Defending their title for two splits running

Hype piece written for Spring Playoffs 2016.

At the beginning of the season, it was so easy to discredit Counter Logic Gaming as a 4th or 5th place team. With other teams consolidating talent and the leaving of Pobelter and Doublelift, it seemed CLG was to continue spiraling after a poor Worlds performance. The new blood, Huhi and Stixxay were considered downgrades. But after a few rough starts at the beginning of the season, CLG figured themselves out and managed to get their cohesion together, going 13-5 in the Spring Split with a first round bye into playoffs..

The Seniors: Everyone knows and loves him from the distant and far off top lane, Darshan is the split pushing god of CLG. Well known for his Fiora, Jax, and Ryze, he’s also recently pulled out Yasuo and Gnar to remind people that he’s got more to offer than just straight split pushers. He played on a few different teams before coming to play for CLG, and when he joined CLG the fans called it their “Golden Age.” The fans faith was rewarded at the end of the 2015 season when they were top of the pile as they took home the title of NA LCS Winners with a solid roster. The 2016 season shows us a strong split pusher who spends most of his time in side lanes giving CLG the edge it needs to succeed.

An old hand at gaming, Xmithie has been around the scene since Season 1. He is known for his Ekko, Gargas and Udyr. In the current season, Xmithie hit 1000 career assists, the first jungler to do so, and the 5th Player in the NA LCS to obtain the stat. As with Darshan, he was part of the Golden Age beginning for CLG. Recently he’s pulled out Nidalee Jungle with great success. Despite his VISA issues in the past, he’s still a main driving force for CLG and their strategies from the jungle with great rotational plays, and good Baron control (see Immortals vs. CLG W7D1).

Another old hand at gaming, aphromoo has been playing on various teams since Season 1, as a marksman, before switching to a support main with Doublelift. As a pair they became known as Rush Hour, arguably the best bot lane in North America. Well known this season for his Bard and Morgana, he’s been previously known for his Blitzcrank and Leona. As has been demonstrated through the years, a great support will make a weaker ADC look amazing. And while Stixxay isn’t weak, he’s definitely not as strong as Doublelift. Aphromoo is required to do a little more babysitting this season than in previous seasons, but this is still a great season to display his roaming capabilities as he offers nearly full map pressure.

The Freshmen: Our first batch of new blood for the organization was Huhi, acquired from Team Fusion in the 2015 season. Even though we never saw him play on CLG for any games during the 2015 season, due to Pobelter having played all the games, he was still practicing with the team to work on good coordination and various mechanics. He enjoys burst champions like Leblanc, and Corki while still having a few utility champion picks like Zilean, and Lissandra. He’s got some positioning issues, and could possibly be a little more map aware of what going around him, but overall, Huhi is an excellent acquisition for CLG as a new player.

The other new blood to CLG is Stixxay, replacing Doublelift, and trying to fill his shoes. However, instead of filling his shoes, Stixxay threw the old shoes out and started to make his own mark. Statistically, Stixxay gets a low amount of gold share for the team as a marksman, and still manages to do well despite it all. His Kalista is respected enough to be banned, and his Ezreal is very solid, and strong. Unlike his predecessor, his map awareness and positioning are reliable, though improvements are needed. He needs a few more thoughts about what he can do damage wise, as he’ll pick some rather silly 1v1 fights, but over all he’s another solid acquisition for CLG in the marksmen role.

The Teacher: Starting off as a Strategic Coach, Zikzlol was moved to Head Coach for CLG in November of 2015. He’s been working with CLG since 2013, and his influence is well received. The players responded well to his analyses while he was starting as an Analyst for CLG, and grew to respect him more as he moved to Strategic Coach and on to Head Coach. It’s clear that this is a working system, one that will end in pleasing, and surprising results for the team. Perhaps soon we’ll see those small mistakes from Huhi and Stixxay be cleared up, and they’ll show us all that they are worthy of the CLG brand, courtesy of Zikzlol’s coaching skills.

With second place securing them a bye through to semi-finals, it’s my opinion that CLG will finish first for a second split in a rowthey may experience issues when they face Cloud 9 or NRG during Semi-finals, but if CLG can make it past them, they’ll have a clear shot to their second First place title in the NA LCS. They are capable of handing Immortals another couple losses to reclaim their title as the best team in NA for two splits in a row. With a few weeks to rest up and get geared up for the Spring Playoffs, CLG can prove to everyone else that they are the best team in North America.

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