Why Korea?

Hey I’m Zikzlol, the analyst for Counter Logic Gaming. I started working at CLG about 3 months ago, but I’ve only lived with the team for about 1 1/2 months. Although I just recently started working with them, I had been talking with CLG and even did analysis for them 2 years ago when Hotshot became the new jungler. He thought I really helped him, as well as the team as a whole, improve; so when the team decided they needed an analyst they picked me up for the job. I help the team improve in many ways, notably through strengthening communication and fixing mechanical errors. I also do research on other teams and, more recently, develop pick/ban strategy (with the departure of MonteCristo). I’m writing this blog to give insight into our choice to go to Korea. Although there was a lot of negative feedback due to our playoff results, it was the best decision at the time.
A. Seraph’s visa
 Seraph’s visa needed to be renewed during the last days of super week and we needed to begin to prepare for Playoffs. The way his visa renewal appointment was set up, Seraph would only have been able to return a few days before our matches. So, we could either A) let Seraph go to Korea alone and play with a replacement until playoffs to improve, then swap Seraph back in (or go through playoffs with his replacement) OR B) go to Korea with Seraph to practice against considerably better competition with our full team intact. With our Playoffs spot already secured, we decided as a team it would be best to go to Korea with Seraph.
B. The opponents
 While Dexter’s statement that practicing with Koreans for 2 weeks is considerably better than practicing for a full split against NA teams might seem inflammatory at first thought, I actually think it’s true for any region change where the teams are better or equal in skill. When scrimming North American teams, we already know how the team will play because we have played them so many times before, and we know how they will punish our mistakes, where they tend to focus their map pressure etc. You can liken it to a boxer hitting the same punching bag over and over. We can change the way we hit the punching bag, but we can’t change the way that team punishes our mistakes. It becomes harder to improve through practice when all of the variables stay the same. Our development is limited in the way that we can only improve by understanding how to fight against that one style. When you enter a new region and play against new opponents, you’re fighting a totally different set of human beings and you don’t know how they’ll react to what you do. You essentially don’t have to change the way you punch/play to gain more information, you just play your game and you can now learn from them. When we played against the top 3 Korean teams, it was easy to see that everything was different between these teams and North American teams in their methods of pressuring and punishing mistakes.
C. Why did Korea not work out?
 Unfortunately, at the time, we were not a team that struggled with in game issues, but instead had trouble working together as a team. When we went to Korea, we thought the interpersonal issues wouldn’t matter, that we could just improve through practice, and everything would be better. Things didn’t work out as expected. We learned a lot about strategy for beating Korean teams, but we didn’t figure out how to stop beating ourselves. It was clear that our top/jungle/mid synergy still wasn’t there, and that the team atmosphere in general was not in a good place. While we were in Korea, we also realized that we really needed someone to bring us together as a unit and to help solve personal conflicts between team members. The team, MonteCristo, and I would end up working on strategic improvement while our internal conflicts were left unaddressed. By the time we arrived back in NA, we had improved greatly as individuals, but not as a team.
 In the end, it’s easy to see that Korea was the best possible decision at the time. Although it didn’t yield playoff success, we gave it our all and tried to fix our problems. It just wasn’t enough. Taking a risk and doing something is always better than doing nothing at all.

by Tony Gray, on November 5, 2014