Ax1Le Won't Be Able To Join Cloud9 At IEM Cologne 2023

28 Jul 2023
Tit Krajnik 28 Jul 2023
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  • Ax1Le won’t be able to travel to Cologne due to visa issues
  • Cloud9 will field buster as a temporary replacement
  • Ax1le is expected to return for IEM Cologne 2023 Playoff stage
PGL Counter-Strike Major event
PGL Counter-Strike Major event (Getty Images)
Cloud9 announced on Thursday, July 28, that its star Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov won't be able to compete at Intel Extreme Masters Cologne 2023. According to the esports organisation, Ax1Le's absence is due to visa issues, which supposedly won't be resolved until IEM Cologne 2023 Playoff stage.

Cloud9 made a huge roster transformation during the summer break when the North American esports organisation bolstered its CS:GO roster with the signing of two new players Denis "electroNic" Sharipov and Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy. The Russian duo joined Cloud9 from Natus Vincere, who decided to move to fielding an international roster, freeing up two of the current best CIS CS:GO players to link up with Cloud9.

Cloud9 moved to a Russian CS:GO roster in April 2022, when Cloud9 announced the signing of the entire Gambit Esports lineup, consisting of Vladislav "nafany" Gorshkov, Dmitriy "sh1ro" Sokolov, Timofey "interz" Yakushin, Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov, and Abai "HObbit" Hasenov.

With the new roster, Cloud9 found some success and won Intel Extreme Masters XVII – Dallas in June 2022, but failed to add another tournament title until after making some more roster changes. This year, Cloud9 wonRES Eastern European Masters: Spring 2023,  BLAST Premier: Spring European Showdown 2023, BetBoom Playlist. Urbanistic, and Brazy Party, and even reached the semifinals of Intel Extreme Masters Rio 2023.

But the rough run before the summer break led Cloud9 to decide to freshen up its lineup in June by signing two former Natus Vincere players, forming what many believe is one of the strongest CIS CS:GO rosters in recent history and a team that might surprise many at IEM Cologne 2023.

Unfortunately, Cloud9 won't be able to show off its might at Intel Extreme Masters Cologne 2023, as the team will miss its star player Ax1Le.

Cloud9 announced the news on Thursday, explaining that due to technical difficulties at the visa processing center, Ax1Le won't be able to make it to Cologne in time to help the team in the group stage. On a more positive note, Cloud9 expects the 21-year-old to be given the green light to travel to Germany in time for the playoff phase.

In Ax1Le's place, Cloud9 will field Timur "buster" Tulepov, who was previously on Cloud9's roster before he got benched to make room for Perfecto. Buster will play his first match on Saturday, July 29, when Cloud9 face off against Fnatic in the first round of IEM Cologne 2023 Group A.

Cloud9's road to IEM Cologne 2023 playoffs looks fairly easy, as they've been put in the same group as Heroic, Monte, GamerLegion, Fnatic, and ENCE, with the remaining two teams set to be revealed later today. The relatively easy bracket also gives hope that Ax1Le will be able to play at the tournament, granted it'll all come down to whether Cloud9 will manage to fight their way through the groups and into the playoffs.

IEM Cologne 2023 playoffs will kick off on Friday, August 4, with the quarterfinals, and conclude on Sunday, August 6, with the grand finals.