The most shocking roster change in LCS history took place this past off-season when long-time CLG carry Doublelift left the team to join rivals TSM. This was a tough pill to swallow for the entire CLG fan base who were already having trouble digesting the decision that had former season 5 mid laner Pobelter benched in favor of substitute HuHi. The general consensus was that these decisions were truly counter-logic, and that the team would be a definite downgrade heading into the 2016 spring split.
Stixxay really showed up on Kalista when the new CLG took on Doublelift and the new TSM in both team’s first game of the season.
The new CLG; featuring Stixxay in place of Doublelift in the marksman position, and HuHi in place of Pobelter in the mid lane, is currently tied for second place in the NA LCS with a 4-2 record. CLG most recently swept their weekend 2-0 by defeating teams Echo Fox and Renegades. Fans have to be happy with how the new team has meshed together and have performed exactly how CLG management were hoping they would when they made the controversial changes.
CLG’s wins against Echo Fox and Renegades were tight and controlled. All members on the team appeared to be on the same page as they maneuvered around the map and created small edges that compounded as the game went on. They never appeared to be dominating until moments before destroying the enemy nexus, but they remained in control throughout the game. By choosing to only fight small skirmishes they minimize risk. If they come ahead after the short battle, they gain a small edge. If they don’t, they are barely behind. It’s a testament to their decision making that the team is able to consistently rake up these tiny edges that eventually compound into a won game.
After a stand out first week marksman player Stixxay has settled down into a consistent source of damage. He’s not a flashy player, and he sometimes finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, but for the most part his team does not have to worry about him.
HuHi’s biggest kill score yet came when he took Corki into the mid lane against Team Liquid’s FeniX on Ryze.
HuHi looks to be a player who is closer to becoming a carry threat for the new CLG. His performances on Corki were dominating, and his most recent game on Leblanc against Renegades’ Alex Ich was impressive. He maintained clear control of his lane throughout the entire game and would snowball that advantage later on by bursting out any Renegades player that exposed themselves.
The initial reactions to releasing Doublelift and Pobelter were harsh. CLG had just put on their best performance in the NA LCS. The team was loaded full of amusing personalities that made for entertaining streams during the week to hold you over until the LCS started back up again. Many couldn’t understand why the team would walk away from their proven star power after such a successful season.
It’s easy to look back now, only 4 weeks into the new season, and find justification for the changes. Pobelter joined the team under the premise that he would split time with HuHi in the mid lane for a Faker/Easyhoon type arrangement. HuHi suffered visa issues and was unable to play; earning Pobelter the starting role for the rest of the season. By the time the issues were resolved CLG was already winning. Once the season ended CLG wanted to go back to the intended 50/50 split. Pobelter, having taken part in CLG’s first NA LCS championship victory, was no longer interested in sharing his lane and left the team. Pretty straight forward.
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The removal of Doublelift was not quite as straight forward. CLG chose to release Doublelift because of his attitude and stubbornness. CLG felt Doublelift was unwilling to make compromises necessary for team focused decisions. This is surely the hardest decision CLG manager HotshotGG has ever had to make. Doublelift was a superstar marksman, and a franchise player on CLG for 4 years. CLG built their strategies around him and his opinion held a lot of weight. Ultimately CLG decided that they couldn’t progress any further as a team being Doublelift’s CLG.
The result of these changes is a revamped team environment for CLG. The organization has shown that the team will no longer bend for a single player. They have ruled that the logo on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back of it.
It has been a strong start to the 2016 LCS season for the new CLG. Next week they will face their toughest opposition yet when they take on NRG eSports and the undefeated Immortals. CLG’s macro focused play that has been able to shut down opposing teams will be pushed to its limits against two highly dynamic teams that come to fight.