“We are all time voyagers leaving history in our wake, pioneering into the future.” – Erwin Raphael McManus
Setting the Stage
In any invention, organization or development, there are the forerunners; pioneers willing to take risks to lead the way for deviation and advancement. It’s hard to imagine a time when one of the biggest games in eSports was a mere contender among other MOBAs like Heroes of Newerth, where the playerbase was still small and the game was still in its beta stage. The term “eSports” did not exist and the professional gaming scene was more focused on shooters like Call of Duty, Halo, and Counter Strike and strategy games like Starcraft. League of Legends was an afterthought for professional gamers, and had a limited fanbase. It took many players, a few masterminds and two organizations to establish a framework for competitive LoL play and allow it to grow into one of the largest gaming phenomenons in the history of gaming along the likes of Call of Duty, Doom, and Minecraft.
Beta ~ Season 1 – Infancy
The League of Legends beta marked the beginning of years of growth and development in the area of eSports. But the action really started in season 1, where there were three major tournaments: World Cyber Games (WCG), Newegg Winter Wanfest, and the Season 1 World Championship. Viewers will still limited at this point, but these tournaments spawned the likes of CLG, TSM, SK Gaming and Fnatic; all major organizations with a large impact on the scene. It was when HotshotGG became famous for his Nidalee play, coining the term HotshotNidaleeGG, and Shushei bodyslammed our expectations, bringing out AP Gragas in the World Championships. This was also a time when HotshotGG instigated the streaming trend; something that grew into a major business in the future with people making a living off getting viewers on TwitchTV. This was the beginning of it all, the catalyst that propelled League of Legends up to become a juggernaut in gaming.
Season 2 – Hype
Season 2 came along with promise of fruitfulness in the LoL eSports scene. Many more organizations joined in to get their share of the pot of gold with infinite potential. Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) began hosting tournaments in various parts of Europe, inviting out teams from all active regions to participate in a battle for pride and money. WCG was held again, and other companies like IGN and Major League Gaming opted in to the LoL scene as well, with the IPL and MLG Tournament, respectively. Many more teams entered the fray, with prospective youth devoting their lives to live the dream of becoming a pro-gamer. Korea, a powerhouse of a country in terms of gaming, also picked up League of Legends to line up along more popular games like Starcraft. The OnGameNet (OGN) was created, and it facilitated some of the highest quality games seen in the history of LoL, and will end up producing some of the strongest teams in the world. Finally, the Season 2 World Championships topped off a great year of League of Legends with entertaining games, fun personalities and one of the most shocking and intense finals to date, where underdog team Taipei Assassins (TPA) took out heavy favorites Azubu Frost.
Season 3 – Structure
Season 3 brought order and structure to the rather convoluted League of Legends scene. Riot finally took the initiative to organize a proper season for the 8 best pro teams in NA and EU, naming it the LCS, or League of Legends Championship Series. This was literally a LoL fanboy’s wet dream – weekly matches to fulfill the hunger for more high quality League of Legends action, interviews with teams and individuals and a line up of amazingly talented casters and analysts devoted to bringing the best experience possible to viewers. This was where LoL really took off and soared into the skies, never to be touched by any other game in eSports. The hype from grudge matches was overwhelming and solidified rivalries that were much more fickle in the previous seasons.
The Main Event:
Counter Logic Gaming and Team Solo Mid
This article, if you haven’t figured out by the title or the content, will cover the rivalry with the most history, dating back to season one, between two juggernaut organizations – CLG vs TSM.
Counter Logic Gaming
Record vs TSM
Season 1/2 : 17 wins 12 losses
Season 3: 5 wins 5 losses
Season 4: 0 wins 2 losses
CLG was the first team to hit the spotlight in the League of Legends pro-gaming scene, forming what will be the longest actively running team in the LoL esports scene in April of 2010, almost 4 years ago. Lead by HotshotGG, the entrepreneur and top lane extraordinaire , CLG became the groundwork for what will be years of development in League of Legends and eSports itself, including things like managing, branding, marketing, and even streaming, things that are extremely common these days. It would be an understatement to say that CLG is one of the most influential organizations in LoL eSports, with many teams following the legacy of HotshotGG and friends. CLG was one of the strongest teams in NA during Season 1 and early Season 2, dominating NA ladders and proving to be a tough opponent for foreign teams in the World Championship. With the addition of Doublelift, one of the most mechanically skilled ADCs at that time and arguably in the present time as well, CLG looked to continue their dominance. However, with roster swaps and internal problems within the team, they were not able to clutch any titles, as the popularity of the game invoked more youth to try to join, saturating the scene with new talent. While they showed signs of resilience in the OGN, impressing some Korean players, their achievements in season 2 were nothing compared to that of Season 1.
This led to their inevitable decline and slump in season 3, which nearly led to relegation by former CLG midlaner Bigfatlp’s newly formed amateur team, Azure Cats. Then in the next split they found themselves barely holding on to their titles as LCS players but losing dignity after becoming infamous for trashtalking and then losing to some of the lower tier teams in the LCS. One accomplishment for CLG in the summer split would have been their 4-0 record against TSM during the round robin stage. Now in season 4, with a revamped roster, CLG strive to regain their glory days of dominance and take over the title of best NA team from the likes of C9 and especially TSM, their longest rivals.
Record vs CLG
Season 1/2: 12 wins 17 losses
Season 3: 5 wins 5 losses
Season 4: 2 wins 0 losses
TSM emerged into the scene as a newborn baby when Reginald, an inspirational and highly respectable entrepreneur, gave birth to it in Season 1 to accommodate his new website, Solomid.net. Built under the philosophically complex and arguably Nihilistic slogan “fk it, baylife”, most players of TSM were instant fan favorites because of their lovable and hilarious personalities, with possibly Regi as an exception (unfortunately), as he received a lot of flak for his managerial decisions and his actions as a team captain. Placing 3rd in the Season 1 World Championships, TSM proved that they are, along with CLG, one of the top contenders to the throne. Pre-season 2 saw TSM showing their strength yet they could not produce optimal results, despite high expectations for the team. With the dawn of season 2 came the first major roster swap of TSM, with the replacement of TheRainman for Dyrus due to conflicts between Regi and TRM. This decision augmented the already prominent hatred for the leader of TSM, yet he stuck through with his decision, which turned out to be positive in the future as Dyrus will become a strong asset for TSM with solid and unfaltering top lane play. With this change, TSM began their reign of terror over the LoL scene, placing first in almost every major tournament they placed in, including their very own Solomid Invitationals, which they used for practice and to develop the eSports scene further by giving less developed teams a chance to compete for money against some of the top teams in the region. And although they were knocked out early on in the Season 2 World Championships by Azubu Frost in a questionable series, TSM showed their dominance as the top team hands down in NA.
Season 3 started out painfully for the hyped TSM members as they placed in the lower half of the LCS. Things started heating up when Gamespot decided to follow TSM in a reality TV show called Gamecribs, and people began to realize that their baylife mentality was dissipating amongst the pressure to win and be successful in the league. This worsened with the removal of Chaox – people bashed on Reginald non-stop, telling him it was the worst decision ever made when Regi obviously had justification behind his actions (that being Chaox not showing enough dedication and partying before matches and scrims). TSM looked down in the dumps both publicity wise and gameplay wise, until the perpetually smiling youngster Wildturtle saved the day, wow’ing all the naysayers with a pentakill on his first game subbing for Chaox. From there, TSM began to look strong again, climbing their way back up to first place, and eventually winning in the finals. From here, TSM continues their dominance, which received a nitro boost with star midlaner Bjergsen replacing Regi, who was somewhat considered to be a weak link to the team because of the amount of responsibilities that weighed him down. Now, with a stable roster, TSM dominate the NA scene with a mighty fist, allowing no one to get the best of them, except for Hai’s Teemo and xPek – I mean Shiphter.
NA LCS WEEK 8 – TSM VS CLG
This was the match we had all been waiting for. Superweek was full of exciting matches and rivalries, but no one wanted to miss out on the CLG / TSM action. While TSM had a 2-0 lead over CLG this split, Doublelift and crew have shown countless times that they have the “potential” to defeat the best teams in the league. TSM was coming off a dominating 7 weeks looking unstoppable and stronger than ever. However, Bjergsen was not able to play and Reginald was subbing in for him, which means TSM were not at their full strength. Yet they continued to look very strong playing against the other teams. On the other hand, CLG have also been looking very solid with their new roster. Their shotcalls have been crisp, they improved on their teamwork, and Link has been playing out of his mind for the last few weeks. Both teams came in as equals, but only one will rise victorious.
Picks and Bans
Picks and Bans were rather standard, with the Ryze ban and Jarvan pick being the two odd ones out. Kha’Zix and Lee Sin were both targeted bans against Dexter, who has been making impactful early game moves to snowball games in favor of CLG. On the other hand, CLG banned out Kassadin and Pantheon because they are powerful champions in their own respect along with a questionable Eve ban as TheOddOne is not known to play jungle Evelynn. Both teams had equally strong compositions, with TSM opting for a siege oriented team comp with the potential to hard engage while CLG favored the hard engage composition with Lulu for solid disengage and utility to match TSM’s well rounded composition.
The game started out with a cheezy play by CLG, baiting and outsmarting The General himself, getting a head start on to Doublelift’s Vayne, something that no one in their right mind would want to do. We’ve seen the things Vayne is capable of when played by mechanically skilled player, and Doublelift is no exception. Despite a bad start TSM outfarmed CLG in the early game, especially in the midlane, where Reginald’s Gragas pressured Link’s Lulu hard.
CLG, determined to even out the gold deficit from being otufarmed, goes for a dragon with perfect vision control, sneaking it under the noses of the TSM members. While early dragons don’t give as much gold, this still gives CLG a solid 1k gold lead from first blood and the dragon global gold.
CLG gives up a lot of their early lead due to poor CSing and a miss-communication between Dexter and Nien at the tier 1 tower, which leads to Dexter’s demise.
11 minutes in, Doublelift shows his talent on Vayne by flashing a cocoon with his name on it, condemning Gragas into a wall and finishing him off with one last auto-attack that traveled as far as a Nidalee spear would. This brings CLG up in kill s 2-1, but still falling behind in terms of turret kills.
TSM then brings the heat as a 5 man unit, showing that they are superior in teamfight situations around 12 minutes into the game, as they storm down midlane and get a kill and tower from it. At 13:30 a decisive dragon fight is held out where CLG was able to secure dragon but lost two members in the process. TSM’s siege composition comes into play at 17min in, where they contest CLG’s tier 2 tower in the top lane. With immense wave clear from Gragas and Sivir, as well as catch potential from Explosive Cask, On the Hunt, Tibbers and Cocoon, TSM gain absolute control over CLG’s turret. Dexter and Nien dive in for a desperation fight, but after being so starved on gold and farm, CLG is decimated. Doublelift tries to flank TSM but is caught in the process and bodyslammed to death by Gragas, who was more than happy to share is casks of wine with the Night Hunter. This fight gave TSM 3 more kills, bringing the kill score to 7-2 and the gold difference to a 5.6K gold lead for TSM.
An unfortunate attempt at a baron steal by Link feeds another kill to the TSM monster, allowing them to push down the midlane and siege the inhibitor turret. Again Dexter engages with a Lulu ult follow-up in what seemed like a good fight from CLG, but TSM turns it around, gets the turret and the inhibitor, almost sealing the deal.
After securing the bottom inhibitor with their siege comp, TSM rotates top to destroy the last remaining inhibitor to solidify their win over their long time rivals. At the top inhibitor turret, TSM wins a decisive fight going 4-1, only losing Wildturtle. This led to CLG surrendering only 22 minutes into the game, resulting in one of the shortest games this split.
That wraps up my recap/analysis of the TSM vs CLG game during Week 8 of the NA LCS. While the game turned out to be a one sided stomp, it was good to see the two teams at it again. The early game was extremely tense, with both teams going blow for blow, making flashy plays and leaving the crowd in astonishment. But TSM’s polished teamwork helped them secure midgame objectives to control the map and eventually silence the CLG fans and their chants to fill the LCS studio with the letters “T”, “S”, and “M”. Thanks for reading this article – hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it:)