Counter Logic Gaming currently boast the longest continuous roster of any team in the NA LCS, with the same roster since the beginning of the 2016 Spring Split. While the expectations were not remarkably high entering the new year, the team’s early exit from the playoffs marked a disappointing finish to an uninspiring split. Amidst reports that jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero will leave the roster, are fans about to witness CLG’s first roster change since 2015?
According to reports emerging from ESPN eSports, North American League of Legends team Immortals are on the verge of securing the services of Counter Logic Gaming jungler Jake “Xmithie” Puchero. The potential move has opened up a range of options for CLG’s Summer Split roster.
Whilst a straight swap for Immortals’ Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett remains a possibilty, Omar “OmarGod” Amin of CLG Black has shown a great deal of promise within Counter Logic Gaming’s academy outfit. OmarGod was regarded as the best recruit from the 2016 NA Scouting Grounds.
Xmithie has become a permanent fixture within the Counter Logic Gaming roster, at the core of the team’s two first-place NA LCS finishes in Summer 2015 and Spring 2016, in addition to the second place at the 2016 Mid-Season Invitational. Following a disappointing 5th/6th place finish to the 2017 NA LCS Spring Split, the question of whether CLG needed to make changes to their roster rose to the forefront once again.
Entering the 2017 season, North America saw a flood of talent arriving onto the scene. With many teams making big name acquisitions, CLG remained quiet in their approach however, maintaining the same roster that had carried them to a split championship and a spot at Worlds 2016.
The last major change to the CLG roster occurred in the off-season of the 2015 Summer Split, when the face of the franchise at the time, star ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, made the unthinkable move from CLG to bitter rivals Team SoloMid.
Assessing the team’s strengths on paper ahead of the Spring Split, CLG were perhaps not the most talent-stacked team, but their historically excellent macro game and crisp shot-calling had proven that a good “team” could triumph over a group of talented individuals.
Yet following Counter Logic Gaming’s crushing reverse sweep defeat to FlyQuest eSports in the playoff quarter-finals, Xmithie was highlighted as one the team’s core weaknesses alongside mid laner Choi “HuHi” Jae-hyun and top laner Darshan “Darshan” Upadhyaha. After two years of patience, fans began calling for change.
Though the jungler maintains a loyal fanbase, critics considered Xmithie to have underperformed throughout the Spring Split, unable to adapt his champ pool or playstyle to the meta shift in competitive play. The jungle role has arguably become more influential than, reliant on pro-active plays and Xmithie’s inability to play carry-style jungle picks has restricted CLG’s strategic options in the first half of the season.
Whilst neither Dardoch nor OmarGod are confirmed to be joining the CLG starting roster, either move would provide Counter Logic Gaming with a much-needed change of direction.
The Playstyle Of Each Jungler In The NA LCS
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North America’s Junglers
Each unique, each with a story. North America's jungle pool may be the regions's strongest position. We take a deeper look:
Mr. Steal Yo’ Jungle
There are few players that understand how to jungle better than Team Liquid’s Reignover. He is easily the best jungler in NA at pathing and is able to consistently create small advantages for himself. While not a hard carry style player, his cerebral play makes him one of NA’s best.
Just when we think we’ve heard the last of Meteos, he triumphantly returns to the NA LCS. Now a part of Phoenix1, there are few players as consistent or smooth in their play as Meteos. His game understanding and strong teamplay put him at a significant advantage over many of the younger NA junglers
Team Dignitas’s Chaser is a player often greeted with much fanfare and promise, but that consistently fails to deliver. Once heralded as one of Korea’s best jungler’s, he has failed to make the impact expected or necessary for Team Dignitas to be a top team in the NA LCS.
First Blood King
There is one player who has surprised more than any other this season, and that is Echo Fox jungler Akaadian who may be their best performer so far this season. With smart early aggression he has consistently gained his team early leads and has proven himself a top carry jungler in NA.
Svenskeren is a player who is excellent at getting the rest of his team ahead and understanding where to apply pressure. Although he can make plenty of flashy plays on picks such as Lee Sin, his presence enables his teammates to shine and players such as Bjergsen have greatly benefited from his presence
There are few players who have arrived to the NA LCS with the hype of Cloud9’s jungler Contractz. An obvious talent, Contractz could be one of NA’s best junglers if he is able to overcome the youthful mistakes that still occur far too often.
Phoenix1 wouldn’t be where it is today without the play of Inori who completely turned around their season and announced himself as a force in the jungle. One of NA’s best jungle talents, Inori can carry a game on a variety of champions including his signature Rengar.
Fed or Feeding
Possibly the most aggressive jungler in the NA LCS, Immortal’s Dardoch is known for his highlight plays and just as amusing fails. A player without an off switch, Dardoch is one of the few junglers who has shown time and time again they can single-handedly carry a game.
After a year of disappointment, FlyQuest’s Moon has found unexpected new life this season behind the leadership of Hai where he has developed into one of NA’s top junglers. A player with a wide and unexpected champion pool, you can never be sure what might be locked in for Moon in the jungle.
One of the off-season’s least talked about acquisitions, EnVyUs’s Lira is a player with the potential to be the star of the team. Already showing his ability to carry games, expect Lira’s play to only grow stronger as he continues to tap into his potential and transition to his new environment and teammates.
From the beginning of his career, people have often overlooked Xmithie and underappreciated the consistent play he has brought to CLG. While he may not carry many games, he is rarely out-jungled by his opponents, placing his team in a position to succeed through superior macro play.