Four months ago, Cloud9 in-game leader Dylan “runi” Cade was on a Soniqs team that lost to OREsports to just miss out on the last spot in the North American VALORANT Challengers League. Runi wasn't on one of the 10 teams in the top-tier VCT Americas league, and he also wouldn’t be on one of the 10 teams in the next tier.
Looking back on that moment, runi told Nerd Street he wasn’t as upset about that as you might expect.
“I knew that I put myself in a spot that I would end up somewhere,” runi said. “So I wasn't really too worried, and I knew that if I kept going I would get myself somewhere. And I was more so the guy that had to help my other teammates that were struggling a little harder or having a little bit harder time with the loss.”
Runi put himself in this spot after competing in countless Nerd Street, Knights, VCT open qualifiers and other VALORANT tournaments over the past two years.
As winter turned to spring, runi took up a coaching gig as he pondered his options. He wasn’t expecting to hear from Cloud9 head coach Matthew “mCe” Elmore.
“I had a contract waiting for me to be signed, and for some reason, I didn't sign it for like a week and a half,” he said. “And then I got reached out to by mCe, and he said, ‘Don't sign it yet.’ And I got very lucky that I didn't do it. … So I ended up just all the stars aligning at once, and I could have gone somewhere else and not even had the opportunity, but somehow it worked out.”
Things have certainly worked out as runi joined Cloud9, who finished the VCT Americas regular season with an 8-1 record. C9 were tied for the best record in the league but enter the playoffs as the second seed due to their one loss coming to fellow 8-1 team LOUD.
Photo credit: Colin Young-Wolff / Riot Games
“I think we beat our own expectations, and we definitely beat the public's expectations,” he said. “I think we're really happy with being 8-1. And now that we're here, I think that we wish we were 9-0. I think we could have beaten LOUD, especially if it was later into the season as we would be more practiced and whatnot.”
With a top-two seed for the playoffs, Cloud9 just need to win one best-of-three series to qualify to compete internationally at Masters Tokyo.
Now the public expects Cloud9 will go to Tokyo.
Runi’s contributions to Cloud9’s success
In late March, the additions of runi and Jake “jakee” Anderson to Cloud9 were met with skepticism because of their lack of experience at the highest level of pro VALORANT. Runi and jakee have proven themselves since then, and it’s part of the reason why C9 put together such a great regular season.
Runi in particular has had a critical role as Cloud9’s in-game leader, especially in replacing a highly regarded veteran in Anthony “vanity” Malaspina. He has received praise on broadcast for his calls, and said mCe places a lot of faith in his calling.
“He trusts my calling, so then in terms of what me and him do together, he doesn't need to worry about it, so I just do my calls as I would do my calls,” runi said. “And then he also has a lot of trust in the entire team to mid-round.”
For his part, mCe said the calling structure on the team is a good mixture of ideas between him, runi and the rest of the team too. He said “all of us work together really well in terms of everything.”
MCe has praised the poise of both runi and jakee given the circumstances around them entering the team just before the season started. Not only has runi managed games well, but he also has put up good statistics, which isn’t always the case for an IGL.
Photo credit: Tina Jo / Riot Games
At the end of the regular season, Runi was top 10 among all VCT Americas players in rating (second among all IGLs) and top five in KAST (kill, assist, survive, trade percentage), per VLR.gg. What really speaks to his poise though is how clutch he has been. Runi won the most clutches (15) of any player in the league and had the fifth-best clutch rate (25%).
Runi and Cloud9 have come up clutch all season. Can they continue to do so and book their ticket to Tokyo?
“I think we’re confident going into playoffs because of how we played this split out,” he said. “I don't think we're worried of anyone or wanting to play anyone because I think we have to beat anyone anyways. And we want to be the first seed going into Tokyo. We want to beat everyone at Tokyo, so we don't really mind who our opponent is. We just want to win.”
Cloud9 will face Evil Geniuses on Wednesday at 5 p.m. PT.
Lead photo credit: Tina Jo / Riot Games