CLG Smoothie: "I don't think it's bad to have a 'toxic' player, per se, on your team."


Counter Logic Gaming's 2021 League of Legends Championship Series Summer Split has certainly had its ups and downs. The squad is 4-8 through its first 12 matches in summer, with three of its wins coming two weekends ago after finding success with dive-centric champions like Vi and Lissandra. However, in attempting the same style last weekend, CLG was figured out, and lost all three of its games.  CLG is currently tied for 8th place in the LCS with FlyQuest with a 9-21 record. 


Counter Logic Gaming support Andy "Smoothie" Ta spoke to Inven Global about the team finding its style, his current level of play in context of his career, and the importance of having a player who is not afraid to be direct about feedback for the sake of progress. 


CLG's summer has been much better than its spring thus far. Part of that is due to being able to be prepared for the split with your full roster, but aside from that, what would you say the biggest difference is between the team and its performance between spring and summer?


I think we have at least found an identity for ourselves as a team. We're playing to our strengths more than our weaknesses and it's been working, especially in the previous week.


This week, we didn't play very well individually in some games. Against Team Liquid, we didn't fight as aggressively as we usually do and it was pretty hard for us to come back after falling behind against their team composition. TL's draft had a lot of beefy frontline guys and we knew that we would be in a really hard spot if we fell behind against those champions. It's unfortunate that we played less aggressively than we usually do.



Would you mind going a bit more in-depth on what went wrong in the execution?


These compositions we have been playing are very high-execution comps. We're having a lot of success with them in scrims. These comps snowball heavily by taking advantages in the early game and taking a lot of early game fights, which is what we excelled at in our previous week as well as this whole week in practice.


Coming into this weekend, we had a lot of success with this strategy, but I think it's a lot more obvious. Teams are expecting it more now and preparing accordingly, but for us, we just didn't play as aggressively as we did in practice.


I think the last two games really were not good representations of how we perform and play in scrims. If we don't perform well with these champions and drafts, it's really hard to come back from a deficit. It's more about our own execution and being really aggressive, which we were good at before.



This weekend in particular has been tough, but overall, how is the team morale with the better performance in summer?


Honestly, the team morale was pretty good heading into this week. We had a lot of success playing our own style, as I said. It felt really good to put accentuations on our strengths rather than practicing stuff that we are less practiced on or less good at. Our atmosphere is pretty good so far for the most part, and it always has been, even during the hard times. Obviously, there's still some stress.


We're just trying to get as many wins as we can. For us, it's all about making it to the LCS Summer Playoffs. If we get to playoffs and we deserve to place higher, then that's great. However, right now, we're struggling mostly with ourselves, which is kind of how it's been for us this entire split. We're our own worst enemy. It's not the enemy team. Once we fix these issues, we'll hopefully rack up some more wins and cement ourselves into a playoff position.



CLG is known for having some of the nicest players in the LCS on its roster. Is there a specific individual who rallies the team when down or stabilizes the team when things are stressful?


Honestly, everyone has their moments. I'd say our team is too positive, even. *laughs* We have really nice guys on our teams, which is a blessing and a curse sometimes.


I don't think it's bad to have a 'toxic' player, per se, on your team. Obviously, we can be harsher on people sometimes, but I think having some negativity or having one person who brings everyone down to reality is good. Sometimes we have that with some people, but we're all trying to improve as fast as we can. It's been a hard process.



You've always been honest about yourself throughout your career. Do you feel a responsibility to step into the role of being the 'negative' player on a team that is so positive?


I think it's just really important to be objective with yourself and with your teammates. For example, what is our team's strength? Objectively, we are pretty good at teamfighting for the most part now. After the week where we botched a teamfight against TSM, we had a big talk and focused on practicing teamfighting for the whole next week of practice. It was pretty successful. We went 3-0 last week, and that was mostly based on teamfighting.


I think being objective with ourselves, stating our strengths, and playing off of those strengths is the biggest thing. You don't have to be toxic to people to understand that, it's more just about being real with your teammates and yourself.


An example is being able to say things like I don't want to play this champion because I'm not good at it.' or 'I don't think we should play this champion because I think you would carry harder on this champion.' to your teammates. Stuff like that helps a lot. It's a roundabout way of avoiding toxicity while remaining productive.


It seems that people are divided on this subject matter in the case of Dardoch and Dignitas, specifically regarding whether the player or the organization is more responsible. As a former teammate of Dardoch's, what are your thoughts?


I don't really know exactly what happened. I think sometimes he ends up going a little overboard.


I never had that many problems with him personally, but I can see how he would rub people the wrong way, for sure. I'm not going to say anything because I don't know what happened, but it must have been something pretty bad.



You and your AD carry Jason "WildTurtle" Tran are two of the longest active LCS players, but this is your first season playing together. What's that been like?


It's been great. He's probably my best friend in the LCS, and we actually live together, too, so that helps a lot. I think we have a really similar way of thinking about the game, so it's really easy for us to play around each other's strengths in the bot lane. I can really trust him to carry the game if we get ahead.


We're pretty strong individual laners, though it hasn't looked like that in all the games on stage, unfortunately. However, for the most part, it's been pretty good. We have acquired a lot of advantages in lane and it's been a really good experience. We've learned a lot from each other, for sure.



CLG is almost universally considered to be a team that is at least better than its current record indicates. How would you evaluate your own level of play in context of your career?


I've been pretty happy with my level of play this split. Obviously, some of the losses were pretty unfortunate. In the first two weeks, I'm not going to lie — I just played like sh*t. However, from week 3 onward, it's been pretty good for me. I think it helps a lot to have champions I'm comfortable with my teammates playing.


I think a lot of times earlier in the season, it was really hard for me to play my champion in a lot of the team compositions we had. For example, I was playing Leona in a full poke composition, so I couldn't really engage the way I wanted to because we were just waiting for poke to land, and sometimes, that doesn't happen.


Having easier team compositions to execute enables me to be more decisive in my engages, and my teammates are ready to back me up at a moment's notice. These things are pretty important. I think I'm playing pretty well. I don't think I'm at my Cloud9 form from 2016, but I don't think I'm playing that badly.


The record sucks, but it is what it is. We're trying our best to get as many wins as we can and just make it to the post-season at this point, but I do think we are a lot better than our record indicates.



All images by: Tina Jo/Riot Games via ESPAT

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