sat down to speak with mCe, the head coach of Cloud9 VALORANT, after his team defeated NRG during VCT Americas Week 4.

Matthew "mCe" Elmore has been with Cloud9 since October 2022. The partnered teams of VCT Americas were announced and he was revealed to have moved into the C9 head coach position after finding success with The Guard.

That success continues as Cloud9 is the hottest NA team in the league. After a hard fought victory against NRG during Week 4, mCe spoke with about the match and a handful of team composition changes shown throughout the series.

Cloud9 and mCe are riding high after taking out NRG, despite lengthy tech pause and trying new comps

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"So, no one is allowed to speak during tech pauses, is that right?"

mCe: "So, it's weird. I can talk to my coaching staff during that time because they can't hear us. The players can't, so we're just joking around. The players usually can't speak, but when it goes on for a super long time like that, they let the players joke as long as they're not talking about game stuff.

"So, that whole time, if you had heard what they were talking about, you would've been losing it. Obviously, if they were talking about game stuff, they'd probably get in trouble, but they're literally talking about the dumbest sh*t in the world during that.

"There were multiple times during that when they thought they were about to be ready to play again. They're like, 'Hey, we've got to stop talking.' And we're like, 'Okay, cool. No big deal.' But for me and the coaching staff, we can talk the entire time. I have to take a timeout to talk to the players anyways, so it doesn't affect what we talk about."

"When a long pause like that happens, how awkward or even frustrating does it get on your end when all you can do is wait for it to be resolved?"

mCe: "I mean, it's part of it. A lot of us have been playing FPS games for a number of years. We're used to having random pauses and things like that. Obviously, it's the first year for Riot in terms of VALORANT on full LAN with everything. They're still adjusting things and getting used to it.

"We had a really weird thing that happened that I've never seen before. The game just full crashed to desktop in between the rounds or at the end of a round, so the money wasn't updated and some other things. That's why it took so long. It was a very complicated issue."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"Well, it didn't seem to create any problems in the long term once that first map ended. So, I'll ask you about Pearl. We saw the new comp and it looks more like the meta we've been seeing. Was this decision based on what you saw other teams doing or because of what you saw from the team on Pearl in the past?"

mCe: "I still really like our old comp on Pearl. I think it's a better comp overall. There's a lot more variety to it, but we just weren't playing it very well. We talked about different things, moving Leaf Duelist, among other things. So. we're like, let's just try to play this.

"We had to move people around. You can see runi's not quite there yet on Killjoy. Zellsis is playing Harbor for the first time. We had to move a lot for it to work and it's still a work in progress, but when we started playing it, we felt pretty good with it. We just started with that one and ran with it because our old comp, we were having a lot of issues with it.

"And the more we play the old comp, the more people are ready for every little thing we do. And it's really hard to play against a Viper/Harbor, the double wall, with our Phoenix, when we run so many trap plays on the map. We just decided to ax it for now and go into the meta pick on this map, because role-wise, we felt like we could make it work."

"Now about round 18 on Pearl. We saw jakee send a Viper wall through mid before dropping the Viper's Pit near the B Site. It wasn't clear on the broadcast, but it looked like it could have been a one-way wall near the mid exit onto B. Was that the case and, regardless, who came up with that wall placement?"

mCe: "Without watching it. I'm really not sure. There's too much that happened in that match for me to know. I could have missed it. It could be something we've been doing or whatnot, but off the top of my head like that, it's really hard for me to recall a specific wall. So, I'm really not sure."

"In general then. How much of the strategy, including any off-shoot or crazy plays, are put together by you and the coaching staff as opposed to the players themselves?"

mCe: "I'd say 80/20 or 75/25. Maybe 70/30, somewhere around there. We come up with a lot of the ideas and approach the guys. We're like, 'Hey, we think we can do this, this, and this.' And then leaf also has a ton of impact on it.

"Leaf actually watches a lot of matches, weirdly enough, and understands these comps inside and out. When we first started playing this comp, it was leaf that was like 'Oh, when we do this, we need to do it this way. We need to do this, we need to do this.'

"So, they come up with that, and then comps I'm not as familiar with, I'll come up with a lot of little individuality spinoffs on things. That's what I'm good at. And then qpert is also excellent with things like that as well."

"Onto Ascent then. We saw another small comp change with runi taking on Viper. Similar to the Pearl question, what was the overall reason behind bringing that Agent onto that map?"

mCe: "We were going into a team that does a lot of prep work on teams and can make a lot of plans on stuff. So, if we come into this match and switch comps and do things, it's going to make it very hard for them to beat us. That was the primary reasoning.

"This is qpert's comp entirely. He's like, 'I love the way they play it.' Then LOUD played it and he is like, 'I'm not a big fan of some of the things they do.' So, we play it, I would say pretty differently than LOUD does with the Viper stuff.

"And we have our own unique spin on it. It puts Xeppaa on Skye, which is, you know, one of his best Agents. And then runi is playing Viper more and more on maps. He's getting more used to these different roles and stuff.

"It was one hundred percent a team decision where if we think we can play this, we can play it. Well, we tried it. We wanted to switch some things around because the more you play on a map, the more comps you show, the easier it is to anti you.

"Because you have a week to play everyone, we felt like we should switch the comp. And immediately when we started playing it, we started frying people with it. So, we were okay with continuing with this comp."

(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)
(Photo by Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games)

"So, we've all heard everything we need to regarding jakee and runi, along with the shoes they were meant to fill. Instead of asking you about their role on the team and in the server, I'd like to ask what they've brought to the team outside of the game. What have they done to the energy or overall personality to the team?"

mCe: "Jakee's a really funny kid, like straight up. Runi's funny too, but he has a dry sense of humor. Kind of stoic, I guess would be the word I'd use. Where jakee is just hilarious. I mean, he's 20 years old, he's super young, hasn't really done anything. So, he meshes really well with Zellis.

"He's like Zellsis' little brother right now inside the team. He's constantly badgering him, because all the guys on the team kind of badger Zellsis because of him being a little older. So, they refer to him as dad and me as their grandfather. It's a fresh bit of energy in terms of things.

"There's a lot more, as you become a pro player and you play it more and more, you kind of forget how good winning feels. I know that's a weird thing for me to say, but it's not the same. You lose some of that innocence as you go more and more and more because you're expected to win.

"You're expected to do this. And sometimes bringing in fresh blood like these guys is exciting because, you know, we'll win a big round. Jakee's just screaming his head off. That excitement and just that, you know, that pure emotion is really good for veteran guys sometimes. Myself included."

"Well, this was a huge win against NRG. There's been a lot of talk about the team being a darkhorse, maybe even getting lucky at times. So, is now the time that narrative needs to shift to Cloud9 being a force to reckon with in VCT Americas?"

mCe: "I think we're going to do good. Our goal is to compete every week. It doesn't really matter beyond that. The biggest thing is teams will, I think teams were already paying attention to us because of practice. If you could see how well we're playing in practice, it would raise some eyebrows, honestly.

"I think the biggest thing is everyone in Americas is so competitive. If you look back on, I would say probably ninety percent of matches, if one person wins a pistol or one round goes a different way, the entire standings are rearranged.

"It's pretty crazy with how close a lot of these teams are, where it comes down to individual moments and matches to completely win or lose best-of-threes. So, yes, we're doing well, but there will come a point where we'll probably not have one of those go our way and we potentially will lose a match. And that just happens. Everyone's so close right now."

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