Counter Logic Gaming failed to put a scratch in the win column in its first three games of the 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split, but its matches showed promise in more ways than one. CLG won all three of its early games and was mere inches from winning the latter two before back-to-back 40-plus minute heartbreak losses. A silver lining, however, was the individual play in the mid lane LCS debut of Alexey "rjs" Zatorski.
Rebranding from the moniker "Deus" to commemorate his return to his original role of mid laner, Deus expected to be starting for Counter Logic Gaming Academy in 2021 as he did for the majority of 2020 as a top laner. However, CLG ended up promoting rjs in favor of Eugene "Pobelter" Park, who played on CLG Academy for the first week of the 2021 North American Academy League Spring Split.
Like the rest of his team, rjs' early games were strong, and unlike his LCS debut as a top laner last year, he was able to hold his own and then some against LCS caliber opponents despite the winless week 1 for CLG. After the first week of the 2021 LCS Spring Split, rjs sat down with Inven Global to discuss his roleswap, his individual play, and what CLG needs to work on going forward.
Despite going winless in week 1 of the 2021 LCS Spring Split, how did you feel about your play individually?
For the most part, I think my early game was good in all three of our matches. In the late game, I made some mistakes, so there are definitely a lot of things to improve on later on in the game.
This was your first time playing mid lane in LCS, which is your original role as a professional player. What led to you switching from top lane in 2020 to mid lane this season?
I assumed I would still be on CLG Academy this year, and there was an opening for the mid lane spot on the roster. Mid lane is the role I've always wanted to play, so when the mid lane spot opened up on CLG Academy, I asked to swap back to my old role.
And then, all of a sudden, here you are in the LCS in the first week of the Spring Split. Did you expect to start in the LCS this early in the season after recently swapping roles back to mid lane?
I was definitely confident enough in my own gameplay to think that I would start in the LCS at some point this year. I didn't expect it to happen so soon. However, things aligned for it to work out that I am starting now.
Now that you've played some games in the mid lane in LCS, how did it compare to your true LCS debut as a top laner for CLG last season, individually speaking?
I definitely feel a lot more comfortable and confident in mid lane. It just seems that I know exactly what should happen and what could happen, at least in the early game. When I made my LCS debut last season, I was still inexperienced in the role of top laner, so there was a lot of learning for me to do. There were a lot of things that weren't necessarily ingrained for me in the early game as a top laner.
In your matches this weekend against Dignitas, 100 Thieves, and TSM, you played against Max "Soligo" Soong, Tanner "Damonte" Damonte, and Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage, respectively. Of the LCS mid laners you haven't faced, which one are you most looking forward to playing against?
I think we're up against Team Liquid in our next match; Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen will be a fun matchup, for sure.
CLG had some great moments this weekend but ultimately couldn't lock down late-game wins. Is that primarily what the team will be working to improve on before its next match?
Yeah, I think all of our early games looked pretty good. We have good plans going in and good drafts. Things may get too chaotic in the mid-game and late-game because those scenarios don't really get practiced too much in scrims, so it's definitely something we have to work on.
Is there anything you'd like to say to the CLG fans now that you've made your mid lane LCS debut?
I'm sorry we couldn't get a win this week, but I think we're actually a really solid team. We've been getting advantages in our early games pretty much every game and I think that's a good sign. If we can just shore up our macro in the later stages of the game, we will be one of the best teams.
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