Counter Logic Gaming had an up-and-down Week 4 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS), as it dropped a series to Immortals before beating Team EnVyUs 2-1. After the loss to Immortals, Emily Rand caught up with the CLG bottom lane duo of Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes and Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black to discuss the team’s development and their goals for the split.
Emily Rand: First of all, I’m sorry for the loss. How are you two feeling and what is the team atmosphere like?
Zaqueri “aphromoo” Black: Not too bad.
Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes: It’s going.
ER: Take me through your series against Immortals today.
TH: For me personally, I think we just played kind of weird. Our first game I could chalk it up to just draft. We didn’t have any engage versus five engage champions so it’s really hard to do anything. After that, I think the second game everyone played pretty selfishly. No one was trying to help each other. It was a lot different from what we’re used to in scrims and stuff. In scrims we always play as a unit and something happened today where we did not do that.
ZB: I played Tahm Kench both games. He’s not really an engage champion, moreso a roamer to stop their engage. Game 1 they had five engage and we had zero, so it was harder for us to make stuff happen until we got six items, but they just forced. In Game 2, we did have a lead but I felt like we were, myself included, not really focused on what we had to do to create pressure. Even though we had a lead, we went into a 1-3-1 and their lanes still had the pressure. Their tempo was ahead of ours in general so we’ll go back and look at that after we leave. That was generally it. We just didn’t capitalize on our lead.
ER: In other interviews with you or teammates, there’s been a mentality that CLG is still toward the top of the standings even though you’re not playing close to what you’re capable of. Moving forward what does the ideal version of CLG look like?
ZB: What a weird question.
TH: For me it’s just low-death games, playing cleanly all over the map. We typically aim for clean games with low deaths. A pretty good example is Game 1 against P1, I think? What was that one where we just kept rotating around the map?
ZB: Game 1 against everyone except IMT (laughs).
TH: I think a lot of our Game 1s show that our macro can be really clean. There’s one specific example, I think it was against FlyQuest or P1. We just kept swapping lanes, we got herald and dragon. For me, that’s what it looks like.
ZB: Hmm…ideal CLG? Going into every game looking to win as a team, being able to get through problems pretty quickly, that mentality of looking out for each other, reassurance. Off of that, it will eventually lead to clean games in terms of micro and macro. That’s pretty much it since everyone plays pretty textbook and the same way. It’s pretty much which style you choose, whether it’s 1-3-1 or 4-1. Then there are sub-categories like pick comp, poke comp, etc. Everyone already knows these setups and styles. It’s all about picking one that you think will work. Ideal CLG would be able to play all styles. Even if we prefer one, being able to play all styles helps a lot. That’s what ideal CLG is for me.
ER (to aphromoo): This has been brought up previously, and you alluded to it yourself when talking about Tahm Kench earlier, but how important is it to the team that you play engage champions?
ZB: In terms of me being on an engage champion, yeah it’s cool, but we can still play a lot of different styles. Even though we’re not getting off our ideal style when I’m not on an engage champion, it’s happened when I’m on engage champions too. So it seems apparent that that’s what’s happening, but usually it comes down to having the confidence onstage to go for those engages. When I’m on an engage champion, I just don’t care onstage and just walk in everyone’s face. When it’s the opposite, I’m the warding-type person. It’s still easier for me to see engage opportunities than every other role besides the jungler since I’m moving around the map more. It’s a work in progress. The last game we only had Ashe arrow since we were a 1-3-1, so we had to wait around that. Our side lanes didn’t have any CC besides (Ahri) Charm, so I do think in terms of comp it was a little weird. We still only had Ashe engage and they had (Elise) Cocoon, Thresh hook, Taliyah wall to follow up. It’s more about how our comp works overall and what we have synergy-wise. If we had more follow-up CC I do think we would have had a better chance in Game 2. That’s another thing: In terms of me being on an engage champion, we almost always have follow-up CC. So if I’m on an engage champion and Trevor is on Ashe or Varus, it’s pretty easy to kill someone. In these Immortals games we didn’t have that, so I think that’s a lot more of a reason.
ER: Moving forward, your entire team has also been really outspoken about being the best in North America. Are you still going to be the best by the end of the split?
ZB: Even if we lose, it will happen. Losing is still a learning opportunity and yeah it sucks, but it happens. We’ll be a lot better and have a lot better synergy with our champion picks. I don’t know what the specific answer will be, but I know we’ll figure it out.
TH: Of course I still think we’re going to be the best. We just have five players who are so hungry to win. Everyone knows this and no one’s slacking off or being lazy. Everyone’s trying really hard. I think losing sometimes just happens. Sometimes you’ll even see sub squads beat really good teams, it happens in League. We have a long ways to go.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/Slingshot illustration