Counter Logic Gaming’s mid laner, Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun, may well be the best Aurelion Sol player in the world. But as any professional player will tell you, ‘one trick ponies’ will be exposed mercilessly on an LCS stage.
Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun dominated the rift with his renowned champion in game 1 of CLG’s NA LCS playoff tie against FlyQuest eSports, providing a similarly imposing performance on his comfort pick, Ahri, in game 2. Yet as FLY quickly wised up to Huhi’s threat on the two champions, the mid laner crash and burned as he was banned out of the series altogether.
Aurelion Sol does not feature heavily in the current meta. Yet such is Huhi’s proficiency on the roaming control mage, Counter Logic Gaming proceeded to completely white wash FlyQuest in the opening game of the playoff series: CLG sacrificed just a single death in the entire game. Huhi’s Aurelion Sol was omnipresent throughout proceedings, involved in a phenomenal 20 of the team’s 21 kills with a 12/1/8 KDA (kills/deaths/assists).
Huhi’s lane opponent, Hai “Hai” Du Lam, was left clueless as to how best to deal with CLG’s mid laner. Aurelion Sol roamed menacingly across the map, first picking up an early kill on FLY support, Daerek “LemonNation” Hart, before turning his attention to… every other member of the FlyQuest roster.
With the lessons of the opening matchup clearly established, FlyQuest proceeded to ban out Aurelion Sol in each of the subsequent games in the series. Perhaps failing to do their proper homework however, Huhi was granted a brief reprieve as arguably his one remaining comfort pick of Ahri was allowed to slip through the net. Whilst not as imposing as his first game performance, Huhi enjoyed a 6/2/6 game, turning pivotal moments of the match with a number of clutch plays.
Yet as is so commonly cited as the gaping flaw in the French/Korean’s gameplay, with both Ahri and Aurelion Sol banned, CLG opted for first Syndra then Ekko in the mid lane – the results were considerably less convincing. After notching an 18/3/14 for the first two games, Huhi transitioned from hero to zero, crashing to a woeful 6/18/10 for the final three games of the series.
After reverse-sweeping Counter Logic Gaming in spectacular fashion, Hai was asked to describe the process by which FlyQuest orchestrated their revival:
Joshua “Jatt” Leesman: How did you identify what was going wrong and correct it for games 3, 4 and 5?
Hai “Hai” Du Lam: Well, the first step was to ban Auerlion Sol – apparently [Huhi] is really good at that champion – I didn’t think he was that good – apparently he’s really good at that champion, that wasn’t that fun. It just took two games to figure out what to do.
Counter Logic Gaming never fail to defy the odds. With a seemingly insurmountable lead, Huhi’s limited champion pool returned to haunt the team’s strategy once more. During the Azir prominent meta of last season’s Mid-Season Invitational, Huhi was frequently highlighted as the weak spot on the roster, a flaw that has seemingly yet to be addressed.
Whilst consistently drawing a target ban can be of benefit to a team’s drafting phase, being unable to play any other champion to the same high standard, is of a greater detriment. For Counter Logic Gaming the Spring Split has ended in bitter disappointment, showing little signs of improvement from their flitting appearance at the 2016 World Championship, where the power of Huhi’s Aurelion Sol was first unleashed. Until the mid laner’s champion pool issues are remedied, Counter Logic Gaming will continue to suffer an all too familiar fate.
The 10 Most Underrated Players In The NA LCS
The 10 Most Underrated Players In The NA LCS
While a select handful of players get most of the attention, others often fall through the cracks. We highlight two players from each role that we should be talking more about...
There is likely no bigger surprise in Top Lane this split than the play of Zig. The only current starter on Phoenix1's roster last split, ZIg has found considerable success on the newly formed roster. With signature picks such as Kled, Meteos's arrival has opened Zig to play more of a carry style in the top lane.
The most consistent player on a roster that has fallen apart, many questioned the decision to keep Lourlo at the beginning of the split. Now a solid foundation for Liquid to build upon in the future, Lourlo has taken over a larger role in shot-calling and as a leader on the team. Lourlo provides additional value with his NA residency in a region flooded with import Top laners.
The best player on the worst team, the argument could be made for Lira as a top three jungler in the NA LCS. His aggressive play style often gives his team an early advantage, without sacrificing CS through his efficient pathing. If EnVyUs are relegated, expect multiple teams to come calling for his services.
The often-criticized Meteos has given a talented Phoenix1 roster the catalyzing presence needed to push it towards the top of the standings. Whether scrutinized for a perceived limited champion pool or his controlling play style, Meteos continues to defy critics with results on the rift. His steady play has unlocked his teammates and created a contender for the NA LCS title.
When things begin to go wrong for CLG, the finger is usually quickly pointed at Huhi. While not a star in the NA LCS, Huhi draws bans for some of his pocket picks such as Aurelion Sol nearly every game and can have explosive performances. Huhi has also been a consistent performer on the International stage, amassing a KDA of 6.17 against G2's Perkz last season.
Known for his experimental picks and off-meta strategies, Keane is an invaluable member of the Team Dignitas roster. His bilingualism will be essential as the team embed two Korean talents into the squad.
When people talk about NA's best ADCs, Stixxay needs to be included in that conversation. The MSI's most outstanding ADC, Stixxay surprised everyone when he replaced Doublelift on CLG and they appeared better off for it, capturing the NA LCS title. A team player with solid mechanics, Stixxay is the type of player that could make almost any team better.
A player who has bounced in and out of the LCS, not much was expected of Altec heading in to this split. While most of the attention is deservedly given to team leader Hai, Altec has quietly had a very strong season for FlyQuest. In the top half of all ADCs in KDA, Altec has still been able to turn in multiple strong performances during their recent slide.
A veteran of the LCS scene, Xpecial brings a wealth of experience and leadership to a Dignitas. Though he struggled out of the gate, the emergence of Stunt seemed to give him the necessary push to bring Xpecial back to form. As playoffs approach, Xpecial and his lane partner LOD are a duo to watch.
Possible NA's best support, Smoothie rarely receives the due attention on a Cloud9 roster loaded with stars such as Jensen and Impact. Able to excel with a variety of champions and play styles, Smoothie has developed into a consistent performer for Cloud9. Along with his duo Sneaky, Cloud9's bot lane may be NA's best.