ggChronicle continues our “Twelve Days of eSports” series with a comprehensive profile of CLG.EU. 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.
|Counter Logic Gaming: Europe|
CLG.EU, known in full as Counter Logic Gaming Europe, is one of the teams most deserving of victory in the League of Legends professional scene. Dominance over European and Asian teams is habitual for the quintet, but while other teams look to draw attention from drama or controversy, CLG.EU has quietly put together one of the most impressive résumés of any team in Season 2. Only Dignitas and CLG.Prime can also claim to have played tournaments in three major regions, but nobody can claim the same consistency as CLG.EU. Every loss they’ve suffered in a Premier tournament has been to a team that’s qualified for the World Finals, which begs the question: How close must CLG.EU get before they aren’t just catching the bouquet?
Who we now refer to as the core of CLG.EU was born from a merger between Absolute Legends’ roster and the North American organization of Counter Logic Gaming. The players forming the team started with a good mix of skill and major tournament experience. From SK Gaming, Wickd and Snoopeh brought their experience at IEM Guangzhou and IEM New York. Of the other stars, little was known besides their performance in minor regional tournaments. Due to the geographically scattered nature of the team, their early tournaments were restricted to online events. Sponsor conflicts also came into play, preventing CLG.EU from competing in a LAN event in the first four months of their existance.
Whatever expectations came with the CLG brand were quickly met, with a victory in the Kings of Europe tournament at the end of January 2012. That tournament provided the breakthrough the team needed, beating old power Fnatic and new upstart Moscow 5. Winning six of their next ten tournaments proved essential to their reputation as CLG.EU’s momentum propelled them to the top of Europe, Their most notable victory came when they defeated Moscow 5 in Dreamhack 2012, netting the team their third straight win against the Russians.
Shortly after this landmark victory over the top European teams at Dreamhack, CLG.EU traveled to Korea to participate in OGN’s Azubu The Champions Summer 2012, living together in their first gaming house.
For those less familiar with the matter, Korea is the mecca of eSports; teams take practice to the extreme, drilling each player into an effective eSports drone with their expected rigor and schedule. And while spending two months training and practicing with the best Korea has to offer was a formative experience, it hasn’t translated to any wins. CLG.EU were defeated easily by Moscow 5 at the finals of ECC Poland, and fell to SK Gaming in the semifinals of the European Regionals. In a culmination of finishing just short of first place, CLG.EU was up 2-0 in the best of five final against Azubu Frost in The Champions Summer 2012 before suffering defeat again.
Now one of the most recognized teams in the world, CLG.EU is one of only two teams in the Season 2 Championships to have kept a stable roster. This level of consistency has proven to be a valuable asset with the varying metagame and ever-changing professional landscape in League of Legends. One can only expect CLG.EU’s performance to mirror other stable contenders such as top seeds Team SoloMid and Moscow 5, who have enjoyed similar stability this season.
Since its inception, CLG.EU’s play-callers have been Snoopeh and Krepo. Having those players make the calls when needed has allowed their teammates, whose finer attention is more crucial, to focus on their own roles. Additionally, jungler Snoopeh has taken on the managerial aspects of the team including planning routines and scheduling, a responsibility in which he shines through experience and maturity.
Henrik “Froggen” Hansen, considered the best Anivia player in the world, is the play-making mid-laner for CLG.EU. Hailing from Denmark, Froggen teamed with Wickd for the first iteration of Absolute Legends and eventually stayed to form CLG.EU. His play style in the lane is nothing but frightening: it’s nearly impossible to target-ban him, as his list of mastered champions exceeds the traditionally practised three or four. Most teams watch in horror as Froggen is able to surpass his opponents’ farm, all the while roaming and setting up his teammates for an eventual win.
Also core to his success is Froggen’s superior positioning, superior reactions and ability to calculate variables and outcomes in any fight. A perfect example of Froggen’s ability to adapt comes from a game on Ahri. Surviving almost certain death, Froggen is able to dance around his tower, as Shen and Blitzcrank attempt to finish the tricky fox.
Impeccable plays on this AP Mid’s part are expected as a standard currency in the upcoming Championship Finals; a perfect combination of positioning, reactions and calculated moves that few players possess in this tournament. Truthfully, there’s no way of knowing what Froggen will pull out of his bag of tricks, but he will definitely be most deserving of attention should Anivia be left available.
In The Jungle
Prowling through the jungle is Scottish-born Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis. Known early on for his unique Blitzcrank and Amumu play, Snoopeh caught the eye of SK Gaming’s team captain, Ocelote, who extended him an invitation to join SK prior to the start of Season 2. After some international success at two Intel Extreme Masters events with SK Gaming, some internal conflicts led to his departure. Snoopeh had watched as his team approached practice with a half-hearted attitude. His realization of the magnitude of Season 2 caused him to seek out like-minded, talented players to form CLG.EU.
Since then, Snoopeh has played the role of utility jungler, with the direct goals of controlling global objectives, protecting his carries, and setting them up for kills. This forced him to give up his old play-forcing style in order to start a new revolution in utility jungling, favoring champions like Alistar, Maokai, and most recently Cho’gath. Nautilus, Nocturne, Shyvana, and Malphite are also a part of his arsenal, should the situation or team composition demand them. Effectively, Snoopeh is an unbannable jungler who will guarantee a difficult laning phase for his enemies. The European king of the jungle is known for his calm demeanor, keen map awareness, and prognostic sense of where the opposing jungler is located; you can feel a quiet sense of self-confidence when you see and hear Snoopeh in interviews or on his stream. Combined with his natural good looks, it’s no surprise he’s a favorite of the ladies who watch professional League of Legends.
The bottom lane partnership of Belgium’s Mitch “Krepo” Voorspoels on Support and Germany’s Peter “Yellowpete” Wüppen on AD Carry was forged in late 2011, when they were teammates on team La GG. After Snoopeh witnessed their skill, he insisted that they be added to the team, where the two turned their chemistry into results as they continued dominating other bottom lane combos in Europe.
Yellowpete, known for his very cool manner and exceptional technical skill, makes for a great complement to the more demonstrative Krepo. His calm demeanor allows him to keep a positive attitude and good communication with his teammates. Ezreal is currently Yellowpete’s preferred champion, but he’s also comfortable playing Corki, Tristana and Kog’maw when needed. However, his most underrated asset is his positioning both in lanes and in team fights, which allows his teammates to easily protect him while he melts the enemy team. You won’t hear much excitement or disappointment from Yellowpete — win or lose — but let’s hope we see a once-in-a-lifetime celebration from him, if CLG.EU were to win it all.
“Scumbag Krepo”, as his CLG.EU teammates affectionately call him, is known for “mostly unintentionally” stealing his carries’ kills. Krepo often aims to play aggressive supports, such as Alistar, Nunu, or his patented Leona, as he prefers to initiate to be the front line protection. This isn’t to say he avoids passive supports like Soraka or Janna, but aggression from Krepo is what allows CLG.EU to control the bottom of the map, including dragon. Aggressively protecting Yellowpete in some cases even allows him to snowball the lane in the team’s favor. Even when playing passive supports, though, don’t underestimate Krepo’s ability to finish a kill.
The savvy veteran of CLG.EU, Mike “Wickd” Petersen is also the youngest member of the team. Having played League of Legends since beta, Wickd has only missed two European LAN events since the game’s introduction to the eSports landscape. To add to his impressive feats, Wickd is also known as the first player to reach Platinum rank in solo queue, in Season 1.
Heralded as one of the best Top Lane players in the world, Wickd has mastered the top lane bruiser role with his signature Irelia, Renekton, and Malphite. Being that as it may, nobody on CLG.EU has had to modify their playstyle more than Wickd. His adoption of AP bruisers like Vladimir and Rumble has allowed his team to practice and perfect double-AP team compositions, and to experiment on other, more secret strategies. In addition, after integrating a formal CLG.EU, Wickd had to adapt his early item purchases from being more damage-oriented to more team-focused early-to-midgame items, allowing team utility in buildins involving Aegis of the Legion and Zeke’s Herald. While he will definitely not be left standing alone, expect Wickd to take a back seat to his carries YellowPete and Froggen during the Season 2 Championship Finals.
CLG.EU plays to the late game. It is also a well-known fact that they pick champions that scale well for that goal. This leads to a actively passive play style: they gladly stall the game, taking any little advantage the enemy may give them. The players won’t take any unnecessary risks without vision, knowledge, or a substantial lead. They also put a premium on map objectives, keeping vision on them while planning dragon attempts in advance of predicted enemy positioning. Before timestamps were added to the game, CLG.EU was one of the first teams to track timers for both teams’ blue and red buffs, which the team look to steal when the opportunity arises.
When it comes to team-fighting, CLG.EU has a versatile, situational approach. In the early-to-mid game, they want the enemy team to engage on them or look to catch opponents out of position. Patience is CLG.EU’s best asset as they dance around towers and map objectives, but if the game is close past the 30-minute mark, Snoopeh, Krepo, and Wickd will look for opportunities to engage, and will set up Froggen and Yellowpete to shred high value targets.
|Dreamhack 2012: CLG.EU vs M5. The game that would never end.|
CLG.EU usually employs at least one champion with a hard crowd control initiation. On his patented Leona, Krepo surprises enemies with his initiation; Wickd uses Irelia or Malphite to quickly close the gap on a target. Snoopeh’s choice of junglers allow him to be the usual facilitator for engagements.
That being said, CLG.EU’s AP Carry picks will make a difference in Froggen’s hands. Certain champions he plays allow him to engage on high-value targets and to bypass the front lines thanks to their mobility. Ahri and Diana are paragons of mobility that allow Froggen to isolate the high-priority target. Anivia, Karthus and Morgana can scatter any fight with their abilities, and dictate enemy positioning. Froggen doesn’t play with high aggression, but has a great sense for taking risky opportunities and turning them into kills.
If you’re watching and following CLG.EU, you’ll be watching for Froggen’s outstanding performance and play-making.
Thankfully, CLG.EU’s style of play for the late game fits well with their patient temperament. To counter them, opposing teams have used early aggression to snowball games before CLG.EU can assert their dominance. In fact, Moscow 5 showed the world at ECC Poland that they were not going to let CLG.EU stall the game – by taking Shen in the top lane and mobile champs in mid like Gragas and Kassadin. CLG.EU was overwhelmed in the bottom lane, as four or five members of Moscow 5 took control of the game. Their inability to respond allowed their opponents to take the first dragon of the game, the control of each lane, and an eventual early victory for Moscow 5.
In the semifinals of the European Regional Championship, CLG.EU picked a similar team composition to what Moscow 5 used to beat them – Shen, Gragas, Corki and Sona. Unfortunately, SK gaming came prepared, having practised for a full week against former rivals Moscow 5. SK made a point of controlling every blue and red camp, denying Snoopeh any experience and giving top-laner Kev1n double buffs against Wickd. SK started the snowball from there, outplaying an out-of-shape CLG.EU.
For the final game of OGN’s The Champions, Azubu Frost executed impressive counter-jungling tactics to set Snoopeh back. Seeing that their ancient golem had been invaded, CLG.EU decided to concentrate their efforts on the red buff. Unfortunately, Woong, Azubu Frost’s AD Carry, had vision of the red buff and made an amazing play, stealing it right out from Snoopeh. With both blue and red camps gone, Snoopeh was underleveled and was too far set back to have an impact in the game.
The Drive to Win
For CLG.EU to win the Season 2 World Championship, they need to recapture their momentum from the first half of 2012. Every opponent will be prepared for CLG.EU’s habitual passive play and will look to exploit it. Moscow 5, SK, and Azubu Frost have set the baseline for tactical preparation, and it will be up to CLG.EU to best them.
CLG.EU needs to be aggressive when opponents do not expect it. CLG.EU needs to be creative and come up with a new wrinkle that teams haven’t seen before. CLG.EU needs to do whatever it takes to win. After all, being the bridesmaid gets old.