The esports world is a big place. Any given weekend, there can be more than a dozen competitions taking place worldwide, from massive events such as Dota 2's The International to regionals in Smash. Each week, we're going to take a look at the big picture and decide who had the biggest weekend, be it in impact on the esports scene, dominance of their game or making the most of a moment.
Here's who we highlighted in Week 1 of Who Won the Weekend.
Winner: Jack Etienne, Cloud9 (League of Legends)
Cloud9 owner Jack Etienne is famous for "losing" in the League of Legends offseason. Every year, it's the same song and dance: C9 lose one or two of their star players to a team willing to go the extra mile, and when compared to the flashier teams in the league, C9 look beatable. This offseason, following an early exit from the world championship for the first time since 2015, Cloud9 once again shed some of their more popular players, most notably transferring league MVP Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen to new franchise Evil Geniuses.
Here we go again. Svenskeren was gone, and so, too, were two of the team's homegrown blue-chip talents in support Tristan "Zeyzal" Stidam and top laner Colin "Kumo" Zhao, who also headed over to Evil Geniuses. On top of those moves, the team said goodbye to its longest-tenured member, the heart of Cloud9, Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi, who had led the team to an appearance at every single world championship since he debuted professionally in 2013.
In his place, C9 scooped up a struggling Jesper "Zven" Svenningsen, coming off two forgettable years as a part of Team SoloMid. Cloud9 paired their new AD carry up with up-and-coming support Philippe "Vulcan" Laflamme, Etienne going as far to buy out Vulcan's contract for a reported $1.5 million from his former team, Dignitas.
While the team looked to have potential on paper, especially in the jungle with Robert "Blaber" Huang, everything felt like it was going to be a work-in-progress. It was going to take possibly the entire year for Blaber to shake off his overaggressive tendencies and build a chemistry with his teammates. The bottom lane would need months to jell, and even then, did Zven even have it anymore? His final days on TSM were like watching a man stripped of all his former powers and confidence.
Well, three weeks into the season, and there is Etienne, laughing ear to ear, rushing onto the LCS Arena stage in Los Angeles to congratulate his undefeated squad. C9 haven't just won games -- they've dominated them. In a league in which sometimes it's hard to find a team that plays attractive League of Legends, C9 have been nothing short of stylish through their first six games of the season, the team resembling a squad that has been playing together for years.
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Zven had died once in three weeks and seems like a man reborn. He's smiling, laughing and even trolling with his teammates, the partnership with Vulcan already looking like money well spent from Etienne. What seemed like an outlandish price tag for Vulcan, someone who hasn't even made it to an LCS championship game, a few weeks ago now seems fully rational after Etienne went on record saying the French-Canadian support was the only support he wanted starting for his team.
Time will tell if C9 can keep their composure following a loss or a back-and-forth contest, but right now, they own North America and seem a level or two above every other team playing in the region. Blaber is reaching his full potential, Vulcan looks like he's the undisputed best support in the league and the rest of the team all have arguments on being considered MVP candidates if the season ended today.
And that's why Jack Etienne (and Cloud9) won the weekend in esports.
-- Tyler Erzberger
Honorable Mention: Chicago Huntsmen (Call of Duty)
Before a single match of Call of Duty was played in London this weekend, the Chicago Huntsmen were declared winners of the event. With the Atlanta FaZe absent, the Huntsmen were the only other team that came out of opening weekend in Minneapolis with a strong and domineering enough impression to be considered top-tier by the competitive CoD community and fans.
There are the obvious shout-outs: Seth "Scump" Abner breathes, and his legion of fans follow, never mind when he clutches up in a high-pressure situation. Former OpTic Gaming leader Hector "H3CZ" Rodriguez, now CEO of the Huntsmen, played hero to a fan creating a beer tower in the audience, and there was little doubt about the slaying power of anyone on this lineup.
For this weekend, specifically, I not only want to shout out the Huntsmen as a whole -- who still looked stronger than any other team this past weekend -- but more specifically, Dylan "Envoy" Hannon, who had a phenomenal performance at the London homestand with intelligent plays on Hardpoint rotations.
-- Emily Rand