Following the report by ESPN’s Jacob Wolf about the possibility that the co-owner of Milwaukee Bucks is looking to purchase the second LCS spot belonging to Cloud9, together with four out of the five contracts of the players from the team, the reporter published an article, alleging that the Jungler, who’s supposed to keep his home at Cloud9, Juan “Contractz” Garcia, is likely to replace William “Meteos” Hartman as the starting Jungler on the main Cloud9 team. Also, according to Wolf, the org is looking to sign Jeon “Ray” Ji-won as a substitute Top Laner, set to stand in for Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong if needed.
If the rumors pan out, Contractz will have big shoes to fill. While Meteos hasn’t been at the top of his game for several splits, even getting benched from the main C9 roster before, he still has a huge fan following. Fans are likely to react in an adverse manner, looking at Contractz’s play through a magnifying glass and pointing out every little mistake he makes to try and misguidedly pressure the org into putting Meteos back into the starting spot. The problem with such an outcome would be that the team would likely suffer, because the star Jungler is not really up to the level of performance required from a Jungler on a team of Cloud9’s caliber. Can Contractz do better? To be honest, it’s hard to tell, however, we would like to err on the side of caution.
The funny thing is that this season, more than ever, Meteos’ farm-heavy playstyle might actually be more suitable to the demands of the metagame. Since the start of his LCS career, Meteos has been targeted by criticism towards his tendency to farm instead of ganking or counter-ganking for his laners, a tendency which became clear for all to see during the 2016 League of Legends World Championship. Of course, competitive play is different from solo queue matches; what works in the solo queue version of the game could be completely idiotic in competitive and vice versa.
The signing of the former Team Dignitas Top Laner Ray is much less impactful in comparison to the Contractz rumor, because where Meteos is struggling, Impact is more or less a beast, being one of the best Top Laners in NA and a fan favorite to boot, getting chosen to represent NA in the All-Stars event this year. If Impact is good to play, it’s hard to imagine Ray taking his spot.
All in all, it is a fact that Cloud9 needed a pick me up in the Jungle position; however, it’s hard to say whether Contractz is what the doctor ordered. Yes, he’s a known quantity, he has a contract with the organization already, the Bucks reportedly didn’t want him, so he had to be put to some use, however, can he actually do better than Meteos, even if the Jungle star is at the sunset of his skill? It’s hard to tell. We certainly hope so.