Mid-season: A look at Counter Logic Gaming

LoL Henry “Peanutter” Kennard

Counter Logic Gaming’s spring split unearthed a multitude of problems - both structurally, in the organization, and on the rift. The team showed a promising entry to the season with the addition of Jake ‘Xmithie’ Puchero to the jungling role, allowing them to take games off of Cloud 9 and Team Impulse. Excellent rotations and abstract laning-phase tactics became the aggressive playstyle for CLG, punishing early-game mistakes made by their opponents. However, the season dwindled as their strong start became a disadvantage to them, inhibiting improvement as teams used the scrim sessions against CLG to learn their tricks and strategies. As play-offs arrived, fans were hyped to see CLG with a fighting chance, especially after the unfortunate ending to Season 4. The 'Golden Age' was, instead, met with a disappointing end as Team Liquid came out on top with 3 straight games to 0. Needless to say, the post-season revealed disputes about rickety management and behind the scenes tension between players.

The summer split opened its doors to a new hope, with the addition of Eugene ‘Pobelter’ Park, who had yet to grasp an opportunity to showcase his high level mechanical play and knowledge professionally due to questionable reasons. Some of which, proclaim the teams he has been on in the past haven’t been up to scratch in order for him to be a prominent force in the midlane; whereas others denied his ability to 'show up' and classed the hype around him as overrated. Regardless, the critics have been silenced as ‘the yung P.O.B’ has proven his worth as a carry-oriented player, acting as a constant and reliable asset to the team. Pobelter, this season, has the highest average damage output per game across every continent. Big names such as Faker/Eazyhoon (SKT T1) and Bjergsen (TSM) were runners up by a comfortable margin. Counter Logic Gaming, as a result, have attained a 7-1 win/loss ratio for the split so far.

Team SoloMid, known rivals of CLG, are the team responsible for the single loss in an otherwise spotless season. The game promised and delivered a close battle, with a 39 minute game of constant fights for map control and close skirmishes mixed in. The early-game brought an advantage to Team SoloMid as Darshan "ZionSpartan" Upadhyaha was forced into a Maokai pick and was then delayed getting to lane - losing teleport advantage and XP. At 12 minutes, TSM rotated to the botlane, picking up 2 kills for a helpful boost into the lead with the added benefit of getting skillful midlaner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg on the scoreboard. Despite the poor start the #FaithAge team scraped a win in the first teamfight and started applying pressure towards the topside of the map.However, as the game played out, CLG started losing due to a show of incredible backfoot teamfighting by TSM. In the past, teamfighting for CLG was comparable to the Lakers in recent years - somewhat unreliable, despite the great individual players on the team. Even going back farther than Spring split to Season 4 - riddled with communication problems, the team never could seem to get that Power Ranger style teamwork when it mattered. Though CLG, since then, have improved that part of their game by an incredibly large amount, TSM's domination in that area was plain to see and the game turned in their favour. The only loss for Counter Logic Gaming, so far, was well fought by both sides and produced an interesting look at their strengths and weaknesses.

Another addition to the roster was Choi ‘Huhi’ Jae-hyun, a Korean midlaner from Team Fusion. The challenger series team failed to qualify for the LCS, making the transfer to CLG a big step up, and a much easier decision. Huhi had problems with Visa at the start of the season, but recently sorted them out, allowing him to move into the CLG gaming house; and move into a closer role within the team. Thus, the question must be asked of ‘How much play time will he see?’  Pobelter has shown up in his performances consistently against all of the teams they've faced this split, posing the related question of if Huhi will be needed. That being said, the season is only halfway through and finding the right time to put Huhi in will be up to the coach/analysts' expert judgement.

The Rush Hour botlane have taken much more of a backseat in terms of importance to the win as the meta shifted to a more teamwork oriented game. Worry not though, as each player on the team has shown their worth in-game – the most recent being Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng's Pinky Penta in their clash against C9. An achievement, named as it is, due to his limited use of left pinky finger for the game. Counter Logic Gaming, armed with Coach Chris “Blurred Limes” Ehrenreich and loveable analyst Tony “Zikzlol” Gray, look strong moving into the second half of the summer split. CLG play Team Liquid and Team SoloMid, this coming weekend. Both are incredibly talented teams which will be sure to provide a tough game.

If there’s anything that can be said as an accurate closing statement, it’s this - The potential is most definitely there.

Photos: Riot eSports/Flickr

Damage Facts: GoldPer10

Henry “Peanutter” Kennard
British writer by day, feeder by night http://twitter.com/GGPeanutter