The League Championship Series (LCS) pushes into Week 3 this weekend, and Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) gets to play Echo Fox (FOX) and Golden Guardians (GGS). CLG ended Week 2 with a 2-2 record, making 3-1 GGS the favorite in their matchup Sunday, and 1-3 FOX the underdog for Saturday. These two teams are radically different, so CLG’s approach will probably need to be different.
Day 1 – Echo Fox
FOX has played GGS, Team Liquid, Cloud9 and TSM, pretty much the top half of the league. Their only win was against TL, where a stellar Gangplank performance out of Colin “Solo” Earnest won them a final team fight to end the game. Otherwise, FOX has struggled to gain an early lead or to come back into their games so far. GGS, C9 and TSM basically ramped up gold leads from the start with little effective resistance from FOX. CLG should be able to recreate these advantages, as they have an above average early game, similar to C9.
The draft between CLG and FOX should be kind of wonky. Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage tends to opt into control mages mid, like Orianna and Viktor, instead of the meta flex picks, like Sylas and Akali. Meanwhile, teams have been totally fine giving David “Yusui” Bloomquist all of the flex picks. Yuumi has been banned from both teams, especially following Vincent “Biofrost” Wang’s Week 1 performance. Instead, Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent drafts Nautilus and Galio, while Biofrost drafted Lux support twice. FOX will also probably ban Sejuani, as Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin plays with much more confidence on the champion.
In-game, these teams actually seem to have similar goals, just CLG has been better at executing them. Lee “Rush” Yoon-jae and Wiggily have catered more towards top-side in their first few ganks. Kim “Ruin” Hyeong-min and Solo have had more influence over their teams’ games than most probably expected coming into Summer Split, so that lane may very well be the difference-maker. FOX and CLG like to give their supports advantages in draft, while Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Lawrence “Lost” Sze Yuy Hui really shine on their comfort champions, but otherwise wait for team fights after they build a few items.
Player to Watch: Ruin
CLG’s game plan in draft and on the Rift should revolve around getting Ruin ahead. Solo has been playing well, but if Ruin can get an Aatrox, Jayce or other power pick plus an early gank or two, Solo could become irrelevant very quickly. Look for CLG to go for more 4-1 set ups against FOX, with Ruin in the side lane versus Solo or Yusui. PowerOfEvil should continue to have roaming priority against arguably the weakest LCS mid laner right now, so Ruin will probably become the difference maker in CLG’s pressure game.
Day 2 – Golden Guardians
While GGS’ schedule has been a bit easier than FOX’s, they have still been able to secure wins over C9, FlyQuest and FOX themselves. GGS’ biggest moments so far have come off the back of Henrik “Froggen” Hansen’s Anivia and Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung’s Tahm Kench. This team has essentially decided to play their comfort champs, and have actually been pulling it off. The open-endedness of GGS’ draft will probably throw CLG for a loop, but on the Rift it should be a close match.
GGS does not necessarily win through dominating lane or getting a bunch of kills (although Hauntzer has the best laning stats among top laners). They actually win through controlling pressure on the map. GGS’ dragon control is highest in the league, and their statistics around taking turrets versus losing them, kills per game versus deaths per game, and gold per minute closely mirror Team Liquid’s.
If CLG wants to win this matchup, then they will need to be similarly intelligent with their in-game decision-making. GGS is essentially betting on their in-game discipline winning out over meta picks and lane bullying. CLG’s win over Team Liquid is a good sign. If Wiggily can take control of the game against Juan “Contractz” Arturo Garcia like he did against Xmithie, and Stixxay and Biofrost can poke out Matthew “Deftly” Chen and Olleh in lane, then CLG could win.
Player to Watch: Wiggily
With each passing match, Wiggily seems to be the biggest factor in any of CLG’s wins. Both teams have a top laner that wants the 1-v-1. Both European mid laners prefer to draft control mages over Akali, Sylas or Irelia. Biofrost’s mage support preferences matched against Olleh’s safe tanks could be a mismatch.
Regardless, CLG’s jungler should look to draft Sejuani again, and force GGS to fight when they do not want to. CLG also needs to prioritize vision in bottom lane river, so GGS cannot take free dragons.
All statistics from Games of Legends