Almost fourteen minutes into their first game of the regular season, Golden Guardians were in the driver’s seat. Facing off against a double support composition featuring an Ivern mid lane, jungler Milo “Pridestalker” Wehnes’s aggression was catching Cloud9 by surprise. He, along with the Golden Guardians mid laner, was on his way towards the bottom side of the map to execute a dive onto Cloud 9 in an attempt to take advantage of a crumbling tower.
A misfire from Golden Guardians suddenly put them on the backfoot. Pridestalkr — while eating multiple ultimates and blowing the summoners of Kim “Berserker” Min-cheol — was shut down. The bottom lane was in an awkward position. Cloud9 would look to collapse on Golden Guardians yet Golden Guardians saw it as their opportunity to trade. Eric “Licorice” Ritchie would not only stop the teleport of Cloud 9’s top laner, he would execute his and make his way into the scrum. Even better, he immediately got onto Berserker.
The story of the game would be the power of Cloud 9’s enchanters to keep alive their carry. Yet the side story would be how disorganized Golden Guardians were when it came to team-fights along — especially the number of errors completed by the Golden Guardians bottom lane.
Golden Guardians would even fight their way back into the game. Yet once again, it was another failed play on the bottom side of the map. Preparing for ocean soul, another skirmish would play out. After Licorice manages to escape Cloud9’s jungle alive, it appeared as if Cloud9’s top laner was now caught out. Yet three missed ultimate shots from Lawrence “Lost” Hui meant he was free. Cloud9 would secure ocean soul but more importantly, they were better prepared for the following team fight that would secure them the game.
Golden Guardians seriously should have won the game.
But they didn’t. Instead, church was now in session.
Nick “LS” De Cesare has become an icon in recent years. Finding his niche as an informative League of Legends content creator, his audience grew from roughly 1,500 in 2018 to 2,000 average viewers in 2019 to 7,000 views in 2020. Making his name through his coaching services, his clientele continued to grow. He had the ears of members on Fnatic, he was connected to young players breaking into the majors like Juš “Crownshot” Marušič and Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami. He would even be connected to a coaching opportunity with the legendary T1 lineup in Korea.
Prior to joining Cloud9, he did have experience coaching teams like SUPA HOT CREW (which still has one of the best logos ever created), Gravity, Tempo Storm and bbq Olivers. His time with each respective lineup would be short, rarely making it half a year. With Gravity, the team would bend over backwards only for him to leave in a relatively frustrating fashion. This reputation would stick with him — calling him an incredible mind but struggling with the day-to-day aspect of being a head coach. It plagued him as a young adult, it followed him even up until November of 2020. Nearly five years, two coaching gigs later.
Rumored to be joining the prestigious T1 organization in some sort of coaching role, the world burned. Korean fans called for his head before even an official announcement, funding a poster on a van calling for the removal of LS. It became such an ugly situation that T1 would scrap the idea of him as a coach and instead bring him in as a streamer. Calling it an insane situation would be an understatement.
Yet LS bounced back. He fought through the emotional damage that came with abusive messages and packages being sent to his family members. 2021 would be his best year ever as a content creator. It was a beautiful redemption story.
More importantly, it seemingly paved the way for his next head coaching opportunity. Given his relationship with members already on the Cloud9 staff and Cloud9 looking for something different after a disappointing 2021, the two would partner together. LS was their new head coach.
Tasked with building out a coaching staff, he would bring figures from the “LS universe” — Seong “Reven” Sang-hyeon and Jeong “autumn” Soo-hwan to partner with old friends already on the team. Cloud9 brought in Sebastian “Malice” Edholm onto the academy lineup. Rumors regarding Tim “Nemesis” Lipovšek would even begin. It was happening.
On paper, it was mocked. In practice, it was a tactic used by most senior leaders of sports organizations. Bring in people that agree with your vision. Assistant coach Max Waldo would state this point in the initial press release: “we’re going to bring the stuff we talk about on streams onto the LCS stage.”
While in such a limited quantity, we witnessed just that. Creative drafts, Park “Summit” Woo-tae freezing waves. And they were winning. 3-1 on the split with their only loss being against an incredible Team Liquid lineup.
The games weren’t perfect. Evil Geniuses’ regression from their Lock-In wasn’t necessarily realized by the community during week one. As previously mentioned, Golden Guardians made a ton of mistakes. But a competitive game against Team Liquid and a commanding victory against Immortals helped solidify the faith.. for the moment. In the final piece of content from Cloud 9 featuring LS, it would be him smiling, showcasing his charisma and personality along with his confidence for the next week of LCS matches.
In a weird way, this is a great exit for LS.
Cloud9 provided a vague reason for moving on from the coach and it does not appear to be for the “wrong” reasons. In a way, he left before the damage could really be done. Team Liquid executed a really good draft strategy against the team to counter the potential for “cheese” and limit the options for Berserker. His win-loss record is positive. Players, coaches, personalities are all praising his influence on the region.
His reputation as an innovative thinker in the game is protected. He’s leaving on top.
The organization, on the other hand, is left battling a difficult PR situation. The sudden departure of a beloved figure in LS isn’t sitting well with fans and Cloud9 hasn’t given much insight into the situation. While the players and inside members are signaling that the break-up was warranted, there isn’t a specific reason being given. It is a punch in the stomach for a coach that seemingly was on track to silence the critics. But the public is currently focusing only on the good that came out of LS’s coaching appearance.
It also sets the stage for another team to come in and be the good guy, the hero of the situation. If likely only removed due to differences in opinion or differences in how LS approached his job, it could be remedied by another organization. Maybe another organization looking to add fan interest into the team or an owner less involved as Jack Etienne.
The first two weeks was exactly what LS’ coaching career needed. It needed proof of concept. As he searches for his next calling, it’ll be interesting to see what he chooses next. Because not only will it captivate interest, it could just be the change an organization needs.
“From Our Haus to Yours”