Vanity On Cloud9: From Chaos To Order
Anthony "vanity" Malaspina, catboy extraordinaire, has said goodbye to Version1 as he joins the male VALORANT roster of Cloud9. He has grown a lot as a player and as an in-game leader. Can he take Cloud9 Blue to the next level?
The 22-year-old American has previously played Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) on several North American teams. His last CS:GO team was Chaos Esports Club, where he took over the role of in-game leader (IGL) when Joshua "steel" Nissan moved to VALORANT. vanity himself transitioned to VALORANT relatively late, at the start of 2021. His team, NeverDone, got signed by Version1 in February, and they quickly amazed friend and foe.
Most people didn’t see Version1 as a team in the higher echelons of competitive play, but vanity was poised to prove them wrong. All the hard work vanity and his team put in, came to fruition when they pulled off an amazing lower bracket run in the Stage 2 Challengers Finals. They had to beat Andbox, NRG Esports, Envy, and finally, Cloud9 Blue to qualify for VCT Masters Reykjavík, and they did it.
When Astra came into competitive play, vanity was one of the first to master the agent. With control over the entire map, Astra is a great pick for an IGL like vanity. Their run to Reykjavík and their performance at the Stage 2 Masters showed that his team could compete with the best in a constantly evolving competitive landscape.
Cloud9, on the other hand, was less fortunate. VALORANT commentator and analyst Dustin "dusT" Mouret recaps: "There was a lot of hype about them around Stage 2 of the VCT, a few months ago, but ultimately, after placing third in the Challengers Finals for Stage 2, they had a really tough Stage 3." What went wrong? VALORANT co-streamer and podcast host Wyatt River explains: "They have all the talent in the world. Nathan "leaf" Orf is clearly one of the top players in NA at the moment, Michael "poiz" Possis has a ton of potential as an upcoming player. They were just lost in regard to the actual plan."
Vince Hill, who commentates both CS:GO and VALORANT, echoes the concerns about Cloud9: "I think there’s quite a lot of hype from this team, going over from Counter-Strike. We know the players very well. The likes of leaf and xeppa were pretty much the NA hope at one point. There’s a lot of hype carried over from that. Mechanically, they are phenomenal players. However, they don’t seem to have fully clicked yet."
This is where vanity comes in. He has already shown his prowess as an in-game leader, and IGLs like him are hard to come by. Cloud9 missed out on VCT Masters Reykjavík because they got knocked out by vanity, now vanity gets to help them reach that level and higher.
He’s rejoining some former teammates from his CS:GO days, too. Erick "Xeppaa" Bach and leaf played with him on Chaos, before they all hopped on the VALORANT train. Now, it looks like vanity is excited to reunite with them.
His first mission is figuring out how the team composition will look going forward. dusT: “vanity feels right at home in the controller role. leaf and Xeppaa can be the double duelist composition at times, though I imagine at least one of them will probably flex into other agents if need be. It seems like Mitch "mitch" Semago is playing the sentinel role, which is something he’s very familiar with. And finally, Son "xeta" Seon-ho is continuing to play Sova as a more supportive element of the team.”
With the team composition that they seem to be getting into, it makes sense to swap out poiz for vanity. One controlling player for another controller makes it easier for Cloud9 to get used to the new line-up without too much chaos. Cloud9 didn’t drop poiz, though. Nobody got benched or released, yet. The future will tell whether Cloud9 Blue find a way to make the six-man roster work, or if they end up settling on one composition.
Luckily for vanity, the rest of Cloud9 Blue seems to be flexible enough to make any changes necessary: they've been trying out different agents and different roles for a while now. That could also be because Cloud9 wasn't getting the results they were expecting, and were struggling to find their footing. Now, vanity is tasked with finding and solidifying a playstyle that the team is comfortable with, and gets them where they want to be.
Cloud9 Blue didn’t make Masters Reykjavík, and likely won’t be ready for Masters Berlin either. That’s not so terrible, though. It gives the team plenty of time to prepare for the next competition, which - if it’s up to vanity - will be even fiercer.