How to lose players and alienate fans: CLG's offseason so far
In the space of just over a week Counter Logic Gaming, the North American LCS' summer split champions, lost their coach, mid laner and star AD carry. On top of this they lost over 1500 CLG flairs on /r/lol in under a day.
Many have written off the team as a guaranteed failure for the Spring Split of 2016 and the future does look rather grim for the organisation who released three key members of their first ever NA LCS winning team after an underwhelming performance at this year's world championship.
CLG has 4 players on their active roster at the moment and I highly doubt this roster has the talent to make playoffs in one of the most money-fuelled and competitive splits the NA LCS has ever seen.
Zionspartan is solid. He proved at Worlds that he was not world-class, getting outclassed twice by KOO Tigers' star performer Song "Smeb" Kyung-ho on both occasions that they met, but he is certainly serviceable. I would keep Zion, he is the best of a very lacking NA top lane talent pool and allows for the team to have two imports in other roles.
Xmithie needs to go. The ex-XDG player was the weak link for CLG throughout the summer split and even through their dominant playoffs run was not entirely consistent.
Options, however, are most likely limited. In a dream scenario CLG would be able to sign someone of the calibre of Svenskeren or Jankos from the EU LCS who have shown to be extremely dominant when given the right teams to work with. In an ACTUAL dream where HotshotGG wins the lottery every day for a week CLG would bring in Spirit or Dandy on a million dollar contract but that seems about as likely as Doublelift leaving for TSM or something similarly ridiculous...
The mid lane position, sadly for CLG, seems to be set in stone. Eugene "Pobelter" Park, who played for the team for just one split, was kicked from the team and replaced by ex-Fusion mid laner Choi "HuHi" Jae-hyun. It seems unlikely that the team will kick their recent addition to the active roster but stranger things have happened on CLG...in the last few days in fact.
IF, a big if, CLG looks to replace Huhi I would hope they look to Korea's GBM. Lee "GBM" Chang-seok is rumoured to be leaving the Jin Air Green Wings and was extremley impressive throughout season 5, I think he would be a perfect fit for CLG although the chances are next to none.
The second most shocking news of the off-season came when Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng left CLG after playing for them since November 2011. The most shocking news came around 10 minutes later, when he joined long time rival Team Solo Mid to join star mid laner Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. The news sent shockwaves through social media and turned many fans and analysts perspective of CLG completely upside-down.
During the world championship CLG won just two games, both off the back of protect the AD carry comps which had been their signature ever since Doublelift had been on the team. Without their franchise player many expect CLG to self-destruct, I think that with the correct moves they can avoid this.
There are three ADCs who could, in my opinion, fill Doublelift's enormous metaphorical shoes (I'm not entirely sure of his actual shoe size).
The first option would be Konstantinos "FORG1VEN" Tzortziou, he is quite possibly the most talented ADC the west has ever seen. If CLG can control his difficult personality and build a team around him they could truly threaten any team in North America, he is European Doublelift on steroids.
Another incredibly talented and available AD carry is Aleš "Freeze" Kn?žínek, the Czech was outstanding on Copenhagen Wolves in spite of their relegation and would be my next choice below FORG1VEN.
The third and final option to fill the AD carry position would be Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes. Stixxay was one of the brighest AD carry prospects from the North American Challenger Series and is even contracted with CLG. This of course would require HotshotGG finding the key to the dungeon which they left him to rot in throughout the course of the summer split but I believe in CLG's competent management to be able to do this.
In an ideal world where CLG obtains an EU import in both the jungle and AD carry roles their options would be limited. They would be forced to stay within NA's talent pool and the only upgrade I can see over current starter Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black would be Adrian "Adrian" Ma. It is unlikely that CLG will be able to secure his services as he has been heavily linked with rivals TSM and the most likely scenario would be retaining their current starter.
Ideal Roster -
Top - Darshan "ZionSpartan" Upadhyaya
Jungle - Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen OR Marcin "Jankos" Jankowski
Mid lane - Choi "HuHi" Jae-hyun
AD Carry - Konstantinos "FORG1VENGRE" Tzortziou OR Aleš "Freeze" Kn?žínek
Support - Adrian "Adrian" Ma OR Zaqueri "Aphromoo" Black
What will probably happen..
CLG keeps Zion in the top lane.
Xmithie is replaced by Link in the jungle.
Huhi runs away from the house and Hotshot is subbed in.
Wildturtle joins as AD carry, flashes defensively, benched for Paragon.
Aphromoo stays as support, continues to grow his afro.
CLG chokes their chance at playoffs and flies to Korea to take part in KR challenger series.