Cloud9 ended the VCT Americas regular season on a high note and esports.gg sat down with leaf following the final series.
Cloud9 is one of the hottest teams in all of VALORANT. Their success can be attributed to outstanding performances all around, including by their main fragger, Nathan "leaf" Orf. He had a bit of an off day against KRÜ Esports, but C9 still finished the regular season of VCT Americas 2023 with a victory.
After the series, esports.gg spoke with leaf about the match up. He looked back on the season and the opponents he faced, gave insight into his performance, and let us know what kind of legacy he wants to leave behind in VALORANT.
C9 leaf looks back on the VCT Americas season and looks forward to his future in VALORANT
"It's safe to say this wasn't a standout series for you. You did get the 4K at the end of Lotus to win it in overtime, but it took you quite a while to get going. When you're the star fragger of the team, as everyone says and knows you are, how good does it feel to be surrounded by a team who can get the job done when you might be having an off map?"
leaf: "I think Lotus in general, all of us kind of started slow. The comms were really sloppy and stuff like that. Individually, I wasn't playing so great, but I think the potential of any of us to be able to have good maps is definitely there. I saw on Split, Xeppaa was like 12-1 in like the first five rounds.
"I felt like I wasn't aiming too bad. I wasn't making stupid mistakes, but they were just hitting their shots. And I think that'll happen eventually, but it was just like, no matter who I peeked, it just felt like I really didn't have a chance. There's definitely stuff to look back at, but I feel like having people that can help me, even if I'm not having a good game, they can pick it up, is definitely very helpful."
"Then the next two maps saw even more aggression and success from KRÜ. We hear it all the time about how teams like this are extremely dangerous. With nothing to lose, they were as dangerous as expected. Would you say this was the hardest fought victory Cloud9 has had during the league?"
leaf: "Honestly, yeah. In my pre-game thing, I said that they're just like a wounded beast. They have really nothing to lose. They're just going to come out fighting or they're just going to shrivel up. And they obviously came out fighting. They were really, really good individually and they had good stuff.
"They were definitely good on their fundamentals. So, it was hard. We're already confirmed for playoffs, so it doesn't mean as much in terms of seeding. We're first or second. We obviously still want to win. It always feels good to go into it with a win.
"It would suck to lose, but I think that they had an eagerness to get a win. You want to get a win. You don't want to end up winless at the end of the season. So, I think that they just came out guns blazing and stuff like that."
"Well, with it being the last week of the VCT Americas regular season, I'd like to expand on that and reflect a bit. Which match would you say was the easiest then?"
leaf: "The easiest? Probably Leviatán or MIBR, the two that we played prior. I don't think we had to show much and I think we kind of had the flow going the whole entire match. We didn't really have to get stopped at any points. So, I think that those two were the easiest."
"Which teammate impressed you the most in the season?"
leaf: "Zellsis probably. And jakee. Jakee and Zellsis. Jakee, obviously being a rookie, but as part of a whole teammate, I think Jordan (Zellsis) has just been phenomenal. It's not really a surprise, but I guess, it's just like, I can see it more as the season goes on as opposed to just one or two matches, like it was at LOCK//IN."
"And what player from another team made the biggest impression on you?"
leaf: "Two people that I think are very good. Aspas and Victor. Throughout the season, just playing them and also watching them play. They're very good at the game. That's all I'll say. They're just very good, very round players basically. And obviously they're in different roles, but those are probably the two."
"So, I've heard from your teammates and coach mCe. They have all mentioned how much time you devote to understanding the game and your opponents. Tell me about your role in the team's preparation from week to week and what you love most about being involved in it."
leaf: "I'm not so much involved with the coaching staff. It's more so the team as a whole. I watch a lot of people and I pick up a lot of people's stuff in matches. Like tendencies and just general play styles. So, it's a lot easier for me, in the middle of the game, to just be like, 'Listen, this player likes to flank a lot. This person will always re-walk,' and stuff like that.
"Because people have tendencies, whether or not they would like to admit it. They do, even myself, you know what I mean? And it's just something that you do, whether you're comfortable doing it. I just make sure that I'm prepared mentally for whatever I'm going to get hit by. If we're playing a team that's just full W-key, I'm mentally preparing for seeing five people at a 1:30 on the clock. So, it's just being, not one step ahead per se, but just being mentally prepared is the biggest thing."
"They've also all had nothing but great things to say about you. Being such a young player, do you feel pressured to deliver out of this world performances every game because of that?"
leaf: "Not really. I don't really feel much pressure in terms of individual performance. I know how good I am and I can be. So, the main thing is just, I don't even get down on myself if I'm playing bad, because I'm still doing my role. Obviously, I can have more impact, but I think that a big part, especially today, was just doing my role, whether or not I'm hitting the shots.
"I feel like on Lotus, the attack half when we were down 12:6, I'm like 8-20 or something like that. I'm still just going in, I'm still just dying and stuff for my teammates. Just because I know if I don't then it's just going to be even worse. And I think towards the second half of the second half, I picked it up more."
"From the unknowns at the start of the league to being labeled one of the best VALORANT teams in the world, how would you describe your time during the first iteration of VCT Americas?"
leaf: "I think it was really cool. I just think any fan experience like that is pretty cool. It can get a little overwhelming, just like how many people support you, but I mean, playing on stage is always nice. I always was kind of opposed to the online era of VALORANT, which was, you know, the majority of the year, except if you qualified from online then you'd go to a LAN. I don't know, it just feels really nice to play on even ping, even computers, and stuff like that. You really get to see who is good. You just see what they're like when everything is even."
"And we've heard it over and over. You're a superstar with a bright future. You've absolutely showed that this year. Playoffs are ahead with a potential chance at Masters Tokyo and Champions, but let's look further than that. When it's all said and done, what kind of legacy do you want to leave behind in VALORANT?"
leaf: "I mean, I'd like to win. No matter if it's just one tournament, it's still pretty cool to have a title in-game. That'd be pretty cool to see, like VCT Masters Tokyo or whatever. Champions Winner, et cetera. All that stuff is so cool. It just cements. You can't get rid of it. I just want to win a LAN. There's people even in CS that are great players, but they've never won a Major and that's the main goal. You want something that's cemented in the game, because it's there forever."