(Credit: Michal Konkol / Riot Games)
Most were shocked but not ultimately surprised, as Sneaky’s Worlds 2019 performance was less than stellar, and people wondered if he was just past his prime.
You could argue that some of the champions he played were not typical AD Carry roles, like Sona and Cassiopeia, but the majority were par for the course, and were ones he’d played before. His diehard fans were incredibly upset, and this was fueled by Sneaky talking about the situation on his stream, confirming he would not be competing for the starter spot, which he called “obvious.”
Sneaky went on to post a fifteen minute video, taken from his stream, where he explains his side of the situation.
“Pretty much it just seemed like there were some people that didn’t want to play with me anymore. It was not only me, it was the botlane, like, they wanted a new botlane. So it was potentially one of us, potentially both of us. But they know they wanted a change, and I didn’t agree with the opinion, and I told them that. I said it’s the wrong choice, but if you want that, sure. And they were telling me I could, like… fight for the spot essentially, like try to earn it back, but the other guy - whoever they got - would be starting. And I .. thought about that for a little bit but don’t want to do that, because it’s not something that I really agree with. I mean, all of the benchings were pretty awkward for me… So, yeah, I did not want to compete for my spot, because to me, it’s just like, I would not feel right in that situation, because then it feels like I am trying to fight back my spot against people that didn’t want me to be there, or with people that didn’t want me to be there.”
From there, the process of elimination helped fans realize who might be at the “helm” of the frustration, and this thought process plus a video blog post created by Cloud9 also showcasing the exasperation of one member and people had it down.
Top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie was who fans decided to blame. They flocked to his Twitter, telling him he should apologize to Sneaky and tweeting snake emojis. Mid laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dinçer tried to help defend Licorice, but this made matters worse.
Fans seem to think that @Licorice is the only reason for all the roster changes. Whatever sneaky said, all the input in roster that players were able to give came from all of us together.— Yasin Dincer (@Nisqylol) November 19, 2019
We have 2 new faces and I hope you guys will show them your support as well! #c9win
Now, the responses turned to him. Some were still completely on Sneaky’s side, but admitted that he clearly had some problems in bot lane that he needed to work through, and others admonished some of the outspoken fans, saying they were overreacting.
A few days later, Licorice decided to speak briefly on his own stream about what was going on.
“Honestly, it kind of sucks that it’s turning out this way. I wish it could have gone differently, because I think it’s just awkward now for everyone… I don’t know if you guys want examples, but I guess the one I would give would be, like, in the video that I’m sure most of you guys have seen at Worlds where I got upset, which is probably the most upset I’ve gotten in a review, or at least I think it is. I could be wrong… we weren’t able to just, like, talk about what happened. Like, from my perspective we weren’t able to just say, like ‘oh yeah, like, that was my mistake,” and instead the review turned into like, what could we do better as a team, which I think is a huge strength as a team and I think that’s part of the reason why Cloud9 has done super well. Like, Sneaky in particular is super focused on taking everything on as like, a team problem, and I think it’s been super good, actually. But sometimes it just … doesn’t work for me at least, I’m only going to talk about myself as much as I can.”
Finally, Jack Etienne, Founder and CEO, stepped in, surely to the relief of his players and fans who simply wanted an explanation:
To our fans: @Cloud9 has not officially announced @sneaky's plans to date because he asked us not to while he considers his options which include:— Jack Etienne (@JackEtienne) November 22, 2019
•Playing for C9
•Trade to a team of his choice at his desired pay
•Retire pro play but stay with C9
This final response from Jack has calmed things down a little bit, and although it is a done deal that Sneaky will not be playing for Cloud9, questions are still needing to be answered regarding his future.
Sneaky has not publicly stated what his plans are at this moment, but many hope he remains a part of the competitive LoL scene.
This now looks like it will mean the iconic C9 player seeking a new home on another team.