Doublelift's Departure: Covering the Move that Changed North America
With the news of Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng's removal from Counter Logic Gaming, as well as his subsequent signing with CLG's long-time rival organization Team SoloMid, emotions were running high in the North American League scene. For as many fans of competitive League of Legends, there were likely just as many reactions to this sudden change, ranging from amusement to frustration to horror. It's not often that the face of a franchise, as some would consider Doublelift, joins forces with their biggest rival in any professional sport, let alone League of Legends. A move of this magnitude would be comparable to Tom Brady of the New England Patriots playing quarterback for the New York Giants, to whom he has lost two Super Bowls.
In the summer split of 2015 as well as the World Championship group stage, Doublelift and TSM's previous AD carry, Jason "WildTurtle" Tran, had polarizing performances. Much of CLG's success was found when Doublelift was allowed to take over games on hard carries such as Tristana, though not to the extent of the classic "protect the Doublelift" strategy of the past. WildTurtle, on the other hand, seemed to be regressing from his days of being among the top AD carries in North America. Questionable in-game decisions and a storm of criticism from fans led TSM to bring in a temporary substitute in the form of Yuri "KEITHMCBRIEF" Jew, though only for one game. Regardless of the short nature of the substitution, WildTurtle continued to have a mediocre-at-best showing for the rest of the season until finally being replaced by Doublelift just days ago.
On the surface, the decision to kick Doublelift seems like one that could only be made by a heavily intoxicated CLG management. The team had just won their first North American title (against the very team that Doublelift just joined), and while they had limited success at Worlds, their organization seemed destined for domestic superiority in the future. In addition to this, Doublelift was arguably the most valuable player for CLG throughout the summer split, challenged only by top laner Darshan "ZionSpartan" Upadhyaya. With all of this in mind, what could have possibly constituted CLG kicking their best and most recognizable player?
Any follower of North American League of Legends can tell you that throughout his career, Doublelift has had difficulty getting along with his teammates, to put it lightly. There have been many accounts from former CLG players about his arrogant and generally unpleasant personality. Of course, personalities like these do not go unnoticed, and although the team was willing to keep him on their roster for as long as they did, enough eventually became enough. Possibly the most surprising revelation to come from this is the fact that Doublelift and teammate Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black, the other half of CLG's rush hour bot lane duo, had a "falling out," part of which included Aphromoo campaigning for Doublelift to be removed from the team. What was always thought to be one of the most tightly-knit friendships in League of Legends is now no more.
While there are many more roster changes to be made throughout North America and the other competitive leagues, Doublelift's move to TSM is certainly the biggest and most surprising story so far. Barring any more swaps of this status, this will be what sets the tone for the 2016 LCS season. Coincidentally, CLG and TSM were both voted in to IEM San Jose by the public prior to any swaps being made by either organization. "Doublelift versus his old team" is sure to be a huge narrative heading into the tournament and the entirety of next year.
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