ggChronicle proudly debuts our “Twelve Days of eSports” series with a comprehensive profile of CLG Prime. Every day between now and the World Finals, we will release one article highlighting each of the teams going to Los Angeles. Don’t forget to check back daily for our new content, and be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
|Teaser for the upcoming CLG Documentary|
Like the mythical Daedalus, George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis, through his team Counter Logic Gaming, has served as the master architect of the LoL eSports world. HotshotGG’s decisions built the financial framework for many League of Legends competitive teams, and his dedication to training rivals the zeal of the Korean Starcraft organizations. Always at the vanguard, CLG forged a path when they started the streaming revolution, bringing the personalities of professional players to millions of fans. Not content to rest on his laurels, HotshotGG continued to build on the foundations that he laid by recruiting top players and forming new teams. Counter Logic Gaming spent Season Two with their sights squarely set on becoming an empire, and their reach now spans continents as they search for the fiercest adversaries.
|Hotshot gets carried in Korea|
Even as CLG pioneered the use of streaming and cultivated a rabid fan base, they were equally audacious in cutting the tethers that held them back from their new goal: winning the World Finals. Season Two saw CLG take a daring bet with HotshotGG’s wager: they opted for the all-in tactic of leaving streaming money on the table to train in Asia, thereby pinning their hopes on a million-dollar prize pool instead of the quick cash. What will be the outcome of this bet?
Team Formation and Massive Roster Changes
Since CLG Prime’s inception in 2010, the team has relied on the same three core players, HotshotGG, BigfatLP, and Chauster, while others have come and gone. Many of CLG’s former players became some of the biggest names in League of Legends, including Saintvicious and Elementz on Team Curse, Reginald on Team SoloMid, Lilballz on the Taipei Assassins, and Nolja on Xenics Storm. The squad captured many early victories, looking almost unbeatable until 2011, though they have yet to mirror their success from Season One.
|HotshotGG and Saintvicious together on CLG|
CLG Prime spent much of Season Two in a state of flux: traveling between South Korea and the U.S., trading players, and even swapping positions within the team. Immediately following the start of Season Two, the team made a decision that shocked the community when they benched long-time Support player Elementz. CLG opted to sign a rising star, AD Carry Doublelift, to the open slot, while their then-AD player Chauster transitioned to the Support role. The first roster change caused turmoil as the team adapted to it, but didn’t prevent HotshotGG from participating in the triple trade six months later. The team removed Saintvicious from their line-up, citing communication and leadership issues, and brought in Top Lane player Voyboy from Team Dignitas. The swap caused current Top Laner HotshotGG to migrate to the Jungle position, provoking extreme scrutiny from the eSports community. The current roster will only have practiced together for five months by the start of the World Finals, which might affect their performance against more stable line-ups.
CLG Prime’s Rocky Road in Season Two
Counter Logic Gaming Prime‘s story in Season Two has been marked by the massive trades and roster changes that shook up the majority of the North American eSports scene. CLG sat at the center of much of the controversy in North America, as fans quickly reacted to the line-up shuffles and position swaps that became the team’s dominant storyline. While some may attack their choices, their decisions were made with a weather eye on the horizon, seeing far beyond Season Two and planning accordingly. Whether this strategy will bear fruit competitively remains to be seen, as their performance thus far in Season Two falls short of their previous successes.
CLG’s first trial in Season Two came in March, as they headed to Germany to participate in the IEM World Championship. The team fell to Hannover’s champions Moscow Five, but managed to secure a third place finish. A thrilling final in Las Vegas at IPL 4 saw them take second place to a surging Team SoloMid, anchoring them as the #2 NA team during their stay in South Korea. CLG Prime seemed to struggle in Korea, getting knocked out by Azubu Blaze in the quarterfinals and calling into question the team’s dedication to serious practice. Disappointed with their performance, CLG Prime engaged in the triple trade in order to streamline playcalling and resolve personality conflicts.
After the first Korean trip, a new era began with Voyboy in Top Lane and HotshotGG taking on the mantle of Jungler. While the decision was fiercely debated by fans, Prime showcased George’s skill in the jungle and finished second at the MLG Spring Championship in Anaheim, falling once more to TSM. CLG’s use of a substitute player in Top Lane, xHazzard, at MLG seemed to further affirm the strength of their core roster as they managed to take a podium position against top NA and EU talent under adverse conditions. The second voyage to Korea ended at the same point as the first, with a loss in the quarterfinals to Azubu Frost, ending the possibility of a CLG Prime versus CLG.EU grand finals in The Champions Summer. Instead of flying directly home, however, Prime stayed in Korea to train in secrecy until the North American Regionals.
|CLG on stage at the North American Regionals in Seattle|
Fans waited with bated breath for Counter Logic Gaming Prime’s return to American soil, though they wondered about the effectiveness of the team’s rigorous practice regimen and if they could unseat a dominant Team SoloMid. While their inventive strategies proved somewhat successful, Prime lost a nailbiter in the semifinals of the NA Regionals to Dignitas while proceeding to beat Curse, locking down the final slot at the World Finals. After a disappointing performance, HotshotGG promised fans new strategies at the World Finals, where they hope to redeem themselves on the biggest possible stage.
With the sole exception of the North American Regionals, Counter Logic Gaming’s only tournament losses have come at the hands of each event’s eventual champions in Season Two.
When evaluating CLG’s performance over the course of the season, an interesting pattern begins to emerge. With the sole exception of the North American Regionals, Counter Logic Gaming’s only tournament losses have come at the hands of each event’s eventual champions in Season Two. This history hints that CLG Prime is a much more dangerous team than their results might demonstrate at first glance, and that bad bracket luck might have hindered their success in many events.
CLG Prime’s strategies shifted dramatically over the course of Season Two, largely due to the sudden shift in roles for HotshotGG and the recruitment of Voyboy. With Saintvicious in the jungle, the team relied on conservative play and quirky poke composition that bled their opponents to death by a thousand paper cuts. Jungle carries like Udyr and Shyvana wormed their way into CLG’s picks, while top lane was dominated by Nidalee, Cho’Gath, and Olaf. HotshotGG became the king of the split push, famed for knocking down towers and farming while the rest of the team minimized risk. CLG gained advantages through strategic counter-jungling, hard pushes, and relentless farming. The late game was where they were most at home, which remains true even with their current line-up.
The acquisition of Voyboy for Top Lane and HotshotGG’s shift into the role of Jungler sent CLG back to the drawing board, as many old strategies no longer functioned. The team fell back on a relatively standard metagame for the time, as the players scrambled to adjust in the midst of a hectic tournament schedule. CLG seemed to have lost some of their most feared weapons without their poke composition or honed split-pushing tactics, but they still placed well at tournaments in spite of a lack of true innovation.
|HotshotGG and Voyboy in Korea|
The Voyboy era began on CLG’s second trip to Korea as the team began to form their new identity in Azubu’s The Champions Summer. Counter Logic Gaming went back to the drawing board, inventing new strategies to complement their revamped line-up and champion pool. Their first quirky strategy was debuted against their sister team, CLG.EU, in the group stages, and featured a composition that revolved around using the AD Carry/Support combination with Promote in middle lane, with several players taking Teleport for increased mobility. Though the strategy couldn’t quite carry them to a win in its debut, CLG unveiled a refined version at the North American Regionals, which met with some success.
More recently, CLG revealed a revitalized poke composition consisting of Top Gragas, Mid Xerath, Support Jayce, Trundle, and Urgot. At the conclusion of the NA Regionals, HotshotGG promised fans of CLG that they would spend their time before the World Finals “creating a lot of cheese.” HSGG admitted that his team wins by outthinking their opponents and not by outplaying them, and their surprises are precisely what will make them dangerous in the group stage and single-elimination bracket at the World Finals.
CLG’s major flaw historically lies in their play-calling and in-game communication. HotshotGG and Chauster occasionally engage in conflicting calls, with each attempting to overpower the other through sheer volume. This leads to erratic engagements by Prime in the late-game, and can cause losses against more organized opponents.
George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis
The founder and figurehead of Counter Logic Gaming, George “HotshotGG” Georgallidis balances an incredible workload: managing an up-and-coming company, playing at a professional level, and overseeing four different eSports teams. Though he recently left the CEO position and installed his mother in his place, Mr. Georgallidis still maintains a demanding schedule. First and foremost, HotshotGG is a born competitor.
While HSGG had an illustrious Top Lane career, his role switch to the Jungler position remains a topic of conversation heading into the Season Two World Finals. In his jungling debut at the MLG Spring Championship in Anaheim, HotshotGG showed a limited pool of champions and stuck to his early favorites: Shen, Nocturne, and Nautilus. Over time, CLG’s captain has diversified his picks, adding Dr. Mundo, Cho’Gath, Udyr, Maokai, Alistar, and Trundle to his stable of Jungle champions. In recent matches, he has seemed most comfortable on Shen, Mundo, Udyr, and Cho’Gath, which has helped CLG absorb significant damage in team fights for the two skilled carries, BigfatLP and Doublelift.
|My interview with HotshotGG after the NA Regionals|
HotshotGG critiqued his own style after the North American Regionals, stating that he excelled at eliminating wards and being a presence in lanes, but noted that he needs to work on clearing camps. His tendency to wait too long for a gank, particularly in camping top lane for Voyboy, has improved substantially since his first days as a Jungler. With HotshotGG’s new style, however, comes necessary adaptation from the rest of his team, long used to Saintvicious. With Saint, the team could rely on him to consistently hold a level advantage on an opposing Jungler while simultaneously not expecting his presence as much in lanes. This led to a more conservative laning phase for CLG, which HotshotGG’s jungling is slowly changing. By no means an aggressive team, Counter Logic Gaming moved away from their traditionally safe play by virtue of HSGG’s newfound style.
“In terms of ward clearing and knowing where I’m supposed to be in lanes, I’m very strong [...] My weakness is that I don’t clear my camps well enough.” - HotshotGG
Although he swapped positions, nothing changed about HotshotGG’s ability to invent creative strategies with Chauster. Ultimately, it’s the innovative thinking from CLG that yields wins for the team, since they lack the mechanics to routinely succeed against top teams with standard play. For HSGG, no champion, summoner spell, or rune page should be overlooked, and his experimental mindset counts as one of Counter Logic Gaming’s biggest strengths.
Steve “Chauster” Chau
Steve “Chauster” Chau founded the Counter Logic Gaming team alongside current members HotshotGG and BigfatLP, initially filling the role of AD Carry. The departure of Elementz and arrival of Doublelift at the beginning of Season Two forced Chauster to swap to the vacant Support role, which he played for the entirety of 2012. Chauster is known for his reasoning, deep knowledge of the game, blunt personality, and dedication to candor. He serves as one of the principal play-callers on the team, particularly when directing his partner Doublelift in the laning phase.
Respected for his ability to theorize and play a variety of champions, Chauster made a name for himself as a highly versatile player. Chauster’s adaptability allows him to play both passively and aggressively depending on the needs of the lane and team composition. In recent tournaments, Mr. Chau played a wide variety of Support champions, making it difficult to ban out his preferred picks. Chauster’s use of unorthodox supports, such as Galio and Jayce, lend a unique flavor to CLG Prime’s team composition and cause difficulties for opponents accustomed to the standard metagame.
“[Chauster] is probably the best player in the game. He’s the most knowledgeable by far and he almost never misses skill shots.” - Doublelift
Chauster’s legacy as an AD Carry left him with above-average mechanics for a Support player and a deep knowledge of match-ups and trading in bottom lane. CLG Prime’s history as an innovator can be chalked up to his staggering game knowledge and no-nonsense approach to strategizing. His team’s success in the World Finals largely rests on his shoulders, as CLG needs surprising tactics to have a shot at winning in Los Angeles. Cited by his laning partner Doublelift as “probably the best player in the game,” Chauster looks to prove his skill to the world in October.
Peter “Doublelift” Peng
Peter “Doublelift” Peng first gained recognition as the famous lost child of League of Legends. Forced out of his parents’ home after pursuing the path of professional gaming, he took refuge in the apartment of Travis Gafford, the host of State of the League. After brief stints on several professional teams, Doublelift signed onto CLG as the new AD Carry at the start of Season Two. His synergy with Chauster has grown substantially since the early days, and now the two are respected as a world-class combo.
Doublelift began his League of Legends career as a niche player, known for his Blitzcrank. Since those early days, he transitioned to the AD Carry role on Curse and hasn’t looked back. While initially more comfortable on Vayne or Caitlyn, Doublelift has expanded his repertoire to include all the AD champions. In recent tournaments, Doublelift differentiated himself from other players by frequently selecting Sivir, breaking away from the Corki, Graves, and Ezreal picks that dominated the end of Season Two. He also stands apart from other AD players in his occasional use of Vayne, a champion that takes advantage of his high mechanical skill.
|Curse’s Pluto interviews Doublelift at the NA Regionals|
Doublelift’s excellent mechanics made him the League of Legends community’s gold standard of perfect technical play. Mr. Peng’s ability to position in team fights, to maximize the number of auto-attacks, and to dodge skill shots have become eSports legend. While Doublelift stays a highlight reel staple due to his impressive micro-management, his decision-making abilities remain questionable at times. He is liable to face-check brushes and has historically made other basic mistakes, forcing Chauster to provide explicit direction in lane. With Chauster calling the trades and laning tactics, Doublelift can focus on his mechanics and maximize the potential of CLG’s bottom lane.
Michael “BigfatLP” Tang
The third founding member of Counter Logic Gaming, Michael “BigfatLP” Tang anchors the middle lane as the team’s AP Carry. Quiet and unassuming, Mr. Tang avoids the limelight of the professional scene in favor of spending time with his cats, girlfriend, and also his cats. The eye of the hurricane, the calm in the storm, BigfatLP diligently presses advantages while avoiding risky plays.
BigfatLP’s champion pool typically contains AP Carries skilled at farming from a distance in middle lane. Orianna, Gragas, Twisted Fate, and Anivia all have seen action at the hands of Mr. Tang in recent weeks. He typically shies away from champions that excel at roaming, sticking to those that reward a lower risk playstyle. When the team composition calls for an assassin-style champion in middle lane, CLG Prime recently started swapping BigfatLP to top lane, though he still plays AP Carry. Voyboy then moves into the middle with Katarina or Diana, as the situation demands.
“Every other game or more, I play aggressive. But most people do not see it because they aren’t looking for that and aren’t willing to change their thoughts. It’s been hammered into people’s minds so hard by a lot of people.” - BigfatLP
Characterized as a passive player by many, BigfatLP tends to exhibit cautious aggression in middle lane and roam less frequently than many other AP Carries. Typically, this allows him to outfarm his opponents and end games with a sky-high KDA ratio, as he rarely dies in either laning phase or in teamfights. His typical selection of champions that can farm from a distance has made him particularly difficult to gank by enemy Junglers, especially since he rarely takes risks in lane. After HotshotGG’s switch to the Jungler position, he has played more aggressively than he did in the past as he responds to his ally’s ganks on middle lane. While BigfatLP’s roaming has improved since the beginning of Season Two, he still occasionally has trouble following his lane and counter-roaming effectively.
Joe “Voyboy” Esfahani
The most recent addition to the CLG Prime roster, Joe “Voyboy” Esfahani earned his stripes as the ferocious Top Lane player for Team Dignitas prior to the triple trade in the middle of 2012. A young prodigy, CLG had to wait for his high school graduation before whisking him away to Korea to compete in The Champions League, which was the first tournament to showcase the team’s new line-up. Fans love Voyboy for his calm, pensive behavior on stream and his emphasis on tactics and match-ups in Top Lane.
“Voyboy’s strength is learning multiple champions really fast and using unorthodox set-ups.” - HotshotGG
While Voyboy possesses enormous natural talent and a high skill ceiling, he spent much of his time as a League of Legends player focused on learning unorthodox champions. One of CLG’s first goals was to help him learn standard champions for use in top lane, since some of Voyboy’s preferred picks tended not to scale well into the late game. At the North American Regionals, Voyboy’s champion pool consisted entirely of expected top lane fare: Jax, Olaf, Vladimir, Rumble, and Irelia. More recently, however, CLG Prime debuted new double-AP compositions with Voyboy occasionally swapping to middle lane while BigfatLP heads top. His skill on assassins such as Katarina and Diana should give teams pause in the autumn heat of Los Angeles.
|Intel’s “Behind the Game” with Voyboy|
The Voyboy of Team Dignitas was a bull dog in top lane, known as one of the most aggressive players at his position. Training with CLG has made him slightly more cautious in style, though he will still relentlessly pursue a kill if he sees a window of opportunity. Voyboy’s style is characterized by his approach to his lane, which he seems to view like a game of chess. Mr. Esfahani once stated, “top lane feels like its own little microcosm of warfare,” and this tactical viewpoint certainly comes across in his deliberate playstyle. Voyboy knows the limits of his champions extremely well, allowing him to execute surprisingly effective all-in maneuvers. While he unquestionably knows his lane, Voyboy’s downfall can come at the hands of the opposing Jungler, as he has a tendency to tunnel-vision when he’s on the hunt. This flaw seems to have diminished while training with CLG, making him a deadly combination of aggressive play, map awareness, and deep game knowledge.
The Bottom Line
CLG Prime disappointed fans at the North American Regionals by taking third place, especially after the team’s many claims about the effectiveness of their Korean training. While their play in Seattle failed to live up to the expectations of many, they showed glimmers of the intelligence and creativity that defines their playstyle. Counter Logic Gaming undoubtedly slowed their development in Season Two by undergoing multiple transformations through roster changes and position swaps, but they have seemed to gel in the last month.
Their recent play in streamed scrimmages and online showmatches has been nothing short of extraordinary. CLG Prime had a distinct style with Saintvicious, which they lacked both in Korea and in Seattle. The team’s training with CLG.EU over the past few weeks appears to have unveiled a new look for Prime that revolves around high mobility, double AP champions, and bold objective control. More than anything else, CLG Prime outmaneuvers their opponents and maximizes their advantages by attacking from multiple angles. If the MLG Prizefight between CLG and Team Dynamic is any indication, the team will be extremely dangerous at the Season Two World Finals.
Will HotshotGG‘s wager pay off? Has he built a team capable of winning the biggest tournament in eSports history?