For the first time in League of Legends history, Counter Logic Gaming are North America’s No. 1 seed at the World Championships. It’s a golden age for the team. And CLG is the one side from North America most fans believe will advance to the knockout stages.
Indeed, the campaign has started off strong for CLG. Wins over yoe Flash Wolves on day one and Pain Gaming on day two mean they’ve secured a 2-0 standing at the close of day two.
“After yesterday’s game, I definitely didn’t want to underestimate any opponents,” CLG top laner Darshan “Zionspartan” Upadhyaha said, “because I didn’t think Flash Wolves would be as strong as they were.” The North American team dispatched Yoe Flash Wolves on day one. But on day two the LMS side came back to claim victory over the KOO Tigers, one of the favorites in the group.
“I saw Pain’s early game and saw that they got ahead of KOO and I didn’t want to underestimate that,” Upadhyaha said. “So I went into the game fully focused, in the zone, and that’s what made that game a lot easier than it could have been.”
There was always a chance the wildcard team could pull an upset, but CLG brush aside the Brazilians of Pain Gaming in a routine win. “I think people have a bad habit of underestimating the wildcard regions,” Upadhyaya said. “I still think Pain are pretty strong it’s just that the top teams don’t give the wildcard regions the respect they deserve”
The win launches CLG to a 2-0 record in the group, giving them a good shot at moving on. The Korean side KOO Tigers will be waiting for them on Oct. 4, however. KOO lost a very close game against yoe Flash Wolves today, but Upadhyaya says he “isn’t going to underestimate them”
“I’m just really excited to face KOO, I’m not really worried,” he said. “They’re a really strong team, but I think we can beat them pretty handily.” The two teams have never faced each other in international competition. And with CLG coming out ahead in the opening two days, it’s hard to predict who’s actually going into this match as the favorites. But Upadhyaya isn’t worried.
“I don’t think there’s anything specific we’ll need to beat KOO, we’re just going to be the better team and come out on top.”
CLG isn’t the only North American side performing well so far in the tournament. Cloud9 picked up a surprise victory over AHQ esports club yesterday to take a strong first step in their group. “After watching their games and the other games in their group, I think they definitely have a chance,” Upadhyaya said. “IG also played very poorly in their first game so I’d have to see a little bit more of their play to say if Cloud9 have a decent chance or not”
Team SoloMid, on the other hand, could be set for a struggle after losing to KT Rolster and then seeing group underdogs Origen upset China’s LGD Gaming. “I saw flashes of brilliance in TSM’s play against KT Rolster. Bjergsen’s laning and the start of their early game play was good,” Upadhyaya said. “If they can piece things together in a hurry, I think they have a chance of getting out. But if they don’t fix anything I’d say they have a 0 percent chance.”
CLG look to continue their run of form when they meet KOO Tigers on Sunday. With a victory against the Koreans they could secure a 3-0 start to the tournament, giving them a very good chance of making the knockout stages in the No. 1 position. “I think it’s going to be us and KOO going through, but people think KOO first and us second, whereas I think we’ll be first,” Upadhyaya said. “I think Flash Wolves will take third. But they definitely have a lot better chance of making it in second than I previously thought.”
CLG have earned themselves a one day break from the tournament, they will next feature on Sunday in their mammoth match against KOO Tigers. A three day break for every team follows before resuming on Oct 8, where Group A and CLG’s fate will be decided when each team faces off against each other one more time.