Three winnable games ended in three losses for CLG's first week of the LCS Spring Split 2021.
Counter Logic Gaming hasn’t tasted victory — or a top-three finish for that matter — in three years. One of the founding organisations alongside the likes of Team SoloMid and Team Liquid and to an extent Cloud9 has lost its footing and has been left behind. This has continued through to their League of Legends Championship Series’ (LCS) 2021 Spring Split start, after a lacklustre 0-3 finish for Week 1 has immediately put them as contenders for the worst team in the league.
In two out of their three games, they had solid early game leads that lost their balance in a specific play, leading to a mistake which in turn led to even more mistakes and eventually a loss.
Going into Week 1 the organisation made the decision to bench one of their more known players, mid-laner Eugene “Pobelter” Park bringing in their Academy mid laner, Alexey “rjs” Zatorski — someone whom they’ve brought in to play before in years past. This news initially came out on The Crackdown podcast — hosted by former pro player Christian “IWillDominate” Rivera and Ducan “Thorin” Shields — where Counter Logic Gaming’s AD Carry, Jason “WildTurtle” Tran explained he had attitude issues with the coaching staff.
In a Twitter thread by their General Manager, Daniel “Tafokints” Lee, Lee explained the organisation’s thought process behind the matter. Stating their want to experiment with Pobelter and rjs in the mid lane early on in the season as opposed to later where it could be of detriment to the team. This was added on top of an already unstable roster that didn’t have their starting top laner Finn “Finn” Wiestal and starting jungler, Mads “Broxah” Brock-Pedersen for the LCS Lock In tournament — Broxah still isn’t playing Counter Logic Gaming in Week 1 of the Spring Split.
Counter Logic Gaming had a contested back and forth versus Dignitas in their first game of the week but were on the back foot from the start. They put up multiple improvised concerted efforts to prevent Dignitas from closing out the game, but they weren’t enough. Rjs had a strong start to the game being part of the plays — with his Twisted Fate — that Counter Logic Gaming threw up in response to Dignitas, but he would later make some unprecedented mistakes.
The former top laner now mid laner didn’t want to allow his team to go down without a fight. “I think all [of] my deaths were after we already threw the game,” rjs said. ”And pretty much started with the Baron death when I tried to just get in the pit with no vision and try to smite steal it. And afterwards, trying to look for plays rather than losing slowly.”
In their second match of the week, Counter Logic Gaming got off to an early lead versus 100 Thieves, one that looked insurmountable. It all started after 100 Thieves went for their typical bottom lane dive with three members instead of their usual four. A timely WildTurtle level two level up helped Counter Logic Gaming turn the dive around, putting them ahead to start the game. They kept up the pressure with countless engages throughout the game from Andy “Smoothie” Ta’s Rell and rjs and Raymond “Griffin” Griffin’s follow-ups, layering their CC really well. Once in the mid-game, things began to get shaky for Counter Logic Gaming. They go for Elder allowing for 100 Thieves to come to them. They quickly turn on 100 Thieves with Smoothie’s Rell, but 100 Thieves managed to turn it around making it four for two and they take the Elder.
This was the start of Counter Logic Gaming’s downfall. Fight after fight, objective after objective, leads to the final play. 100 Thieves with Baron buff in hand begin pushing the top lane. Once again, Counter Logic Gaming engage onto 100 Thieves, and wipe the floor with them. This leads to an ambitious call of having both Finn and rjs teleport in the bottom lane to try to end the game. It was a desperate move from them that ultimately cost them the game as 100 Thieves punished them.
Then in their third and last match of the week, Counter Logic Gaming faced old rivals in Team SoloMid in what was perhaps one of the worst LCS matches in a long time. Like their match versus the thieves, they came out the gates with an early game lead. They had a clear gameplan of having Finn split push the side lanes, get them inhibitors and eventually end the game.
The start of their downfall began after Counter Logic Gaming — with lead in hand — went for Baron. Four members of the team began whittling down the Baron while rjs played perimeter, poking Team SoloMid with his Zoe. A costly mistake and a quick trigger finger Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage on the Azir netted them a kill onto rjs. Counter Logic Gaming committed to the Baron play but ended up losing too much health which led to Team SoloMid walking up and taking the Baron for themselves.
Still committed to the Finn split push, Counter Logic Gaming attempted to contest Team SoloMid at every objective while he solo pushed the side lanes. Team SoloMid caught wind of this each time, netting themselves whatever objective they were working on. Come the 40-minute mark, and Counter Logic Gaming make the call to have both Finn and rjs push Team SoloMid’s base while the rest of the members once again contest Team SoloMid at an objective — this time it was Elder. The worst-case scenario happens, Team SoloMid kill Griffin, they take Elder and defend their base push all in one fell swoop — ultimately ending the game.
If it wasn’t for the fact that they faced Team SoloMid, they could’ve very well had their old rivals tie them for last place in the standings. Although they still don’t have their starting jungler, Counter Logic Gaming had ample opportunities to close out these games but didn’t do it. A concerning thought for one of the oldest organisations in not only the LCS but in League of Legends as a whole.
Images via Riot Games