The Bruised Warrior Rises

Hype piece written for MSI – Originally posted on 03/05/2016 at LiquidLegends

The Bruised Warrior Rises

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 loss Pobelter and Doublelift, it seemed CLG was set to continue spiraling downwards after a poor Worlds performance. The new blood, Huhi, and Stixxay were considered downgrades in every sense of the word. But after a few rough starts at the beginning of the season, CLG managed to find some cohesion, going 13-5 in the Spring Split with a first round bye going into playoffs.

Their playoffs weren’t any easier than their split, as they faced off against Team Liquid, defeating them in a hard fought five game series. After Team SoloMid had swept Immortals in an unexpected and surprisingly decisive victory, CLG was once again set to clash with their old rivals in TSM. With games that could have gone either way, CLG once again pulled out the victory with another five-game series, emerging 3-2 victors and booking their place at MSI.

Star Player: aphromoo

The rock of CLG, aphromoo has been a diverse and capable player not only in this current season but in previous seasons as well. In the Spring split as well as playoffs, aphromoo proved again and again that he was able to provide incredible map pressure and roams while still helping Stixxay out in lane. His Alistar is respected enough to either be banned or picked away from him, and his Bard and Morgana are his most played from the Spring split, proving to suit their disengage/pick comp style well. The captain of CLG is able to adapt playstyles on the fly and create the win conditions needed for his team to succeed in the long run. And as long as the rest of the team listens to his calls and his plays, they should make a strong showing of themselves.

 

Player to Watch: Xmithie

It’s always easy to find mistakes in a jungler’s play, but sometimes the jungler is actually at fault. Such is the case with CLG for when they are doing well; Xmithie does well because he has the support of aphromoo along with being able to apply significant pressure to his laners. However, when he gets put behind, or the team is put behind, he almost always flounders, never quite being in the right position. His two most played champions are Elise and Rek’sai, both of which have a decent place in the meta if he can protect his jungle and gank his lanes appropriately.

A great pocket pick for him is his Nidalee, and it’s a champion that he’s been able to exert extreme amounts of pressure with. If he relies on his team and is careful of his positioning, Xmithie will be able to take control of not only his jungle, but the opposing jungler as well. Unfortunately, for Xmithie, he’s up against some of the best junglers in the world, and the meta favors them far more than it favors him at the moment. MLXG, Karsa, Trick and even Blank are all performing, and Xmithie will have to work hard to stay relevant, or CLG could find themselves knocked out in the group stage once again.

Flavour of the Month: Stixxay

When a player goes off like Stixxay did, it’s either a trip to the moon or a fizzled out streak. Since it’s just the start of this streak, the entire fan base will be watching Stixxay with careful eyes to see if he’ll keep up his momentum, carrying his success from the final games versus TSM straight into MSI. If he’s able to correct his positional errors, he should be able to perform on his comfort picks like Lucian, Caitlyn, and even Tristana. Let’s just hope his nerves don’t fizzle out as this is only the second time he’s been on an international stage.

Prediction

Against some strong opposition in Royal Never Give Up and SKT Telecom, CLG has their work cut out for them. There’s also a potential tilt factor against Flash Wolves as they face off against them for the first time after FW knocked them out of Worlds, but I have a strong sense that CLG will finish a solid 3rd behind RNG and SKT.

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