Counter Logic Gaming went down 0-2 against Clutch Gaming in the 2019 LCS Summer 3rd Place Match, but courageously battled back and reverse swept the LCS cowboys to secure top 3 status in North America. CLG will be seeded into the 2019 LCS Regional Final gauntlet as the second highest seed, and will play the winner of Clutch Gaming vs. FlyQuest. The winner of that match will face TSM for the 3rd LCS seed for the 2019 League of Legends World Championship.
CLG addressed the media in a post-match conference that featured Top Laner Kim "Ruin" Hyeong-min, Jungler Raymond "Wiggily" Griffin, Mid Laner Tristan "PowerOfEvil" Schrage, AD Carry Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes, Support Vincent "Biofrost" Wang, Head Coach Weldon Green, and Strategic Coach Heo "Irean" Yeong-cheol to discuss the series against CG and look ahead towards potential Worlds qualification.
Tyler Erzberger; ESPN Esports. Wiggily, before going on stage for game 5, you seemed really hyped up to play. What were you guys saying to each other in between games 2 and 3 at the start of your comeback, and how were you feeling going up on stage in game 5 as the momentum shifted throughout the series?
Wiggily: I think that we had a lot of mental fortitude after losing games 1 and 2, especially me. Normally, I feel like I would have been upset or in a bad mood, but after the C9 series in Semifinals, I learned that's never the way to deal with things. It will always affect your next performance. Going into the third game today, I was still confident in my team and myself, and I said, "Guys, we can still win this." In addition, I think everyone was still 'in it' mentally.
Joe Sloan, Checkpoint XP. I have a question for the Coaches. What mental adjustments did you have the team make after coming out of a rough game 2 to get prepared or game 3 and create the possibility of a reverse sweep?
Weldon: Strategically, Irean can talk about the draft adjustments, but mentally, when down 0-2, you get into a mindset that where the next game is just a best-of-1. You get really focused on the next 20-30 minutes, as well as trying to play fearlessly. In that type of the situation, the other team is going to come into the third game with momentum and play really fast, and if you're not ready, you're going to play really slow.
If you can confirm both of those things with your players before the game so they can be prepared, then it can be a normal game just like any other.
Irean: I expected game 3 to have a very predictable draft because the last time Clutch Gaming had blue side in the series was game 1. Since CG won game 1, I expected them to draft and play the same type of composition, or one as similar as possible.
I started thinking about how we would play against that potential composition during game 2, because I knew that game was over. I knew what parts of our playstyle needed to be changed, and I realized what we champions we should be picking. We just tried to avoid early game fights and play the macro game well, and that was what ended up working.
Nick Ray; Upcomer. PowerOfEvil, you're known for being a mage player, but that Ahri pick in game 5 was still a surprise. You tweeted after the series that you hadn't played or practiced it at all. What gave you the sudden confidence to play it in the Top Lane for game 5?
PowerOfEvil: Heading into the Draft Phase for game 5, I thought Ahri could be a good pick because Clutch Gaming can play Tristana in multiple roles. After we won game 3, I said to the team that Viktor and other mages were not ideal in the series because of the fast pace of the games and the frequent skirmishes that defined them.
I was able to pull out Orianna in game 4 because it was our last pick on the red side, so it was possible. But last game, on the blue side, I needed to blind pick a champion. Mages are really bad to blind pick into CG because both Top Laner Heo "Huni" Seung-hoon and Mid Laner Tanner "Damonte" Damonte play assassins and combo champions well, so we decided to play Ahri and just lane swap all the time to try and get the better matchups.
Stixxay was also giving me confidence in picking Ahri as well by saying that if I should pull it out if I believe it's the best pick regardless of practice or preparation. Obviously, it worked out great, and I'm happy that I was able to pull Ahri out and make it work in game 5 of all situations.
Nick Geracie; Inven Global. Irean, in all three games CLG was able to win, Huni was not on a carry champion. He played Viktor in game 3, and Karma in the last two games. How integral was keeping Huni off of carry picks in the draft phase to your reverse sweep win?
Irean: Clutch Gaming really likes to play around Huni, so we banned his comfort champions, like Rumble. If we do that, he's not going to be able to pick Tristana blind, or in a full AD composition with the team's best Mid Lane pick Qiyana. Should that situation happen, that would be good for us, so Huni played Karma twice and wasn't able to be a playmaker. He was on a supportive pick, and that was good for us.
Christopher Bilski; Ginx TV. Stixxay, looking at the 2019 LCS Regional Final, which team do you think is your biggest competition in the gauntlet?
Stixxay: I think our biggest competition for the gauntlet is most likely going to be Clutch Gaming, unless TSM can come back and be a dominate team. Otherwise, it's just going to be us vs. Clutch Gaming to see who beats TSM in the final round. If TSM does well, maybe they'll make it, but I'm not expecting that, so Clutch Gaming is probably the only competition.
Andrew Blanchard; State Champs Esports. This question is for Weldon or Irean. We saw a lot of lane swapping in the last few games between your solo laners. Was that an active decision before the game or something that happened mid-series due to one of the shotcallers on the team
Irean: We started doing a lot of lane swaps between Mid Lane and Top Lane after Rift Rivals 2019: NA vs. EU. We got to scrim teams from the LEC, and they were always open and flexible to swap lanes, so we tried to adopt that mindset going forward from there. We've been working on when to lane swap for favorable matchups and how that situation will change our objective control, so even now, we're still getting used to playing this style and had already prepared for the scenario.
Travis Gafford. I don't know who to direct this question to, but I hope some individual can answer it for me. There has been a lot of talk starting ahead of the 2019 LCS Summer Split about Daniel "Tafokints" Lee moving from a business role in Counter Logic Gaming into a strategic role for the CLG League of Legends team.
I'm curious as to what that role is and how it's had impact on the team, because a lot of people searching for answers as to why CLG has had such a sudden turnaround this split are saying that Tafo might have been a component of that.
Biofrost: Tafo does a lot for our team. He gives us TFT builds...*laughs*
Weldon: The main thing Tafo does is that he gives us analysis on warding patterns of other teams and other forms of statistics and analytics. Our support staff includes our coaching staff, Tafo, as well as our Analyst Brandon "Prymari" Kartman. Prymari is involved a lot in our level 1 planning, as well as scouting other regions and giving us info based off of that scouting. This is helpful for the team overall.
Wiggily: I just wanted to add, the other thing that Tafo does that I guess is bigger than the rest is his outsider opinion in draft discussion. For example, maybe he didn't watch all of our scrims, so he'll have a different perspective based on what other regions are doing. For me, that's the big thing Tafo does that can be helpful, but he does all of those other things, too.
Weldon: Irean and I will work with some scenario in the game and decide on whether a player is good or bad in situations with certain variables. We'll tell Tafo and have a discussion with him about it, and he'll program an algorithm and pull all the data and run it through a model. The next day, or sometimes, even just a couple of hours later, we will get the model and check to see if it's predictive of what's happening by looking at the results of our scrims or a stage match a day or two later.
Because Tafo is able to handle that side of things, we have this really nice loop where we are able to get immediate feedback on new ideas about what could be good in the game.
An example of that would be Scuttle Crab control, wherein we would theorize that because Team Liquid secures a lot of Scuttle Crabs, that may be indicative of a good team. Or maybe it's useless. So we work out a formula to try and predict that, then Tafo can program it and get an answer for us based on what the Scuttles in those games look like, and we can see how accurate it is.
Nick Butts; The Game Haus. Biofrost, you played more Thresh tonight than you have all split. Was that planned for the series, or just a spur of the moment pick?
Biofrost: I've played a decent amount of Thresh in my career, but I haven't really played it this season because I didn't think it was a good pick. But we were down 0-2, and I thought, 'Screw it. We played a couple games in scrims and it worked out really, really well.' I'm a pretty confident Thresh player — I used to be a one-trick Thresh — so I can always pull it out even without having playing many recent games on it. Also, Weldon said let's have fun, so I thought, 'Let's have fun!'
Tyler Erzberger; ESPN Esports. Ruin, last split it you were playing in Turkey. How would you compare the level of TCL players to LCS players, and how well would Echo Fox have done in the TCL this summer?
Ruin: When comparing Turkish players and NA players, the basic skill level is very different. If an NA player is 8/10, a Turkish player is a 5/10 or a 6/10. There's also big champion pool problems in Turkey, so it's very different. If Echo Fox played in the TCL, I think they would have maybe gotten 2nd place.
Wiggily: That's a headline.
Zane Bhansali; Cheddar Esports. Weldon, Biofrost just said that you told the team to have some fun before game 3, and I wanted to ask whether that had to do with being down 0-2, or was the team playing loose because the match was only for seeding in the LCS Regional Final?
Weldon: Everything I say is to get to try to get to the victory, and I knew that the most important thing was to stay loose. You don't want to tighten up and be slower than the opposing team, and the best mentality for playing fast and loose if you feel like you're a worse team and need to make more plays than the opponent is to have that aggressive mindset and just have fun. I thought it would keep the players loose.
Joe Sloan, Checkpoint XP. Stixxay, last week against Cloud9 you went down 0-2, took the third game, and then lost 3-1. Today, you took game 3 against Clutch Gaming and were down 2-1. Was there a difference in mindset or mentality between those two situations?
Stixxay: We did improve a bit during the week, I think. We were pretty sad about game 4 against Cloud9. It was pretty close, and we feel that if we could have won that game, we could have actually reverse swept C9.
Overall though, I think Cloud9 is a stronger team than Clutch Gaming, so in this series we were able to take our lead in game 4 and snowball it well. When we had a game 4 lead against Cloud9, they were able to stall it out and ended up beating us. Because of this, I'd say the biggest difference is that C9 is the better team of the two overall.
Christopher Bilski; Ginx TV. Weldon, you've thrived this split with CLG. Do you think that's due to something that's changed within yourself, or something within the organization that's allowed this to happen?
Weldon: I think it's been a slow build. The players have been working really hard and are kind of sick of losing, so they've put a lot of effort and really believed that it was going to pay off. I can't remember who it was, but somebody once told me that it's always 99% players and 1% coaching on the top, and I think that's really true here. It's about the amount of effort they put in to decide to be a winning squad.
Nick Geracie; Inven Global. My question is for the coaching staff. This match was important for CLG, but since you will most likely face Clutch Gaming again in the 2019 NA regional final in two weeks, did that affect how you prepared for this series, and also, what you take away from it?
Irean: I think we still have some weaknesses we saw from the Cloud9 series. In addition, we were not perfect in today's series, either, so I think we should try to figure out how we can play better in the situations that led to losses in games 1 and 2.
Last week, we re-watched the entire split and our playoff series', and then discussed what we could have done better. We can learn in scrims too, but watching our previous games and looking back helps us understand how we can be much better than before.
Andrew Blanchard; State Champs Esports. Wiggily, this is your first time playing on this big of a stage. What's been your experience in Detroit both on and off-stage?
Wiggily: I haven't really done much in Detroit; there's not a lot near us that I can do, and we have scrims all day. By the time we're done scrimming, I just want to sleep *laughs* I haven't had time to do anything else. However, I think we might have some time now, so that could be fun.
Playing on the stage was honestly more fun than anything. Even after the first two games that went terribly from our perspective, the whole series was fun to play regardless of whether I was winning or losing. The biggest difference for me was trying to have fun with it this time, whereas when we lost to Cloud9 last week, we were all sad. *laughs*
Tim Sevenhuysen; Oracle's Elixir. Wiggily, over the past several years, we've had young NA Junglers step up, shine for a few splits, and then fall off. You're a young NA Jungler on the rise, so what are the things you're looking at to make sure you can sustain your success long-term?
Wiggily: I think a lot of the reason you see a lot of talented young players come and go without staying for a long time is because they're really good mechanically and have an eye for crazy plays, but oftentimes won't try to learn the other parts of the game.
I'm not saying that this is the case all of the time, but I think I have really tried to focus on learning the game itself. Irean has helped me do that a lot and figuring out what we need to play for as a team, and how we need to control the map to do so, and how we can engage off of that control.
Those things are the type of things that allow Junglers to stick around for a long time. Meteos and Xmithie have stuck around for so long because they know how to play the game, not because they can Insec a person into the rest of their team.
Robert Hanes; The Game Haus. PowerOfEvil, you played five different champions today, including the Diana in Game 1. Can you walk us through the methodology behind that pick?
PowerOfEvil: Diana is supposed to be the counterpick to Qiyana. You can all-in a lot, and win the side lane. Qiyana can be better than Diana in teamfights, so you need to get a lead and not only play correctly in teamfights, but also know when it's better to be split-pushing in a side lane. It didn't go very well for us *laughs* we fell behind and lost both side lanes and mid lane pressure.
Diana and Qiyana are both really, really snowball-y champions, and they both are low skill level champions. Who ever gets two or three kills early in that matchup just completely rolls over the other Mid Laner. If you're ahead as Diana, at some point, you don't even need to land your Q skillshot. You can just W-Ult-Protobelt someone to death, whereas for Qiyana you can E for a guaranteed follow up on Q.
It's a really snowball-focused matchup, and since we fell behind, we lost and decided not to risk it in another game.