Counter Logic Gaming: From the Ashes
Following Counter Logic Gaming’s (CLG) successful result at the Mid Season Invitational (MSI), it would be remiss to assume that the organisation has always been at the pinnacle of League of Legends (LoL) competition. This assumption could not be any further from the truth. The reality is, that it was less than two years ago that CLG, one of the oldest North American LoL teams, was one game away from being relegated from the LCS completely. This article will highlight the struggles and trials that CLG had to endure before their rise as one of the greatest North American League of Legends organisations in history.
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
The year is 2014 and CLG, with their lineup of Shin “Seraph” Wu-Yeong (Top), Marcel “dexter” Feldkamp (Jungle), Austin "LiNk" Shin (Mid), Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng (AD Carry) and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black (Support) were having a terrible summer split run, finishing the split 13-15. After bootcamping in Korea (essentially forfeiting their last four games of the split), being fined $5,000 by Riot for account sharing and losing 0-3 to Curse in the first round of the playoffs, CLG was in dire straits. After investing heavily into flights and accommodation for bootcamping in Korea, Counter Logic Gaming came back only to be swept by Curse. CLG seemed defeated even before the games began. There was no cohesion within the team, no sense of direction or purpose. Mistake after mistake followed CLG during the series and the end result was a 0-3 in favour of Curse.
Touted as a team full of ‘potential’ and talent, CLG now had to face Dignitas in a best of five to keep their spot in the NA LCS. After winning the first game in the series, with Doublelift’s Lucian finishing the game with a 14.0 KDA, CLG lost the next three games in a row, losing their secured spot in the NA LCS and forcing them to play another best of five against Curse Academy in the Season 5 relegation/promotion tournament. Counter Logic Gaming did not seem to have the mental fortitude to compete at any level, let alone the highest. Internal issues plagued the team, with tension between the players only hampering their gameplay. Dignitas played better in the series and took away the victory 3-1.
“I’ve failed over and over and over again… And that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan
It was at this point for critics and fans alike to start seriously questioning the leadership and the decision-making of CLG management. Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, the former coach of the team was repeatedly criticised as "not being a real coach." HotshotGG, the owner of Counter Logic Gaming, was criticised for "not having the stomach" to step in and deal with the inherent problems in his organisation, unlike his rival and counterpart Andy “Reginald” Dinh from Team SoloMid (TSM). Fans put each player under a microscope, searching for reasons for their team’s surprising failure. Bringing Seraph from Korea was a mistake. Dexter cannot gank for his laners. Link ‘tilts’ under pressure. Doublelift always get caught. Aphromoo cannot carry.
Coming into the first game of the series against Curse Academy (CRSA), CLG went for a pick composition with Ahri, Elise and Leona, whilst CRSA adopted teamfight composition, choosing Maokai and Orianna. Like many other previous games, CLG failed to play to their win conditions and lost teamfight after teamfight, losing the game at 40 minutes. The second game went much the same with Keane's Orianna securing an ace with a triple kill after a risky baron attempt by CLG.
"Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it." - Bruce Lee
Picture this: Counter Logic Gaming down two games in a best of five, the momentum clearly in Curse Academy's favour. One mistake, one misstep, one lapse of judgement could lead to another loss for the organisation, resulting in relegation. This is where CLG had their backs against the wall. It was do or die. CLG relied on quite possibly the only composition they knew: 'Protect the Doublelift'.
The concept behind 'Protect the Doublelift' is simple - create a composition that enables Doublelift the output the most damage possible, whilst keeping him alive. This involves Doublelift on a damage AD carry and the rest of the team working to peel, heal and shield him from damage. With CLG's back against the wall, this is what they brought out. Two fantastic performances by Doublelift on Tristana and Lucian allowed CLG to come back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the series up 2-2.
This was it. CLG were not only fighting to win the series, but fighting to keep the organisation in the LCS. Internal issues, conflicting personalities and the pressure to choke aside, it was time for CLG to prove if they are able to compete at a competitve LCS level.
CLG were unfazed after an unconventional Hecariam pick by Curse Academy's mid laner Keane, choosing instead for a standard teamfight composition with Ziggs and Alistar, with the damage threats of Khazix, Ryze and Tristana. After an easy first blood for Dexter on Khazix, CLG proceeded to take kill advantages all over the map through early teamfight skirmishes.
During a fight in the bot lane, Curse Academy managed to kill Seraph's Ryze with the help of Keane's Hecaraim and Cris' Lulu. This translated thirty seconds later into a baron for Curse Academy. An attempted pick on Link's Ziggs in the mid lane resulted in a two for nothing in CLG's favour in addition to a free mid inhibitor.
Towards the 35 minute mark, a free pick on Keane's Hecaraim allow CLG pick up a free baron. They used this baron to take out Curse Academy's bottom inhibitor. Another successful teamfight victory by CLG give Counter Logic Gaming the victory over Curse Academy 3-2.
Remember Where You Come From
Photo Credit - lolesports
In light of Counter Logic Gaming's recent success as NA LCS Champions and MSI Finalists, it is important to remember and learn from mistakes in the past. CLG, in one year, went from almost being relegated to NA LCS champions; from NA LCS champions to MSI finalists. Regardless of your feelings towards the organisation and it's players, CLG have done something right and proved that sometimes it takes mistakes and failure to learn and succeed.