Counter Logic Gaming quelled their doubters today by besting rival Team SoloMid in a convincing game in the second week of the League Championship Series Summer Split. The victory brings CLG to 3-2 and drops TSM to the same mark.
The win restores faith in a Counter Logic Gaming that looked like they could be improving into the number two squad in America at the end of last season. But a loss to Team SoloMid in the playoffs and a disappointing first week in the Summer with their new Korean top laner Shin “Seraph” Woo Yeong had many questioning whether they’d really pose a serious challenge this season.
Yesterday, Counter Logic Gaming had the match well in hand, right from the champion select. Apparently the team switched champion select duties from support Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black to mid laner Austin “LiNk” Shin. And it paid dividends.
Team SoloMid picked a “protect Kog’Maw” composition, featuring multiple support style champions, such as a top lane Lulu designed to protect the insane late game damage the marksman Kog’Maw brings to the table. But Team SoloMid picked Leona as Kog’Maw’s in-lane support, a mistake when the popular Kog’Maw paired with Nami was still on the table. And CLG punished them for it.
CLG was ready with a combo of their own—the Alistair and Orianna initiation. Orianna can attach her ball to Alistair, using his charge to engage the enemy team, placing the ball in the perfect spot to execute a dangerous Orianna ultimate.
The setup gave CLG advantages in lane and strong team fight capability. That was highlighted no better than at the 22 minute mark, when Black and Shin combined for a perfect shockwave that nailed down three kills and an inhibitor.
From that point on, it was a rush to end the game for CLG as they tallied objective after objective, ending the match after a quick 28 minutes.
Team SoloMid looked on the back foot the entire time, reacting to CLG instead of keeping the game at their own pace. New jungler Maurice “Amazing” Stückenschneider had a poor game on his signature Lee Sin, posting a 0/2/0 KDA.
The Team SoloMid bottom lane, featuring new support Nicolas “Gleeb” Haddad, were outmatched against CLG’s Yiliang “DoubleLift” Peng and his support Black, with Peng racing to a 50 creep score lead by the nineteen minute mark. That can’t happen when your entire team composition is built around building Jason “Wildturtle” Tran’s Kog’Maw into a late game hyper carry.
“Gleeb is not a spectacular laner,” said Peng after the game. “[Previous TSM support Alex ‘Xpecial’ Chu] hits all of his hooks and has good lane presence. Gleeb and Wildturtle are a lot weaker than Wildturtle and Xpecial. They were playing a weak lane comp. I don’t know why they were trying to 2v2 us.”
TSM’s rookie support Haddad had a successful debut in super week, leading all supports in fantasy scoring. His game against CLG was disastrous however, a 0/4/1 KDA line worth negative fantasy points for his owners.
“They should have probably picked Nami that game instead of playing Leona,” said Black. Nami is better in lane and provides more sustain, something Kog’Maw desperately needs. In Korea, Nami is an integral part of the Kog’Maw selection. Team SoloMid opted for Leona instead, a hard engage champion who doesn’t synergize with the immobile Kog’Maw in lane. That made things easy for the “Rush Hour” bottom lane, as fans call Peng and Black, due to their similarity to the Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker combo from the Rush Hour film.
The victory shows that Team SoloMid still has a lot of work to do in their mastery of League of Legends as a macro game. Their laning is still strong, but that advantage is growing smaller as teams like Dignitas and LMQ have solid laners of their own, and with TSM’s bottom lane weaker than last split. More importantly, their decision making in and out of game still needs work. The leadership added by the two new acquisitions hasn’t paid off so far, and that’s going to hold them back against teams with similar skill level but better shot calling like CLG and Cloud 9.
Tomorrow, Team SoloMid will have a tough match with the number one ranked Dignitas. It’s a chance to redeem themselves after a disappointing game, but if they play like they did today, it could signal a changing of the guard at the top of the North American scene.
Counter Logic Gaming faces last place team Complexity, newcomers to the LCS. A win would put them at 4-2, a solid start to the young LCS season.