Cloud9's future in Halo is up in the air (Pun intended), but their roster will push on in a new home at Spacestation Gaming.
Esports is something of a crazy business. It's one of the few sports where general dominance or even absolute victory doesn't guarantee your job safety.
DRX took home the LoL World Championship this year and, not long after, released almost their entire LoL roster. LOUD won it all at VCT 2022 Champions and lost three team members.
I'm still reeling over The Guard's Valorant roster going their separate ways. Esports can be rough.
One of the Best Runs of the Year
Cloud9's Halo roster, consisting of Bound, Eco, Penguin, StelluR, and Renegade, was one of the most consistent teams on the Halo circuit this year. They started the year strong with a 3-1 victory over their yearlong rivals, OpTic Gaming, at the Halo Championship Series 2022: North America Regionals.
In what would become the second episode of one of 2022's greatest rivalries, Cloud9 would finish second to OpTic Gaming in FaZe Halo Invitational in a tough 1-4 loss.
Cloud9 would take home another silver trophy at the Halo Championship Series 2022: Kansas City Major after a shocking 0-4 clean sweep by the Sentinels. OpTic Gaming would overcome their rivals in another dominant 4-1 victory over Cloud9 at the Halo Championship Series 2022: Orlando Major.
In late Summer, Bound and Renegade basically swapped places on FaZe Clan and Cloud9, respectively, with Cloud9 sending Renegade and the rest of FaZe Clan home at the Halo World Championship 2022. Cloud9's Halo season ended in a hard-fought 4-5 loss to OpTic Gaming at Halo World Championship 2022.
Despite OpTic Gaming having their number for most of the year, none could deny Cloud9 has played exceptionally well in 2022. The continuation of the Cloud9/OpTic Gaming rivalry is easily one of the most anticipated elements of the upcoming 2023 season. But OpTic Gaming's rivals have a new name: Spacestation Gaming.
Continuing the Legacy
Coming as a shock to the Halo world, Cloud9 released their entire Halo roster on November 27. With Cloud9 easily Halo's number 2 team in the world, Cloud9's decision has led people to believe they're leaving the Halo scene. Halo Infinite has been somewhat disappointing, and Halo Esports isn't going as strong as it could be. It's possible Cloud9 has deemed Halo Esports a pursuit no longer worth pursuing (At least right now).
But that doesn't mean OpTic Gaming now has a clear path to 2023 dominance. Spacestation Gaming teased some big Halo-related news was coming on November 28, and that big news was they acquired Cloud9's entire Halo roster. Seasoned veteran Elamite is staying on as Spacestation Gaming's Halo coach. The rivalry continues.
Spacestation Gaming's acquisition was a big power play and a smart one. While Spacestation Gaming may be one of the HCS-partnered teams, they've had a pretty lukewarm 2022. After parting ways with their entire Halo roster on November 11, some speculated Spacestation Gaming was leaving the scene entirely.
With a disappointing 9th-12th place finish at Halo Championship Series 2022: North America Regional Super and an even worse 13th-16th place at Halo Championship Series 2022: Orlando, something had to give. Acquiring the full roster of the second-best Halo team in the world is one way to go. Just like that, they're now a favorite for winning it all in HCS 2023.
Bound is still early in his career but is one of Halo's hottest rookies, earning himself a nomination for Esports Controller Rookie of the Year. We have little reason to think he will do anything except go even further beyond in upcoming HCS seasons, so OpTic Gaming's Halo squad better keep a firm grip on their crown. Spacestation Gaming will be looking to take HCS into orbit.