell you they never had a more stressful or emotional time as being a Cloud9 fan. They could throw the unthrowable, choke the unchokeable, tilt the un-tiltable. They’d pull out random heroes out of nowhere, whether it be a support Gyrocopter, a Blink clinkz or a Pittner“bOne7“ Armand Boots of Travel first batrider.
Even when they changed rosters by removing Johan “pieliedie“ Åström, WehSing “SingSing“Yuen, Kurtis “Aui_2000“ Ling and had them slowly replaced with Adrian “FATA-“ Trinks, Johan “N0tail“ Sundstein and Rasmus “MiSeRy“ Filipsen, the core philosophies of style of the team stayed the same. One time at the Summit, EternaLEnVy was casting and expounded on a personal philosophy of the team. “When the game is going this bad, I want to create chaos. Create so much chaos that no one understands Dota anymore. Either I lose the game, or I will lose the game. All it means is win or lose the game, that’s it. Whether I get team wiped or not, it doesn’t matter because I lose the game anyway. You don’t go for the beautiful loss, you go suicidal. You have to make the game way more chaotic than this. Make it so no one understands Dota anymore. If both teams understand Dota, then both teams know you have lost the game.”Just as they’d throw leads, they also had an uncanny ability to find ways back into a game. Most notably, EternaLEnVy also introduced chaos into his game whenever they were behind, creating unorthodox moves that cut lanes, split pushed or had the entire enemy team chasing him around the map and giving openings everywhere else. As analyst Andy “Draskyl” Stiles once put it, “As long as Cloud9 are playing Dota 2, it will never be boring.” The paths they cut, the games they played, the heroes they drafted, and the situations they got into were utterly incomprehensible and yet compelling.
But it was never enough. Cloud9 had too many second and third place finishes and after the disastrous TI5 result, it was time for a change. With one final farewell, they split apart. And now most of them have returned to battle against each other at TI6.
After N0tail left, he went on to form OG as a balance between his Fnatic and Secret days. Fnatic sold itself as a team of friends whose chemistry made them more than the sum of their parts. On Secret, it was an All-Star team. The current OG roster is a combination of those two ideas. There are superstars in carry player Amer “Miracle-“ Al-Barkawi and support player Andreas Franck “Cr1t-“ Nielsen, and the rest of the roster is filled out with good team players who fit a specific role or function in the team. This worked out, as OG became the best Western team in the world, with victories at the Frankfurt and Manila Majors.
In a similar vein as N0tail, FATA- joined Liquid and has stayed there for the entire year. This eventually proved fruitful as Liquid came up as one of the best teams in the world. Incidentally, Liquid — much like Cloud9 — has a tendency to choke in the big matches and finals, as it has lost two major finals to Secret and OG.
bOne7 left to try to start from scratch again. After that experiment failed he tried to reform a good team with singsing in Kaipi to qualify for TI, but it collapsed after Ludwig “zai“Wåhlberg left to rejoin Evil Geniuses.
MiSeRy initially joined EternaLEnVy to go to Secret, where they had an amazing run as one of the top teams in the world. He was then ousted by Arteezy, who brought along Saahil“UNiVeRsE“ Arora to replace him. The move was met with praise and derision as UNiVeRsE was considered the West’s best off laner, so it seemed like a clear upgrade from MiSeRy. As it turned out, MiSeRy was a much better fit for what Secret wanted, but it was too late as he along with Aliwi “w33“ Omar moved to Digital Chaos, where they have now qualified for TI6.
As for EternaLEnVy? He compromised. Before he had a dream to not only win TI, to not only be the best player there ever was in Dota2, but to do it with a bunch of players that had never won a TI before. But he gave it up. There were just too many teams, the competition was too fierce and he couldn’t wait around to force something to work while others got ahead of him. Instead, he joined forces with the one of the most respected captains in the west, Clement“Puppey“ Ivanov, on Secret. On this team, EternaLEnVy proved two things: First that he could win (and he did so by winning MLG World Finals, Nanyang and the Shanghai Major); and second, that he could be the best carry player in the world. But it all crashed after the disastrous Arteezy and UNiVeRsE roster change. After the failure at Manila, UNiVeRsE left for EG and Kanishka “BuLba“ Sosale was brought in and AUI_2000 was hired as coach. This forced the team to qualify for TI6 and after a few close calls they have made it back to TI.
One year later, the remnants of Dota2’s most artistic team will meet again and prove to each other which of them has made the right team to win Dota’s biggest honor: Victory at The International.