The biggest name in the free agent market is set to sign with one of the biggest names in North American esports history, Superstar yay. Read more about the signing here.
Reports Indicate Cloud9 to Sign VALORANT Superstar yay
Following their failure to qualify for Riot Games’s 2023 VALORANT franchising system, all members of OpTic Gaming were released into the free agency market. Although there is a Tier 2 system in place for teams to ascend into the franchising league, the members of OpTic Gaming have made it clear, through their multiple top three international performances this year, that they are each worthy of being 1 of the 25-players allocated to play for North America in the Americas League.
Widely touted as the best player in the free agency market as well as even the best player in the world, OpTic gaming’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker is wanted by all five of the franchised North American teams.
Whiteaker has openly spoken about his interests in playing exclusively in North America. “El Diablo,” a moniker Whiteaker has earned through his incredible performances, has reportedly even rejected a million dollar deal with an APAC team in the Pacific League and multiple offers to play for an EMEA team, citing an interest in staying at “home” in NA.
Five for Five
Since his release into the free agency market, superstar yay has garnered the interest of all five franchised North American teams.
Following the announcement of former XSET player Matthew “Cryocells” Panganiban joining 100 Thieves, 100T CEO Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag spoke openly on his live stream about yay. Making it clear that finances were not an issue, Nadeshot stated that Panganiban was the better fit for the current 100T lineup due to his age and chemistry with some of the players already on 100T. Because both Panganiban and Whiteaker play the same role, Cryo’s signing ruled out any chance of yay joining 100T.
Although 100T was not yet ruled out at this point, Whiteaker announced on his stream that he would not play for Evil Geniuses, leaving only three possible teams left for him to play for.
Sentinels, the fan-favorite landing spot for yay, also had conflicting interests with yay. Although many fans wanted to see the likes of TenZ and yay on the same team, both players play in the same role. TenZ has always been the focus of the Sentinels team since their inception, meaning a shift in role is unlikely for him. It is also extremely unlikely that Sentinels would drop TenZ given his history with the organization and importance to their branding. This left only NRG and Cloud9 left for Whiteaker to sign with.
With only two desirable options left in the Americas League it is not a big surprise that superstar yay is set to sign with Cloud9. As one of the oldest and most distinguished organizations in all of esports, Cloud9 offers not only the facilities and resources, but also the finances to host such a prolific player.
While NRG are backed by funding from the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, their facilities and reputation are comparatively inferior. With Cloud9 being such a titan in the industry and having a successful history in every esport they are a part of, they are a much better fit for a player as prestigious and sought after as yay.
If the reports are true and the deal is finalized, superstar yay will compete alongside the three players Cloud9 retained following the announcement of franchising and the opening of the free agency market: Anthony “vanity” Malaspina, Nathan “leaf” Orf, and Erick “Xeppaa” Bach.
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