This year Counter Logic Gaming, also known as CLG, debuted one of the most successful development rosters the LCS has ever seen. Recognizing their incredible improvement from an 8th place team in the Spring Split to a 4th place team in the Summer Split, various members of the community—including casters, analysts, coaches, players, and prominent media figures—have voted CLG’s five man coaching staff as the Coaching Staff of the Split.
This accomplishment, awarded semiannually (once per split), was most recently awarded Team Liquid in Spring following their first place finish over Cloud9. Typically—like in Spring—the award is given to the best team in the split. However, this split’s award is particularly special as it was awarded to a 4th place team.
While Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves (the first and second place teams) were hot on the heels of CLG in this vote, the boys in blue managed to narrowly secure the award over the more accomplished Summer Split teams.
FlyQuest, the sixth place team in the Summer Split, also accrued a considerable amount of votes for the success of their predominantly rookie roster; however, the aforementioned three teams had much higher percentages of the vote.
The Five Man System
CLG is one of two teams in the LCS to have positional coaches. The other, Evil Geniuses, has also seen incredible success this year, and is expected to secure their second ever LCS title this split.
As opposed to the traditional Head Coach, Assistant Coach, General Manager, layout—positional coaches are hired to work one-on-one with specific role players on a team’s roster. Where Head and Assistant Coaches focus on team play and coordination, positional coaches put a greater emphasis on individual performance and responsibilities within a given role.
CLG’s coaching system consists of three positional coaches alongside their Head Coach, Thomas “Thinkcard” Slotkin, and Assistant Coach, Chris “Croissant” Sun. Focusing on the Top; Mid; and ADC roles, CLG hired three veterans from the North American League of Legends scene to pilot their roster’s lane players in the right direction.
Working closely with CLG’s top laner, Dhokla, is former amateur veteran Brandon “Brandini” Chen. With experience on Echo Fox; 100 Thieves Academy; TSM Academy; EG Academy; and CLG Academy, Brandini has nearly eight years of top lane experience under his belt.
Regarded as an integral part of CLG’s mid laner Palafox’s success in interviews, Tanner “Damonte” Damonte is CLG’s Mid Lane Positional Coach. Damonte has played League of Legends professionally for almost seven years for multiple LCS teams including Echo Fox, Clutch Gaming, Dignitas, Golden Guardians, 100 Thieves, and CLG.
Lastly, CLG’s Bot Lane Positional Coach, Apollo “Apollo” Price, works with both Luger and Poome: CLG’s ADC and Support. This duo had previously worked together on 100 Thieves’ Academy roster before debuting on the LCS stage together for the first time ever in Spring.
The Offseason Difference
With a roster composed of predominantly rookies, the experience of these positional coaches has been the primary reason for the success of CLG following their underwhelming Spring performance. Ending the split in eighth place, CLG had managed to build a record of 6 wins and 12 losses.
Although a losing record was anticipated following the total rebuild from Summer 2021 and the inclusion of two brand new players in the bot lane (Luger and Poome), CLG’s coaching staff opted to make one change in the offseason. To most analysts, CLG’s decision to demote Jenkins to the academy roster and promote the LCS Academy’s Most Valuable Prospect Dhokla to the main roster was seen as a weak move.
Although Dhokla had previously played in the LCS for Immortals in 2019, he was not seen as a particularly strong player. This led many to conclude that CLG would fall to 10th place in the Summer Split, as the teams below them in Spring had made much “stronger” roster moves. However, to the shock of almost everyone, CLG managed to have one of their best splits in recent LCS history.
With an 11-7 record, including a win over the Spring Champions and first place team in Summer (Evil Geniuses), CLG has become a legitimate LCS contender and is in a position to potentially secure a spot at Worlds this year.
Although Evil Geniuses and 100 Thieves may have performed to a higher level this split, the hard work of the unique five-man coaching staff at CLG has not gone unrecognized. Converting a losing team into a title contender in just a few weeks is no simple task. And, while both EG and 100T have managed to remain at the top of the table, CLG is undoubtedly the most deserving of this accolade.