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CLG - The last supper

An autopsy on CLG's decision to remove Jungler Saintvicious in May of 2012 and its impact on their history.

"I think [CLG's] strongest roster was with Saintvicious, HotshotGG, Bigfatlp, Doublelift, and me in Korea the first time for OGN. We had a jungle playstyle who was selfish and a top laner who was selfless as well as a midlaner who could get by. That actually synergizes well"

-Chauster, former Support player of CLG, speaking after retiring from competitive play (Reddit, 2013)

The arrival, this week, of German player Dexter into the Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) line-up sparks more than simple optimism for the future of one of North America's most storied franchises, it also provides an appropriate moment in which to reminisce on a key turning point in the organisation's history, the last moment they had a full-time Jungler playing that position, the last moment for many things.

On May 19th 2012, CLG removed fiery Jungler Saintvicious, moving owner and starting Top laner HotshotGG into his position in the jungle. Dignitas talent Voyboy was drafted in top play Top lane for the team and their hopes were that this change would be enough to transform them into the world's best team, with another trip to Korea on the horizon. In this moment the much vaunted CLG "potential" was born, as the team would try again and again to make changes they thought could lead them back to the top of the LoL world.

Instead, that fateful day in May would, in hindsight, be the last moment CLG were ever true contenders for the title of the world's best team. The team still struggled with shot-calling, they continued to lose to Dignitas in key moments and they were still unable to crack the top four of OGN. CLG would never again win a LAN tournament and less than six months later recorded their last ever top four finish in an offline tournament.

This article is less a mere retelling of the events that unfolded and more an autopsy of a unique moment in the history of North American LoL, the after-effects of which still echo to this day, and an examination of what might have been.

Prelude

Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) were the biggest name in the world of League of Legends as 2012 began. Owner and founder HotshotGG had been one of the earliest LoL streaming stars, transitioning into competitive play and winning the first ever LoL WCG in October of 2010. It had only been a four team tournament, in a game with little spotlight on it in the esports landscape at the time, but it was the moment which established CLG as the first great NA LoL team.

In February of 2011 the team brought in former TSM player Saintvicious to replace the outgoing Kobe24 at the Jungle position. After rebounding from a costly stumble at the Season One Championship, in Sweden, the team put together a string of five straight offline tournament runs placing in the top four.

At IEM Cologne, using Salce as a substitute for the absent Chauster, the team defeated S1 champions fnatic en route to beating burgeoning NA rivals TSM in the final. HotshotGG was awarded the MVP for the tournament and his position as the biggest star in the game was apparent. The same month CLG took another substitute player, this time having Voyboy replace bigfatlp at Mid, and won MLG Raleigh, dropping only two games out of 10 played.

In October the team attended three events, placing top four each time but with a progressively lower placing from their wins in Cologne and Raleigh. At IEM VI Guangzhou CLG reached the final only to lose to Chinese team World Elite in three games. Saintvicious was awarded the MVP for the tournament, establishing him as perhaps the world's best Jungler. Mere days later, in Atlantic City, CLG fell to Dignitas in the semi-finals of IPL3, but beat TSM in the third place decider to continue their dominance over their rivals.

At IEM VI New York the team again reached the semi-finals, this time losing to SK and this time losing also in the third place decider, falling in three to the French Sypher. October had seen the team finish second, third and then fourth, closing out the year with their worst offline placing. The decision was made to change the line-up, removing Canadian long-time Support player Elementz and experimenting with bringing in Doublelift, a Support player turned AD Carry who would get a chance to learn the bottom lane at a higher level by being paired with Chauster, the team's AD Carry who would now switch over to the Support position.

With Elementz in the line-up CLG had only placed below fourth once in an offline tournament, but they had also only won events playing with substitutes, their main line-up of 2011 had always lost to someone, a different opponent each time, in the playoffs. With Dignitas winning IPL3, TSM winning MLG Providence and Epik finishing second at both MLG and IPL, competition at home was gaining ground on the CLG squad.

The line-up is set

Counter Logic Gaming's line-up in early 2012:

George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis (Top)

Brandon "Saintvicious" DiMarco (Jungler)

Michael "bigfatlp" Tang (Mid)

Yiliang "Doublelift" Peng (AD Carry)

Steve "Chauster" Chau (Support)

Their first role swap, moving Chauster from AD Carry to Support, proved a success, as the team managed to finish second at the OnGameNet (OGN) LoL Invitational, beating IEM VI Guangzhou champions World Elite in the group stage before falling to MiG Frost in the final. After struggling in the latter part of 2011 against fellow NA competition and the top European teams, CLG had now seemingly re-established themselves as one of the world's elite teams.

Attending the IEM VI World Championship, in Germany, in March of 2012, the team saw a sole loss to Dignitas but progressed to the playoffs nonetheless. After defeating countrymen Curse they met Moscow Five in the semi-final. Moscow Five were the new phenoms of European LoL, having run through IEM VI Kiev in January, beating TSM in the final. At the World Championship M5 had beaten Curse and TSM in the group stage, and were yet to lose a game that tournament.

Pushing the Russians

The semi-final would end in a 2:0 win for M5, who would go undefeated over that entire tournament, establishing themselves as the world's best team, but CLG provided more than a little resistence for the Russians. Where other teams had been bowled over by M5, often losing or being close to dispatched by 20 minutes, CLG came close to winning the series, despite not taking a game. The first game had been very tight until a key 26 minute baron fight had turned it to M5's favour.

In the second game, CLG led early and continued to press their lead, sitting at 10:3 after 22 minutes of play. A 31 minute fight at baron had them lose two players and see M5 take an uncontested baron, allowing the Russians to claw back a little and the men from Eastern Europe would have the game level in the following sequences. At 47 minutes, a crucial fight at the baron turned into a clean ace for M5, sealing CLG's fate and eliminating them from contention for the title.

Despite having lost, CLG could witness M5's destruction of fellow countrymen Dignitas in the final, and know they had been the only team to legitimately come close to beating M5 in a series. If M5 were the world's best team, then CLG could return to mull over their mistakes and plot how to come back stronger the next time. Beating aAa in the third place decider, CLG could make a claim they had been perhaps the second best team in Hanover that week.

An extended stay in Korea

Mere days after the IEM tournament, CLG were flying over to South Korea to compete in the first full season of OGN's new LoL tournament, dubbed "Champions". The team would struggle early on to acclimbatise themselves to living in shared apartments and practicing on the Korean server. Leaving the USA had been a risk, losing valuable streaming hours and being forced to adapt to being in such close quarters with their team-mates.

Just as MiG Frost's victory over them in the OGN LoL Inviational had announced the arrival of Korean LoL as a new force in the world, so CLG found all of the Korean competition had stepped up a level. In scrims they would beat some teams, such as the aforementioned Frost, but also be crushed by the likes of MaKNooN's NaJin e-mFire and others, including solo q stars Incredible Miracle.

The difficulties of getting a grasp on the Korean scene were immediately apparent, as CLG lost to Xenics Storm in the group stage and had to defeat two other Korean teams to progress to the playoff portion of the tournament. Before they could participate in the playoffs, CLG flew back home to compete in IPL4, held in Las Vegas. Beating aAa in a rematch of IEM, they were then shocked by a three game loss to Dignitas in the next round of the upper bracket. Reaching a rematch with Dignitas in the lower bracket, they made up for their errors and moved into a final against TSM, a team they had always held sway over.

After beating TSM 2:0 in the first series, CLG could feel confident they were set to take an other domestic title, but TSM performed the same feat, beating them 2:0 in the crucial second series, forcing CLG to leave Vegas as runners-up. Back in Korea, they met MiG Blaze, sister team of Frost, in the quarter-final and were defeated in a 2:0 sweep to finish outside of the top four for only the second time in an offline tournament. Blaze would go on to win the tournament, upsetting sister team Frost in the final, so the blow would be softened a little with that context.

"I think the trip was worth while, I think we are strong as hell as a team after we tried a lot of things out"

-Saintvicious after CLG's OGN Spring campaign (Reddit, 2012)

Beating scrim kryptonite NaJin e-mFire 3:0 in the NiceGameTV Battle Royal online exhibition tournament was a positive sign, but the team headed back to North America with much to consider. An argument between Chauster and Saintvicious, a contentious pair, had set off a chain reaction that ended with CLG, led by owner HotshotGG, deciding to remove Saintvicious from the starting line-up. They initially offered him a spot leading a B team, but he declined and was to leave the team. Mid laner bigfatlp put him in contact with Curse and the Jungler would find a home there.

"Chauster and Doublelift were... pretty much at the time Doublelift just listened to anything Chauster said, they were really two peas in a pod. I think most of it just comes from Hotshot. Cos I remember when we had a big argument when we were near the end of Korea, cos Hotshot wanted to get a gaming house, and I just didn't wanna live with him"

-Saintvicious on his departure from CLG (Team Acer, 2013)

Beyond just Saintvicious, HotshotGG had other ideas for the team, in line with having brought them to Korea to compete there. He wanted them to all move into a gaming house and up their level of practice, something Saintvicious and bigfatlp had been against. The latter, due to a personal relationship, would not live with the team that year. On May 19th it was officially announced that Saintvicious had been removed, Voyboy had been brought in from Dignitas to play Top lane and HotshotGG would move over to play the Jungle role for CLG. Their first role swap had worked, their second would be put to the test in the coming months.

Consequences

For the purpose of setting the stage for that crucial moment in May, I will briefly outline CLG's run following their removal of their star jungler. The team continued to be foiled by TSM and Dignitas domestically, losing again in the upper bracket to the latter and the final to the former at MLG. Their second OGN campaign had them again losing in the group stage, this time to sister team CLG.EU, and to the eventual champions AZUBU Frost in the quarter-final, again forced to settle for a 5th-8th finish.

At the S2 Regionals, they were beaten by Dignitas in the semi-final and only grabbed a World Championship spot after beating Curse in the third place decider. At the World Championship they were humiliated with losses to the Chinese iG and eventual runners-up Frost, barely scraping through their other group stage game against SK. Deciding Voyboy had to go, they brought in Korean AD Carry Locodoco to play Support, performing another CLG role swap, moving Chauster to the Jungle and putting HotshotGG back Top.

That move did little to propel them back to the top, as a fourth place finish at the MLG Fall Championship and a 5th-6th finish at IPL5, in part thanks to the upset of TSM by Curse.EU, were all they had to show for the end of the 2012 run. Locodoco departed and in 2013 they began to compete in the LCS. In LCS NA Spring the team, again featuring a role swap, finished the regular season with a win-rate under 50% and subsequently lost in the first round of the playoffs to a team composed largely of players from their old B team.

Requalifying for the LCS, for the Summer season, CLG brought in another player to role swap into a new position, as HotshotGG stepped back from competitive play. The team finished with an identical record, again failing to hit a 50% win-rate, and were once more eliminated from the playoffs in the opening round. With their last top four finish more than two thirds of a year prior, and forced to watch the S3 World Championship as spectators, CLG decided to begin looking for full-time starting Junglers.

The strength of the early 2012 line-up

With the basics of the history lesson behind us, we can now examine the line-up CLG gave up in removing Saintvicious. Their performance at the OGN LoL Invitational and the IEM VI World Championship showed that the team was both able to defeat lesser teams and compete with the best teams in the world. Their OGN performance may seem like a significant step down, with them losing in the group stage and then failing to crack the top four, but there is more context to those results than the final placing lets on.

It's easy enough to identify that it was misfortune to be drawn against MiG Blaze, the team who went on to win the entire tournament, in the quarter-final, but it may be overlooked initially that the team who defeated CLG in the group stage, putting them in position to be drawn against Blaze, was Xenics Storm, who went on to finish third in the tournament overall. Losing only to eventual champions and third place finishing team, it's hard to draw a black and white conclusion that CLG were in significant trouble from their final placing, they could even have been the fourth best team in the tournament.

With their performance against M5 they not only came close to a finals finish, despite not winning a game, but also showed off a style which promised a better chance against M5 than anyone else had displayed. Saintvicious had been one of the few players to hold his own against Diamondprox, not being counter-jungled as others had, and CLG's split-pushing style had been able to make an impact against the heavily team-fight-orientated approach of the Russians. When the Russians would go for the dragon, where other teams would often engage and fight them, CLG would abandon dragon entirely and trade it for the top tower, forcing the Russians to lose a number of waves of minions.

The original carry jungler

"Saint, he's the star of the show and he's going to take everyone's farm and never gank and he'll eventually carry you, that's his mindset. If you don't listen to his calls, you're dumb, he's the general."

-Doublelift on Saint's jungling (Team Acer, 2012)

For modern day fans, it can be easy to write Saintvicious off as the guy who misses every smite and had long since seen his best days pass him by. That is to do a disservice to one of the best Junglers of all time though, perhaps North America's best ever individually. In his prime Saintvicious was the original carry jungler, farming up and making himself a strong presence for team-fights.

"I actually went back and watched some of my old gamesm to decide like 'Damn, was I bad then? Was I good? What's going on?'. All the games I looked at I'm like 'Damn, I've got like quadruple the other Jungler's CS'. I would just take it from Hotshot's lane, cos we'd trade off the dragon and then we'd just go and take five waves top and that would put me and Hotshot so far ahead it's like there's just no way you could fight it out.

That's what I was good at: I could farm really good and I had really good team-fight mechanics. I just played stuff that was broken at the time, I liked Mundo, I liked Shyvanna, I liked Udyr, when he was really good. I think one of the most important things about League is mastering the stuff that is broken, playing inside the meta."

-Saintvicious on his style of jungling in CLG (Team Acer, 2013)

More importantly, as the Chauster quote at the top of the article mentioned, the synergy of the Jungler and Top lane styles worked well during Saintvicious' time in CLG. HotshotGG and Saintvicious were not only each MVPs of IEMs in 2011, they had a working relationship inside of the game that worked. Saint understood that he needed to ensure Hotshot was doing well at Top, at a time when the meta saw Junglers more focused on ganking Top than the modern day meta of baby-sitting Mid lane.

Thanks to his farm heavy style, even incorporated into the team's approach of trading dragon for top tower and waves of minions, Saint was a serious threat to the enemy jungler in straight up duels.

"Saintvicious, he was obviously really good [...]

His style was like really smart, it felt like he always knew where you were. Just seemed like he always knew where you were, whereas TheOddOne had this style like he wants to come and find you. If you never know where the other guy's at and he knows where you're at, you just have to make that snap decision, it's just like you're not ready for it in a 2v2 or a 3v3 bottom. Saint would do that and then he'd be levels ahead of you.

Saint said like 'Oh, I was doing what Meteos did like two years', and it's kind of true, cos he would just get these level gaps on you and crush it forward and really just win his team the game. I really struggled with that, cos I'd be used to like TheOddOne would wanna scrap with me level 1 or level 2. Saintvicious would just farm to level 4 and come find me when I'm like level 3 and it's like 'Crap!', so then he's gonna hit level 5 off that and I'm still struggling with level 4 and he ganks and then I'm behind, it's just a disaster from there. So, yeah, I struggled a lot vs. Saintvicious."

-NintendudeX on Saintvicious in his prime (OnGamers, 2014)

Winning without a smile

CLG would argue frequently during games, even tournament matches, but their results inside of the server were impressive and they had found a system to allow them to be successful in spite of their issues with shot-calling and team synergy.

"The 'dropped it' video is pretty much how bad it was all the time. Chauster and Doublelift got along pretty well, even though everything was an argument between them, you'd hear them in the other room, but I mean they got along. Hotshot and I... well we just never got along, and Jiji was my best friend in the team. That's probably why we couldn't do Dragons, cos we didn't have that synergy.

So that's why one of the CLG dynamics was to just split-push it out and try to win through individual skill. Cos we had really high individual skill compared to a lot of the other players and teams at the time, and I think that's one of the reasons it worked out so good. If you just have all five of your players winning in their respective role then of course you're going to come out on top."

-Saintvicious on the team's synergy and approach (Team Acer, 2013)

It's a cliche, due to how players have been media trained to handle interviews, that a team has to get along as people to play cohesively in the server. From my years following Counter-Strike, I can say that while this is an added bonus which can strengthen a team, there have been numerous instances of teams with players who did not get along, but found a way to play in spite of their differences and be successful, even winning major titles.

In Counter-Strike an example which is perhaps not fully understood is that the Polish 'Golden Five' line-up, which would go on to win the most major titles in CS history, frequently had arguments amongst most of its members, even spilling over into real life fights during tournaments which were still ongoing. While this antagonistic dynamic to the team could at times see them spiral out of tournaments, it could also lead to fast resolution of problems, which, combined with their intuitive synergy inside of the server, saw the team even win tournaments in which they suffered from these differences of opinion.

CLG could not have known outright that removing Saintvicious would not fix their problems, but their move put them on a course of effectively choosing a base of a more socially cohesive line-up over one which already had established results in the server. It was not simply that they recruited elite tier Top laner Voyboy, in doing so they took a huge risk in moving HotshotGG to the Jungle, which ended up being a costly mistake in terms of offline results.

Problems gone unfixed

The initial problem of Saintvicious not getting along with Chauster and HotshotGG was fixed by removing him, but the core problems of the team were not. Their main issues were the gradually decaying play of Top laner and owner HotshotGG, bigfatlp's decline as a Mid laner and refusal to move into their gaming house and their lack of a strong shot-caller. The HotshotGG issue is something which could only have been solved by finding good synergy with another Jungler, as they'd had with Saint, or having him step back from a starting role, as he did in mid 2013.

"There was always arguments during scrims and during tournament matches, but I felt like just in the laning phase we had a really high gank success rate. The real problem was just calls, like you had three people who wanted to lead the team and you just can't have that, that's too many people. And nobody wants to back down, for instance on Curse there's multiple people that will have a say, then Voy or me will make a call that could decide the game. But that would never happen in CLG, it'd be just three people arguing about 'No, I wanna do this', 'No, I wanna do that'. So it was just too many chiefs and not enough indians."

-Saintvicious on problems with shot-calling (Team Acer, 2013)

CLG's issues with shot-calling persisted long beyond Saint's era in the team. When Saint had been there the team had been a mess of three players arguing (HotshotGG, Saintvicious and Chauster). A key problem, as we can now identify, was the personality of Chauster. Chauster is one of the most brilliant minds in League of Legends history, but that manifests in his personality being contentious to the point of refusing to admit if he was wrong or immediately criticising the perceived misplays of others.

With that kind of a player in the line-up it's no wonder that the obvious solution appeared to be having Chauster become the shot-caller, the problem was that Chauster was not at all suited to that role. If Chauster had 15 minutes to analyse a play and come up with the perfect solution then he could likely produce a very astute analysis of the play and how it should have been handled. Given the split-second timings needed for a shot-caller to decide what to do and issue a quick command, Chauster struggled and found himself either tripped up by his own thought-processes or a hesitancy borne out of not being certain about the solution, not having had enough time to fully process it.

This led to an era of Chauster shot-calling which had begun in Saint's time, but perhaps been masked by their contentious relationship and repeated arguments. In both IEM and the OGN Invitational, Chauster and Doublelift had attempted to make a Blitzcrank and Alistar botlane work, losing crucial games as a result. Chauster had been their shot-caller outright for their final games of OGN, which they lost to Blaze. It's easy to see how having someone who thinks they are right, but is unable to fulfil the role of primary shotcaller, will play into creating an environment of arguments, even if others (HotshotGG and Saintvicious) played their parts and exacerbated matters.

CLG's final issue in Saint's departure, was finding an elite Jungler to replace him. Trying HotshotGG first, then Chauster and later bigfatlp, the team opted for three roleswaps for players famed and established for other positions, none of them ever truly being able to call themselves world class at the Jungling position. Chauster had his moment, at IPL5 in particular, where he held his own, but beyond that he could never truly establish himself as a top player at the position.

Paths untaken

Having looked at the history of the team, the strength of that particular line-up and the consequences of it breaking up, there is room for speculation on what CLG could have done at this critical moment in their history.

The first, and most obvious, possibility is to ask what might have happened if they'd kept Saintvicious in their line-up. There are three possible forks from this point that we can travel down, so let's take them in order.

Keeping Saintvicious and continuing on to the same circuit of tournaments

Had CLG not made the move to remove Saintvicious, but had attended all the same tournaments beyond that point that they did with the Voyboy line-up, then it's easy to initially project at least similar results, if not the possibility for better outcomes. HotshotGG initially performed well in Jungle, such as at MLG, while Nautilus was still viable, but they could have attended that MLG with a full line-up, since Voyboy had not been able to play. Having played TSM as closely as they did in the final, who is to say what the difference of having their full line-up and a still prime Saintvicious in tow could have been.

Back in Korea they would have been in position to directly benefit from the Spring season's experience, taking the exact same line-up with them and again facing the top Korean teams. Instead, they were forced to adapt to using Voyboy on-the-fly, in the most competitive region in the world and arguably the world's hardest competition, at the time.

"Yeah [we were really good], at the time. I don't know how that would have translated, cos yeah you can have the best roster and you can hate each other, but building animosity is super bad.

[...]

It won't succeed in the long run, you can't sustain that for years, it'll just build up inside you. And CLG, it built up really fast, because we had a lot of opinionated, aggressive people on the team."

-Doublelift on the Saintvicious CLG line-up (Team Acer, 2013)

Keeping Saintvicious but not returning to South Korea

It's understandable to see why living in close quarters in Korea with a team of players who don't get along, bar two of them, could have been too much to bear, but there is an alternative which immediately springs to mind. If CLG had kept Saintvicious in the line-up but chosen to remain in North America, then perhaps differences could have more easily been put aside. While HotshotGG was eager to get his men into a gaming house, it turned out bigfatlp would not have moved in that year anyway, so Saintvicious also opting out would hardly have been an egregious and unforgivable sin.

Had the team practiced online and simply met for offline events in NA, then it would have been much easier to maintain a safe distance during downtime and then make it a business arrangement when practicing and competing. This very set-up worked for Moscow Five for a long time, as the world conquering Russian team had players who had contentious relationships, and so chose not to move into a gaming house, to keep enough space for the team to be able to stay together.

Had CLG kept this line-up and attended only the North American circuit, then Doublelift even speculates they would have won an NA offline tournament, even if tempers would have eventually gotten the better of them.

"I think if we'd stayed in NA with that line-up with Saint we would have done really well. I think I finally would have like picked up a LAN victory, that's really important to me by the way. But like M5, at some point it blows up, you just can't sustain it. If you're going to have so much hatred in the team... I think it's important to be friends first and team-mates second"

-Doublelift on CLG potentially staying in NA with Saintvicious in 2012 (Team Acer, 2013)

Keeping Saintvicious and having HotshotGG step down

At the time, and for all of 2012, it seemed inconceivable to outside observers that HotshotGG ever stepping back from the starting line-up was a legitimate possibility, since it was his team and he, understandably, could remain a member as long as he pleased. In 2013, though, he did in fact take himself out of the roster, allowing Nientonsoh to take over the Top lane. Had HotshotGG been open to such a move in 2012 then an obvious opportunity presents itself, as will be evidenced below, of still bringing in Voyboy, but to replace HotshotGG entirely, not with Saintvicious removed and HotshotGG moving to the jungle.

"I think if Hotshot had just stepped down and put Voyboy top then I think CLG with that line-up would have been really unstoppable for a long time. I think we would have been one of the top teams in the world. Chauster and Doublelift were undoubtedly one of the best botlanes in the world at the time, they were really good. Voy was a monster top at the time, he was really good. I felt like, in the meta, I was one of the best Junglers. Jiji was, he would just go even. So I felt like we had a really good line-up for that team"

-Saintvicious on what could have been done differently in CLG (Team Acer, 2013)

When Voyboy joined CLG he was fresh off his MVP performance at the IEM VI World Championship, considered one of the very best Top laners in the world. His time in CLG saw him forced to adapt to a less aggressive style, as the 2v1 meta came into effect and his Jungler, HotshotGG, was more of a team-fight orientated Jungler than one focused on getting his Top laner big. As outlined early, Saintvicious was exactly the kind of player and Jungler who could have helped Voyboy in this sense, synergising with him in Curse in early 2013 to much initial success.

A fully potent and aggressive Voyboy would have been a scary top lane prospect. With the botlane of Chauster and Doublelift already considered the world's best, it would have left bigfatlp only needing to go even in his lane, a scenario which might have extended his career and slowed his demise as a competitive Mid laner.

Finally, and most pertinently, with HotshotGG no longer in the team then the arguments could have been consigned simply to the domain of Chauster and Saintvicious, who played opposite sides of the map. If one were imaginative enough, one might even speculate a system in which Chauster designed the strategies and flow-chart of what the team did, then Saintvicious took the active role of calling them during the game.

Or perhaps something more akin to the SK line-up which qualified for S2 Worlds, where Araneae would call the early game from the Jungle, while AD Carry YellOwStaR would take over later in the game. This could have worked either with Saint calling in the early game, or Chauster doing the early game and Saint deciding when to engage for team-fights later. These are all outright speculations, of course, but the topic is an interesting one.

In Counter-Strike there is a famous case of two players who did not get along, but found a calling system they both participated in to great success. Norwegian CS player elemeNt and XeqtR despised each other, having polar opposite personality types, but when they played together in eoLithic and NoA, they would utilise elemeNt's talent for reading the game to transmit information to XeqtR, whose tactical brilliance at set strategies would then allow him to make the correct call to win the round.

Conclusion

In the end none of those paths were taken, history played out as outlined early on. CLG have never had a world class Jungler since Saintvicious, they had never won an offline tournament since then and they have gradually decayed from an elite NA team and a contender for world titles to a team struggling to get back in the title picture in their own region. Not all of these problems directly stem from Saintvicious' removal, or would necessarily have been prevented had he stayed, but the roots of all of their biggest problems can be identified in that moment and one can speculate other paths they could have trod. That day in May of 2012 was the last supper for CLG in many ways, one from which they have never fully recovered.

This weekend CLG welcomes Dexter, Saintvicious's true replacement, the first full-time Jungler they'd explored, beyond a very brief dalliance with TrickZ at IEM Cologne, to put them back on the track of success. Can they erase the problems of yesteryear and return to the top domestically and internationally? Your guess is as good as mine.

Special thanks to Sigrid Aasma for the custom artwork.

Photo credits: eslphotos, AZUBU, OGN, WEG, MYM, inven

7 Comments
Posted by Toahp

Great article, again Mr Sheilds!

Nice analysis and theories on what might have been.

Posted by tchaikovsky

Maybe if Saintvicious didn't show up to every practice drunk from the night before he would have had a better chance at staying on the team.

Where is that in the article? All I can read is bias.

Posted by Slyvanna

Where is that in the article?

Bias to the Truth maybe yes as brutal as it may be. If you can't see what this article says, then provide the last CLG Major victory if you would because it is spot on.

That day in May of 2012 was the last supper for CLG in many ways, one from which they have never fully recovered.

Edited by lolfan

Great article, i really enjoyed it. As a clg fan, it reflected a lot of my own thoughts.

With the talent level that has been on CLG in its various iterations, i wonder if they even needed "good" shot calling to be succesfull. Actually making a call is all they needed. If they could simply commit to engages and have all 5 players on the same page, they probably could have won fights that were stacked in the other team's favor. Saint with his "hit the go button" attitude would have been perfect.

Also, scarra had a great quote in his grilled interview where he named his best roster made of na players. And it was all clg members. Basically clg's prime line up with voy top and link mid. Actual replacements for the right positions that were in decline.

Posted by swkim110

Did you get the idea to write this article after your little rant on Who's League? Cause I totally agreed with what you said then and this was a really nice article to read.

Posted by VeryUncouth

CLG has looked good with Dexter so far. Awesome article though, as a new person to the LOL E-Sports community it's nice to read about teams pasts.

Posted by LongTimeEsportsFan

Lol, I bet you guys were kicking yourselves after finding out st.vicious is now support for curse.

After this whole article!