I’ve been a Counter Logic Gaming fan for years, but that era is finally coming to a close.
With franchising upon us and roster shake-ups all over the place, this finally feels like the time to say goodbye. Unlike traditional sports, League teams aren't currently tied to a locale. We latch onto our teams because of the management or their playstyle or even just their roster. There is nothing holding us to them. No weird patriotism or feelings of statehood connection. We like them because we choose to.
In a time when all of your favorite players are scattered around the LoL Esports landscape, it can be kind of hard to find a team you want to vote for. Do you abandon the team you’ve supported for years just to follow a player? Or do you stay loyal to a team that no longer owns your favorite players? It’s a hard dilemma that so many of us are going through right now.
I’ve rooted for CLG since Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black rejoined the squad in January of 2014. Before that, I followed Cloud9 back when they were new to the scene, and so was I. I’ve rooted for the CLG organization no matter how they played, even through the toughest times. But in this pre-season, CLG has lost the player that pulled me over to begin with. It’s hard to look at their current roster, even with Darshan Upadhyaya on it, and recognize it as the same one I fell in love with years ago.
So why would I stay? Why would I continue to root for them? They aren’t the Kansas City CLG. I owe them nothing. Franchising offers a chance to see new teams bloom, some of which have my favorite players. In the past, it would be hard to leave the CLG train, they always had the roster I cared about more. But just as the rosters have swapped, so has my fandom.
100 Thieves has now garnered my attention by bringing William “Meteos” Hartman, Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook and, of course, Black over to their team. These are three of my favorite LoL players all working together. Should I feel bad or guilty for abandoning my old fandom in favor for a new one? Of course not, and neither should you. All orgs need fans, and I’m more than happy to lend my support to a new team.
Without location based teams, the LCS has always been more about the players than the organizations. Some people will always root for Team Liquid while others just recently became fans thanks to Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng.
Following a favorite player and not a favorite team makes each new season of LoL exciting. I will always remember the days spent watching Black on CLG just as I look forward to watching him on 100 Thieves. The same rings true for Yoo and Hartman, both of whom I’ve watched play for different teams over the years.
My advice to you before this season starts is to look at the rosters. Forget everything you think you know about the orgs you love. Throw that TSM hoodie in the garbage and start fresh. Maybe you’ll find your way back to the old team you loved (in which case you may need to go garbage fishing for your favorite hoodie) or you’ll find someone else you like watching even more.
Talking to traditional sports fans will make you feel bad about your allegiances. They may call you a “fair-weather fan,” an annoying term used to describe someone who jumps ship on their fandom at the first sign of trouble. But while the new franchising is certainly taking important lessons from traditional sports, they are still different things. This is the moment to switch, when everything is fresh, shiny and new.
When season 8 starts, watch for the players you love and not the teams they used to be apart of. You may just find a new home in the process.