Return of the Missing Link

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Coming up with a topic to blog about has always been a bit difficult for me, the writers block struggle is real  recently because I, and the team, have been so focused on IEM cologne. Whilst traveling for the tournament and getting the opportunity to spend some more time with the team outside of the game I found some inspiration to talk about someone that I value as both a great teammate and a great friend; Austin “Link” Shin. Barring the numerous criticisms of his gameplay in the recent past, I feel like everyone should know and understand a bit more about him as a person and as valued team member of Counter Logic Gaming.

Having known and worked with Austin for more or less 3 years I can easily say that he is an intelligent and perceptive player who can learn any given task or medium extremely quickly. Aside from applying this to gaming he applies it to things like music, art and education. When it comes to working with his teammates he cares more about them than he does himself and has a keen eye for coming up with relevant information to provide pre and post match feedback. This helps everyone learn as much as possible from each interaction on the rift. His opinions and grasp on game strategy are so concise and well thought out that he has become an irreplaceable asset to the team since his time on Counter Logic Gaming. Recently, after observing Austin’s gameplay more closely, I realized just how hard he tries to prove himself to everyone in the house – almost a little TOO hard.

In the past, during his time on Counter Logic Gaming, I felt like his individual identity as a unique player had become more and more compromised due to the teams previous mindsets on the game, each role, how they should be played individually and how they should be used together as a single unit. This has, over time, been a detrimental part of his career that inhibited his growth as a player. CLG’s previous styles of play, throughout most of its time with Austin, was to have him simply go even in lane, playing it as safe as possible, with standard picks that didn’t really take advantage of his strengths as an individual player. Austin has always been an innovator at heart, always wanting to figure out the counters to the upcoming meta, individual champion match-ups and how other, more unorthodox, champions could break the current standards. He was able to bring out Syndra in the first LCS game ever, had played Xerath at an exceptional level before any North American mids and has what is, in my opinion, one of the best Twisted Fate’s in all of NALCS. When he was able to express himself with his champion picks and his play he was at his best and that’s when everyone saw the Link that I’ve come to know.

The Link that I know, the one who wasn’t limited by the fears or conceptions of previous versions of the team, is the one I believe we will see in season 5 of NALCS. Inhibiting his ability to innovate and to express himself with his gameplay is not what we, as a team, want for him this season. We need to play to each individual players strengths rather than trying to compensate for what we think are their weaknesses. If we can do this there is no doubt in my mind that he will become a force to be reckoned with. Now that we’ve seen the best, and the worst, from each other I have even more confidence in how we need to play in the future. While many in the community, and many of our own fans, may have lost confidence in Link I can tell you that I have not. I have full confidence in his abilities and am proud to have him as my close friend and teammate.

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by zaqueri black, on December 28, 2014