The story of Cloud9’s conquest of North American VALORANT after such a dramatic offseason has been the most-talked-about storyline of the 2023 VCT Americas season. C9 are 5-1, they’ve secured a spot in the playoffs, and they’ve beaten every other NA team and only lost a series to reigning world champions and LOCK//IN finalists LOUD.
The incredible level of play of both rookies Jake “jakee” Anderson and Dylan “runi” Cade has been a welcome surprise, but so too has Nathan “leaf” Orf’s return to the top of the player rankings. Arguably his best performance of the season came in C9’s blowout win over Sentinels on April 30—and he did it without playing the Jett he’s so well known for.
Sentinels had no answer for the speed and space created by leaf’s Neon on Lotus. He went +8 in K/D, 7-3 in opening duels, and combined his Neon walls with the cover created by runi and jakee on Viper and Omen to completely smoke off Sentinels on both sides of the map. Leaf switched to Skye on Fracture but put up duelist-like numbers, with 22 kills against only nine deaths.
With this impressive performance, leaf finished on top of the week five VCT Americas leaderboard in K/D, average combat score, and first kills per round, (not including LOUD vs. KRU who are playing at time of writing), according to stats site VLR.gg. He also tied teammate jakee for second in kill-assist-survive-trade (KAST) percentage with 86 percent and finished second in damage per round, falling just behind NRG’s crashies in both categories by just a few points.
Prior to yay joining C9 during the past offseason, leaf was the team’s primary Jett player and Operator wielder, but he returned to his iconic role following yay’s departure before the season started. This match against Sentinels is the first match leaf has played this season where he didn’t play Jett at all.
Despite being the team’s longest-standing member with over two years of service on the C9 VALORANT roster, leaf is still only 19 years old and won’t even turn 20 until November, months after Champions 2023 ends.