How Thanatos’ winning mentality can restore Cloud9 back to championship glory

Cloud9 are staring down the barrel of adversity in the LCS, and not for the first time. The six-time champions risk losing a legendary streak: Since their debut in 2013, C9 have made a final at least once every year. And with that record in the balance, they again looked to South Korea for their answers and may have found them in the form of Park “Thanatos” Seung-gyu.

Thanatos is a highly touted top lane prodigy from Dplus KIA. He’s tasked with helping Cloud9 stabilize and regroup for a push at the LCS Summer Split title. After they limped to a third-place finish in the Spring Split, something had to give.

They made two changes, signing Thanatos to replace Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami and bringing back Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu, who coached the League team from 2016 to 2020. With C9’s poor showing in the Spring Split playoffs, changes were bound to happen. While Fudge was not the only problem on the roster, a player had to go, and the top lane was the easiest role to replace, given the market availability. 

The members of Cloud9's 2024 LCS Spring Split roster, including Fudge, Blaber, Jojopyun, Berserker, and Vulcan, celebrate their second victory of the split.
Cloud9 after securing victory in the LCS. Photo by Robert Paul via Riot Games

If they want to win the LCS, they must go through the defending champions, another rival in Team Liquid. TL had a run at MSI that North America should be proud of. They stood up when the chips were down and eliminated Fnatic, followed by a thrilling series against the defending world champions, T1. “Team Liquid was so good against T1. They defied expectations and did better than I thought,” Thanatos said. 

Thanatos has had no problem settling into his new squad after being with Dplus since 2020. After the conclusion of the Spring Split, C9 wasted no time preparing for the summer. The squad jetted off to Korea, where the first introductions took place. Korean organization FearX hosted the LCS squad for their boot camp—the two teams even put on a showmatch, which ended in a 1-1 tie. 

Cloud9 LoL visiting Lotte World Adventure
Cloud9 LoL visiting Lotte World. Image via Cloud9 on X

Although it was a match with no significant meaning, this was the first opportunity for C9 fans to see their new top laner in action and for Thanatos to get a feel of how his teammates play. “I got pretty close with my teammates, and because I was able to meet them in Korea, where it’s my home base, and my home country, it’s been very easy to adjust,” he said.

Cloud9 have always been able to help new imports adjust to the team quickly. Many C9 staff and a couple of their players can speak Korean, so Thanatos isn’t alone in his adjustment to a new language and culture. “The players are really making their effort to make me feel comfortable, and I can see the effort. And because of that, it feels like it’s really easy to get close to them,” he said.

We asked Thanatos what he would bring to C9 to help them return to winning championships. “I think my strength is that I’m a top laner who can carry when I need to be, but I’m not focused on carrying if I can’t. I’m not a player who will cause disturbance to my teammates. And if I have to carry, I will carry,” he said. “ But if I have to play a supportive role, I play that role good as well.”

A teammate willing to go the extra mile for the team’s sake is extremely valuable. The best players in the world can pivot at any moment, adding an extra dimension to the team’s pick-and-ban strategy. And with the LCS reintroducing best-of-threes, having a flexible player like Thanatos could work wonders for Cloud9.  

Thanatos has a point to prove, not only for himself but also for the fans who may be doubting why he was signed instead of an established LCS player. “I know that there are a lot of fans who don’t know me yet and who probably don’t have much faith in me, but I’m going to prove to you by my performance and my play,” he said.

C9 begin their LCS Summer Split campaign against Dignitas on Saturday, June 15, at 6pm CT, with Thanatos aiming to make a good first impression.

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