Things looked bleak for Counter Logic Gaming. They were on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention, which has never happened before in the history of the LCS. After going 3-3 in the first three weeks of the Spring Split, they lost the next 6 straight. Sitting in last place going into Week 7 where they faced Cloud9 and Team Liquid, there wasn’t much hope. Was it possible for CLG to completely turn things around and claw their way up from the bottom? Some still hoped, but not many thought so. As they set up for Saturday’s game, most of the discussion centered around how far they had fallen, and how strong Cloud9 looked.
Unfortunately for CLG, the game started just as many had predicted. Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi (Varus) killed Vincent “Biofrost” Wang (Rakan) for first blood before 7 minutes, and had earned 3 more kills before CLG found their first. Cloud9 also took the first four towers of the game, and the first dragon, the first inhibitor and the first two Barons. By 37 minutes into the game, Cloud9 looked untouchable. They had a 10.2k gold lead, and had four kills and five towers over CLG. Sneaky had seven kills, one death and five completed items. The game looked like it was Cloud9’s for the taking.
The turning point
To the surprise of many, CLG was not in fact defeated – they were simply biding their time. Just after the 38th minute, C9 snuck into CLG’s blue-side jungle and ambushed Kim “Reignover” Yeu-jin (Zac). As he wandered too close to a bush, Eric “Licorice” Ritchie (Maokai) used Twisted Advance to root him. The fight turned against C9 almost immediately, as Reignover used Let’s Bounce! to bring Licorice back to his team. Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes (Xayah) and Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun (Taliyah) deleted him, while Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaya (Cho’Gath) used Gargoyle’s Stoneplate to tank the damage from C9’s carries and zone them out. Without hesitation, CLG moved to the Baron Pit. Using the 4v5 advantage and a well placed Weaver’s Wall, they were able to take Baron, and use the buff to destroy the Mid Lane Inhibitor.
CLG stayed a bit too long, trying to get some damage on the Nexus Turrets. Explosive damage from Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen (Ryze) brought Stixxay low enough for Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen (Kha’Zix) to kill him, but he traded his life in the process. The rest of CLG backed off and rotated to the Elder Dragon. With the enemy Jungler down, they were able to delay taking the Dragon long enough for Stixxay to respawn, ensuring the buff would have its maximum effect.
Completing the comeback
With the added damage from this buff, CLG pressured Cloud9’s Bottom Lane, and capitalized when the enemy lost focus. Licorice stepped too far forward, and Biofrost began a chain of Crowd Control that prevented him from getting out alive. Counter Logic Gaming backed off after the death of Reignover, but turned when Andy “Smoothie” Ta (Leona) Flashed forward to stun the low-health Darshan. Stixxay was able to delete two members of C9 before falling, and Huhi, Biofrost and Darshan were able to finish off the rest of the enemy team and secure the win.
Stixxay may have carried the team in terms of damage, but each member made key plays to engage, zone or disrupt the enemy, and they demonstrated cohesion that they hadn’t shown in quite some time. The mix of relief, excitement and newly refreshed confidence was evident on their faces as they left the stage following their first victory in weeks.
Despite both teams earning a victory the day before, most people still expected Team Liquid to be the one to end the weekend on a win. They were 8-5 compared to CLG’s record of 4-9, and their victory the previous day was much more convincing than that of their opponent. Team Liquid were the clear favorites to win, but nobody told CLG.
An early tower dive by Biofrost (Bard) and Reignover (Olaf) allowed Stixxay (Varus) to get first blood on Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung (Braum). Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng (Tristana) seemed stunned as he stood by with full health, barely landing a few auto attacks on the enemy Jungler as his support was killed.
Three minutes later, Counter Logic Gaming attacked the enemy’s Bot Lane again, this time bringing all five members. Huhi (Orianna) and Reignover approached through the enemy jungle, and Darshan (Mao’Kai) used Teleport while Biofrost made one of the best plays yet this split to set up the dive. He stunned both Doublelift and Olleh using Tempered Fate, and then flashed behind his opponents as it expired, ensuring that his Cosmic Binding would not be blocked by Braum’s Unbreakable before stunning both of them again. With the enemy unable to escape, Reignover moved in for the kill on Doublelift, and Huhi cleaned up Olleh.
CLG increased this early lead by dominating the Mid Game, racking up three more unanswered kills and three dragons before moving in on the Baron. Team Liquid was too far behind to contest it, and Biofrost eliminated any hope of a steal by Jake “Xmithie” Puchero (Gragas) with a well placed Ultimate. Immediately after taking Baron, CLG caught out two members of the enemy team and killed them. Using this advantage and the Baron Buff, CLG were able to push into the enemy base. Team Liquid tried to fight them off, but were unable to overcome the CLG lead, and within minutes, the game was over. CLG had done what many had thought impossible just a few days before, and gone 2-0 in Week 7.
How far can they go?
Counter Logic Gaming still has a long road ahead. They currently sit in 7th place in the NA LCS, still out of the playoffs. In order to continue their post-season streak, they will have to keep playing as well as they did this week, and even if they do, either TSM, Team Liquid or 100 Thieves will have to falter. Their victories this week did not secure them a spot in the post season, but it did do one thing. It proved that when they play up to their potential, they’re good enough to get there.
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