It's not NA VALORANT without drama.
In the hours following Cloud9’s announcement that it is parting ways with VALORANT superstar Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker, the now-former C9 player’s responses to the “mutual” decision seem to imply that role issues are not the primary reason behind the move.
In the official C9 announcement, owner Jack Etienne and head coach Matthew mCe Elmore said that the team had been dealing with role issues long before mCe or yay arrived and that it would be in the best interest of both parties to mutually part ways.
But yay’s official free agency statement suggests otherwise. Yay wrote “role issues were definitely the reason for me departing and the team/coach definitely agreed with me being removed,” but the consensus feeling toward this statement is that yay is being sarcastic, something he’s demonstrated in press conferences and content in the past.
On top of that statement, he also replied to a tweet from former OpTic teammate crashies that said “[C9] did you dirty” with the widely used image of soccer manager Jose Mourinho saying “If I speak I am in big trouble, and I don’t want to be in big trouble.” On top of that, he liked (and apparently retweeted then deleted) a tweet from caster Arten “Ballatw” Esa:
“You don’t bench the best player in the world from the year prior because of role issues, and you certainly don’t DROP them entirely letting them, become [an] unrestricted [free agent],” Balla wrote. “Somebody really really dropped the ball and screwed up here.”
Looking at responses online, the feeling from fans mirrors that of Balla’s, that no role issues are extreme enough for a team to justify completely dropping a player of yay’s caliber. There’s a chance that it might be because of financial reasons since many have speculated that yay was one of the highest-paid VALORANT players. With this potential high salary, it would mean that benching him would still cost a lot of money, and it would also mean a high buyout price that other teams might have been unwilling to pay.
That’s not to say that C9 weren’t having role issues, though. Leaf moved off the duelist role to make room for yay, and both Zellsis and Xeppaa play very similar roles. But it looks like there’s plenty of doubt that those were the main issues behind the move.
Whether by report or directly from yay himself, more details regarding his departure from C9 are likely to surface in the future.