Counter Logic Gaming has gone 1-3 since signing Eugene "Pobelter" Park to start in the mid lane after struggling to a 1-7 record with Lee "Crown" Min-ho, but the team has looked significantly more cohesive and looks to be playing with far more direction than previously in the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split. That direction sent CLG straight through the heart of TSM's nexus last Sunday.
CLG AD Carry Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes joined Inven Global's Nick Geracie to discuss the team's second win of the season over TSM, the unique challenges in playing for both CLG and CLG Academy during Oh "Wind" Myeong-jin's visa issues, and how Pobelter is helping the team return to what led them to success with Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage last season.
Stixxay, your second win of the season has to feel good. How much of this win was your team playing well, and how much of it was TSM making mistakes?
I think it was a good mix. I think they made mistakes that we capitalized on, and in a sense, that is us doing well. In terms of us playing well in a sense of relative scale, I think this game showcased 50% or 60% of what would should be.
It wasn't the highest level of play we can show, but we've worked on things in practice to be able to snowball games like we did today, but we had a few mishaps today. TSM got the Rift Herald early, so it kind of slowed down the game a bit for us. Overall, it was an okay game for us.
You wrestled the lead from TSM after the early game in the mid game, which has been a weak point for TSM so far this season. As someone who has been on teams with strong early games and late games counterbalanced with weak mid games, can you deduce what causes TSM's mid-game struggles?
For this game specifically, TSM had really strong laning champions. They had Ezreal and Senna for the bottom lane duo, so naturally, we were getting pushed in by them. They also had Jarvan, so their comp had a lot of early lane dominance, and also, Zoe. Everyone realizes that Zoe is kind of over-tuned right now...*laughs* their draft gave them a lot of early advantages.
When it comes to the mid game, TSM's problem is either due to their compositions falling off a little from the team not snowballing enough, or it could be due to not having a direction of what the players want to do in the game. In this game, for example, we had what we call "The Drake Condition" where once you get two dragons, you know what your win condition is, and you keep getting the dragons.
TSM had an early laning composition that scales okay, but they didn't get any early drakes, so they were already on a long timer before they would be able to win. TSM would have needed to get four dragons if they wanted to get the Dragon Soul, so it would have taken a while. TSM should try and use their priority more for objectives, because early on against us, they mainly were playing for lanes.
CLG has looked more cohesive with Pobelter in the lineup in place of Crown. You mentioned that Pobelter is very straightforward with his feedback in your post-game interview on the LCS broadcast today, can you elaborate on that?
The team dynamic with Pobelter is similar to what it was with PowerOfEvil last year. PoE is a really good player who we could always play to, and because of the meta, we are playing similar champions to what we were playing last year. Pobelter has an idea of what he wants to do in the game, and he's really good at playing to side lanes, which was something we lacked. Before, we had a really big weakness in that we just had to group because we weren't good at playing side lanes.
Pobelter's side lane play is his biggest strength, and on top of that, he's really good at giving feedback. He's a strong voice in the post-game that can kind of give things a direction if no one is really sure what to do or say.
It's always good to have someone who is willing to share a strong opinion on the game and share it, even if it's not the perfect solution immediately.
Exactly. Pobelter always gets the conversation started. He knows in general what we need to do to win the game, so he always gets the conversation started when we're figuring out what the best thing was to do in a scenario. Before, it felt like we may not have been as sure about that kind of thing, so it's very helpful. laughs
I also wanted to ask you about Andy "Smoothie" Ta, because it's tough for a bot lane duo to be evaluated when the team is struggling as a whole. How have things going between you two in terms of developing synergy?
Smoothie's definitely a bit more vocal about how he plays the map when compared to Vincent" Biofrost" Wang. Biofrost was more vocal about how he wanted to play lane, and I think he was a really good laner. Both Smoothie and I are veterans at this point, so I don't really need to explain a lot. If I say I have a certain advantage, he knows what to do with it and how to make it work across the rest of the map.
For example, if I say that I have Teleport advantage, I don't have to tell Smoothie what to do, he already knows. It's very simple because he and I are on the same page a lot of the time in terms of what to do macro-wise.
It kind of sucks that we haven't been able to showcase our laning proficiency. We've been playing a lot of of hard matchups, and I think we're just not super good together yet as a duo in terms of laning. It's something we have to work on, but overall, with more time, we'll be better.
CLG missed playoffs for all of 2018, then missed by a game in the spring of 2019, then suddenly became a top three team last summer. The team is now in last place despite retaining the majority of its core roster, so what changed to cause the team to struggle this spring?
I think that we had a certain play-style when PowerOfEvil was on the roster last season, and everyone was really good at knowing what to do within that play-style and how to utilize the advantages that came with it. PowerOfEvil was really vocal on how he wanted to get advantages and play to the side lanes, and his laning was very consistent and stable.
In general, PowerOfEvil was a very stable player, so he was very reliable and I think that made it easy for everyone else to know what to do on the map to also be reliable. Crown is more of a volatile player; his peaks are really high, but he also has a lot of low points, too. Crown had different ideas on how he wanted to play the game, and it was hard for us to adjust. It made things very difficult, and because he didn't speak English very well, it was difficult for us to unify through communication.
Pobelter came in, and we're kind of reverting back to our old style with PowerOfEvil. Our Mid Laner knows what he wants to do on his specific champions, and we also know what to do because we played with PowerOfEvil and he showed us how to play around these champions.
I want to say the way that Pobelter is playing the game is the correct way. He's playing to side lanes on mages, and we're not always just permanently grouping. Of course, that's just my perspective, and everyone has different idea and views on what they want to do in game.
Earlier in the split, you had to play for both CLG and CLG Academy due to Wind's visa issues. What was that experience like?
For me, it would have been different we were winning on the main squad and I was just having to fill in if CLG Academy was struggling. It wouldn't be a worry to me because I could help those guys and try to lift them up, but I think it was hard because both of our teams were losing. I was getting used to double losing, you know? *Laughs* I would go 0-2 in the LCS Academy League, and then 0-2 in the LCS in the same week, and it felt really odd.
What I realized is that you don't need to overthink things in those situations. I don't necessarily think everything was on me. Both CLG and CLG Academy have unique struggles, but it's easy to get in your head and think that it's you because you're the common denominator. That can be a little demoralizing, but I just tried to keep my spirits high and not overthink things. I just tried to go back to the basics and follow my fundamentals.
You seemed like the bright spot on both squads during that time. Did you have to scrim double as well?
I wasn't double scrimming at all, I would just show up for two draft meetings and then the two game days. The game days were more difficult because of how the schedule worked out. Oftentimes, CLG Academy would be playing at the beginning of the day, and then CLG would play at the end of the day, so I'd be at Riot Games for six or seven hours.
Also, having to prepare for the Academy game and then having three hours of downtime before playing with my main team made me a little tired. Playing games back-to-back isn't a big deal, but in my opinion, that type of gap makes things a little rough on my mental.
I think I'm doing okay individually, my split hasn't been terrible, but I went into this split holding a lot of my good habits from the previous split, and I think those slowly fell off a bit as we started losing more games. I think that through that, everyone lost a lot of their good habits, and now, we're slowly re-training them with Pobelter. We're slowly getting back to where we were a team, and it's improving pretty quickly.
Was it jarring to then return to playing with only the main squad once Wind arrived in North America?
It was definitely a breath of fresh air hearing that Wind had his visa. *laughs* I was like, "Thank god, I don't have to lose twice anymore!" I'm kidding, of course, but we really weren't sure if he was going to get here in time to play. There's been a lot less stress on my shoulders since I went back to my normal schedule.
I know this split has been rough so far, but I wanted to thank your for your honesty during this interview. Is there anything you want to say to the CLG faithful?
Thank you guys for supporting. Obviously, it's been a rough time for us, but we're stabilizing a bit and getting better week by week. We just have to keep trying our hardest, so thank you guys for supporting us.