Counter Logic Gaming may be one of the most storied franchises in League of Legends, but their LCS performance has never lived up to its legend. In each of the past two splits it fell in the quarterfinals.
Now, the team has finally thrown that monkey off their back, and in convincing fashion.
“We prepared a lot versus Cloud 9, who are really good at innovating and figuring out things before other teams do, which is why they are on top of NA,” said Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black, CLG’s support. “Playing C9 a lot really helped us figure out what’s good, the triple heal right now, double heal bot lane which is kind of ridiculous.”
CLG managed two comfortable games against Coast largely in part to their familiarity with the 4.5 version of League, released a little over two weeks ago. The new jungle item, Feral Flare, which allows junglers to stack up huge damage bonuses by farming large jungle minions, proved pivotal in the series.
In the first game, CLG’s jungle, Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp, built Feral Flare on Nocturne, and farmed himself into a force. CLG took advantage of a Coast team, content to simply wait in even lanes, allowing Feldkamp the luxury of farming instead of protecting pressure lanes. When Dexter did decide to exert his presence, it was devastating, leading to a couple kills in top lane as he became a dominating late-game presence.
Coast looked to get in on the Feral Flare action in Game 2, taking Nocturne for their own jungler “NintendudeX”. However, they allowed CLG to push uneven lanes, starting the game by trading two towers in bottom lane for two in top lane. While Coast managed to gain an advantage in the top lane and mid lanes, CLG outlasted the power spike of Coast’s early game champions Irelia and LeBlanc.
“If you are 2v1ing, then the feral flare jungler gets behind,” explained Peter “DoubeLift” Peng, CLG’s star marksman. “You can’t farm your camps as much when you have to respond to pressure.” Coast couldn’t last late in the game with low damage output from its jungler.
“It wasn’t so much as us making a great decision and a conscious effort as much as Coast making a bad decision, because the first game they chose to 2v2 us,” Peng said.
The victory places CLG into the semifinals and into a highly anticipated showdown against longstanding rivals, Team SoloMid. The two teams are the elder statesmen of League of Legends, trading blows and tournaments in the early days of the competitive scene.
TSM has dominated the rivalry since Riot Games instituted LCS last year, but CLG is confident that’s about to change. While TSM holds the seasons series 3-1, the last time the two teams met, in Week 10, CLG took the match.
“Beating TSM just shows we’re better than them, which I firmly believe,” Peng said. “We are better than them.”
Peng thinks CLG will beat TSM in a close 2-1 game, in part due to TSM’s struggle to adapt to the new patch, but his eyes are on a bigger prize: the finals.
“I think it will be way more gratifying to beat [Cloud 9], because I want to make it to the grand finals,” he said.
The season started rough for CLG, but they’ve steadily improved into one of the top squads in North America. They’ll have their chance to prove it against TSM tomorrow at 3pm EST.