Cloud9 will acquire contract rights to top laner Eric "Licorice" Ritchie from eUnited for the 2018 season, sources close to both teams told ESPN. Licorice's contract was originally bought-out by eUnited from Cloud9 in December 2016, when eUnited also acquired the Challenger Series spot owned by Team Liquid Academy.
Among the buyout agreement in December, Cloud9 was granted a clause that allowed it to have first rights to buy back Licorice in the event eUnited did not qualify for the League of Legends Championship Series in 2017. EUnited ultimately failed to qualify and then did not get selected to be a permanent partner for the LCS in 2018. Cloud9 is now working to move the top laner from eUnited back to its main roster. Cloud9 declined to comment.
The move will take place Friday when Riot Games allows players who are contracted through the 2018 or 2019 seasons with teams not given franchise membership to move teams ahead of the Nov. 21 opening. That special transfer window was set to open on Tuesday but was pushed back as a result of teams delaying the signing of their team participation agreements, sources said.
Cloud9's top laner Jung "Impact" Eon-yeong is likely to explore free agency and his options following the end his current contract, which concludes on Monday, Nov. 20, sources said. Cloud9 is willing to match his offers, according to sources, leaving the decision to be made by Impact in the coming months. Whether he will remain with Cloud9 is currently uncertain.
The remaining part of the Cloud9 starting roster -- Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia, Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi and Andy "Smoothie" Ta -- are contracted through at least the 2018 season, with some extending into 2019. Cloud9 will explore options in the off-season, but no set decisions besides Licorice has been made.
Cloud9 was the only North American team to qualify for the playoffs of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship in October, before losing to Team WE in Guangzhou, China.
eUnited did not respond to requests for comment.