The NA LCS (now currently known as just the LCS) had a famous rivalry which got fans hyped whenever the two teams played against each other; Counter Logic Gaming vs. TSM was once the most anticipated matchup during the regular season. CLG has long fallen from grace, a shell of their former glory and unable to consistently challenge the top teams. After a miserable Spring and Summer Split, the team exited the year on a declination, unable to make their formidable roster— at least in terms of name value— reach the high expectations normal for the fans and staff of CLG. The team seemed to not have a voice to corral the team to a specific point of focus, thus rendering a lot of inherent early game strengths moot.
CLG are looking to change how the team operates for Season 9. With changes in the shotcalling element and new managerial staff, they’re hoping that they can display the same vigor that was glimpsed upon in Season 8, but with a bit more momentum to secure victories.
Competition is Fierce
Darshan — or previously known as Zionspartan— used to strike fear into his opponents. Once the terror of top lane, he would threaten the opposing side of the map of what CLG truly wanted as their primary objective. Long gone are the days when CLG could rely on split pushing to force their opponent to make an incorrect decision, no matter which threat they chose to respond to.
Darshan in Season 8 didn’t get many resources for the entire year. He had minimal jungle pressure from Reignover and CLG mostly played around their bot lane. Darshan is still a capable top laner and was able to pick up meta champions such as Aatrox and Ornn. Functionally, Darshan isn’t a liability to the new CLG lineup and can still perform the same job as before, but those wishing for him to carry CLG need to look towards the rest of the CLG lineup to clean up their macro, vision control and baron setups.
Mind over Matter
Junglers have some of the toughest time transitioning into pro play. Riot has consistently and drastically changed the jungle every year, making adaptability an absolute necessary strength of a jungler. With a great showing in Academy, Wiggly comes onto the CLG lineup with expected fan fair.
Wiggly’s champion pool has been solid enough to work with and he’s shown to carry from the role if the situation arises. One strength he may add to CLG may be his ability to pivot across meta — something that proved difficult for Reignover— and the only concern should be that he’s a rookie, albeit his showings in both games he played in Summer Split on the LCS roster were promising. The brunt of the work in controlling macro and strategy will mostly fall on the veterans of the roster, and with such a dynamic mid laner like PowerOfEvil, Wiggly’s transition into a starting lineup should prove to be an easy environment.
When a Plan Comes Together
OpTic Gaming’s year eclipsed even CLG’s in terms of mediocrity. PowerOfEvil still performed well on the chaotic OPT team, but they still had no solid direction of how to play the game. When looking at the CLG lineup, it’s clear that PowerOfEvil is the main voice for the team, but given the disaster that was OPT, it’s a large question mark as to whether he can lead a new team. PowerOfEvil proved to be effective on Misfits back in Europe, leading a group of rookies to outperform even veteran teams, but CLG has several hallmark names which have their own styles and thoughts about the game. Leading rookies is far different from leading veterans.
Who’s in Control?
CLG’s bot lane was the only shining light in Season 8. Stixxay and Biofrost often won their lane, but it was also due to ReignOver’s pressure towards the bottom side of the map. Fans and analysts alike have viewed CLG’s bot lane as above standard, and at first glance they appear to be worth investing in this second time around but the major problem that has plagued the CLG lineup and may affect them again is their inability to coordinate in the mid game due to a weak shotcaller. Often shotcallers come from either the jungle or support position, and with Biofrost’s record of being led by Doublelift on TSM and seemingly having little power over CLG in Season 8, the team will continue to have this gap of directionless leadership if PowerOfEvil cannot take up the mantle. While individually Stixxay and Biofrost are good players, if you’re building a lineup that is weak in shotcalling, it’s questionable as to why you would keep this duo together for another year.
CLG have large expectations coming into Season 9, with a rookie that has incredible promise and a solid mid laner to tie it all together. Along with having new players, they are piloted by Weldon Green, the sports psychologist who has helped multiple teams increase their performance. The dilemma with hiring someone like Weldon is his weakness with in-game strategy which must be compensated by a competent assistant coach and analysts. This is also Weldon’s first time being a head coach, so there’s inherent risk involved with such an endeavor.
Season 9 is a new year and a good time for CLG to bring back their prestige and luster to their brand. Fans will no longer settle for old accolades, particularly with new franchise teams vying for fandom. CLG’s lineup isn’t powerful, but it is enough to get the job done if they can come together as one unit.
Izento has been a writer for the LoL scene since Season 7, and has been playing the game since Season 1. Follow him on Twitter at @ggIzento for more League content.
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