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League of Legends: CLG from Champions in 2016 to Out of Playoffs

CLG joins the 2018 Academy League

Counter Logic Gaming finished the 2019 LCS Spring Split tied for seventh place with Optic Gaming. This Organization has seen better days, to one of the perinatal top placing teams in the LCS to placing eighth in both splits of 2018, this team has not seen playoffs in almost two years.


CLG may not need any changes in the mid-season
Image from LoL Esports Flickr

2015 was the start of CLG’s success in the LCS. That season they brought in all the components that helped make their run to worlds two years in a row. They moved Tony “Zikz” Gray to strategic coach, and later to head coach. They added Jake “Xmithie” Puchero as their jungler and Darshan “Zionspartan” Upadhyaya, now “Darshan”, at top. They also added Eugene “Pobelter” Park and Choi “Huhi” Jae-hyun as their midlaners, but only used Pobelter that season.

This roster helped break curses and wrote a new narrative for an organization that seemed to live in the shadow of TSM and Cloud9 in League of Legends since they joined the league. This was the year that CLG won the LCS title in Spring and then bowed out of Worlds in the group stage with a 2-4 record.

2016 was another year of success for CLG, despite low expectations to start. They lost their star carry Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng and added Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, a downgrade by every measurement, and they lost Pobelter who was replaced by Huhi, a lateral move if any. This team went on to have a miracle season, seemingly held together by their superior team play and trust in one another, lead by Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and his shot calling.

This team represented North America at MSI, where they became the first North American team to beat South Korean powerhouse SKT in a game and advance to the finals of a Riot-sponsored tournament, they finished second losing to SKT in the finals. This team also went to Worlds that year, as they bowed out in the group stage finishing with a 3-3 record.


The members of CLG greet fans after their victory. Courtesy of LoL Esports

In 2018, CLG is no longer a breaker of records or a representation of what superior teamwork can do. They at times seemed like they had no team work this split, getting caught in the early game and having consistent team fighting problems. They only put together one two-win weekend and were switching out their junglers Galen “Moon” Holgate and Raymond “Wiggily” Griffin sporadically. The team’s gold rates and differentials are all in the negative this split and they had a first tower rate of 39 percent, evidence of their early game struggles.

Their only supposed bright spot this split was supposed to be Tistan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage. After carrying Optic Gaming last split, most fans thought that he could come in and fit well into their system and hopefully propel them to a playoff spot. That did not happen. Not only did he not live up to expectations, the man had a 2.9 Kill/Death/Assist ratio. He also was not feared in the slightest in the mid lane, with teams banning away his Zoe, and not many other mid lane champions.

Was 2015 and 2016 CLG an organization on the rise? No. It was lightning in a bottle, having those payers with that coach and with that meta, led to their success. Once they let go of all those who brought them there, they crumbled.


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