Counter Logic Gaming is coming off back-to-back bottom of the table finishes in the 2020 LCS Spring and Summer Splits. The organization has already released its coaches Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo and Weldon “Weldon” Green after the regular season ended, signaling big changes for the organization's future. But what will those changes be?
The team is looking at a potential rebuild across the board at all positions, but is locked into four of its starting five players with contracts that extend into late 2021. If a rebuild is in the cards, CLG should be looking for inexpensive options that could make sense alongside some of its current players. Alternatively, the organization could take a page out of Dignitas’ book and field a 10-player roster.
Here is what a potential CLG rebuild could look like.
Coaching staff is an obvious hole that needs to be addressed. The team found success previously with current Evil Geniuses head coach Heo "Irean" Yeong-cheol in 2019. Since then, the team has floundered both strategically and mechanically with players shifting in and out of the starting lineup.
The team currently lists its Academy coach Mathew "xSojin" Alexander Perez as its head coach. xSojin would be the smoothest and perhaps the cheapest option as he is already contracted to the team, but his time with CLG Academy was underwhelming with the squad placing last in Spring and fifth in Summer.
CLG can upgrade by going after former LCS head coaches like Kublai "Kubz" Barlas or David "Cop" Roberson. The team could also look into recently retired players Paul "sOAZ" Boyer and Jonas "Kold" Andersen, who have expressed an interest in coaching and could bring some much-needed energy into the organization. The smart pick might be to go after Irean’s understudy at Evil Geniuses, Connor "Artemis" Doyle.
The 25-year-old is already a veteran of LCS coaching but has yet to be given the reigns of a franchise. His contract has been extended by Evil Geniuses into 2021 but he could be a great get if CLG could pry him away.
The top lane is a position that CLG does not necessarily need to upgrade. Despite Kim "Ruin" Hyeong-min’s lackluster summer split in which he was subbed out for a few games, he has shown flashes of top-tier play. There are Academy prospects CLG could go after, such as Ibrahim "Fudge" Allami and the sidelined Colin "Kumo" Zhao. But Ruin has proven that he can hang with the rest of the league and work within whatever system CLG wants to implement for 2021.
As for the jungle, Raymond "Wiggily" Griffin is probably not the future for CLG. There are established junglers the organization could go after. Joshua "Dardoch" Hartnett and Rami "Inori" Charagh have been in and out of LCS squads and would be relatively inexpensive options. If the team is looking for someone more youthful without taking up an import spot, it should try to get either Shane Kenneth "Kenvi" Espinoza or Xin "Nxi" Dinh from the 100 Thieves’ youth system. Another intriguing option that would take up an import spot would be Andrei "Xerxe" Dragomi.
Mid lane is a position where CLG could be creative. There are a few American mid laners that are in Academy who are waiting to be called up to the main stage. Cristian "Palafox" Palafox, Nicholas "Ablazeolive" Antonio Abbot, and David "Yusui" Bloomquist are three young domestic talents who could make the jump, or CLG could stay with its in-house veteran. Eugene "Pobelter" Park has been solid when he is in the starting squad and could be a decent centerpiece to rebuild around.
CLG might not need to change the bot lane too much. Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes has been a rock for the team since the start of the 2020 season and has come into his role as a leader for the team. Support on the other hand definitely needs a change. The obvious choice from Academy is David "Diamond" Bérubé, who has been dominating the lower league. CLG could also go with an import, picking up someone like Oskar "Vander" Bogdan or Mitchell "Destiny" Shaw from Europe.
CLG is one of the oldest organizations in North American League of Legends and has gone through successful rebuilds before. This rebuild may be the team’s hardest, not because it's losing talent to other organizations but because it's needing to replace players and coaches who have not performed to expectations.
One thing is for sure: CLG needs to bring new people into the fold that can breathe life into what is currently a lifeless team.