Dear CLG Fans,
This message is to the CLG fans. For all of you that have supported us - I'm writing to you. The purpose of this message is to give you a glimpse of what is going on within CLG. As a part of upper management, we are very cognizant of the fact we do not openly discuss our plans or what we are doing. The reasons why we have chosen this approach and have stayed silent for so long does not need to be discussed, as they will only sound like excuses. Instead I would like to apologize for my responsibility in this approach and will make a promise to change the amount of information you receive from me moving forward.
There are many assumptions made regarding the organization and the way we approach our teams. I do not fault the fans for making these assumptions. When the organization does not provide you with a lot of information, you are only able to make conclusions based on what little information you have. My hope is this letter will give you some insight into what is actually going on internally within CLG and you can draw conclusions from factual information, rather than assumptions made through statements in interviews or extracted information in articles/videos.
I will go through each team and discuss in as much detail regarding any information I believe you as a fan would like to know. It should be noted, I am not able disclose everything, but I will do my best to give you insight into what is going on.
Firstly, I think it is important for you to know my role at CLG. I oversee every team, staff member, player, and streamer within the esports department. This is approximately 55 people as of now. Since I have come into CLG, I have worked diligently on changing the expectations within my department. I am very focused on setting a standard of excellence. Anything less than excellence is not tolerated for me. These standards are set for the teams to pursue a winning approach that corresponds with the results I expect.
From serving as the Co-Commissioner of the Southern Collegiate Volleyball League, therapist, and athlete for nearly 20 years I have a very clear vision of how I want the esports department to look. Today my department is not nearly close to my vision. However, there are many coaches, players, and staff that are moving us towards it. I will fully admit there have already been mistakes made and many more to come. If there was a manual to create the best teams and organization, I’d find no satisfaction in my work. I am in this to compete and dominate.
Every loss is a moment to be angry. I do not tolerate losing or the excuses that come with it. What I do tolerate with losses is the opportunity to learn from mistakes. I am always learning from the mistakes I have made and the coaches that I am working with are learning as well each day. The standard I have for CLG will separate us from all other organizations. I know we will get there, but it is a journey. In the meantime, the coaches and players are making strides towards being the best they can be. This has already yielded positive results with some teams. I will go through each team and give you, the CLG fan, some insight into what has happened since I have taken on the role Director of Esports.
The biggest challenge that I had when I initially took this position was making the CS:GO team a contender again. While this objective has not been met to my expectations, I am very proud of the improvements that the team has made as well as the decisions that we have made regarding the team. With the help of ImAPet and Mike we are continuing to move in the direction of being a top team in North America.
There were many changes that needed to occur when I first became a part of CLG. This included structure, leadership, coaching, and talent. The first major decision I made was removing grt. I then moved ImAPet who was the analyst at the time to the interim coach position. After he worked with the team for a short time there were improvements were almost instantaneous. Coaching was new for him at the time and he was also working remote, and therefore was unable to address issues such as structure and schedule. At around this time, the LCS team had just finished their run at Worlds. Mike, the then LCS development coach, was now available to work with the CS:GO team. He received clear direction as to what his role would be and the needs of the team. He went to work quickly and changed the expectations of the team. Before Mike joined, the team was staying up late and sleeping in. They would wake up before scrims or matches and did not have the most ideal preparation on these days. They were not eating the food Andrew had prepared on a consistent basis and not everyone was going to the gym.
Mike came in and changed the expectations quickly. He received a lot of resistance, but I continued to encourage him to move forward. The direction and plan he had was correct. This was the beginning of changing expectations of players and what it means to be a part of CLG. By having Mike implement and execute the expected standard of excellence, it made it easier for other teams to follow their lead.
One of the major issues with the team was leadership. Unfortunately ImAPet was not onsite, which gave the players more responsibility to be accountable for their decisions and actions. Hazed was an emotional leader, which he has acknowledge himself publicly. This type of leadership has it pros and cons. Unfortunately, he was not in favor of the changes and direction I had for the team. While he maintained being respectful during his time with the team, it was clear CLG was no longer the place for him. The two of us had been talking since late September or early October about his future with CLG and I made ImAPet aware of the situation. Hazed wanted to stay and be a part of CLG. However, this was contingent on some of his requests that would require me to make exceptions. This put me in a position to be incongruent with my messaging and also move away from my vision for the esports department. We had numerous conversations and came to an understanding that we had different perspectives. Hazed and I had differing opinions, but we always had the best interest of the team in mind. I can speak for myself, I have no issues with Hazed and we simply had different perspectives on the same situation. Our conversations were always civil even if we didn’t agree. I appreciate him voicing his opinions and being respectful throughout the process.
During this time Subroza was having a witch-hunt regarding the cheating allegations. I met with Subroza and asked him directly if he had cheated while at CLG. He said, “No.” In our conversation I asked about the account he had on the hacking website and all other areas of concern that were being brought up by the public. He had walked me through everything and all the explanations made sense. I even reached out to Northern Arena to have them check to see if there was any information from the machines he used at the tournament that would indicate whether he cheated as there were accusations from that tournament. I received a response from them and they stated there was nothing from his machines or logs to suggest he had cheated. It became clear this was a witch-hunt from the community.
I will not speak for Subroza, but I will only share my opinion of what I observed. Initially he did not seem bothered by the accusations. Rather it brought attention to him and helped him with his streaming viewership. Unfortunately, the accusations did not end. We pondered making a public statement, but quickly realized a response would not suffice. People would find things to comment on and pick apart. The skeptic will always remain skeptical. People will even take information from this message to our fans and use it to prove whether he cheated or whether CLG did not do enough. I am not writing this to prove his innocence, but rather to the CLG fan to give insight into the situation. After a few months the cheating accusations quieted down. I was under the assumption Subroza had moved on from it like the rest of us. I would later find out this was not the case.
By this time the team had gone to the Major qualifier and was eliminated. At the Major qualifier, Hazed had notified the team he was going to step down. This was something I was aware of and we had discussed. It was now offseason and time to make important changes to the team. ImAPet and I had numerous conversations about potential roster changes. During this time I was contacting several players. We really needed an IGL who was not only a good player, but understood leadership. There were a few possible candidates that stood out, but very few that impressed me. We had known FNS was available for some time and I eventually got on a call with him. We discussed what CLG was doing and the changes that I was making. He understood the importance of leadership and his role on the team. I was very pleased with his attitude and response during our interview. Eventually we got on a call with the team. While this call was brief, the team understood he had a clear direction. On this call, he notified the players what to expect if he came in and the direction he wanted. It was clear he was who we needed. Signing FNS was exactly what the team needed to do and the right direction for the team.
Meanwhile, there was still an issue around fragging power of our team. Ethan and Subroza both came to CLG at the same time. While Ethan was progressing at a rapid pace, Subroza’s progress was slower. Although Subroza put in many hours and was constantly working to improve his game sense, it became clear we could not wait any longer for Subroza to get to the level we needed him to. I had spoken with the coaches about making a roster change. At the time we did not have a replacement. Instead we had a very honest conversation about what he needs to improve upon. Hours after that conversation he notified me it was in the best interest of the team and for himself to step down. I value how much courage it took to have that conversation and how honest he was in that moment. He identified this was the better move for the team and CLG wasn’t the right place for him. Similar to Hazed, he had a few concerns with the direction of the Department of Esports that included doing a lot of work outside of the game. I later found out through an interview that the cheating accusations caught up with him and had impacted his play. Subroza was a great guy and someone who everyone really liked. He worked hard and tried to be the best he could be. I appreciate all that he did for us.
At this time we reached out to Hazed to be the substitute player while we sought a new 5th. As relationships were good between Hazed and CLG this was not an issue. He was willing to help us out during this time. We greatly appreciate what he did for us while we were in a difficult spot.
While we were seeking a permanent 5th, Renegades had reached out to me and presented me the opportunity to trial Rickeh. I brought this information back to ImAPet. We discussed and said we didn’t need another AWP. However, we agreed that we should try him out and see how good he is at rifling. Our scrims went very well and the team saw great results with him. His ability to rifle and AWP gives the team diversity. After a few days of scrims we knew he was the missing link. His ability to frag, in-game awareness, and maturity was what we were looking for.
By increasing structure and having roles within the team ImAPet was very confident Cutler would come back to form. As it was reported to me, when the team had defined roles and CLG was at the top -Cutler excelled. Roles within the team were not clearly defined until the the most recent roster changes occurred. By providing this structure we were confident Cutler would improve and have more freedom to excel in his role.
Koosta now has someone who can AWP as a backup if needed. He continues to get better and I am very grateful he is on the team. I am routinely impressed by some of the plays he makes. It should also be noted he has yet to 1v1 me. I call him out all of the time and he has yet to play me.
Ethan is a very young and talented player. I have had people tell me how impressed they are by Ethan’s ability to play and also how mature he acts for his age. Signing Ethan was a very positive move for the organization and I am grateful he was here when I started.
The team has now finished the tournament in Ukraine where they received a lot of attention. When the team came back from Ukraine I made it clear I was proud of their progress, but not satisfied with the result. Casters made comments such as, “nobody expected CLG to make it this far,” or “CLG should be proud of their finish at this tournament.” Well I am not satisfied with the finish and I did expect them to make it that far. Further, to be exact. I did not send the team to lose in the first round of the playoffs. People were surprised at our finish because they did not know how good we are, but the coaches, players, and I all know the high level of caliber we can play at. While I am pleased with the progress, no one is satisfied with where the team is currently. We still have not won anything yet, but are moving towards that direction. I am confident we will get there with time.
League of Legends
When I first came to CLG, the first event I attended was Worlds in San Francisco. My primary role at this time was to observe as I did not want to impact or influence the team in any way. It was helpful for me to observe and see where I could assist the team for the Spring Split. At the end of the season, I set up interviews for the coaching staff and myself to interview players about the season. This was a helpful time for me to learn about the players. It was also useful to understand the needs of the team.
At the start of the Spring Split I was not as hands on with them as I was with the CS:GO team. I was confident in Tony and didn’t feel they needed the same amount of attention that CS:GO needed at the time. The CS:GO team needed rebuilding. The LCS team was a team that had great accomplishments in 2016 and had stability in infrastructure and direction.
Unfortunately, I did not impact the LCS team until halfway through the split. It was around week three when our record became very concerning, that I stepped in and assisted the coaching staff. Around this time is also when I began to create weekly coaches meetings where all coaches across all of the teams would come and meet. In these meetings I go over a concept and educate the coaches. It could be anything from a philosophy, intervention, or education on coaching. During these meetings the coaches also ask one another questions and receive feedback. I in turn give the coaching staff feedback on any topics that were discussed throughout the meeting. These meetings have been very helpful for personal growth of the coaching staff and is helping to move CLG towards the goal of excellence. It is one component of many that I am implementing for CLG to differentiate itself from other esports organizations.
At this time the team’s record continued to improve. My relationship with Tony and Plop began to resemble the relationship I have with ImAPet and Mike, where we are in constant communication. I was able to provide value where I could and help the coaching staff. As our record continued to improve the outlook on the team became more optimistic. Changes with structure and approach to the team began to change. Leading up to the FlyQuest match the team had the two best weeks of practice I have ever witnessed. The amount of dedication and sacrifice was exactly what I expected all along. Unfortunately the team ended up losing, but games one and two showed what this team can really do when they dedicate themselves to the game. We have had discussions and addressed the issues in games three, four, and five. There are systems and structure going into place to make up for the issues we had this past split.
The loss to FlyQuest was personal. I did not talk to anyone on the way home from the studio and was restless for many nights. I had to take a look at my entire department and the changes that needed to occur. Although the loss was very bad, a lot of good has come from it. The loss forced me to challenge our approach to everything, including practices, wake up times, mental prep, etc. I cannot stand losing and will never tolerate it. Furthermore, to lose in the fashion we did is unacceptable. I am not bothered by the reddit posts or frustration from the fans. You should be frustrated and keep us accountable. I cannot promise anything other than I care and will do my best to make sure we do everything to win. To feel the pain and embarrassment of the loss, I have the Flyquest match playing on a 24 hour loop in the LCS practice room. This is to keep that terrible feeling from that loss alive. It is a reminder of what happens when you don’t make the small sacrifices to be the best. A reminder of what we never want to happen again and that we need to do everything in our power to be the best, if that is truly what we want.
Acquiring CLG Black was one of the most stressful situations I have been a part of at the time of this writing at CLG. I went with Tony, Plop, and Aphromoo to Riot’s Scouting Grounds. We really did not know what to expect from the experience. The possibility of acquiring talent and reviving CLG Black was something we were hoping would happen - and sure enough we did.
I can recall the interviews I conducted with all of the players. Many of them were nervous and had no idea who I was. During interviews Tony, Plop, and Aphromoo were watching the players who were playing the matches. Once we drafted our team for Scouting Grounds it was clear who we wanted to be a part of CLG Black. Immediately after the Finals of Scouting Grounds we approached Tuesday, Zag, Omar, FallenBandit, and Fill. We let them all know we were interested in them. A few of these players also were approached by other organizations.
As we went into negotiations with the team, we found out there was another team that was also talking to the same five players. Long story short, there were days of negotiations with the team and we ended up in a bidding war against this team. Fortunately, we won and the guys are a part of CLG. My primary purpose with the team is grow them as a players. I want them to be able to replace any current LCS starter at any moment. There is also the realistic opportunity that one or more of these players will be a starter for CLG in the near future.
These guys have been scrimming a lot as of late and lead by Rico who has positioned the team to play for a NACS spot this weekend. I am very proud of the growth they have made as players. A few of them have even made lifestyle changes and are healthier people as a result.
Working with CLG Red at the beginning was probably the hardest for me out of all of the teams. They have a very long history together and I needed to untangle that web. Once the web was untangled and I learned who they were as people, I had an easier time working with the team.
I also believe the players began to believe how serious I was about competition when I discussed roster changes with all of them. This was also a turning point in our relationship. Furthermore, I also discussed what I envisioned for them in a coach and I am currently working on that as of this writing. There are candidates whom I am speaking with and I have a very clear idea of what the team needs.
The girls are a lot of fun to hang out with. They also really care about being the best female CS:GO players. I don’t believe many people truly understand what they go through as competitive female players. My hope is the team promotes to premier very soon. By getting them a coach that can provide them direction to achieve that goal is going to be very important for their success.
Smashers are the coolest! I truly didn’t understand what it meant to be a Smash player, and maybe I still don’t, but man it is a cool scene. The community is very supportive and the guys look after one another.
Currently VoiD lives at the main house full time. Most of us wouldn’t know it because he spends a lot of time streaming in his room, but you can usually catch him during dinner time. He is a very relaxed guy, but also a competitor. For those of you that watch his stream you know he is a very talented gamer. He can play most anything at an exceptional level. Right now VoiD is having tremendous results. He puts in the time and works hard. I am very excited for him.
NAKAT… he is NAKAT. I don’t know what else to say. In all seriousness, NAKAT is a guy who everyone really likes. He is a fun and easy going. His Twitter is always comical and you should follow him if you don’t already. While he is a funny guy, he truly cares about competition and he really wants to be at the top. Right now I know he is working on consistent results. If he keeps up the hard work and stays with it, he will get to where he wants to be.
SFAT recently moved into the main house full time. This has been a very positive experience for all of us. Having another Smash player around the house is important to me. They bring a very positive vibe that is hard to describe. He is currently working with our physical therapist, also named Matt, and going to the gym regularly. In addition, he is able to practice and stream in an environment that is more conducive to competition. I know he is very pleased with the transition to living at CLG full time.
PewPewU is another great guy. I have had the least amount of face to face interaction with him as he goes to school. We will occasionally get on calls and check in. Once in awhile he will stop by the main house either to attend local competitions or hang out. It would be great if he lived here full time. I really enjoy working with him and he is easy going. He also really cares about competition and his results.
All of the Smash players are great!
Acquiring the Overwatch team was a lot of fun. This was one of the first teams I was able to build from scratch. It taught me how to scout talent for esports, which is different than traditional sports. There are some similar concepts I applied, but new ones I had to create.
I think it is important to note I did not pick up the most talented team available at that time defined by rankings. Let me explain why. When the guys were The 1 Percent they were only able to practice together for a maximum of four hours a day and three players were in school. Clearly this team did not have the same amount of practice time and infrastructure to support them like sponsored teams had. However, the team was competing with well known teams regardless of the amount of practice they had. I was very surprised at what they could do with so little.
I went into interviews with the players skeptical. However, during the team interview it was very apparent these guys were the real deal. Their mindset and what they wanted to accomplish was exactly what I was looking for. I truly believed if I gave them the resources such as a coach, computers, house, practice room, etc., they would be able to compete with top teams. I also had the advantage of time. Knowing Overwatch League was not starting soon I could use this time to build them into the players I knew I wanted them to be. These guys have the understanding of what needs to happen to be the best. They have the mindset that is congruent with my objectives for my department and for CLG to separate itself from other organizations.
Fortunately, this is working well. The team now has Cuddles who is a great coach. He has assisted the team in many ways. The team continues to show improvements each week. They are turning heads at every tournament and gaining recognition. A team who was top 20 NA is now a top 10 NA team. Soon enough I know they will be a top 5 NA team and we will eventually be shooting to be one of the best teams in NA. This team as a whole fully embodies what it means to be a player at CLG and what is needed to be the top.
Losing the Hearthstone team has been the saddest moment for me at CLG. I was able to acquire the best Hearthstone team in the entire world and yet none of it mattered in the end.
The purpose of CLG acquiring a Hearthstone team was to get them ready for a three-player league. As noted in our announcement of the departure of the team, “We entered the Hearthstone world because we love the game and knew there would be an upcoming opportunity for competitive Hearthstone in the near future. Unfortunately it did not come into fruition, which made us have to come to the hard decision of having to decide to part ways with our Hearthstone team.”
The team was ranked #1 in the world and I knew would be highly competitive in the league, regardless of RNG. As an organization we had to part ways with the team, despite me trying to come up with reasons or a way we could keep them. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, it did not make sense from a business perspective. I truly wish you three guys the best.
Did you know CLG has the nicest player in all of esports? If you didn’t, you must not know Flamehopper. This guy is amazing and I would encourage you all to check out his stream.
Starting in November I had been in talks with Daybreak regarding their plans with H1Z1 as an esport. All of the ideas sounded great and I was just waiting for them to come to fruition. During this time I was talking to Flamehopper, Grimmybear, and CamSim. All three were interested in being a part of the CLG team. However, I could not fully commit to bringing them on as players as there was nothing for them to compete in. Grimmybear decided to join as a streamer in hopes CLG would move into H1Z1 as an esport. Meanwhile, I was in communication with Flamehopper and CamSim. Unfortunately, CamSim took an offer and was no longer available. Flamehopper and Grimmybear took the reigns of building the team when CLG decided to join H1Z1 only weeks before the filming of the Fight for the Crown event. Since they knew the players much better than I did, it made sense for them to lead the charge of creating the team. My involvement with creating the team was approving the players they suggested to me.
For those who don’t know the team finished 4th out of 15 teams during Fight for the Crown. Although it was not shown, Flamehopper was able to secure a 4th place finish by fighting in his underwear and healing. The intensity of that match did not convey well on TV, but I can tell you it was a very exhilarating experience.
The team was eliminated in 4th place and Flamehopper jumped out of his chair. I can only imagine he was full of joy because the team placed 4th and finished in the money. Only the top five positions got paid. Our team had only been together for approximately 2 weeks and took on the best in the world. Flamehopper came off stage and was in tears. He was happy we placed, he didn’t want to let down his teammates, and all of the hard work had paid off. It was not first place, it was not the ideal finish, but it was a solid finish given that we lost the first player in the entire match and were initially down to four players. I honestly had to look away from Flamehopper because I started tearing up. If I kept looking at him I probably would have cried as well. I fully understood what he was going through. As a competitor when you put in so much time into something and care so much all you want to do is your best. He did his best and utilized every resource given to him. The team was dealt a bad hand at the start, but they gave it their all. That’s all I really could ask for from any player. Results will come if you put in the hard work. Losing is terrible and I never set out to lose, but it is an easier pill to swallow when you give every ounce of energy.
I hope this letter brings you, the CLG fan, some insight into the happenings of the organization. It is important that you all know what we are doing and what is going on to the extent we can divulge. I know I will get criticized for this and some things will be pulled out of context. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is you the fan. Fans keep me accountable and I appreciate when you guys share your frustration. If you really want to be heard, I recommend you share your frustrations in a constructive manner. Emotional rants, while completely understandable, will only get ignored.
My intent is to be more transparent with you all moving forward. Please leave comments and questions below. I will do my best to answer everything I can to my fullest ability. Feel free to follow me on social media where I will be sharing more of my day to days with you all and what is going on within the organization.
About Counter Logic Gaming
Founded originally in 2010 as a League of Legends team, Counter Logic Gaming is North America’s premier esports organization. We field players that compete at the highest levels in the most popular competitive video games. We take pride in creating a culture where nothing is primary over attitude. Our players and staff are the most driven and passionate in the industry.