C9 suffer shocking upset in first VALORANT match with yay at Red Bull Home Ground

This wasn't in the script.

Before the 2023 VALORANT Champions Tour begins, numerous partnered teams have traveled to Manchester for the Red Bull Home Ground event, providing a unique stage for the Cloud9 debut of one of the game’s biggest stars in Jacob “yay” Whiteaker.

C9’s official debut today got off to a rocky start, falling in overtime to FOKUS on Ascent. In his first game with his new team, yay was uncharacteristically quiet, sitting at the bottom of the scoreboard with a -4 K/D and having lost most of his opening duels while on Jett. He was outshined on Jett by FOKUS’s JUGi, one of the breakout names from EMEA this past year.

C9’s first match with yay and Zellsis was almost a complete disaster since the team was in danger of losing map two on their own pick of Bind as well. But yay delivered a much stronger performance on the pre-nerfed Chamber, posting a +7 K/D and winning five out of six opening duels. Xeppaa also had a second straight map playing exceptionally as initiator and C9 won three straight rounds on attack at the end of the map to steal away their pick 13-11.

To cap off his debut, yay went for a spicy pick on Pearl, opting to play Yoru. But like on Ascent, yay struggled to produce the type of impact fans are accustomed to. C9 won some unlikely thrifty and eco rounds but struggled to close out vital gun rounds and ended up falling on Pearl to take a loss in their first series with yay and Zellsis.

At the end of the series, Xeppaa’s exceptional day was outdone by FOKUS’ two dominant Danes in JUGi and KPZET. One lost match shouldn’t be enough for C9 fans to hit the panic button, but it’s worth noting that yay’s only positive game during the series came on Chamber, and teams are not playing with the nerfed Chamber at Home Ground.

This was only C9 and yay’s first match together, and the first pro match in months for both parties, against a very competent FOKUS team that has their eyes on EMEA Ascension this year. Still, it’s a surprising upset to kick off Red Bull Home Ground.

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