What happened to Counter Logic Gaming?
Three months ago, Counter Logic Gaming were crowned the best team in North America, as they secured the NA League of Legends Championship Series, before making it to the finals of the Mid-Season Invitational. However, since then, the CLG team we once knew and loved, seems to have vanished.
Previously, we saw Darshan come into his own, as he terrorised the top lane with teleport plays that would win games. Xmithie, as underrated as ever, held the third highest Gold per minute and kill participation at MSI for a Jungler and Stixxay shined at only his second international tournament, gaining praise from RNG’s Wuxx as the “best ADC at this tournament”. Yet, they now seem like an average team.
Although, admittedly, CLG have improved since the start of the summer split, having begun the season 1-3, the entire LoL community are still scratching their heads, as they try to understand what’s went wrong.
One of the reasons why CLG have struggled to replicate their previous form is due to the fact that the Meta has changed drastically since MSI, which may explain the lack of standout teleport plays by Darshan, which played a critical role in many of CLG’s wins. Tank Ekko, Poppy and Maokai all retained over an 80 percent pick and ban rate at the Mid-Season International, whereas the NA LCS has now seen a shift towards less tank orientated champions, such as, Irelia, Trundle and Jax.
As a result, Flank TP’s are much harder to pull off, as the threat of getting collapsed and dying is significantly higher on a champion like Irelia compared to Maokai. Therefore, in order to set up godlike TP’s, it requires more precise decision making.
However, with a player of Darshan’s ability, one question still remains, why is he no longer dominating? For someone who is renowned for his flashy plays, split pushing and soloing wining top by 1v1’ing his appoints, surely Jax and Irelia should suit his playstyle?
Evidently, the Meta clearly isn’t the entire reason for his lacklustre performances, quite simply, he is underperforming. Previously, in the spring split Darshan possessed a CS per minute of 7.5, which has now dropped to 6.6 during the summer split. In order for CLG to do well in the upcoming playoff, they need their top lane star to pick up his form and play at the level we all know he is capable of.
In addition to Darshan’s struggles, a lot of the criticism has been aimed towards CLG’s mid laner, Huhi. The predominant reasoning behind this, is due to the fact that Huhi hasn’t been able to gain an advantage against his opposing mids in the NA LCS. His average gold difference at 10 minutes is -125 gold and his CS per min is the third lowest of all mid laners. In fact, the only statistic that Huhi leads is the most wards placed per minute. This could highlight CLG’s playstyle as a unit and a team but Huhi certainly has some improving to do.
However, despite this, I don’t believe Huhi deserves as much of the criticism as he receives. Within North America specifically, the games are typically very mid lane focused, while, top and bot are usually lane swapped and gaining leads are more macro. Mid has turned into a 3v3, with supports, junglers and mid laners all playing together, whether they’re getting vision to make plays or making the plays themselves, the meta right now is very team synergy heavy. The top four damage dealers are all mid laners, stressing how important that role is at the moment. As a result, Huhi’s mistakes are highlighted because of this, but ultimately he’s not to blame solely, as it’s a team effort.
As you would expect from CLG their ADC is still performing even when they’re not. Having Aphromoo as your support definitely helps but Stixxay shows talent and in true CLG fashion, heaps of potential. He has the highest percentage damage at 28% and the second highest CS per minute out of all the ADC’s in NA.
Although we are still left wanting more this split, thinking about his MSI plays on Caitlyn and the Tristana resets that won CLG the title, the community expected more from him. But MSI was different, Stixxay wasn’t seen as a threat, Darshan was the one doing work, resulting in every team focusing on him in the early stages. Stixxay was free to farm and he would pop off in team fights to win CLG games single handed, slowly getting noticed.
As teams learn how to shut down Darshan and Huhi continues to underperform, Stixxay is under even more pressure to deliver. The most important thing is that CLG are improving. Whilst they were at MSI, other NA teams were in scrims practising, getting a feel for the new Meta, so they started at a disadvantage.
While securing their first 2-0 in the 6th week took longer than expected, CLG are still the underdogs as they head into the playoffs. However, they will use this status to their advantage, as they hopefully win their third NA LCS title in a row.
Image source: LoL eEports and theScore eSports
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