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This Charming Team: A Counter Logic Gaming Preview

CLG 2021 Roster

A jumped-up organization that never knew its place has something brewing. Five years since their incredible MSI 2016 run, Counter Logic Gaming has once again captured the interest of fans.

A 5-13 record isn’t anything special. They, by all means, were not a good team during the 2021 Spring Split. Fighting off Golden Guardians to not be labeled the worst team in North America in the final weeks of the split saved them from being a complete laughingstock. Then again, maybe they were onto something.

The Waiting Game

For the second straight season, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen’s team had to wait for his arrival. The team would operate with their academy jungler Raymond “Griffin” Griffin however they would fall flat. Griffin would be on the receiving end of criticism for his poor individual performances. He also didn’t provide a sense of structure for the team, he didn’t help hold the pieces together.

Broxah was someone that could fill those particular needs. Broxah was the person to help build the locker room. He was coming off of his worst split as a professional player and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to fans if he was without a team for 2021. Not necessarily an outstanding mechanical jungler, he’s better known for his poise, his biceps and his in-game leadership ability. While he could hold his own in terms of early game jungling and ganking, he would get outpaced by more aggressive junglers.

But an immediate change in the team was noticeable. Counter Logic Gaming weren’t immediately throwing away games, they would instead be far more competitive than the previous version.

The team would still have blunders during the games that would take them out but it was far more reasonable than some of the throws prior to Broxah.

On Top of Things

After being the best player for Rogue at the 2020 World Championship, Finn “Finn” Wiestål was shown the door. Despite showing peaks of greatness, the scene was concerned about his slumps — even though he was relatively young.

For the 2021 regular season, he ranked second among top-laners in gold difference at 10 minutes (+35), third in experience difference at 10 minutes (+151) and would become an excellent low-usage top-laner. He averaged the fifth highest percentage of his team’s economy (21.9%) and would rank sixth among top-laners in percentage of his team’s damage. And his participation in 50% of first bloods towered over the rest of his top-lane competition.

If things went in a different direction for Counter Logic Gaming, the argument could have been made that Finn was deserving of an all-pro appearance. Instead, he’s the person that surprises people on film.

The Lack of an “It” Factor

But the biggest problem with Counter Logic Gaming is the lack of a true carry. Despite having two talented individuals in the traditional carry roles, both find themselves towards the bottom of the pack.

Jason “WildTurtle” Tran continues to age incredibly well. While not necessarily the same sparkplug performer, he continues to be a valuable veteran for every team that he has been a part of. There are glimpses where he turns back the clock — both in good ways and sometimes not so good. In almost any other environment, a veteran like WildTurtle would be a great addition. Counter Logic Gaming just doesn’t necessarily have that foil to him.

Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Alexey “rjs” Zatorski weren’t as bad as people think. Both held their own in the laning phase, both managed to put out decent damage numbers despite not necessarily having a large percentage of the team’s economy. Both players simply didn’t elevate the team.

Comfort With a Good Floor

Counter Logic Gaming have the ninth-best odds to win LCS Summer (+3300).

On one hand, it is understandable. The team finished ninth in the spring split — only winning five games and they did not make any roster changes. Even with Finn potentially being underrated, even with the team being full-strength, what would make them better than other teams? To make an American football comparison, their peak feels like the team that will be playing the wildcard game on the first day of the playoffs. Many won’t expect them to make it to the Super Bowl, they just kind of understand that they’re good enough to be in the playoffs. They don’t excel in one particular aspect but they are good enough overall to where they shouldn’t lose a ton of games.

And this whole conversation has avoided much-deserved criticism directed at their support along with the still prevalent mid-to-late game decision-making woes.

But, in a more optimistic view, they really shouldn’t have lost a lot of games last season. A lot of games were thrown away by the team and realistically, time should heal said wounds. The key pieces on that roster proved that they could hold their own.

It’s why they’re charming. They’re pleasant.

It’s a good sign for an organization that could use some good news. Ignoring what could be a lackluster academy team, CLG appears to have a good coaching staff for what feels like the first time in a long time. Galen “Galen” Holgate and company have continued to show they’re able to improve from week to week, reacting and learning from previous mistakes.

This isn’t to say that CLG’s potential problems aren’t significant and won’t require big moves. It just feels good to be talking in a positive manner about them.

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