There’s only one week left in the League of Legends Championship Series regular season, but some teams refuse to let that stop them from making major moves. In one of the most surprising moves of the season, Counter Logic Gaming‘s main roster will miss all four games of the season’s final week to attend a boot camp in Korea with the team’s coach, Christopher “Montecristo” Mykles. In their place will be a hodge-podge B-team patched together from unknown newbies and veteran has-beens.
— Counter Logic Gaming (@clgaming) July 29, 2014
The move appears to be a response to a number of unique circumstances the team finds itself in.
The trip was initially mandatory for at least one player, top laner Shin “Seraph” Woo-yeong. Shin is a Korean native who moved to the U.S. to compete with Counter Logic this season. In order to not overstay his Visa, he has to travel back to his home country and get his new one in place.
The other major reason for the trip is the fact that Counter Logic Gaming has a high likelihood of playing in the fourth/fifth place semifinal match, regardless of their record in this last week. Currently at 13-11 in fourth place, there’s no chance they don’t appear in the playoffs.
But to move up a seed, they’d have to overcome a two-game deficit over rivals Team SoloMid and two-time champions Cloud9. And the only chance they get the sixth seed is if they lose all four games, and sixth place Curse wins all of theirs.
The bottom line is that this week’s games matter very little to a team that is all but locked into their current semifinal match. And while fans are sad to miss a full week of their favorite line-up, the move gives Counter Logic a better chance at reaching their ultimate goal—a World Championships seed. They’ll need to finish in third place or better at the Regional Finals later this year to earn it, and they’ll be sure to prep for such a finish during their trip to Korea. Their superstar bottom lane pairing, Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, stand a lot to gain if they can get in solid practice during the boot camp.
Meanwhile, the Counter Logic name will be upheld by a B-team, headlined by Counter Logic Gaming owner and former player, George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis, along with veterans Zach “Nientonsoh” Malhas and Shan “Chaox” Huang. Joining them will be newcomers to the LCS, Thomas “ThinkCard” Slotkin and Kevin “KonKwon” Kwon.
Early reactions are mixed, but in particular, those with Counter Logic members on their LCS Fantasy teams are angered that they’ll be missing key players in a critical week. But some pros and Riot employees have already voiced their support at the decision.
I love CLG’s choice! Aim high instead of limping into playoffs/worlds, the risks are acceptable! “If you’re not first, you’re last”
— Kobe (@RiotKobe) July 30, 2014
Other reactions vary from humorous to prescient.
@aphromoo WHY YOU LEAVING ME WTF
— Zach Scuderi (@C9Sneaky) July 29, 2014
chaox kept asking me what we were planning on playing this weekend.. he got offended that I thought he was being shady but guess I was right
— Eugene Park (@Pobelter) July 29, 2014
Screengrab via Riot Games/YouTube