Counter Logic Gaming look….good?!
In the first week of the summer split, Counter Logic Gaming joined Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid as the only teams to have a perfect 3-0 week. It marks their second perfect week of the entire 2022 season. And no one saw it coming.
They did just face three teams with a combined record of 2-7. But that ruins the fun.
After the spring split, the team had over two months to re-evaluate things. A 6-12 record and an eighth-place finish may not sit well for other fanbases. But for a team that completely re-built their League of Legends system in the previous off-season– a new front office and a new star player, it created a sense of intrigue.
Could Fatih “Luger” Güven really be the next great marksman in the LCS? Do we see names from their academy division mix things up in the majors? Could this team be one change away from breaking into the top six?
It made for an important mid-season break. The team only made one roster change, promoting Niship “Dhokla” Doshi and surprisingly not demoting Juan Arturo “Contractz” Garcia. But in hindsight, it all made sense.
Thomas “Jenkins” Tran was not a bad performer on Counter Logic Gaming proper. But he was kind of a distraction. He just wasn’t the right fit for the team. Despite averaging laning leads on the season, CLG would put him in positions to split push — seeing it as his signature style of play. He would only participate in 48.6% of CLG’s kills on the season. It was counterproductive — especially in a time where team-fighting appeared to be so critical. CLG would struggle to get objectives — ranking dead last in the LCS in herald control, dragon control and second to last in baron control.
The last time Dhokla was in the LCS on OpTic Gaming in 2019, he was primarily seen as a a split push threat. Although he has evolved in his career, growing in the academy scene, there was a concern that they were looking to just bring an improved player within this same role.
They didn’t do that.
In Game 1 against Dignitas, the team were able to snowball an early triple kill into complete domination of the game. They would do an excellent job at getting all parties involved in the fun — with Dhokla’s Yone participating in ten of their fourteen kills. And it did look like the best game of Cristian “Palafox” Palafox’s young career.
In Game 2 against TSM, it would be the heavy roaming from their bottom lane that turn the game into CLG’s favor. TSM would keep it close for most of the game, capitalizing on a “return to earth” performance from Palafox and a generally confusing draft from CLG. A skirmish at 15 minutes would lead to a 2,500 gold swing into their favor and they would never look back.
And in Game 3 against Golden Guardians, a critical Baron Nashor sneak would baffle their opponents. Despite having a 0/5/1 bottom lane for 29 minutes of the game, CLG’s ability to pick off players would lead to an impressive victory while playing from behind and arguably playing with their best player being removed from most of the game.
Luger still somehow managed to have a 2/3/3 stat line and finished the game with a 300 gold bounty. He’s cracked.
They have already shown growth when it comes to objective control. They finished the super week with a 67% first dragon rate, a 67% herald control rate, a 65% dragon control rate and were perfect on Barons.
individually speaking the top side of the map stepped up for the team — with Dhokla and Palafox both ranking in the top five of the entire LCS in damage per minute and Luger close behind in tenth overall. Dhokla was much more involved compared to his predecessor — participating in 66.7% of CLG’s overall kills.
This wasn’t a teen movie situation where someone goes from ugly to terrific because they took off their glasses. This was an improvement with effort. They went to the gym, they worked out and they’re in good shape.
But again, they did just face three teams with a combined record of 2-7.
It is tough to distinguish if this is just a result of the “cheerleader effect.” How because a person is surrounding with less than attractive friends, a semi-attractive person can appear more attractive. It is safe to say that there is some intrigue and confidence in what CLG are putting together on the rift.
It is an important development that the team is showing prowess away from Luger. While at the end of the day, it would be nice to see their incredible carry be able to do incredible carry things, their ability to now play all sides of the map is tremendous progress. Previously, teams have been able to punish this reality — camping CLG’s bottom lane. Golden Guardians attempted to do it this week. It is also satisfying to see CLG continue to throw creative looks at teams. Especially with how they treat the bottom lane.
They aren’t on the same level as Evil Geniuses and Team Liquid. But it is nice to see a team truly take advantage of the off-season to improve. Its a testament to what an overhaul of a front office can do for an organization. For an organization that has not had a ton of positives, it is good to have something nice going on for once.
With that being said, there is the inevitable come down coming. In the second week of the season, they face the talented FlyQuest line-up, shaking their heads at their 1-2 start to the season, and an Evil Geniuses line-up continuing to run a train on North American teams. They could find themselves in a position to go 2-0 — potentially taking advantage of Evil Geniuses slacking off after their day one match-up against an Immortals line-up. But the probable result is a 0-2 second week of the season
The important thing right now is perspective. Counter Logic Gaming has a lot of things to be happy about. It is okay to enjoy the satisfaction of a great start to the season. Faith can be just what a team needs.