The 2019 League Championship Series (LCS) Summer Split is fast approaching, leaving North America’s fans wondering what to expect from their favorite teams. LCS rosters remained mostly unchanged during this offseason time. Counter Logic Gaming are one of the only organizations to make any changes, but will it be enough to climb the standings?
CLG ended Spring Split in seventh place, missing playoffs by one game. If they had defeated Echo Fox in week nine, then CLG would own the head-to-head record against them, auto-qualifying to playoffs. Losing out on top six was another disappointment for fans who hoped a new coach, a new mid laner and more time to develop synergy with a rookie jungler would push CLG to the next level. After all, the organization has not seen playoffs since Summer Split 2017, where they finished third place when all was said and done.
CLG’s trajectory in the Spring Split standings almost exacerbated fans’ disappointment. They coasted weeks three through six between third and fourth place, but losses to Golden Guardians and Clutch Gaming in week seven dropped CLG to seventh place. CLG’s 1-1 record against all three teams below them in the standings–OpTic Gaming, Clutch Gaming and 100 Thieves–ultimately held them down.
By many metrics, CLG was the worst early game team in the LCS during Spring Split. Kills per game, first tower, dragons, towers and gold difference at 15–all last places for CLG. They also owned the second lowest gold differential per minute, the lowest dragon and Rift Herald percentages and the third lowest Baron rate. In a season where teams like Griffin, Invictus Gaming and G2 Esports carry high kills per game, first tower rates and high gold differences at 15, CLG’s early game issues doomed them for a rough split.
Disregarding substitutes, such as Allorim and FakeGod, Darshan statistically floated around bottom three among LCS top laners during Spring Split. His laning phase mirrored Team Liquid Impact’s in many ways (gold, CS and XP behind at 15). However, Impact’s teamfighting stats (KDA, damage per minute) shot to the top of the pack, while Darshan’s stayed lower. CLG also seemed to overly rely on Sion in draft, and Darshan’s on-hit Neeko and Aatrox did not look as sharp as the rest of the LCS top laners.
That being said, Darshan did receive two out of seven of CLG’s Player of the Game awards, more than Biofrost, Stixxay or Wiggily, indicating that the team’s success was closely tied to his performance. Seeing as Darshan joined in 2014 (as ZionSpartan), he and Stixxay were the last members remaining from CLG’s golden age. However, the organization decided to release Darshan for Summer Split, opting for Ruin instead.
Ruin in the Top Lane
Ruin comes in to hopefully bring CLG to the next level. FlyQuest and TSM brought in new top laners to North America last split and they made it to playoffs. Maybe CLG can, too.
Ruin just finished his run with Fenerbahce in the Turkish pro league (TCL) and MSI 2019. He tops the charts in almost every category among TCL top laners, including 15 solo kills. Ruin averaged 1,000 gold ahead at 15, and finished the regular season with a 16.5 KDA for Ryze over three games. At the MSI Play-Ins, Ruin still floated among the top of the pool statistically and showed two excellent Jayce games.
Ruin previously played in the European LCS for 2018 for Giants Gaming, where he was more towards the bottom of the pack. The team itself finished ninth in both Spring and Summer Split that year, showing much worse problems than Ruin’s individual play. However, none of his stats really stand out as stellar. Ruin had some laning outplays and showed hints of greatness that year, so CLG should hope to capitalize on whatever skill he has developed in Turkey. The team needs a more self-sufficient top laner that can hold his own against the LCS’ best, then coordinate with the team better than Darshan when macro comes into play.
CLG’s rookie jungler came into 2019 with a lot of pressure on his back. Reignover left a void at the end of 2018, following a disappointing year for CLG. Prior to that, CLG played OmarGod to fill in after Dardoch did not work out. CLG’s jungle position had not really panned out for close to two years, and most fans were hoping for a big name to step in, rather than Wiggily. However, CLG decided to stick with what they had and rolled with it.
The jungle meta shifted over the course of Spring Split, with Nocturne, Jarvan IV and Sejuani staying relevant most of the time, and Rek’Sai, Lee Sin and Camille waxing and waning. Wiggily pretty much stuck to the meta, having his best experiences on Sejuani. And while his First Blood rate was second highest at 53.3 percent, the rest of his stats were average. Wiggily’s early game metrics are middle-of-the-pack, and his KDA and damage are on the lower end. Considering his rookie status, Wiggily did not have too bad of a split. He received the third highest votes for Rookie of the Split, behind V1per and Vulcan.
PowerOfEvil came in as CLG’s big acquisition of 2019, replacing Huhi in the mid lane. Along with Coach Weldon, PowerOfEvil was fans’ biggest hope for Spring Split success. He was coming off of a decent individual run on OpTic Gaming, so this roster change looked like a win-win. Unfortunately, the split did not pan out in a way everyone hoped, and PowerOfEvil had sort of a slump.
Like Wiggily, POE ended the split with mostly average stats. He averaged behind in gold and XP at 15 minutes, and in 72 percent of games PowerOfEvil began behind in CS. CLG’s mid laner definitely pulled his weight in the damage department, averaging 563 damage per minute, or nearly 35 percent of CLG’s damage. PowerOfEvil also secured seven solo kills across the split (fifth highest player overall). Compared to POE’s overall career statistics the 2019 Spring Split was a bit weaker, especially his laning.
Stixxay had a poor split, in all honesty. The early parts of the year were definitely more difficult to watch for the CLG bottom laner, but after he got benched for Auto in week seven, Stixxay played somewhat better. Along with Darshan, Stixxay represents CLG from 2017 when they were at their last peak as an LCS team. His suffering performance this split somehow feels worse because of that fact.
Stixxay finished Spring Split with the lowest average kills and assists of any ADC, second lowest damage per minute and the largest gold deficit at 15 minutes. All four of his Lucian games were defeats, despite the champion having the highest presence in the LCS. This Summer Split may make or break Stixxay’s chances to stay on CLG next year.
CLG decided to name a team captain in February, eventually landing on Biofrost for the responsibility. From the outside, it is difficult to analyze how much of a role he fills in and out of the game, but most fans know Biofrost as a shot-caller. On one hand, Biofrost felt like a solid player for the team. He never really seemed to be the weak link, and there is only so much a support can do in the early game. Biofrost had the second lowest average deaths among supports, despite playing mostly Tahm Kench and Braum.
On the other hand, Biofrost did not really stand out much. Playing the vanguard supports rarely results in big outplays. While Braum and Tahm allowed Biofrost to save teammates, they do not really translate well for understanding how well a player is playing. Unfortunately, CLG lost all of their games when Biofrost played something other than those two champions. Hopefully Summer Split will be different. The Mid Season Invitational showed how the top supports in the world can impact the game with picks like Rakan, Galio and Nautilus.
SUMMER SPLIT EXPECTATIONS
With not much changing around the LCS for Summer Split, CLG should be shooting for nothing short of playoffs. And this is a totally realistic expectation for the organization at this point, but far from guaranteed. Swapping Ruin for Darshan should bring a different look to CLG, but one roster change will not remedy team-wide issues and early game weakness. Coaches Weldon and Irean truly need to re-evaluate some of their methods from Spring Split, because the team did not seem to improve much week-to-week.
100 Thieves should not finished tenth again. That means CLG needs to ensure they stay above OpTic and Clutch Gaming, who have not announced any roster changes. They also need to aim to beat Golden Guardians and Echo Fox, who also have not changed players. Week three will most likely be CLG’s first possible 2-0 opportunity, facing Echo Fox and Golden Guardians. Then in week eight they should hope for a 2-0 over Clutch and Echo Fox. If either of these weeks result in an 0-2, then CLG is in trouble.
Another seventh to tenth place finish would put the organization in the same boat as OpTic Gaming–missing every playoffs since franchising. While Team Liquid, TSM and Cloud9 continue to perform at the highest levels of North America and beyond, CLG is still meandering around the bottom of the league. Summer Split 2019 looks to be a big opportunity for CLG to regain fans’ faith. One more disappointing split and they may just jump ship.
All statistics from Games of Legends