The news that esports organization NRG was buying fellow esports org Counter Logic Gaming from parent company Madison Square Garden was met with sadness among fans as it meant the beloved CLG brand would cease to exist. CLG was established in 2010, and being around for over a decade meant it had built up quite a bit of history and a dedicated fan base. Over the past decade, CLG has become known for reaching one of North America’s highest accomplishments in League of Legends, uplifting women in esports and growing the fighting game community. Here’s a closer look at CLG’s legacy in regard to each of those.
League of Legends
Photo credit: Riot Games
CLG have been part of the North American League of Legends scene since the beginning. The organization was first formed as a League of Legends team by George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis and competed at the first world championship in 2011. CLG have competed in the LCS since the league began in 2013. CLG is where Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng, one of the greatest North American players of all time, got his start and won his first LCS title in 2015.
CLG’s League of Legends teams haven’t done as well in recent years, however, the org always will be remembered for its accomplishments in 2016. Throughout League of Legends esports history, North American teams have never been that competitive on the international stage. A North American team has never won the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) or the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds), which are the two premier international tournaments organized by Riot Games for LoL esports. However, North American teams have reached the MSI final twice, and CLG was the first of those finalists.
In 2016, CLG were champions of the LCS spring split and were North America’s sole representative at MSI. The team went 7-3 in group play, including two wins over Europe’s G2 Esports, one win over China’s Royal Never Give Up and one win over SK Telecom T1 and Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok, who were the reigning world champions. In the playoffs, they beat Flash Wolves in the semifinals and then lost to SKT. Despite the loss, their strong performance at the tournament is remembered fondly by NA League of Legends fans, especially since only one other NA team has reached the MSI final since then.
CLG’s performance at MSI 2016 is being remembered even more now because Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes, who was a rookie on CLG at the time, is going back to MSI this year for the first time since then, though this time with Golden Guardians. Choi "huhi" Jae-hyun also was on that CLG team and is currently on Golden Guardians too, which only adds to the nostalgia.
Photo credit: ESL
CLG were pioneers when it came to uplifting women in gaming. In 2015, the CLG Red brand was created and an all-women’s CS:GO team was signed. That first CLG Red team included Christine "potter" Chi, Diane "di^" Tran, Benita "bENITA" Novshadian, Catherine "CAth" Leroux and Stephanie "missharvey" Harvey. Those players became some of the most notable women’s CS:GO players and went on to have successful careers in CS:GO and beyond.
Missharvey, who was on CLG Red for two stints from 2015 to 2019 and then worked for the organization since 2019, wrote about what the CLG Red brand meant to her after the news of CLG’s sale.
“While the name CLG RED may be retiring, the RED legacy can never be taken away from us. We were groundbreakers decades ago and will continue to make a difference in the community in one way or another,” missharvey wrote.
CLG Red went on to win notable tournaments such as the Electronic Sports World Cup 2015 Women, the World Electronic Sports Games 2018 Female and the Copenhagen Games 2019 Female. CLG Red also finished second at the Intel Challenge Katowice 2016 and 2019 and Dreamhack Valencia 2019.
When VALORANT released in 2020, a team was formed to compete under the CLG Red banner in 2021. The first player to be part of the team was also one of the first members of CLG Red’s CS:GO team, bENITA. The team ended up finishing second in the first series of the North American Game Changers circuit and went on to be one of the top teams in the Game Changers circuit throughout 2021.
In 2022, CLG Red began branching out into the fighting game community. Their first signing was Tekken player Jeannail "Cuddle_Core" Carter. Later that year, CLG Red signed Jessika "Romolla" Neva, a Guilty Gear player, and earlier this year, the organization signed Sasha "Magi" Sullivan, a Smash Melee player.
Photo credit: Red Bull
Fighting games typically don’t get as much love and attention as FPS games like CS:GO or MOBAs like League of Legends. However, the fighting game community (FGC) is just as passionate and vibrant as other esports communities. In 2022, CLG decided to go all-in on the FGC.
In addition to signing Cuddle_Core and Romolla, CLG also signed Brian "Brian_F" Foster and Vineeth "ApologyMan" Meka in 2022, giving the organization one of the biggest and most diverse rosters of fighting game players.
After the CLG acquisition news, Cuddle_Core created a thread on Twitter in which she went in depth about why she was so grateful for CLG.
“I was with CLG for almost a year, and the amount of care and love CLGFGC showed the community is something I'll never forget, and I was so honored to be part of it. It was an amazing experience working with the players and staff,” she wrote in the first tweet of the thread.
In addition to the player signings, the organization began creating content for YouTube and Twitter under the @CLGFGC handle (now @RunItFGC). CLG also began running a weekly tournament series called “Run It Thursdays” that became very popular.
What’s next for CLG?
CLG is no more, but that doesn’t mean it’s the end for their teams and players. Their League of Legends team will continue to compete in the LCS but under the NRG banner. The team finished fourth this spring, and fans have faith the roster could have another strong split this summer. The CS:GO and VALORANT teams that were competing as CLG Red have stuck together for now and are continuing to compete. The CS:GO team is now known as ex-CLG Red as they compete in the North American division of the ESL Impact League Season 3. The VALORANT team has been picked up by Moist Moguls for the first series of the North American Game Changers circuit and are competing as Moist Moguls RED. The @RuleWithRed Twitter account will continue to provide updates on both the CS:GO and VALORANT teams.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games