When Counter Logic Gaming and Immortals announced they would be trading junglers Jake “Xmithie” Puchero and Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett, the NA LCS fanbase took to the internet with overwhelmingly negative reactions.
But their facts weren’t quite in line. The upsides to the trade for either side were evident from the beginning. Both junglers were incredibly talented, though something about their old situation wasn’t quite right.
Right off the bat, the benefits to Counter Logic Gaming seemed obvious. In exchange for their stalwart bastion of consistency in Puchero, they got one of the best junglers in North America and a shot at jumping up a level on the competitive ladder if only they could get the team atmosphere just right.
Hartnett represents an entirely new type of jungler for CLG as an organization. Where they have been mostly reliant on the Season Two style of junglers over the past five years, the rest of the competitive world started to shift toward carry style junglers after the massive success of Korean jungler In-seok “Insec” Choi back in the Spring and Winter Splits of 2013. Finally, CLG have done the same with Hartnett representing their best chance yet at a jungler who could grab a larger share of the team’s kills and damage.
Perhaps the easiest to overlook part of gaining a carry jungler is the part that showed up most clearly in Week One of the Summer Split. If teams have to worry about the jungler as a damage threat, it opens up the other lanes to actually be able to carry. Case in point, it’s no accident that after the first week of play, Counter Logic Gaming AD Carry Trevor “Stixxay” Hayes has the highest average kills per game of any AD Carry in the league.
Hartnett gives CLG a kind of freedom they have never enjoyed before. A reassuring knowledge that no matter what happens in a game, as long as they get someone ahead the prospect of having a player capable of carrying is always present. Which is exactly what was needed for a team like CLG who had no natural carries and no way to create some with Puchero on the roster.
And that isn’t a knock on Puchero either. In fact, during his first week on Immortals Puchero already proved to be exactly what the doctored ordered for a team that, last split, was too overstuffed with talent to find their best strategies.
With Immortals moving away from the pull of Hartnett in the jungle, however, they have begun to open up the potential for both toplaner Ho-Jong ”Flame” Lee and midlaner Eugene “Pobelter” Park to have a bigger role in carrying the team. In fact, in the first week the two are first and second in the entire NA LCS in total KDA at +11 and +10 respectively.
In the two series they have played so far, both players looked completely transformed. After a few years of more passive play, both looked confident and aggressive and ready to step up. While it is still too early to say how much of this newfound confidence is thanks to the reassurance that Puchero has their back, but one things for sure, this isn’t quite the Immortals team we expected before the season started.