Only one team still has a shot at going 28-0 in the LCS, and even most diehard fans would tell you it is unlikely. Everyone is so quick to pile on teams and leave them for dead after a bad week. It happened to Dignitas, it happened to TSM, and now CLG is getting their medicine after dropping games to Dignitas and the previously winless Vulcun.
Many factors go into a team having a bad week from someone playing while ill, not much practice time that week, or just having an off day. However, CLG has picked an awful time to enter a slump and enters Friday's game against Complexity in must-win mode. Let's take a closer look at where they are as a team, and what their paths could be this season.
Behind the times
CLG is a team that has been around since the inception of the e-Sports scene in League of Legends. For the better part of 3 years the team has been a part of the North American elite teams and was always mentioned as a threat in tournaments. Those days might be gone or numbered though as the newest iteration of the team only has 2 members on it who were a part of CLG's last tournament win. CLG isn't the same team and collection of talent they were one or two years ago, and the days of them relying on simply being inherently better than everyone else are long gone.
Even further troubling for CLG is that their identity as a team has dissolved over time. In their glory days CLG worried you from several different angles. King Jiji in mid would beat anyone he was up against, Hotshot would get his farm and pressure his lane relentlessly no matter what and force teams to deal with him. Saintvicious would get his farm and become an impact player. Their bottom lane was still feared back when Chauster was the ADC before Doublelift. Then if the game went long, forget about it. CLG was the best team in the world at teamfighting they couldn't lose.
In recent months, CLG has gone through a number of roster changes trying to find the right mix to regain their former glory. None of these changes have produced the kind of effect they were looking for and it's only starting to make their other flaws stand out more and more. CLG always has played a very limited champion pool. CLG has never been the strongest early game team, and has the tendency to play on tilt when things start going wrong. CLG allows team's favorite champions through the ban phase. These things are all put in the spotlight when things start to go badly, and they are problems CLG should have been working on a long time ago.
Where has the innovation gone?
CLG was one of the first major proponents of the 2v1 lane in certain scenarios and used it to great effect in Season 1 and in spots in Season 2. In Korea, we saw them try things like 2 mid with promote and teleport. These things are all varying degrees of cheese, but to a team that plays a rather stale pool of champions gave their opponents something to worry about in the back of their mind. For CLG to bounce back from a disappointing week, their innovation and strategy has to be a major component.
Everyone talks about how Chauster has one of the best minds in League of Legends. He just simply understands the game on a level higher than almost anyone else, and some of that has to start translating into plays or strategies they try in games.
CLG's best performance this season came against TSM in week 1 where they warded the map heavily level 1 and used Syndra to pull the enemy blue buff over the wall and steal it. CLG isn't more talented than everyone else anymore, and they certainly don't have the cohesiveness and trust in each other needed to teamfight consistently better than everyone else, so they have to look elsewhere for their advantages now.
The Burden to Carry
What's become of CLG is that they are now just a far too predictable team. Link is still adjusting to mid lane and his teamfighting hasn't been good in the LCS. Chauster hasn't been able to wreak havoc in the jungle, and Hotshot isn't the type of player to carry a team by himself anymore. The burden to carry now all rests on Doublelift's shoulders.
Doublelift is the type of player who can put a team on his back and carry them to victory, but right now CLG expects him to do it every single game and picks around it. All their compositions are essentially protect and peel for Doublelift, and that type of team is easy to gameplan and play against at the moment. With dive comps so prevalent, and popular champions like Vi and Jarvan who can stick to almost anyone being the norm, Doublelift's job is harder than ever and the team's chances to peel increase too. The margin for error to protect and AD Carry against teams built around killing him is almost nil, and CLG continues to back themselves into a corner.
When you look at the top team in North America right now, any one of them can carry a specific game and that's what makes them dangerous. Teams have to think about Voyboy's Akali or Katarina coming in to play while worrying about Jacky playing Orianna or TF. This is before you even mention Saint pressuring hard with Jarvan, Xin, or Hecarim and the vast improvement in the Cop + Elementz duo lately. CLG has 1 threat right now and it isn't exactly a secret.
Building around an AD Carry in Season 2 could win you tournaments, especially if you can stall games. AD Carries were powerhouses and simply got too strong to deal with at a certain point in the game. Season 3's meta has shifted and now the water is murkier for which role is the strongest. One thing is certain. CLG isn't going to go winless the rest of the LCS (they will almost surely beat Complexity tonight) and they aren't likely to be relegated at any point, but if they want to remain relevant as contenders in Season, 3 they have more problems to address than a simple off-day.
What do you think RoG'ers? Will CLG bounce back and return to form? What do you think is their biggest obstacle to returning to form? Let us know in the comment section and stay tuned to Reign of Gaming for all your LoL-related needs
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