Dexter’s expectations, first impressions and time thus far with CLG

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First of all I would like to say that when I made the decision of approaching CLG for a jungle tryout I considered several options here in EU as well which I’m not allowed to talk about. After at least one month of thinking I made the decision for myself that if I get the chance to tryout that I will do this and value it over everything else. I have been playing two LCS splits for the time if you count my two weeks of playing in DB in and I can say one thing for sure – having a good organization that takes care of you as a player is really important and a coach that helps with a fixed schedule, solving arguments and makes sure that everyone is happy is mandatory.

My expectations to the team were really mixed – on the one side I had really high hopes to play with such good player – you have a player like Doublelift who impresses everyone with his mechanical skill or Link who is considered to be a really smart player but then you have to keep in mind that this team had to face relegations after a mediocre performance in LCS. On the other side I was afraid of having a really toxic environment to play in because from what I could tell the team had a lot of problems and arguments for no reason. I thought that the ego from certain player might be a problem to deal with because if you never acknowledge your mistakes then there’s clearly no point in trying to argue with that person if a problem occurs. I’m very open-minded and see things objectively but you also have to make sure that you understand your teammates point of view in certain situations and that’s probably the hardest part about this. Clearly there are situations where someone is totally wrong and tries to justify a bad play in game with things that are totally unreasonable – if you man up and say its your fault arguments will never be a problem. Shifting blame is never good either but you have to make sure that you are humble enough to your teammates and no one is getting hurt by being called out – after all you are a team that has the strive to be the best and every little mistake needs to be fixed in order to become the best team of the region and preparing for Worlds.

When I made the trip to NA with that thoughts in my mind I had a lot of time to think about how I approach certain things – will i try to take the lead immediately or will i take time to see their thought process and understand it better to fit the team? When we first started practicing I was still super jet-lagged, didn’t do any calls in game and under-performed a lot. I didn’t play a single scrim in like 3 months and had to try to get into the game again but the game was a complete different one with the S4 pre-patch so I couldn’t really play with the mentality about the game I had at S3 Worlds. It took us about 5 days after we finally had a talk about how practice should go, what goals we have in game and what we want to improve on today. After that talk you could see a different team – we started taking the game more serious if that’s the proper term for it and we pretty much dominated games. My jet lag was gone, I finally got used to the environment and player a bit and I started to do a bit of shot calling in the early game where everything went pretty smooth and we got so much better every day.

Unfortunately I have to say that even when we improved a lot every day, there was not enough practice time. NA teams tend to only scrim 2 blocks on average which means 4 hours of team practice. I came from a team that used to play 8 hours a day on average with no break-day and had the mentality to win and make sacrifices to become the best so 4 hours of practice seemed to be really off for me and we didn’t have much time to prepare for the Battle of the Atlantic against ATN. Every team seems to have „individual“ practice time here where solo queue is a must but from my perspective solo queue is only efficient if you have the need to practice matchups and even then – is the quality of the highest ELO here in NA enough to make sure you get the most out of playing solo queue? I used to play 5 hours of NA solo queue every day, starting from 7am and after a while I realized that theres not really a point for me to play it as a jungler and I started to get frustrated with how things went. I didn’t learn anything while playing solo queue and I just felt I’m wasting my time here. Even when I didn’t like it I still put the effort into it because I didn’t want to appear lazy to my teammates or Kelby.

Where in my eyes I was lazy it took me a while to realize that in reality the player on the team are lazy. Everyone preferred to play Hearthstone or some other stupid fighting games and I really didn’t see people putting in enough extra effort into the game outside of the 4 hours of scrims and required solo queue time, which is absolutely nothing for a pro-gamer getting paid. When we started to play 6 hours of scrims people sometimes got exhausted and the quality of the games was just horrible and I didn’t understand why. After the poor performance against ATN everyone seemed to realize that there must be something wrong – not trying to justify our bad performance but if we would’ve played against team ATN like we did in scrims we would’ve won for sure. I watched both of the games 3 times and I have to say that the decision making and individual play was just lackluster in a LAN environment and I was disappointed in the team and especially in myself. Things that happened in game could have been prevented with more practice time for sure and after we came home we started discussing about the games and what has to change – in the end we decided that if CLG wants to become successful the laziness has to stop and we have to play at least 8 hours a day without any distraction from other games which we will do to prepare for the upcoming LCS split.

 As many of you already know the team faced a lot of issues during the first three weeks of LCS – I got denied entry in the US and had to wait an extra three weeks for my visa to finally get approved. We played two weeks with Hotshot and one week with Chauster and our overall score was 4-5 which is really good for us and sad for the competition of the region because in reality we shouldn’t have won four games while using two subs and scoring an almost equal score. After I finally arrived for the 4th week of LCS we only had to play one game and our opponent was EG – a team that struggled a bit in the LCS but defeated us last time. The pressure was really big on me to perform and I was nervous – I didn’t do anything in the early game and even died once because I didn’t think the counter-jungling part through and out of fear to perform even worse I just farmed up and decided that I will farm up my Tri-Force and then I knew that I can actually be beneficial by simply one-shotting the carries.

Having actually practiced with the teams for four days and prepare for our 2nd week as a team actually showed HUGE improvements. Our rotations are somewhat flawless when we win the early game and I think that we are in a really good shape when it comes down to decision making right now. The only thing we need to work on now is to fix small things that put us in a situation where we don’t have an answer for yet and I don’t want to reveal those things because other teams might take advantage of it. In the end it only matters how we perform in the playoffs, going into the playoffs with a lot of wins in the regular seasons gives you a huge confidence-boost that is much needed to win a best of three or best of five against the best teams of the region. Expect a lot of different picks from us since we still experiment what works best for us and we try to pull out as many things as possible in order to get flexible and unpredictable. I’m actually pretty happy about the TSM/C9-week since I expected to go 0-2, if I’m really honest and the way it worked out we definitely showed everyone that we are a top contender for the spring split playoffs to end up first place which is the goal of every member of the team.

Outside of the game it took me a while to get used to my teammates personalities because everyone seemed to be a bit shy and just sat in front of the computer saying nothing for hours just doing their things. I learned that Doublelift is a really humble guy and my expectations were completely wrong about him – I expected a big ego but in reality he acknowledges his mistakes and is a pretty funny guy to talk to as well. I can always talk to Link about improvements and he is very open-minded about everything which is a good thing. Aphromoo is super laid-back and always has a calm voice plus his relationship with Doublelift is adorable. Nien seems to be a pretty chill guy as well and generally enjoys playing videogames for a living and has the desire to become the best – he is 1 on 1ing other player to become better and puts effort in. Kelby is the mom of the team and takes care of everything. Waking up everyone, when we are going to the gym and calling bed-time. Oh, and he also likes to sing a lot when hes bored.

I actually had an awesome 2 ½ weeks at the CLG house with my four teammates, Kelby, George, and MaTTcom – we had a lot of fun and I slowly start to understand American humor and I even got some references from time to time, ha! Looking forward to live in the US for at least three months before I can go home again – I’m going to miss Germany (mostly German food and bread) and the people for sure. Especially the one person that helped me through tough times and always cheered me up after we lost a game and gave me motivation to play video games for a living – not sure where I would’ve been without you, thank you!

Thanks for the read.

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by Marcel Feldkamp, on February 21, 2014