It’s the end of an era. For nearly 750 days, Cloud9 lorded over the Western League of Legends scene with the same five-man roster. But the longest standing lineup in the game’s professional history is no longer.
Cloud9 and mid laner Hai “Hai” Du Lam have decided to part ways, the organization confirms. In a mutual decision, the initial founder of Cloud9 will no longer play for the team he created in 2013. Lam helped build the brand into one of the premiere esports franchises in the region as the team’s most visible player.
He will continue to play a “significant role” in the organization as the Chief Gaming Officer, essentially working as a general manager handling talent acquisition and other duties for the team.
“This is not a goodbye to Hai but a welcome to Cloud9 management staff,” team owner Jack Etienne said. “Building Cloud9 with Hai the last two years has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life and I’m thrilled that he has accepted this new position at Cloud9. Hai will play a critical part in the expansion of Cloud9 as we continue to branch out into new and existing games.”
As a player, Lam was an instrumental part of the team’s success, receiving accolades for his leadership and shot calling. The roster he and teammate Daerek “LemonNation” Hart assembled in early 2013 became one of the most successful teams in League of Legends history, winning two League Championship Series (LCS) finals, reaching the final in all four of their seasons in the league, and taking home the 2014 IEM San Jose Championship.
But Lam’s performance has stagnated over the past year compared to his peers, highlighted by the team’s second straight loss in the NA LCS finals to Team SoloMid and their superstar mid laner Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. Complicating matters were numerous physical injuries, including a collapsed lung that hospitalized Lam midway through 2014, causing him to miss the All-Star Invitational, and wrist issues that currently prevent Lam from practicing more than a few hours at a time.
The degenerating condition of his wrists was a primary contributor to his decision to step down, Lam says. In addition, the team’s weakening results and metagame changes that saw Lam’s preferred”Carry Support” mid lane style, as he calls it, fall out of favor led to his team losing confidence in him as a player and shot caller.
So Lam will step down and give his team a “new beginning.”
The departure of Lam has been rumored for months, and the organization’s worked to prepare for that possibility. In early April, the Daily Dot reported that European mid laner Nicolaj “Incarnati0n” Jensen had signed with the Cloud9 organization. Lauded as the best solo queue player Europe has ever produced, Jensen never had his chance in the competitive spotlight after he was banned by Riot Games in 2013 for alleged DDOSing and toxic behavior. That ban is set to be lifted on May 11, paving the way for Jensen to potentially fill the newly open position.
This change was initially leaked accidentally via Twitch streamer deeeda’s stream in a private conversation via the League of Legends client with Cloud9 coach Charlie Lipsie, who stated that Lam had moved out of the team house after a tearful farewell.
It’s currently uncertain as to who Lam’s successor will be, though Jensen is certainly one talented option.
“I’m confident they will be able to improve and take back the title of Best in NA and make a presence on the international stage,” Lam says. “I hope all of you will continue to cheer for Cloud9 as I know I will.”
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr | Remix by Jacob Wolf