Counter Logic Gaming have long since been an impossible team to predict, proving once more in Week 7 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series that the form book is to be completely ignored. After committing a number of costly errors across the rift, CLG presented a gift-wrapped 2-0 victory to opponents Team Dignitas, only to bounce back and best Cloud9 in their second series of the weekend.
In honesty, given CLG’s predictable unpredictability, it should have been obvious that after appearing to be so toothless against DIG, the roster would unfathomably take a series away from title challengers, Cloud9. In recent years, Counter Logic Gaming have certainly lived up to their name: falling short against the struggling outfits of the NA LCS, whilst consistently punching above their weight when it comes to the league’s heavyweight opposition.
At this point last season, Counter Logic Gaming were beginning to piece together the form that would ultimately see them travel to Shanghai for the Mid-Season Invitational. The team displayed their dominance throughout the 2016 Spring Split Playoffs, having established the mercurial synergy so frequently preached when discussing the CLG starting roster.
After fielding an unchanged squad from the lineup that exited the World Championship in the group stages, many predicted that CLG would return as a powerhouse in 2017. With so many teams making changes around them, Counter Logic Gaming were the only organisation who spent the break recuperating, rather than renegotiating with prospective talent.
Yet typically, the historic organisation have continued to defy all reasoning. Currently sitting 4th in the NA LCS standings with a 7-7 record, no-one is entirely sure what to make of the CLG roster, are they a North American Worlds contender flying under the radar?
CLG’s series against similarly inconsistent Team Dignitas highlighted a number of the flaws that have hindered the team’s progression this split. After successfully hindering DIG Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho’s progress in the top lane with an early first blood, CLG carved the opportunity to extend their lead by destroying the first turret of the game.
But as a testament to the break-down in communication that has plagued the team’s team-fighting throughout the year, Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha stopped attacking the turret, seemingly unaware that CLG’s bot lane duo Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black and Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes were about to lose the bottom tower.
As the game unfolded, CLG’s strategy fell apart – the two early kills were the squads’s only marks on the scoreboard for the entire match, stemming in part from the team’s costly misplay in the top lane:
Given the teams sloppy performance the previous evening, few could have predicted that CLG would emerge with victory from their series with joint first placed Cloud9. Once again focussing on the top half of the map, CLG fired themselves into the lead after a strong performance from Darshan; imposing his will on C9’s former world champion, Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.
After dropping Game 2 on account of some in-opportune team fighting, the squad returned with force in Game 3, undeterred by a peculiar Jayce AD Carry pick. Despite missing a number of skillshots, Mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun’s abilities starting to land as the match entered the late game phase, conveniently around the point that Stixxay started to dominate on his legendary Ezreal.
Counter Logic Gaming have certainly continued to live up to their name. Now entering the final weeks of the first half of the year’s NA LCS, fans and analysts alike remain uncertain what to make of last season’s Spring Split champions. Whilst the team’s spot for playoffs is essentially confirmed, how the roster will fair in their run for silverware is anybody’s guess.
CLG seemingly play according to their own illogical script, it would be perfectly in-keeping with the team’s philosophy if they were to end up defying the odds once more.