Within the past few weeks, everything eSports and League of Legends in particular has flown about us in overdrive. The spectacular display of international talent over in Paris has taken the spotlight as of recent times. However, drawing closer to the opening weeks of the split, teams are back home, into their practice regimes and vying to become number one. With consideration of the fresh blood in contention within the North American region, Doublelift of Counter Logic Gaming took the time to discuss the recent performance of the team, their direction and how the game itself is in a continual state of growth and change, as is the region.
With the Spring split having come to a close, CLG had a fairly strong ending to the season, placing third and even managing to beat TSM in the later weeks. Looking to their views on their team and individual performance, Doublelift points out.
“As usual, any loss frustrates us and makes us mad at ourselves for not doing better. I think we’re caught in the mix of being sad for disappointing fans, but not expecting much considering our horrible start to the season. Personally, I was extremely disappointed that I was unable to go to Paris with my team.”
With this transitioning into playoffs and CLG taking out Coast 2-0, was it possible there were any changes in his performance between the closing of the split and this best of three, Doublelift didn’t believe his performance had improved.
“Not really” he admits. “The match we played against Coast was actually played more poorly than our match versus TSM. It just so happens that Coast doesn’t capitalize on our mistakes and allowed us to play our way unhindered.”
This would seem to speak volumes of the state of North America, elucidating the great discrepancy in team strength, with clear distinction between top teams and the rest of the pack. Considering this, the next important event for CLG was their next round match against TSM. CLG took game one in a dominating fashion and even manage to establish a lead within the second game, however ended up losing the set.
“The number of games and momentum doesn’t really matter to us. We just got straight up outplayed in games 2 and 3, which was a combination of poor shot-calling and uncomfortable lane setups.”
It has been mentioned previously that other NA bot laners commonly attribute Doublelift and Aphromoo as the most formidable lane opponents within their region. Wondering what allowed them to develop this synergy and what differentiates these two from the rest, Doublelift evaluated their communication efforts and his overall reaction to such comments.
“Generally, Aphro and I discuss thoroughly what our problems are and what we can do to fix them quickly. We don’t mess around and take too long to adapt and improve, unlike other bot lanes who generally get stuck in a certain mindset. It’s all about communication, and it helps that we’re also good friends.” He adds, “I’m flattered to have regained this title as the strongest bot lane in NA.”
Outside of the laning phase, communication and interaction with the rest of the team has proven, historically, to often be the downfall of the Counter Logic Gaming squad. Questioning their inability to close out games, insight was provided into how these barriers have been remedied – as proven through their recent performance.
“The CLG that had troubles closing out is in the distant past.” Looking to how they’ve fixed this he adds. “We simply watched Korean teams and copied their mindset on how to close out games when you can, as well as Cloud 9. We just play smart, that’s all there is.” With an air of authority and certainty, it’s of no surprise that the coaching style and efforts of Monte Cristo, in conjunction with their drive as a team, that they’ve certainly come a long way in terms of finishing games.
To aid this improvement, Doublelift reviewed the change in champion select and the ADCs that CLG drafted for him. In the earlier weeks of the Spring split, he played Jinx and Vayne, both typically considered hyper-carry styled ADCs. Coming into the second half of the split, CLG has picked much more team oriented (through wave clear and utility) based picks like Sivir and Caitlyn.
“Sivir and Caitlyn just happened to be the strongest ADs at the time.” In a matter of fact tone, he continues. “and I always try to play what I think is strongest at the time, not necessarily what my favorite champion is.” Considering this, he continued on to discuss the direction the AD carry role has within the current state of the game and how it operates in the meta. He subscribes to the belief that.
“Support type ADs became less powerful when top lane stopped becoming two full tanks.” With the (re-)introduction of champions akin to Ryze or Jax, with insane damage and carry potential, he adds. “If there’s kill pressure on your AD, it’s not worth it to sacrifice strength for team utility. It will always depend on the meta.”
With that, the lack of mobility and direct nerfs to Sivir’s ultimate, she became less favourable within the scene until the point where she was dropped entirely it seems. With an emphasis shifting to stronger champions, less based around their utility, sees the rise of Lucian and Twitch. Both possess a strong lane presence and have the tools to scale well into the mid and late game. Looking at the evolution of picks and how the play-style has changed, he mentions the direction the AD role is taking.
“Nothing really needs to be implemented for ADs, I still think they’re extremely strong at all stages of the game past first BF sword. I liked the whole 1v5 ability but it was massively broken and would not like to see it again.”
Considering the changes to ADC position; there has recently been a rune overhaul to change the standard, almost always utilised select few runes. In particular, lifesteal quintessences have been nerfed whilst attack speed has been dramatically buffed. Reducing the safety and stalemate state that was bottom lane, Doublelift thinks people will be running attack speed now. Wondering if it be especially on auto-attack based champions, making Caitlyn and Vayne more contested picks again, his thoughts were consistent with his recent champion picks, suggesting that.
“All ADs were equally buffed from this change, not only Caitlyn benefits from attack speed.” Discussing Vayne, he concluded she suffered from many of her previous issues in lane, as well as being “extremely weak against Exhaust and therefore much weaker than pre-4.5.” Looking at the changes to Seals, in particular armour seals, the rise of scaling seals has been rather prevalent within other positions. Doublelift thinks that the trade off for a stronger early lane phase in comparison with later-game survivability wasn’t optimal.
“Scaling on AD is especially bad because you’ll either be sharing duo lane experience or tri/quad-laning for lane swaps.” Exploring the slower experience gains in the current meta meaning the scaling stats are delayed, he continues. “It’s really weak and not worth the tradeoff.” Considering the importance of the early laning phase to try and establish dominance or even outright win lane, this seems consistent with rune selection throughout all regions in recent showings.
Whilst the changes of the previous patch have been rectified with Trinket warding being available prior to the 2:00 minute mark. Doublelift described how the necessity of invading and lane swapping came about and how it impacted the professional scene.
“The trinket change has been overall negative for the competitive scene, but I think the majority of their (Riot’s) changes are positive. Change is always good and doesn’t let teams stick to a certain strategy and win because the meta favors their style at a certain time. Most changes aren’t so drastic that they can upset the balance of the game at a pro level.” Although, he amends that with. “The exception being the trinket changes.”
In light of the All Star event and the interaction between competing regions, the issue of a long withstanding stigma attached to the North American server and scene is raised. That being, it’s often considered as the weakest or one of the weaker regions, especially when compared against Korea.
“It would be really silly to say that NA is anything but a bottom two region at the moment. We placed poorly at almost every international event for the last two years.” He adds. “There’s always room for redemption and perhaps this year’s Worlds is that time.” With this in mind, he analysed the Power Rankings produced by lolesports. In particular, how the Asian teams dominate the top half of the rankings. On the topic of what differentiates NA from the Asian scenes and how they’re capable of (consistently) cultivating the world’s strongest teams.
“[The] Asian scene has a lot more structure, the biggest difference being their quality of coaches as compared to the nearly nonexistent pool of coaches in NA.”
However, he agreed that the state of NA was changing. With the introductions of teams such as EG, Quantic or most recently LMQ; it isn’t uncommon to see foreign teams relocating to NA. Even CLG’s acquisition of Dexter from Europe and Seraph from Korea, or Team SoloMid’s recent recruitment of Amazing.
“America is the home of immigrants and we should embrace anyone who’s willing to come here and help us become a stronger region. We have all the resources, such as money and exposure, but we don’t put it to good use because the teams here are so weak.” Furthering this, he acknowledges that he is excited for this trend to stay alive, wanting more talent to come to NA.
“I hope they continue to do so. All LCS teams should be glad that we get stronger competition and weed out the bad players that are in LCS but not contributing much to the scene.”
With the LCS fast approaching, make sure you keep up with all the action! Wishing Doublelift the best of luck in the upcoming split on behalf of EGN, make sure you follow him on twitter and facebook!
Doublelift says a massive thank you to Counter Logic Gaming’s sponsors: Razer, Azubu, iBUYPOWER, and NZXT and that he looks forward to putting on a good performance for his fans.
– Article by @JishLoL
Images courtesy of lolesports.com and Counter Logic Gaming