Cloud9

Following their failure to qualify for Riot Games’s 2023 VALORANT franchising system, Version1 (V1) released their roster into the free agency market. Although there is a Tier 2 scene in place for unqualified teams to be able to ascend into the franchising league, V1 opted to dismantle their roster in favor of some of their players being picked up by a franchised team.

Fortunately, it appears that their gamble has paid off for their most well-known player.

Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro, who shined during his brief stand-in with Sentinels during the North American Last Chance Qualifier (NA LCQ), is set to sign with Cloud9 and join the likes of Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker, Anthony “vanity” Malaspina, Nathan “leaf” Orf, and Erick “Xeppaa” Bach.

Although teams are required to hold six players in accordance with Riot Games’s franchising rules, these five players will likely be the starting members for the 2023 iteration of Cloud9’s VALORANT roster.

SEN Zellsis: A Memory of the Past

Although Zellsis is best known for his recent appearance on Sentinels during the NA LCQ, he entered the competitive tactical shooter scene through Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). While he played for a number of teams during his time in the CS:GO scene, one of his more notable appearances was with Cloud9 in 2019. His time there was short, but it allowed him to establish a relationship with the organization that likely factored in his decision to join Cloud9.

When Montemurro spoke with confidence on his stream a few days ago regarding his team choice—“I’ve decided on a team…I’m basically signed”—many fans speculated he would return to Sentinels. Despite playing for them for only a few games, the atmosphere of the team appeared very positive. Prior to the franchising announcement, this positive relationship between Montemurro and Sentinels led many people to assume he would leave V1 and partner with Sentinels. This theory, of course, was thrown away when Montemurro announced he would be returning to V1.

Weeks later, it was announced that V1 had not made the cut and Sentinels had. This fact, combined with Zellsis’s response on stream brought new life to that theory, and had many fans believing Zellsis would once again appear on the Sentinels lineup.
Unfortunately for the SEN Zellsis fans, it appears that Montemurro will team up with the “best player in the world” and join yay as another one of Cloud9’s latest signings.

The State of NA Franchising Post-Zellsis

With vanity, leaf, Xeppaa; yay; and now Zellsis on their roster, it appears Cloud9 is putting together a super team. If these players are to be on their final roster, Cloud9 will become the second North American team to finalize their 2023 franchise roster in the Americas League. This comes only days after 100 Thieves finalized their roster with the signing of former XSET player Cryo.
So far, only these two teams have made any roster moves. The other three franchised teams (NRG, Evil Geniuses, and Sentinels) have remained quiet. Despite the early moves by 100T and C9, the free agency market still contains plenty of top-tier players yet to be signed. Most notably, 4/5ths of both the OpTic Gaming and XSET rosters still remain unsigned; the Guard’s players, as well as the rest of V1 and most of FaZe Clan, are also free agents.