Zellsis shared his thoughts with esports.gg on Cloud9’s journey to the upper echelons of VCT Americas after a Week 7 victory.
Cloud9 is performing in perhaps the least and most expected way. The questions at the start of VCT Americas saw many lose faith in them, but there was always a chance. Well, Jordan "Zellsis" Montemurro and his teammates made that chance a certainty.
C9 has only lost one game in the league as of Week 7. And following the latest victory, against Leviatán, esports.gg spoke with Zellsis. He had a bit of fun with our conversation, but also addressed the changes Cloud9 saw after LOCK//IN and how he handles being the veteran of the team.
Zellsis details what got him fined, his feelings about Cloud9's changes, and his presence on the team
"You're a very outspoken and energetic player. At times, that can get you in a bit of trouble, like we saw against NRG. You know exactly what moment I'm talking about. What in the world brought that gesture out of you?"
Zellsis: "I don't exactly remember, but I think we were going to the third map and we were talking like, 'Oh, someone just drop 30 or something.' And then I was just like, 'If you drop 30, this is what's gonna happen,' <laugh> or something like that. And that's just, that's just kind of how it did.
"I did not think anything like, you know, I didn't think about it obviously, you know? I just wanted to raise the mood, raise the spirits, get ready for the next map we were playing or whatever the map or round count was. Obviously, we won. So, I would like to think that played a part. A very expensive part, but it played a part <laugh>. Um, yeah, <laugh>."
"In all seriousness, though, you can clearly tell the entire team is having a blast on stage. Tell me about the atmosphere out there when you and your teammates are taking care of business."
Zellsis: "I think it's just different with matches, right? There's like a switch you have to flip. When you come to matches, everyone's here to do the same thing win, right? So, there's no outside emotions. There's no outside thoughts or whatever the case may be when you come to matches.
"You need to be laser-focused, dialed in, and ready to play. I think we all kind of do that. Obviously, you see us laughing sometimes on stage, but I try to make sure that we're focused. We're not trolling, we're not doing anything like that.
"I had a little fun today, obviously. If you watch back the game, you'll see me kind of over-peek a little bit, kind of get a little bit overzealous. That was the personal beef between me and Taco. I'll probably get sh*t for that later from my coach. But I think the biggest thing is just atmosphere, confidence, vibes. I think we kind of all understand that, so it's just very easy to continue it."
"That's great to hear, because now I want to rewind things a bit to discuss the entire journey. The roster is announced for VCT Americas. You take 2nd place at Red Bull Home Ground to end the year, then start LOCK//IN with a huge win against Paper Rex. From there, you drop to DRX and it starts to unravel. Both yay and Vanity exit the team before the league starts. When that happened, what were you feeling about the future?"
Zellsis: "I wasn't really happy with the changes that were being made. I kind of understood them, but at the same time, I came into this year, and I feel like a lot of people made really big decisions on each team coming into the first year of franchising. And I think that was super important for everyone.
"And I think coming in and then a couple months later, the team I wanted to go through the year with being broken up, I wasn't really happy with it. I don't think any player would be happy with it, personally. I came into it with an open mind afterwards. mCe would talk to me a lot in between tryouts or in between the sessions, the practices, or whatnot.
"He relies on me a lot for confidence and for vibes for the team, emotions. I'm the vet of the team, whether I look at it or not, right. I just think that was a big reset button for me. Continuously talking to him and coming in with an open mind.
"And then obviously jakee and runi being unbelievable. Even in their tryouts, I'm like, 'Holy sh*t, these kids are unreal.' So, I think I just had a systematic reset about everything. And now, I mean, we're here winning. Second seed, so it just feels good."
"That brings me right into my next question. Along come jakee and runi. It has obviously paid off, but you were guys were ranked pretty low by just about everyone. When they were added and VCT Americas arrived, were you expecting these results?"
Zellsis: "I don't really know if I was expecting these results, because, I mean there's always expectations, right? For teams, especially when you're on an org like Cloud9, they've been around for so long, they've always had the best teams of the best.
"I think the biggest thing for me was, or maybe not the biggest, but the weirdest thing was I had no expectations, honestly. I just wanted to take each match by match like it was 0-0. If we went 1-0, next week we're gonna start 0-0. If we went 0-1, next week we're gonna start 0-0. I think that was the biggest thing for me mentally and kind of telling myself that.
"I think manifestation is a big thing. If you're always telling yourself one thing, you're going to start to believe it. I think that helps with a lot of things. So, I didn't really come into the season with expectations. I didn't really want anyone else to come with expectations.
"I think that might honestly be the biggest thing for our team. Each week is like a new match. We have to win like it's our last. I'm pretty happy with where we're at now. Obviously, the job's not done. We have to keep going. We've secured second seed, but besides that."
"Well, you're here at 7-1 after beating a Leviatán team many thought could be frontrunners when the league began. Your team has only given up three maps in the entirety of VCT Americas so far. There's one week left. What is the one word that defines the journey through the league so far for Cloud9?"
Zellsis: "That's a good question. One word that would describe our journey right now? Maybe 'hard work' is a simple answer. I'm kind of stuck on words I could say, like one word, but I mean, hard work, I think. I think every one of these guys, they put in a lot of time, they play the game a lot.
"If they're not playing the game, someone's watching a demo, someone's watching a VOD, someone's in an offline server or someone's on Valoplant or something. I think every person on the team has like their own little niche. All those little niches kind of come together to make one. So, I think hard work is a big thing for our team. I think that's the answer I'll have to give."
"As you know, it was a one-sided series where you guys showed what you've been showing for weeks. And during halftime on Haven, Sideshow said he feels Cloud9 is playing the second best VALORANT in the world, just behind FNATIC. Where do you think C9 stands in terms of the global VCT right now?"
Zellsis: "It's the same as LOCK//IN. For all the franchise teams to come together to showcase their play or whatever. Obviously, it was a different meta. Every team had new players. Everyone had new roles almost. It was just a very new system, a very new tournament, a one-off tournament, and not double-elim.
"And I still think there's no global answer right now. It was the same as back then. People are asking, 'Where's everyone going to be? Where do you think you're going to rank up? Where do you think everyone else is going to rank up?' I still don't think there's an answer yet. Once teams are solidified, you still need to go through and play the tournaments.
"So, we'll see in Tokyo, internationally, what anyone can do. Obviously, I'm pretty happy with how we're playing. To say we're playing second in the world, though, I don't know if I can agree with that. I'm not hating on my team. I'm not hating on my staff or what we're doing here.
"I just think there's so many good teams in the world right now. And to put us up there when no one's played against each other again with these new rosters and stuff like that, it's kind of a stretch. Who knows, we could go international, if we go international, and get completely sh*t on. Or we could go and sh*t on them. You never know.
"I just think that you have to keep it region-based right now. I'm pretty happy with how we're playing. I hope we keep playing how we're playing. I don't want my teammates to get comfortable. I don't want them to get egos or anything like that. I want it where everyone is respected outside the game.
"Obviously in the server, I'm telling them, 'F*cking swing these f*cks and kill them, you're better.' But outside it, I want to keep everyone to a level of professional understanding. I think we're playing insane. I think we just need to keep it up and we need to keep our heads down. Other than that, keep the voices that are outside, like the community and stuff like that. Keep that outside the team."
"And lastly, I'd like to ask you about your impact on the team. You mentioned it before, how you're expected to have that veteran presence on the team. I've heard from mCe and jakee about you taking on that veteran role, and even acting as a big brother for the newer guys. What do you personally feel you've brought to the team and how has that helped create Cloud9's success?"
Zellsis: "It's like big brother, right? The big brother is always making sure the little brother is brushing his teeth, going to sleep on time, making sure he is eating his Wheaties, you know? He's not just eating chocolate or something like that, right? That kind of goes hand in hand in-game and out of game.
"With these guys, I always try and make sure they get sleep, eat better this way. And then in-game it's just making sure that, again, the confidence thing, right? If someone messes up or something, it's okay. If we lose the round, we lose the round. We'll talk about it after, we'll handle it after.
"It doesn't matter in that moment. The majority of the time, you mess up a round and you come back swinging the next round, they're going to be like, 'Oh sh*t,' and you're gonna win that round. And if you win that round, then you're back in the game again.
"I'm still learning. I'm not going to toot my own horn or anything like that. I'm still learning how to be that vet. I'm still young. I'm 25, but I make sure that I'm doing everything I need to do as a player in-game. Whether it be if I'm on Killjoy, or as you guys saw me on Breach today again. We haven't played me on Breach on Haven, I don't think, since Red Bull or something like that.
"So, our Agents are changing and I'm just making sure that these guys are comfortable, they're happy, they're confident. Especially with Leaf. He's a very smart player, but sometimes he just needs someone to tell him, 'Just go. Just go and shoot them in the head. You're better. You're insane.'
"I think I handle a lot of good stuff like that for these guys. Making sure, you know, over-pushing, not over-pushing. I think that's a big thing. They look up to me, too, and I have to make sure that, out of respect for them looking up to me, I need to make sure that I'm doing what I need to do for them."