NA LCS Finals - Resurgence of the Old Guard
This is the first of a hopefully 3 part series titled “NA LCS - Resurgence of the Old Guard.” The series looks to explore the careers of Doublelift, Dyrus, and Zionspartan, members of the two finals teams that have participated in every split of the LCS.
Doublelift - Transcending Past Glory
“Can Doublelift kite? There’s just way too much now. Quicksilver, into barrier, into everything he has, and he’s on his knees praying right now to get of this one. It may actually work! He gets the condemn […] a tumble again, Doublelift is playing amazing! He gets it one more time, a triple kill for Doublelift, the mechanics are amazing!”
- Rivington (CLG vs. MRN MLG Dallas 2013)
Since joining Counter Logic Gaming in November of 2011 at the beginning of season 2, Peter “Doublelift” Peng has been the main carry of the team, as well as one of the faces of the CLG organization. Though he has undeniable mechanical prowess, Doublelift’s sometimes questionable decision making has been part of the reason for CLG’s lack of tournament victories over the years.
However, this split has seen Doublelift quietly putting up some of the best numbers of his LCS career, culminating in last week’s 3-0 series sweep of Team Impulse. This was a series where Doublelift had a combined KDA of 20-5-23, and outputted over 37% of his team’s damage. Now, on the cusp of his first ever LCS finals against longtime rivals TSM, let’s take a look at how Doublelift has evolved as a player, and how he may be playing at the best in his career.
Top of the World
For the longest time, CLG was a Doublelift centric team. For practically all of season 2 and 3, we saw the team running “protect the Doublelift” compositions, which saw quite a bit of success, and helped CLG become the furthest reaching team at IPL 5. Armed with his big, trash-talking persona, and the mechanics to back up his claims, Doublelift often carried his team to victory on the strength of his play alone. Along with Steve “Chauster” Chau, CLG’s “Chausterlift” bot lane was widely regarded as top 2 in the world, second to only that of WE’s Weixiao and Fzzf.
Doublelift showed mastery on a range of champions, including Ezreal, Caitlyn, and of course, his signature Vayne. His aggressive playstyle, smooth kiting ability, and propensity outplaying his opponent made him one of the most exciting players to watch. With countless montages of his in-game highlights online, Doublelift was at the top of the world, and looked poised to carry CLG right there with him.
Fall From Grace
However, CLG was still unable to produce any tournament wins, and with the start of season 3 and the introduction of first ever split of the League Championship Series, many teams began to adapt to CLG’s playstyle. By picking heavy dive compositions to quickly focus and eliminate Doublelift, teams were also eliminating a large portion of CLG’s damage. This, along with the first of many roster swaps to come in the LCS, led the team to a 4th place finish in the regular season, a winrate of <50%, and a first round elimination in the playoffs.
For Doublelift, this, and many successive splits, revolved around the same narrative; CLG putting too much emphasis on getting him strong, even allowing him to always be in one of the side lanes split pushing. Unfortunately, these stigmas were not unfounded, and CLG’s inability to play around other members of the team hurt them greatly. In addition, with the meta shifting focus to other lanes, dwindling the solo carry potential of AD carries, Doublelift fell from the upper echelons of the world’s players, and was branded as selfish.
These problems were still unfixed by the time the LCS summer split rolled around, and, with the introduction of powerhouse team Cloud 9, resulted in CLG finishing in a mediocre 6th place. Not only was CLG’s playstyle criticized, but Doublelift’s own performance was called into question. Following their elimination early on in the playoffs, and their hopes at attending Worlds extinguished, it was clear that significant change was necessary, not just from the team, but from Doublelift himself as a player.
Besides picking up jungler Marcel “Dexter” Feldkamp, a key member of European Worlds representative Lemondogs, CLG’s most important offseason move may have been hiring of Christopher “Montecristo” Mykles. As the color caster for the then OGN, now LCK league, Montecristo not only provided the team with information regarding the most up-to-date champion picks and strategy, but also helped transition Doublelift from a carry-only player to one who could also play for the team. This was shown in CLG’s prioritization of the Sivir pick for utility, while still making use of Doublelift’s mechanical skill when picking Lucian and Vayne.
The versatility and improvement that the team displayed was evident, and even without Dexter for the first 3 weeks of LCS, CLG was still able to achieve team best (at the time) finish of 3rd place. Doublelift again looked like one of the best AD carry players in North America, and with returning support Aphromoo, the newly dubbed “Rush Hour” bot lane was regarded as the best in the region. After an easy 2-0 series sweep against Team Coast, as well as a commanding game 1 victory against TSM, it looked like all of CLG’s problems had been solved. However, in the midst of what looked to be another victory in game 2, a TSM catch onto mid laner, Austin “LiNk” Shin, turned the game, and ultimately the series around for TSM. Although CLG was able to rebound and take 3rd place in the playoffs, the series against TSM was a sign of CLG’s playoff woes to come.
The following 2 splits saw changes at every position on the CLG squad, including coach, besides the bot lane duo of Doublelift and Aphromoo. In each of these splits, it seemed like the team wasn’t losing due to lack of skill from the players, but rather from a team wide mental breakdown and emotional conflicts between individual players. As such, Counter Logic Gaming was swept in first round of the playoffs in consecutive splits by the Curse/Liquid organization. After LiNk’s departure at the end of the 2015 spring split, he released an essay that heavily criticized Doublelift as a teammate, and many wondered if Doublelift was actually the common denominator in CLG’s failure.
Coming into this split, there was a change in Doublelift, one that had been in progress over the last couple of splits. The trash talking persona was gone, replaced with that of a quieter, more humble individual. While still confident in his own abilities, Doublelift now seems to show a lot more trust in his teammates, and looks to have taken more of a leadership role on the team, not so much in terms of shot calling, but rather as an emotional center. This sentiment is echoed by new head coach, Chris “Blurred Limes” Ehrenreich, who says that Doublelift has “become the pillar of support when our team is behind in a game.”
After a characteristic strong start for CLG, they again went into a slump during the middle of the season, losing 4 straight games over 2 weeks. However, for the first split ever, CLG was able to recover, and finished the season strong at a regular season best 2nd place. As for Doublelift, he finished with the most kills of any player in the NA LCS, as well as the highest kill participation, gold differential at 10 minutes, and damage per minute among AD carries with 10 or more games. To top it all off, he also had the 2nd highest team damage percentage among ADC’s.
With a great performance by Doublelift in the semifinals against Team Impulse, Counter Logic Gaming have secured their best ever playoff finish as one of the top 2 teams in North America. The work, however, is not done. With their long awaited series against TSM at Madison Square Garden this weekend, as well as the World Championships (if they qualify) on the horizon, CLG look to end their strong season on an even stronger note. With Doublelift’s champion and role versatility, his renewed attitude, and his leadership role within the team, CLG might very well be the ones holding the trophy when all is said and done. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Statistics from Oracle's Elixir.
Pictures courtesy of Riot Games.