It’s no secret that the 2019 season has opened with a rather lackluster split in terms of depth, competition, and overall quality throughout the entire LCS. For the better part of the spring, the North American scene has looked like a three-team race with little room for any serious competitors to challenge those at the top.
For weeks now, Team Liquid, Cloud 9, and TSM have held the entire league with a vice grip, while the other seven teams in North America have struggled to gain even the slightest amount of footing. However, with just one week of play left until the playoffs are completely decided, there’s still a table full of contenders who could snatch a ticket to the spring playoffs – whether they deserve one or not.
One of those eager contenders is Counter Logic Gaming, a team that secured just 6 wins in 8 weeks, yet now finds itself in a situation where a playoff berth is within reach. Most splits, an 0-2 start to the season and a meandering .500 to sub-.500 performance throughout the entire stretch would doom any team to a finish somewhere between 7th and 10th place. This split, however, is no ordinary split, and as a result, a run like that could very well earn CLG a place in the standings as high as 5th.
With 2 games left on the schedule, one against Echo Fox (6-10) and the other against 100 Thieves (4-12), it’s fair to say that CLG won’t be facing any serious uphill battles between now and the end of the regular split. However, it’s not the team’s opponents that fans have to worry about, it’s the team itself. Since the start of the year, Counter Logic has proven to be one of the most unpredictable and erratic teams in all of North America, going on winning runs at some points (namely a 4-2 stretch between the second and fourth weeks of the split), while immediately turning around and going on abysmal losing streaks. Over the course of the past four weeks, the team has only won two games, and yet, by securing four wins in their first six games, CLG would still be locked into the playoffs if the season were to end today.
Inconsistency has been the name of the game for CLG this split, as the team just can’t seem to figure out how to balance out it’s highest highs and it’s lowest lows. From a win against 2nd place Cloud9 to a loss against last place 100 Thieves, it’s obvious that CLG just can’t seem to find itself. The team’s wins have been nail-biters, while their losses have been brutal. On average, when CLG experiences victory, they’re only winning by an average of just over 5k gold. On the contrary, their losses have been incredibly destructive, as they’ve faced a deficit of at least 10k gold at the end of all but two of their losses. Ironically enough, one of CLG’s most competitive blowouts came against Team Liquid back in week 1, while the team was handed its worst loss of the season against 100 Thieves in the split’s third week.
Additionally, the team’s personnel hasn’t played up to expectations, as longtime bottom laner Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes has struggled immensely, ranking dead last among all qualified LCS bottom laners in KDA, KPG, GPM and GD@15, while finding himself in the bottom 5 in DMG%, DPM, CSD@15, and XPD@15. In addition to veterans like Stixxay, newcomers to the team, namely Tristan “PowerOfEvil” Schrage, have struggled intermittently, as well. PoE, in comparison to other mid laners in the LCS, ranks last in GD@15, CSD@15, and XPD@15, being outclassed in nearly every matchup, while finding himself in the bottom 5 when it comes to KPG, DPG, APG, and of course, KDA. Even still, PowerOfEvil ranks in the upper half of mid laners in the GPM, DPM, and FBP departments, while topping his position in CSM and DMG%. If anything, PoE’s performance is a microcosm for CLG’s entire split – shades of greatness bogged down by harsh reality.
However, despite CLG’s recent struggles and consistent issues, including the current 2-7 stretch that the team is on, there’s still a chance that the team could find itself in the playoffs when the dust settles. Of course, they’d have to sneak past Echo Fox and 100 Thieves, first – the former, they’ve beaten once before, while the latter, they’ve gotten trounced by. And although both teams are certainly beatable, and two wins could pave the way towards a miracle playoff run, CLG would have to master themselves and conquer their own demons before they have any shot of conquering the league.
Photo Credit: Riot Games, Lolesports, Counter Logic Gaming