The 2019 League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) Summer Split and Regional Qualifier have concluded, with North America sending Team Liquid, Cloud9 and Clutch Gaming to Worlds. Counter Logic Gaming finished the split in third place, narrowly defeating Clutch Gaming in Detroit. CLG then lost to CG in the gauntlet, missing the Qualifier finals against TSM, and ending their year.
CLG lost momentum in the post-season
The energy behind CLG seemed to dwindle towards the end of the split. At the onset of Summer Split, CLG announced Ruin as the starting top laner, which felt like an upgrade, but not necessarily the answer to their problems. However, after their first 2-0 in Week 3, CLG continued to gain faith from the community. They held onto a top-two spot up until the last week of the regular season.
Starting in Week 9, CLG began to lose momentum. They lost their last match versus 100 Thieves and the tiebreaker against C9. CLG beat OpTic Gaming 3-0 in quarterfinals, but then lost pretty convincingly 1-3 to C9 in semifinals. They took down CG in a tight 3-2 third place match, giving them the second slot in the Worlds gauntlet.
Due to the C9 loss and the closeness of the third place match, analysts got a bit cold on CLG coming into the Regional Qualifier. Instead, Clutch’s momentum was growing, as they had risen from their fifth place regular season finish to beating TSM in quarterfinals, then bringing Team Liquid and CLG to five game series in semifinals and the third place match. CG took down FlyQuest 3-1 in the first round of the gauntlet, then went on to end CLG’s season with another 3-1. CLG felt like they lost some steam, or at least could not continue to replicate their regular season success in best-of-fives.
Summer Split was a huge improvement over Spring Split
Zooming out and viewing Summer Split within the context of the entire 2019 year, CLG’s Summer Split was a wild success. They grew from a seventh place, 39 percent win rate team to a second place tiebreaker, 67 percent win rate team. Coach Weldon even expressed that he thought CLG was a “last place team” in spring (Travis Gafford interview).
In Spring Split, CLG had no players represented in the All-Pro team. Wiggily was the closest, at third place for Rookie of the Split. Many ranked CLG as a bottom-feeder team halfway through the year. In Summer Split, Stixxay, Biofrost, Ruin and Wiggily were on second and third teams All-Pro, with Wiggily finishing fourth for Most Valuable Player.
The 2019 Summer Split is the best CLG fans have seen in roughly two years. Since LCS franchising occurred in 2018, CLG has been a shell of its former self. The esports organization always felt like a playoff team at worst, and a title contender at best, since the introduction of the LCS. CLG had a 10-split streak of making playoffs, which broke from 2018 Spring to 2019 Summer. And the fact that Weldon, Irean and the CLG players could on-board Ruin so fast from another region is a testament to the hard work they put in this summer.
So even though the Summer Split ended on a bit of a low note, CLG should be proud. Every single player performed better than Spring Split 2019. Weldon and Irean drafted better than Spring Split 2019. The team synergized better and became more decisive than Spring Split 2019. And this split looked a hell of a lot better than 2018. Hopefully, the fans, the staff and the players will view this split as a success. The faith really came back. CLG went from off the radar to actually competing for a shot at North America’s third seed at Worlds. With this bit of success, 2020 can be something to look forward to.
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