Several days after Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) announced some major roster changes, Gamespot has released an interview with HotshotGG wherein Hotshot discusses the changes and his decision to step down from the top lane. The interview can be found here, and as always, my analysis can be found scrawled below. If pro League of Legends isn’t your cup of tea, please head straight to the end of the article to find a hilarious video of a Lee Sin kick gone wrong.
I have to admit that I was not overly impressed with the final Hotshot interview. They hyped it hard, and the final result was a brief written piece with a few grammatical problems that caught my attention more than the actual news did (I shouldn’t make fun but I expect a bit better from people who have jobs I wouldn’t mind having 😉 ). Basically, Hotshot’s official reasons for stepping back are to help CLG connect with its fans while teaching Nientonsoh how to be an amazing top. Both are very plausible reasons, but to me, the whole thing suggests that the big unspoken reason is that Hotshot has gotten a little bit burned out.
It is quite believable that Hotshot should want to get more involved in the business side of eSports, but why now? He is still reasonably young (though oldish by LoL standards), he is still a decent player, and for someone who has done as much to build up the game as he has, you have to think that the business side of the game will always be there for him whenever he chose to retire. He states that he wants to better help CLG connect with its fans, but regardless of how passionately he feels about doing this, it is something that most teams are able to do successfully despite the limits put on their time by practicing.
Finally, Hotshot suggests that his stepping away was postponed due to the fact that there was not a lot of top lane talent to replace him. Ummm, anyone remember when Voyboy played for CLG? This just makes me feel like he wasn’t really waiting for another hotshot (see what I did there) to replace him and more likely just wants to take a break from all of the bashing he has been taking for CLG’s poor results. You could tell from his interviews and tweets that the pressure had definitely been getting to him, over the course of the last season, and I really cannot blame him from wanting to make it all stop.
Speaking of that next great CLG top laner, Nientonsoh gets the nod from Hotshot after it was decided that Aphromoo’s heart wasn’t really in going top lane. So why Nientonsoh? Apparently he has a great deal of “potential.” What I am curious about is what top lane “potential” actually means for Hotshot and CLG. I would argue that not only did Voyboy have “potential” he had an actual proven track record of top lane success. Same with Megazero or many of the other top laners who are currently looking for teams. What makes Nientonsoh’s “potential” different? My best guess would be that CLG believes he is most willing to play “protect the Doublelift.” If the Voyboy saga taught us anything it’s that CLG is not looking for a play maker in the top plane. They are looking for someone who is able to split push and protect their prized ADC in team fights.
“Well 2hp, maybe CLG is finally looking for a different style of top laner”. I do not believe this to be the case or I feel like they would have just snatched up a more established top laner with a reputation for making plays. I believe Nientonsoh is being groomed to be Hotshot 2.0, and I am not convinced that it is a role that will suit him. He undoubtedly will be capable of filling the role. Even if he does have success top, I see his play style as being too similar to his ADC and mid lane play style – hyper aggressive. This could eventually lead to the same kind of disputes that forced out Voyboy.
What I felt even less convinced by was the reason Hotshot gave for taking back bigfatlp. Apparently his “strongest attributes” from mid lane will be a great asset to CLG’s jungle. That’s kind of funny considering I always thought bigfatlp’s main attribute was his ability to sit in his lane, farm, and ignore everything else going on around him. In this case, I think CLG chose to go with something familiar and comforting. bigfatlp knows that this team is all about protecting Doublelift, and my guess is that he is so desperate to get back into the LCS that he will gladly jungle exactly how CLG/Hotshot wants him to. This will surely save CLG from having to break in a new jungler who might have aspirations of making plays or calling shots.
Ok, I am probably being overly negative about CLG’s inability to change into a more aggressive, less Doublelift centric, team. It’s just that I have seen CLG try, or not try, to change before and rarely have they experienced much success. Actually, the most interesting change that is discussed in the article is when Hotshot discusses the idea that a lot of pros from his generation will soon be retiring. Say what you will about HotshotGG but he will, if he is able to stay away, be one of the most successful players to retire from the game.
He will also be among the first of his generation of stars that include folks like saintvicious, Reginald and Scarra. Whatever role Hotshot decides to take whether it be as a coach, business manager, Riot employee etc, you can bet some of the other pros of his generation will be watching to see just how far he can get. How he continues to interact with the LoL and how LoL/Riot interacts with him will probably become the norm for how the retirement of successful pros is dealt with in the future.
The Summer Split of the League Championship Series should be a very interesting one for CLG and HotshotGG, himself. Regardless of how I happen to view the roster changes, I am still a fan of CLG and Hotshot. I believe if everything goes smoothly, and everyone lives up to their potential, they could have a pretty darn good team. If things do not go smoothly it will still be very interesting to follow because, with CLG, a lack of success always generates a surplus of drama. I wouldn’t even be surprised if we saw Hotshot back in the top lane to start season four, but we’ll have to wait and see on that.
Oh and for those of you who just want some action or who might have been hoping to see Aphromoo get kicked to the curb…well I think this video will suffice.