We’re approaching the halfway mark going into week 5 of Riot Games’ season 3 League Championship Series. With the NA division comprising a total of 8 teams, Counter Logic Gaming had a challenging road to make it to their current standing of third place (tied with TSM). Before week 5 continues at MLG Dallas this weekend it’s important to see how the first 4 weeks played out for CLG.
Not just CLG, the entire LoL community had a lot of adjustments to make thanks to the changes to the game created at the start of season 3. Competitively speaking, players had to now consider new build options, a toughened jungle, and of course an ever revolving tier list of champions. With those champions brought a whole new outlook on the NA meta in general, which primarily includes the popularity of AD assassins mid-lane, health improving as a more attractive stat, and a decreased need for junglers to counterjungle and an increased need for them to gank efficiently (especially though river).
For CLG, their biggest obstacle may have been from within the team itself. Right from the start, the team knew that there were still a learning process to be had with Aphromoo joining as the new support from the team, but with Bigfatlp rotating to a sub position and LiNk moving up to the starting mid-lane player, we would soon learn how those changes would impact CLG in the long run of LCS.
In week 1, CLG started the entire LCS off with a pivotal match against long time rivals Team SoloMid. CLG came out victorious, their first win in the first LCS game of the season was a morale booster moving forward. The main story of the match would have to be LiNk however, who not only proved any doubters wrong regarding his capability in the tournament scene, but did so using Syndra, no doubt an underrated champion. CLG would soon follow up their TSM win with another win against Good Game University, but would finally lose to the new dominant NA team: Curse Gaming
Week 2 was merely a bye week for CLG as no matches were played for the team. Week 3 would start off with CLG against Team Vulcan, and despite LiNk getting the chance to play AP Nidalee, one of the newer strong mid lane picks in the competitive season 3 meta, Vulcan managed to come out ahead. CLG’s second game would be against Dignitas where HotshotGG played his infamous Galio. However, Dignitas’ team composition, mainly comprised of the Kayle + Vi synergy, defeated CLG. Last but not least would be CLG’s game vs compLexity Gaming where CLG finally earned a win during week 3. It’s interesting to note however that during the Dig and coL games, LiNk was almost completely banned out: Nidalee, Syndra, and TF were banned in both the Dig and coL games, a definite indicator of LiNk’s threat to the NA scene.
Going into week 4, aka “super-week,” CLG most certainly felt the hard truth of their situation in LCS that no team is safe. With 3 losses now on their record, CLG no doubt were practicing hard in their off time to fix and previous mistakes from their losses. This was immediately shown in their rematch with Vulcan. CLG’s opponents followed the trend of banning out LiNk: with bans on Nidalee and TF (third being Xin Zhao). But with Doublelift finally playing Vayne, and LiNk busting out a secret weapon with Xerath, CLG would get their revenge against Vulcan. In their next match against GGU, Vayne returned once more, confirming what Doublelift said in an LCS interview that he can secure more wins for his team if he’s allowed to play the ADC of his choosing (i.e. Vayne). CLG would defeat GGU, followed by a loss to Team MRN, but more wins against coL and Crs. This would end super-week for CLG and week 4 with CLG standing 7-4.
If there’s anything that should be taken away from the first 4 weeks of LCS, it's that no team, not even CLG, can really afford to take any opponent lightly. CLG has already been upset once with their loss against MRN, so as we head into week 5, stability will be key to making sure something like that happens again. Also key to note is that when LiNk and Doublelift get their more comfortable champions, victory is almost always assured. Lastly, despite the roster shifts, the synergy of CLG is as strong as ever, and they will continue to show that on the mainstage of MLG during LCS week 5.