Amidst a flurry of Western roster changes, two of Dota‘s most charmed personalities are saying that they were kicked off Cloud9. But the team’s owner is telling a slightly different story—including the fact that he’s still paying their salaries.
Johan “pieliedie” Astrom, an original member of the beloved Cloud9 Dota squad, revealed on his Twitch stream today that he was unceremoniously booted from the team. According to Astrom’s account, he received “3 messages on Skype, and [that was] it.” Shortly thereafter, recent Evil Geniuses stand-in Kurtis “Aui 2000” Ling confirmed that his departure was equally involuntary:
Well since pie said he was kicked, I was kicked from the c9 playing roster too. I will not be talking about it until official announcements.
— Aui 2000 (@Aui_2000) January 13, 2015
Team captain Jacky “EternalEnvy” Mao was unapologetic regarding the decision, but equally opaque regarding the motivations behind the move.
The way the kick was done was awful. I take full responsibility for that .I do not regret my decision though even if we get last place.
— EternaLEnVy (@EternaLEnVy1991) January 13, 2015
The handling of the move comes as a surprise to spectators for whom Cloud9 has garnered a great deal of goodwill since their formation in February 2014. But according to team owner Jack Etienne, the prevailing narrative is wholly inaccurate.
“The players want to win,” Etienne told the Daily Dot, “and the remaining players on my roster made a decision to go with the team that gave them the best chances.”
Commenters on social media have naturally jumped to the conclusion that the move had something to do with Artour “Arteezy” Babaev and Ludwig “Zai” Wahlberg’s high-profile departure from Evil Geniuses. But Etienne said it wasn’t the case. “This entire thing was a surprise to me.”
He added: “I’m on good terms with Pie and Aui. I hope to see them on teams they are happy with soon.”
In fact, both Astrom and Ling are currently still supported by the Cloud9 organization, according to Etienne. “I’ve even offered to support them under Cloud9 if they want to make a new team. So technically, Pie and AUI are still on Cloud9 and I’m paying them until they find another team they want to be on. Or, if they want to make a new team with my help I will do that.”
Ling and Astrom did not respond to a request for comment by time of publication.