Hai’s Lying And Money-Spinning Cloud9 Challenger Squad Have Pocketed $2.5million

Eyebrows were raised when Cloud9 announced their move into the North America Challenger Series, stacking their roster with veteran NA LCS and World Championship competitors. The Challenger Series became a non-event as Cloud9 Challenger cruised to victory over their only serious rivals, Team Liquid Academy in the playoff finals. Yet with their first roster sitting comfortably in the LCS, Cloud9 had ‘no choice’ but to sell their newly claimed LCS spot for a tidy profit of $2.5million, taking full advantage of the league system.

The manner in which Cloud9 milked Riot Games’ Challenger Series for a profit is a great piece of business – so good in fact, that new legislation will be introduced for Season 7 to ensure that no other teams follow the formula laid out by Cloud9. Sister teams competing in the Challenger Series will no longer be allowed to compete in promotion tournaments to secure a spot in the LCS.

The LCS rules have always restricted organisations from running more than one team in a league – a restriction which played right into the hands of Cloud9.

Source: Riot Games Flickr
Source: Riot Games Flickr

Riot Games senior eSports coordinator, J.T. Vandenbree described the money-spinning strategy as ‘slot farming’, outlining that if a sister team qualifies for a promotion tournament, they will be now be considered ineligible and passed over in favour of the next placed Challenger Series team – the Cloud9 Rule by all accounts.

Riot saw a loophole in their system being manipulated and closed it, whilst Cloud9 took the opportunity to pounce on a good piece of business, everyone saw the situation for what is was. But what has really sparked community outrage is the disingenuous manner in which Cloud9, and most notably their Challenger team captain Hai “Hai” Du Lam, promoted the venture as a means of ‘building new talent’ in the North American scene.

Source: Riot Games Flickr
Source: Riot Games Flickr

“We want to develop and foster North American talent,

“I personally feel like there are a lot of good players in North America,

“I’m better at teaching by playing, so I will be playing with them and teaching them how to play.”

Hai “Hai” Du Lam (Speaking in April 2016)

For all the noise Hai and Cloud9 Challenger made about developing unproven talent, it quickly became clear that the team intended to use only proven veterans to stomp through the Challenger Series and farm LCS spots. No-one would have minded if this had been transparent from the outset, instead they twisted the ambitions of hundreds of Challenger, LCS hopefuls to provide a veil for their business venture.

It’s undoubtedly immoral, but with the news that American businessman and investor Wesley Edens, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks and co-chairman of the Fortress Investment Group, is in the process of purchasing Cloud9 Challenger’s LCS spot and the contracts of four of the team’s players for roughly $2.5 million, it’s hard to imagine Hai and Cloud9 care all that much about their public image right now. The spot alone is reportedly selling for $1.8 million, with player contract rights making up for the remaining $700,000…

Fortunately, Cloud9’s actions haven’t entirely destroyed the integrity of the North America Challenger Series. Counter Logic Gaming have acquired several members of Team Cloud to form a roster to compete in the NACS Open Qualifier. The team made it clear that they were already aware of the policy change when they signed the players, but are ironically dedicated to helping players improve.”

“We picked up our players, and they joined us because there was a mutual understanding that the primary goal was player development.

“They are a part of the CLG organisation as much as our LCS players are. We want them to become the best players they can be.”

Counter Logic Gaming Official Announcement

It seems that even after have Hai and Cloud9 harvested the Challenger Series for it’s worth, there’s still hope yet for new talent to lay down roots in the competitive scene.