The 2020 off-season brought a lot of challenges to esports orgs across the globe who were fighting hard to shift their rosters and coaching staffs around amidst a global crisis. In general, COVID has been handled relatively well in many regions, and especially in China, where Riot Games was able to put on an in-person World Championship, including a live-audience for the Finals. In NA, and particularly Los Angeles, however, COVID response has not gone well. Over the holidays, there were often 15,000 new cases a day, and a second COVID strain has already been found in southern California.
Though teams and Riot have taken precautionary measures, COVID still found its way into the LCS. Roughly a week before the LCS pre-season tournament, the LCS 2021 Lock-In, Counter Logic Gaming had multiple members on its professional League team catch COVID. We spoke with CLG League of Legends GM, Daniel "Tafokints" Lee, about the team's current status, both concerning player and staff health and their visa situation that has caused some changes in their roster.
Prior to one of the CLG members testing positive, CLG was practicing at their facility due to an increase in quality of practice. At the office, not only are the members all together in a face-to-face environment, but they also have lower ping and a better overall infrastructure than when the players and staff are at home. Because they met at the facility, the team "tested frequently," and once one person tested positive, they "instantly shut down everything."
"We put everyone in quarantine that may have been exposed, and from there everyone started practicing at home," Tafo told us. He further explained that the affected players and staff aren't being hospitalized based on how their current symptoms have presented. Additionally, COVID isn't directly affecting CLG's roster for the Lock-In outside of the slowdown of visa processing due to the pandemic. "There's not anyone that's unable to play [due to] direct illnesses... Everyone is playing and scrimming."
They do, however, have two additional substitutes for the time being. Finn "Finn" Wiestål and Mads "Broxah" Brock-Pedersen are both still waiting for their visa approval and CLG has brought on two temporary subs for the time being. Colin "Solo" Earnest will play top until Finn's arrival. He is in the Global Contract Database until Jan. 25, which would see him on the team until the completion of the Lock In Quarterfinals. If Finn arrives sooner, Tafo explained that he may play when ready, but until then, they have Solo as their LCS starter. CLG did not promote their former Academy top laner, Alexey "rjs" Zatorski (formerly Deus), because he is moving to mid and reacclimating himself to that role. "To get him more comfortable in his new position, we didn't feel it was right to keep him top lane," Tafo explained.
Additionally, CLG signed Ryan "Keel" Keel (formerly FrostyNomad) to play jungle for their Academy roster as they await Broxah's visa. They will be temporarily promoting Raymond "Griffin" Griffin (formerly Wiggily) to play for the LCS. Their LCS starting roster will consist of Solo, Griffin, Eugene "Pobelter" Park, Jason "WildTurtle" Tran, and Andy "Smoothie" Ta until Finn and Broxah each arrive. Keel's contract is set to expire March 15, an additional month and a half longer than Solo's. Keel participated in the 2019 NA Scouting Grounds, but has not played professionally yet. He has played in the amateur league, however, placing second in the Upsurge Premier League last Fall.
"We're still practicing and still performing, so please look forward to our Lock In performance!"
CLG Lock-In roster:
- Solo (temporary sub), Finn upon arrival
- Griffin (temporarily promoted from Academy), Broxah upon arrival
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- 2021-01-30 14:46:40