Doublelift: 'People are underestimating us'
At least, that’s what outspoken marksman Peter “DoubleLift” Peng had to say after his team won their opening match against Team 8. The team that has become infamous for inane role swaps, falling just short at championships, and, now, rule-breaking, may finally be in for a renaissance.
“We’re not playing scared all the time,” Peng said. “Because I think that was our biggest issue for the longest time. We were always playing scared.”
The addition of playmaking top laner Darshan “ZionSpartan” Upadhyaya gives Counter Logic a weapon they’ve “never really experienced before,” Peng says. “He can make a play on his own, so it just kind of ushers in a new era of CLG.”
“Games last a really long time,” he says. “We don’t necessarily make a great play. Most of the time when we used to win, it’d just be because the enemy team made a bad play.”
With Upadhyaya in the lineup, Peng says that is changing. The team is becoming more proactive in deciding their own fate. It hasn’t shown in their play during their up-and-down week one, which included a disappointing loss to Team Liquid. But Peng says they haven’t gotten to play their new style yet, considering they played week one with a sub. Once Upadhyaya is back in the lineup, fans might be surprised.
Adding Upadhyaya also does something that might be even more important for Counter Logic Gaming—take the pressure off their superstar player.
“There’s so much less pressure on me to get farmed, get really fed every game because we have so many great players on our team now,” Peng said. “Everyone is a threat. We’re not playing scared anymore. We’re making great plays as soon as we possibly can. You probably won’t see that week one, because we have a ringer. But when we get our full roster we are very, very good in the mid late game.”
In addition to missing their top laner, the team also missed their new man behind the bench, William “Scarra” Li, who is suspended for the first three weeks of the season as punishment for Counter Logic Gaming poaching him. The new coach is “really helpful,” Peng says. “Scarra helps out with micro macro strategy and interpersonal relationships. He has a good grasp on what it’s like to be a successful team because at one point he was a really good player, possibly the best mid in NA, and he was also at a point near relegations and not doing well.”
That reads like a description of Counter Logic Gaming’s 2014, making Scarra the perfect man to relate to the team’s situation. Last year, they placed third in the Spring split, only falling to Team SoloMid 2-1 in the playoffs after a mistake cost them a likely won game. They were favorites to qualify for worlds in the summer, a team on the rise.
But a disappointing summer season nearly saw the team relegated, with a miracle comeback against Curse Academy the only thing keeping them in the LCS. In esports, you’re only as good as your latest results, leaving fans wondering if Counter Logic really can compete—even if the team looked solid at the recent Intel Extreme Masters tourney in Cologne, where they placed second.
“People have been placing Gravity ahead of us in the power rankings because its pretty easy to hit on CLG right now because we’re always just disappointing and bad,” Peng laughed. “We also broke the rules, which doesn’t help. So I think that’s pretty interesting. We’ll see how we place relative to Gravity ... At the end of the split I’m guessing [we place] top two. I think people are underestimating how good CLG is right now.”
One reason why might be Counter Logic's choice in roster additions. The team picked up two American players while squads like Team Liquid imported superstar Koreans, like former world champion Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin. During Riot's promo clip for the first week of LCS, Peng says he's scared to play against Chae. Scared? Really?
“No,” he said, adding quickly, “At first I was definitely scared of Piglet. Well, not scared, I was more interested. Like, how good is this guy? I was a little worried, like maybe he’s super ridiculously good. He is super ridiculously good, but he’s not significantly better than any of the other AD carries, honestly. Sneaky and WildTurtle have their own strengths, Piglet has his own strengths. By any means, he’s not like a bottom two AD, he’s in the running for top three, top four, but I’m not scared of him at all, no.”
In fact, Peng seems to think Chae’s recruitment might hurt his team, due to the language barrier and integrating a player with such differing experience within League of Legends.
“It might be harder to coach that guy,” Peng says. “There’s a language barrier, he comes from a strong region where he might think he understands the game better than we do, he understands the game at a higher level. To mix your ideas with a player like that, might be harder. It’s not necessarily his fault. So, I don’t know.”
No matter how good Piglet is, “Rush Hour” is still king. Or at least, keeping a hand on the crown as others try to grab it.
“Just laning against him mechanically, we’re known for always winning lane, and Xpecial and Piglet are also really good in lane,” Peng says. “Other than that I can’t really see their big great strengths.”
But even if Peng and Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black can’t stave off Piglet’s solid mechanics, it may not matter this season for Counter Logic Gaming. They’ve got more weapons than just Peng. And they are no longer scared to use them.