Cloud9 have captured the attention of fans, analysts and players alike, not only for their incredible run at the Boston Major, but how they’ve been able to maintain that form into the 2018 season. Although you can praise almost any part of the C9 system, arguably the most crucial element has been Tarik. As both an in-game leader and entry-fragger, he's defined C9’s style more than any player in the team.
Tarik has always favored aggressive duels. In his time on Optic, he was the crucial addition to stanislaw’s fragging core. Stanislaw’s calling primarily used tempo to win rounds, requiring skilled entry fraggers to open up sites and create explosive T-sides. He used Tarik and RUSH as a duo of destruction ー one that could buy space for Mixwell and NAF to close out rounds.
As we saw at ELEAGUE S2, this RUSH and Tarik partnership was in peak form against the world’s top European teams. Round after round after round they were able to deliver the necessary frags. If RUSH and Tarik weren't so comfortable in this high-paced environment, Optic likely wouldn’t have made it out of the semi finals of tournament, much less with the whole event.
Now, with Tarik's taking over IGL duty on C9, he brings that high paced aggression that Optic saw so much success with.
C9 find success through their high-level of individual form combined with a swarming pressure that can catch-out even the world’s top teams. Tarik, in many ways, spear-heads this approach.
Just as Stewie2k was able to call around himself as an entry when he was IGL, Tarik affords himself lots of room for individual plays as the entry-fragger. On both sides of the map, in any stage of the round, Tarik begins active pushes that can give C9 an advantage. But don’t mistake this aggressive tendency for the ‘peanut-brained’ stigma he’s been labeled by NA peers. Tarik and C9 as a whole are an incredibly cohesive and macro-aware team that will use the momentum and pressure of Tarik’s pushes to win rounds, even if it fails. Let's take a look at an example.
In this round from the Semifinals of the Major, Tarik takes the secondary AWP and looks to peek B platform aggressively. Unfortunately he makes a movement mistake trying to jump up onto the box, giving an opening to TACO who is pressuring plat hard. Tarik looks for a peek from stairs after missing the jump but gets flashed by SK. As he’s repositioning to statue he gets punished by TACO. Tarik’s early aggression with the AWP costs C9 an early man advantage, but there's a silver lining to this. Stewie2k and RUSH now have the space to make a play. As SK group up at plat and hit B, both Stewie2k and RUSH get aggressive and are able to effectively shut down SK in the round. Tarik goes down early, but his play becomes a bait for the rest of his team to close out the round.
This is the power of Tarik in C9. Cloud9 work so cohesively and cleanly around Tarik’s lead while Tarik himself is in strong form to justify these plays. He calls a T-side that naturally favors his duel-hunting, pressure punishing playstyle and has balanced the roles on the team so that even in mistakes, C9 can easily win rounds. With this recipe they won the Major, and if the individual form can remain consistent, who knows how many more titles they can claim.