Cloud9 is set to release top laner Eric “Licorice” Ritchie from its starting League of Legends lineup for the 2021 LCS season. Licorice will be replaced by Cloud9 Academy top laner Ibrahim “Fudge” Allami, according to a report from ESPN. Licorice confirmed yesterday on Twitter that he will not be a part of Cloud9’s LCS roster next season.
Licorice first signed with Cloud9 ahead of the 2018 season after turning heads on eUnited. The LCS rookie finished 5-6th in the Spring Split and second in the Summer Split in his first season with Cloud9, earning the Rookie of the Split title for the Spring. The team then won the LCS regional final over Team SoloMid, earning a spot in Licorice’s first-ever World Championship.
Against most predictions, the team advanced to the Worlds play-offs. C9 found an upset over Afreeca Freecs in the quarter-finals, pushing towards the semis before being eliminated by European squad Fnatic. It was the best performance from a North American team at a World Championship since 2011.
Cloud9 kept up their good form in 2019, placing 3-4th in the Spring and second in the Summer. The team was unable to improve on their 2018 World performance, however, as they were eliminated in the Worlds 2019 group stage in 9-12th place.
Licorice and the rest of the C9 roster looked poised to dominate the LCS in 2020, taking over the Spring Split with a nearly undefeated record. The team lost only one match during the regular season, falling to Team SoloMid in week seven. The team cruised through the play-offs, taking down 100 Thieves, Evil Geniuses, and FlyQuest to win the Split. C9 struggled to maintain their Spring form in Summer, finishing second in the regular season and fourth overall, missing out on a spot at the 2020 World Championship.
Cloud9 now looks to be making some roster changes ahead for 2021. With Licorice out, Academy top laner Fudge is reportedly slated to take his place on the starting LCS lineup. Fudge joined Cloud9 Academy ahead of the 2020 season. The team finished first in both Academy League Spring and Summer regular seasons, and won both splits.
Reportedly moving to the main roster alongside Fudge is Academy coach Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin, who will take over the head coaching position after Bok “Reapered” Han-gyu’s departure. Licorice will be available for buy-out during the upcoming LCS free agency period. The 2021 LCS season is expected to begin in January of next year.
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