CJ Entus - An in-depth look throughout terrible decisions made in Korea
Throughout their LoL history the CJ Entus organization has been known to have great loyalty to its own players, not choosing to end their player’s contracts even after really bad seasons or after showing consistent flaws in their gameplay. That characteristic in the CJ Entus staff in theory could have been harmless, but in reality, it may have been one of their biggests flaws.
In the 2 team per organization system, Blaze and Frost, alongside with 2014 Blue and White were the most dominant and well balanced organizations when comparing the power of their 2 teams with each other and with the rest of the league. Before OGN Summer 2014, both Blaze and Frost had never failed to make into top 8 in 7 different seasons of Champions. Even with that insane consistency, Blaze and Frost were decaying since Summer 2013, and when everybody was speculating about big roster swaps that would make both teams elite level again, CJ made really poor decisions throughout the seasons that lead they into the worst position they ever were: Summer 2015 and Worlds Gauntlet 4th place in a way weaker league after the Korean exodus. The “loyalty” that led into the decision of keeping players like Space, Ambition and Shy who are not even close of being elite level players like both Ambition and Shy were back in their peaks, per example. After the legendary rosters were gone, CJ still decided to keep players that were not that good because maybe they were legends, popular, or because some whatever reason. That kind of decision drove them into the worst point in their history after obtaining Blaze and Frost rosters in 2013. Taking a look into history, it’s possible to see various possible decisions the organization could have made that could change their fate in many tournaments they’ve lost.
The fall of the reigning Brothers of Korea
In Champions Spring 2013, Blaze and Frost joined CJ Entus organization. Frost finished the Tournament in 4th place and Blaze in 2nd losing to SK Telecom T1 2 and MVP Ozone respectively. In Summer 2013, both got eliminated by KT Bullets and would meet the same fate in the Worlds Gauntlet.
After a dominant 2012 and reaching one finals each one in 2013, it was clear that the scene had produced more talent and the other teams had equipped themselves with that talent to end the reign of Blaze and Frost and that some players that were once top level players didn’t managed to keep up. The teams started to scout another players in soloQ and ones who had OGN appearances but didn’t make it out of the groups to bring them in to the team and try to extract their talent and use it in some serviceable fashion, or if they already were a powerful team in the league, they would create their B team, to copy the system that worked out so well in Blaze and Frost. The B team structure was the best way to develop talent that ever were. Similar to professional sports, the talent it’s scouted and tested into the team houses and developed over the time in B teams, but the system that existed in Korean LoL differs from real sports like Football because the A and the B team compete in the same league and against each other. Throughout the history, because of OGN high competitivity gets harder to identify who was the main team in many orgs because the players that were brought in were well developed into top level players or good players that would shine in a team that had a good synergy within the player’s skills, even if they aren’t the best or even if they were in the scene for so long and never had success. Often times these B teams would step in and become an elite level team.
The situation in Blaze and Frost was different because they were already at the top and they were already each other sister team, a situation that probably helped them to stay on top for 4 different seasons of Champions, but after the teams started to find talent in the KR SoloQ and prepare them to become stars and factoring the many changes the meta had through seasons, Blaze and Frost had to change drastically to stay on top, but they didn’t. Even with some changes, it wasn’t enough to solve the problems in the team and some of these changes could’ve done the opposite.
2014 - The Samsung Era
CJ’s 2014 was a gigantic downfall. The scene had produced way more better players and the old ones are starting to drop off. In the Spring season, after the rise of White Shield and Samsung Blue, it was clear that new teams with new players had got stronger and are starting a new era in the scene. Players like Ambition and Shy, who were core components of the legendary rosters that once these teams were, did not seem to fit anymore into the scene as top-level players. Since the legendary rosters are now dead, and the synergy it’s not an excuse to keep them in, there’s no reason to keep a player that it’s not performing. They didn’t suddenly became bottom level players, but their style and some constant decisions they make seems like they still think they are a top 3 player in their position and those bad decisions will pay off because they have the skill to overcome bad situations, but at the end, they failed to keep up with the new teams. That’s a sign of another mistake by the organization: Not been able to get through their players and get them in a better shape and teach them how to play another styles.
CJ roster swaps seem really odd sometimes, even some of the good ones they’ve made. CJ decided to keep Space when they bought Blaze and Frost, but why didn’t they keep players like Dade or Insec? Why not tryout these players in and try to change the team style a bit? Why let them go out to other teams and see those players becoming really good players? CJ seems to have similar problems of decision making of teams like CLG in NA, who kept players for too long that weren’t performing anymore, didn’t managed to scout out good players in and didn’t managed to play around their star players skills. Space it’s probably the most iconic character in the CJ’s bad decision making history: Why keep him for that long? When you see the pool of players that Frost could get you’ll find names like Ohq, Deft, Fury and Pray after he left NJBS. Why not make an over to one of those new players and tryout him? And, even if you don’t want to risk yourself bringing in a rookie, why didn’t you sign with Pray and rebuilt the All Stars bot lane? In a team like Frost, when your top laner isn’t a top level player anymore and can’t carry as hard, and you’re constantly changing your mid, why didn’t you put Emperor into Frost? If you already managed to find out a better ADC, why put him in a team who does already have a more defined style of carrying in the top lane? Why waste Madlife’s talent with a way weaker AD carry like Space? If you already have the talent and the potential to create a great bot lane that could fight against the Samsungs bot lanes, why keep Space, who’s clearly never going to be a top ADC in Korea, even after the Korean exodus?
Space is clearly the most well-known and debated point on CJ, but some of their good decisions could be even better, like mentioned with Emperor. One of the decisions that CJ could’ve done better is Swift on Frost. One of the reasons against that could’ve been the timing: Frost jungler at the time (Winter to Spring) was Lira and only after he was doing pretty bad, Swift came in, but still, why not at the beginning of the Neo-Blaze era time put Daydream and Emperor into the Frost line up and after that, bring in Swift to Blaze and Coco to Blaze or Frost? Blaze strength in the top lane would be way better used if you bring in the jungler who it’s known for loving to go ham into the 2x2 and 1x1 paired up with the top carry who never had that kind of jungler to play with. Coco and Ambition could worked out in both of the teams, but probably if Coco and Swift went to Blaze and Ambition, Daydream and Emperor went to Frost, that’s the best scenario for that team at that time. In Frost, Ambition could carry in certain champions and could drown the attention out from the bot and the top lane, which would, in theory be the most focal points in the team. So, in theory, this Frost and Blaze line up could’ve been like this in 2014:
HYPOTETICAL CJ ENTUS BLAZE - Xenics Blaze
In a lot of ways, this team could play a similar way that Najin White Shield played in Spring. Their duo at the top lane would be one of the bests in the league, Coco could have good games in certain champions, especially when paired up with Swift and in the bot lane, despite the weak lanning phase, Cpt Jack always had good games when he needed to. If the problems in the bot lane are way too big and the duo isn’t working anymore, bring Emperor to Blaze and bring Pray to Frost after Spring.
HYPOTETICAL CJ ENTUS FROST - SPACE PRISIONBREAK
It was always a dream of CJ fans see Madlife paired up with a good AD Carry. Emperor may not have been a star AD Carry in OGN, but maybe when paired up with a godlike support like Madlife it could have been different. Ambition can have great results when he’s on his conformable champions, and situations like these worked out in teams like Blue and NJWS, even with quite small champion pools, their midlaners worked out really well. Ambition probably would not be at the same level as Dade and Ggoong at Spring, but in that environment, maybe he could’ve done better. Shy is quite solid at the time, and this line up could keep the late game teamfight strategy that Frost always loved to use when they are equipped with better lanes. Even with the lineup they had in Spring, the addition of a better ADC would make that roster way stronger. The names in the AD Carry role are some of the names that were available over the course of 2014, just to illustrate how many options they had to replace Space.
Those suggestions probably wouldn’t make Frost and Blaze elite level teams, but maybe they would have better odds in Spring and Summer. If they had made out of the group stage, when factoring the level of the teams back then, Frost could easily reached top 4 in that tournament and Blaze could have a shot against SSB and SSW if the lineup worked out well. Probably they wouldn’t die in the group stage. There were also the option of making a superteam out of Blaze and Frost and try to go for the championship once again, but that kinda happened (on the worst way possible only) in 2015.
Another huge factor within those lines is that the attitude of some of those players seems unreasonable in a lot of ways. In their downfalls, players like Ambition and Shy still were playing like they were top level players and acting that way. It’s another important point to address: the failure of the CJ coaching staff of not getting through those players and working out on their mentality, and if they’re not motivated or they’re not willing to improve anymore, just cut them out of the team and go look for other players.
In Spring 2015, that was probably the decision they had to do, but instead, they’ve kept with their same attitude of keeping old players like Ambition who had to role swap to be on the team. The Spring 2015 lineup may sound like a joke to some of the fans of CJ, because they’ve managed to do the worst decisions they’ve could have done except benching Coco or going insane and kicking Madlife out of the team. They’ve didn’t kept Flame, Daydream and Emperor and kept Shy, Ambition and Space. In the Flame scenario, maybe it was impossible to compete with an offer from China, but if they had the money or an opportunity, doing everything to keep Flame had to be their decision. The weird scenario is Daydream and Emperor: they both went to Keyd Stars, and having watched all of their games in the country, I must say they were not even the best in their positions in Brazil. I really think that CJ could at least tried to keep both Daydream and Emperor in the lineup to create the CJ Entus merge for Spring because Brazil isn’t a big scene, and they don’t have that money and that infrastructure to compete with Korea, and if they had stayed in Korea, they could easily be top 3 at the time. Even if it’s impossible to keep those 3 players, moving Ambition to jungle it seems a desperate move or it seems that you really want that guy to stay there no matter what.
It’s completely unreasonable the decision of keeping the wrong players for that long, but probably this decision and this speech of loyalty it’s an excuse to hide one of the organizations biggest flaws that is scouting new players and working with them to build new players and line ups. In the course of 2015, they only started to use subs in Summer when Shy got sick and when they ended SKT’s bo3 streak, they were playing with Trick. You can argue in the future that Trick was a good scout from SKT if he becomes a good player, but that is just too little compared to some of what other orgs already did. CJ Entus era was the beginning of the end to the legendary Frost and Blaze rosters. It’s obviously not the organization’s 100% fault: The players dropped off, didn’t managed to win all of those championships and kept doing stupid things. but, when talking about the Korean LoL infrastructure, you’ll hear a lot of complements about how amazing and well organized it is, but in the case of CJ Entus, all that money and infrastructure doesn’t mean anything if you’re not able to make the right decisions and implement the right system in those teams.
CJ Entus in the past had players like dade and Insec who became the best at their positions after leaving the organization. Just as an analogy, it seems like some players on Frost and Blaze are in the same scenario. They’ve been trapped in a nightmare organization that’s just confortable with the mediocrity of being just an average team. When you go back and see the things that they could have done and the things those players could achieve, it’s just sad to think they got “trapped” in this type of scenario. It’s not the organization fault, if the players still want to win, they should have left and tried to join other teams, just like Flame did in the end. CJ transformed the most powerful teams in Korea in the Dignitas of LCK, a middle of the pack team with no ambition (lol).
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