Without question, Team 8 has been the surprise hit of the HGC season. They limped in during the final qualifier, lost their namesake, and looked to all the world to be a team that would buster out of the first split. Instead, they have captured our hearts with their phenomenal team play and aggressive rotations. After finishing the first split in second place, and performing better than all other NA teams at the Western Clash, it’s hard not to call Team 8 the best story happening in Heroes right now.
In fact, history tells us that Glaurung’s squad has every chance to become the most dominant team in the west at the end of the year. Since their inception, I was drawn to this team. My eSports career actually began covering the original Team 8 several years ago. For those that don’t know, Chu8 and his friends actually formed this organization in League of Legends in order to try and qualify for the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). .
In much the same way as this team, Chu left and the team quickly became one of the most dominant teams in amateur LoL. With whacky picks and a scrappy attitude, Team 8 captured the hearts of LCS fans. Eventually that LCS spot was bought out and gave birth to the eSports titan we now know as Immortals. The name Team 8 will always have a special spot in my heart for giving me my first paid gig in the industry.
However, while the parallels exist between this new Team 8 and it’s original incarnation, this HOTS squad actually reminds me of a very different LCS team. Today I’d like to discuss the similarities between Justing, Buds and company to names like Hai, Meteos and Sneaky. I’m referring to the very first roster that birthed the organization we all know and love, Cloud9.
Back in Time
To give a brief history lesson, Cloud9 were nothing when they first joined the LCS. They showed up in the second split of that inaugural year, having failed to qualify the first time. There were no big names on this team–the only name they had was WildTurtle, and he was stolen by TSM before the qualifiers began. This was in the days when the league was full of original veterans like Reginald, Saintvicious, and Dyrus. No one cared about Balls or LemonNation, no one expected this team to compete with the teams that created competitive League of Legends.
Cloud9 was not an established organization at this time. They were a group of players who were driven to succeed. And succeed they did. In their first split, Cloud9 went nearly undefeated, claiming the first seed going into their first World Championship.
What made Cloud9 such an incredible story was their roster. This was not a team of all stars. No one had heard of Sneaky to this point. Balls and Meteos played very well in the amateur scene, but no one knew how well that would translate to the professional level. However, what this team had above every other team was the strength of their shotcaller. In MOBA history there has never been a better shotcaller than Hai Lam. His calls and confidence allowed the team to run away with early leads, and to hold fast when they fell behind.
Every member of Cloud9 was a talented player, but they were made so much better by the power of the team’s shotcalling. Years later, Hai attempted to retire and the team fell apart so spectacularly that they were forced to bring him back to salvage the season.
In much the same way, Team 8 has rallied behind Glaurung. A team of rookies, and a flex who has bounced from team to team should not be able to do what this squad has done thus far in the HGC. And yet, under the watchful eye of Glau they were able to control the pace of games against Dignitas. Before HGC, no casual observer would have talked about Justing or Buds when ranking top role players in North America. Now, just a few short weeks later, it would be foolish not to include both players among the top three in their position.
Additionally, this was a roster that stuck together. They were embarrassed at their first international competition. However, it was several years before a single roster change was made. They stuck together, worked hard, and stayed hungry for success as a team. With the help of talented managers and coaches, these five players built Cloud9 into what it is today. From humble beginnings to wealth and eSports stardom, Cloud9 perfectly represent the dream of every pro gamer.
I firmly believe Team 8 has what it takes to repeat Cloud9’s success story. They have so many of the tools that struggling HOTS teams lack. They have a strong shotcaller, a solid front line, and players with well-defined roles within the team. With a stable roster and a decent coach, this team could easily surpass Tempo Storm and take games from EU teams at the next international event. It may seem hyperbolic, but I think that Team 8 represents North America’s best hope at success this year at Blizzcon.
Show Your Support
This team also has a built in fanbase waiting to love them. We adored Team 8 in the LCS. I would strongly encourage Team 8’s management to start leveraging those connections. Personally, I would love to see Team 8 picked up by Immortals. To finish the story of Team 8 the same way twice just feels right to me. If you are reading this and want to see Team 8 continue to find success, I would encourage you to tweet at Immortals. Show them how much we care about this team, and how great it would be to see them represent the Teal and Black that was born out of the original Team 8. Hopefully, Glaurung and crew are already talking to some organizations, but fan outcry can only help in those negotiations.