For most, winning a CS major like the ELEAGUE Boston is the ultimate goal. It embodies all the effort of CS as a competitive endeavour, pitting the best, and widest set of teams in the world against each other, with each trying and preparing their hardest. No punches are pulled for major competition, and it has its own gravity on the event calendar. Roster moves, strategies, and bootcamps are all hurriedly pulled together to have the best possible chance on CS:GO’s biggest stage.
But such weight on a single event may be foolhardy. At least, in terms of perceiving a team retroactively. While, undoubtedly, the CS major is the highest quality result one can achieve, quality is only one factor when considering the legacy of a side. In fact, in the broader scheme of things, a major victory is only the icing on the cake, validating reinforcement, a removal of an asterisk next to a great teams name, not the sole factor in earning such a qualifier. A great team has a tendency to win a major, but are not necessarily defined by whether they do or don’t. A major-winning side has a tendency to be great, but aren’t necessarily great if they do-so.
Cloud9, for example, collapsed under the weight of lifting the ELEAGUE Boston 2018 major trophy. They will, in the history of their region going down as a truly great team, but in the more exclusive and judgemental books of general CS history, are above average. This is in-spite of their ELEAGUE Boston 2018 run being one of the most legendary one-event performances in the history of the game.
When you win such a prestigious event, in such miraculous fashion, it has a tendency to attract attention; analytical attention, specifically. Every opponent will have an incredibly high-profile set of games where you are putting everything on the table to analyse. Given how many gimmicks, unorthodox pacings, and very clearly defined approaches Cloud9 used to achieve a result, this focus was massively detrimental.
With no beat missed between winning Boston one week and attending international LANs the next, Cloud9 became victims to the success of themselves. Opponents scrutinised, Cloud9 became a mapped entity, and as a result, they started losing, a lot. With their stock being so overly high, to then their internal team dynamic being so fractured, when the Brazilian’s came knocking, it’s no surprise Stewie2k left. He had achieved everything he needed to with Cloud9, had the resume to join a potentially dominate superteam, and the hunger to be-so once again.
Given that Stewie2k’s departure would signal the beginning of the slow collapse for Cloud9, that major win could very much be seen as the cause of their eventual downfall. Major winners, for sure, an all-time great team, probably not. Was it worth it?
It’s tough to say when you watch the current instillation of Cloud9 at the FACEIT London Major, their last major win a distant, seven-month plus echo. With tarik having left to the Brazilians as well, Cloud9 have struggled even more-so than they did immediately after Boston to become coherent. FNS had a brief moment in the sun to bring the roster together but was booted before he could even be warm in it. STYKO and Golden both seem to be novel additions so the side can actually participate in officials. And overall, Cloud9 have become an inconsistent, dismissive, and largely weak force both domestically and abroad. With each passing week, their ranking plummets as their major victory is further away and their lack of results too close.
In London, they lost to the likes of Vega and Hellraisers, failing to achieve anything, and creating a painful contrast to their Boston run earlier in the year. The same three-man core, with two European additions, but a totally different storyline.
Given such a trajectory, was that major win worth it? Does one tournament win, even if its the most prestigious justify a CS:GO lifetime (equivalent) in a rut which will seemingly mark the end of the team altogether? For Stewie2k and tarik, maybe, given their second-chance with MIBR. But for the likes of Skadoodle, autimatic and RUSH, whose stock values as players has never been lower, such a trade seems great in the moment, but a long-term problem for their legacies. Ironic, given how much weight we normally put on a major win for ones prestige.