Saturday, July 2, 2022

“I think we can finish pretty high in the standings”

CLG has always been a team shrouded in shame. The community loves to hate them and sometimes their fans hate to love them. After back-to-back splits of disappointing performances, missed opportunities and brutal PR hits, it seems a leadership change was just the thing for CLG to recover from a terrible slump. Hoping to revitalize its brand, one of the oldest organizations in League of Legends Championship Series history made some massive internal moves heading into 2022.

CLG General Manager Jonathon McDaniels (formerly Golden Guardians) and Head of CLG (formerly Evil Geniuses) joined the Legacy Org in the 2021 off-season. Since then, the team has signed a roster filled to the brim with talent from North America’s academies and amateur leagues.

Fans first saw the 2022 CLG roster during the LCS 2022 Lock In tournament where they finished in the top eight. Despite the team falling out of the bracket stage against Cloud9 in a tight three-game streak last weekend, CLG mid laner Cristian “Palafox” Palafox says fans should be excited for the regular season

“All of our players have such a high cap mechanically,” Palafox said. “I think we can finish at the top of the overall standings.”

More CLG Hopium from Palafox

In his four-year career, Palafox has played under four different LCS banners: OpTic Gaming, Golden Guardians, FlyQuest and CLG. His professional career hasn’t always been easy, but his skills and experience were enough to earn him a spot on a team every split since he turned pro. Heading into the 2021 off-season, Palafox said it was important to sign with an organization that could sell him their vision.

“I saw a lot of similarities between the C9 and CLG, believe it or not,” Palafox said. “Obviously they’ve had some tough years, but they’ve revamped everything.”

Describing his time on Cloud9, Palafox said the environment felt like family and that management was fully committed to giving players everything they needed to grow and improve. Palafox said CLG’s willingness to give him their full support as he said he plans to complete a boot camp in South Korea before the start of the 2022 season is a key factor in building his relationship with the organization.

“They said, ‘We’ll help you in any way we can,'” Palafox said. “It’s just little things like that that allow me to feel like I want to play for this organization.”

According to Palafox, his learnings from playing in a more competitive solo queue environment have already started to have a positive impact on the team’s strategic preparation.

“It’s a big confidence boost. It also makes it familiarize you with a lot of things that other players don’t have,” Palafox said. “If you can get further out of boot camp… you’ll be able to impart so much good information to your team.”

Paying for a boot camp in South Korea helps, but according to Palafox, it’s not the only resource the team has provided to show commitment to its players’ success. The team works regularly with a sports psychologist, a fitness trainer who guides the team on pre-game stretching, and a team chef who typically stays on site from around 7am to 6pm. CLG also pays for its players’ accommodation.

A new dark horse in the LCS

With so many unproven players, most fans were willing to give CLG a “pass” for this split. As the org rebuilds internally and brings in all the new players, there is no pressure to come out the gate and trample everyone. But from the scratchy and aggressive style As we saw from the team during Lock In, it looks like CLG is here to compete as much as any other LCS team.

Palafox describes himself as a player who loves to look for ways to punish his opponent whenever he can, and it seems like his teammates have this style on board as well. His hope for 2022 is that CLG quickly agrees on exactly how they want to play the game and run games as a unit.

“I think we are all mechanics. It’s really just little things,” Palafox said. “When something like that clicks, you know everything’s going so damn fine.”

Lock-in may be over for CLG, but in the short time the squad has played together, they have already shown they are not to be taken lightly. See CLG in action once again as the LCS 2022 Spring Regular Season kicks off on February 5th.

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