Road to Worlds: Counter Logic Gaming
A GAMURS exclusive series, taking a look at the 16 teams going to Worlds from the beginning of their qualification and see just how their road to Worlds went. Today, we look at Counter Logic Gaming of the NA LCS.
Spring Split and Spring Playoffs 2016
Changes in the bottom lane
The start of the season already began with a bit of drama on the Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) side with Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng, their star ADC, being released and replaced eventually by Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes, as well as Eugene "Pobelter" Park being replaced by Choi "HuHi" Jae-hyun. Apart from these change, the rest of the Worlds 2015 team would stay reunited with Darshan "Darshan" Upadhyaha in the top lane, Jake "Xmithie" target="blank">Xmithie" Puchero in Jungle and, the legend himself, Zaqueri "aphromoo" Black as the support.
During the Spring Split, the team would attend IEM Katowice, which was hosted after the seventh week of the LCS. However, despite their position (which we will get onto shortly) they were eliminated immediately from Katowice, losing first to the LCK's SK Telecom T1 and then to Fnatic of the European League Championship Series.
Starting the 2016 season, expectations were high for the roster even in a region that had seen vast improvements throughout the top-level teams. CLG had a lot to prove to show their aspirations to get to Worlds once again, but for now, it was all about getting into the Mid-Season Invitational 2016.
CLG were able to finish the Spring Split in a convincing second place with many of NA teams faltering, and played spoiler to Immortals' bid for a perfect split. CLG would finish the Spring Split just above Cloud9 with 13-5 record going into the Spring Playoffs with realistic ambitions of winning it all.
CLG began its fight in the Spring Playoffs with a match against Team Liquid. It was a five-game thriller, winning the last game with a double teleport play to close out the win. This would set up a surprising final match-up with Team SoloMid (TSM), who had been the sixth seed going into the tournament, TSM took out top No. 1 seed Immortals resoundingly 3-0 in the semifinals and all eyes were on this last match-up between two fierce rivals of the NA LCS.
The final match would also go to five games, which CLG would win and qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational for the first time. Most of their wins came from team play over individual performances and working together to outplay TSM as a team.
The Mid-Season Invitational 2016
Going into MSI, CLG was by no means the favourite in any sense. There were no high expectations for the team or the NA LCS in general, but that would not prove the case as the members of CLG relished the underdog title, proving everyone wrong throughout the tournament.
CLG won games against SKT of the LCK and Royal Never Give Up of the LPL, touted by many as the two best teams going into the tournament. Somehow, though, CLG was also able to lose to the International WildCard team SuperMassive eSports. It was truly counter logic. The team's final group record was 7-3, only one win behind RNG as they took the No. 2 spot going into bracket play.
CLG was able to beat the Flash Wolves of the LMS resoundingly 3-0 in the semifinals to set up a final showdown with SKT. CLG fell short, getting swept by the powerhouse squad and denied their first taste of international glory.
Summer Split and Summer Playoffs 2016
All to play for
Coming off of the strong international showing, CLG was expected to stay strong as one of NA's best, but things did not exactly go according to plan. With the introduction of best-of-three game types, this new way of playing in the NA LCS would test the mental and physical grip of teams every week, playing more matches over a shorter space of time to what they were used to.
With a resurgent TSM and an Immortals team still showing its strength, CLG was left in a predicament as they found themselves dropping down to a fourth-place finish, ending the split 10-8 with just above 50% win rate overall.
This would leave CLG with a lot to fight for if they wanted to make a claim to become NA's No. 1 seed going into Worlds 2016 on home turf. Essentially, the main aim was to get to the end, no holds barred.
They would begin their title defense by galloping over Team Liquid in the quarterfinals 3-1 to set up the rivalry fight against the split leaders TSM in the semifinals. However, things would not work out for CLG this time as the team was downed 3-0 by TSM, their chances of the first seed gushed. However, this would not be the end for CLG with Cloud9 doing them a favor by beating Immortals to set up a third-place match between both organizations.
Regardless of if CLG won or not against Immortals, they would be guaranteed to get to Worlds on Championship Points alone providing TSM, their bitter rivals, won the game against Cloud9. Immortals would beat CLG in the third-place match, but CLG would still finish 10 championship points higher than Immortals.
It was then up to TSM, who sealed victory and the No. 1 seed, to allow CLG to go through to Worlds as NA's No. 2 seed, with Cloud9 forced to work their way through the Regional Finals.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is Counter Logic Gaming's "Road to Worlds!"
As we head into Worlds 2016 in North America, we ask you guys which team you are supporting in the competition? How far do you think they can go? Let us know on twitter @GAMURScom.