Cloud9 has made a roster move ahead of the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, replacing starting jungler William “Meteos” Hartman with 17-year-old prospect Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia, the team announced Monday. The team has also signed 18-year-old former Apex top laner Ji-won “Ray” Jeon, who will join the team as a substitute.
Contractz has been one of the top jungler prospects in North America for some time now, but was previously ineligible for LCS play due to his age (he turned 17 in August). He played in the Challenger Series with Ember (leading them to a second-place regular season finish) and Cloud9 Challenger (winning promotion with the squad).
The 23-year-old Meteos has been a part of the League of Legends scene since Season 1, first climbing to the top 20 of the ladder as a Skarner one-trick and later joining up with Cloud9 after bouncing around as a substitue a few other organizations.
Cloud9 put together its first LCS roster for the Summer 2013 split, with Meteos as its starting jungler. The new team and its new roster took North America by storm, going a remarkable 25-3 in the regular season and winning the NA LCS Summer Playoffs before getting knocked out in the quarterfinals of Worlds. During the Summer Split, the rookie Meteos set an NA LCS record with a 12.7 KDA.
C9 won the NA LCS once again in Spring 2014 with Meteos, and won the regular season in Summer 2014 before falling in the playoff finals to Team SoloMid in a five-game epic.
The next year was where the problems really started — after another second-place finish in the Spring, long-time mid laner Hai Lam retired, and Cloud9 started the Summer 2015 split 3-6 and tied for seventh place. Meteos stepped down from the staring roster in favor of Hai, who took over in the jungle, and moved instead to streaming, where he found a large audience waiting for him on Twitch.
C9 replaced Hai with former TIP jungler Yoon-Jae “Rush” Lee before Spring 2016, but when Cloud9 signed top laner Eon-yeong “Impact” Jung before the Summer Split, it meant one of its other import starters (Rush or mid laner Nicolaj Jensen) would ave to be benched. C9 chose Rush, promoting Meteos back to the starting LCS lineup.
With Meteos back, Cloud9 finished in second place for the third time in five years (but for the first time since Spring 2015), making it to the World quarterfinals (farther than any other North American team). His play faltered a bit down the stretch, but C9 was still clearly one of the top teams in the region once again. Now we’ll have to wait and see how the LCS roster performs with Contractz.