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Cristian “Palafox” Palafox and his current team, Counter Logic Gaming, are one and the same. For starters, both he and CLG are coming off very negative experiences last year; Palafox bounced between FlyQuest’s main roster and their Academy team, while CLG finished in dead last in the LCS.

But 2022 things started to turn around for both parties — CLG finally started a much-needed rebuild with a clean house and five new starting members on their roster. Palafox was picked up as part of this initiative help lead the charge. While the 2022 League of Legends Championship Series Spring split didn’t produce results right away, things have finally turned around for both Palafox and CLG in the summer. A 3-0 Week 1 put CLG at the top of the LCS standings for the first time in a long time — according to Palafox, this newfound success didn’t come from just anywhere, but from the team bonding in Korea. Trust is the one word to describe this new, post bootcamp CLG.

“All five of us were grinding 10-plus games of solo queue a day.” Palafox said. “Everybody seeing each other grind kind of builds that bond, that trust.”

To Palafox, having a team where member is on the same page means that the sky is the limit as CLG looks to continue their best start to a season since 2017.

Motivation

CLG had a few flashes of greatness in the 2022 LCS Spring split, but they still finished in the bottom three at the end of the split. Palafox said it wasn’t because of lack of talent or skill; it was a lack of discipline and coordination.

“I’d say we were kinda like slackers in the spring split,” Palafox said. “If I, for whatever reason, don’t trust one person on my team to play a certain way, I’m going to play differently — assuming they might lose, or like it’s a subconscious thing.”

Palafox said that team cohesiveness is one of the most important factors for success. The best teams in the world in League of Legends are able to hit the go button and make great decisions in high-pressure situations, which separates the great teams from the mediocre ones. But that’s not the only thing that CLG has been able to do well so far in the 2022 LCS summer split.

Get good

CLG’s Week 1 of the 2022 LCS summer split turned heads. Although the team looked good on the rift, it was their unique looks in the draft that had everyone doing double takes — picks like Seraphine bot lane, Yone top and Taliyah mid were just a couple of unorthodox picks that helped CLG claim their best season start since 2017. Some might see the wins as cheap and not playing against teams head-0n, but Palafox said that if other teams were really that good, they should be able to beat CLG.

“I would argue that T1 don’t have the best drafts a lot of the time, but they are quite literally just better players, so if you are just a better team you’re probably going to win anyways; draft doesn’t matter that much,” Palafox said. “I just think the other teams just need to get good.”

Growing pains

CLG went up against Palafox’s old team FlyQuest in the first match of Week 2. With another spicy draft, CLG went back and forth against FLY and even had a lead late into the game. But one call, despite three players calling for it, lost them the game; CLG played to win by trying to end the match instead of playing not to lose by preventing FLY from taking Dragon Soul. The risk didn’t pay off; CLG couldn’t end the game, so FLY claimed the soul and won the game with it. Palafox notes that it was the wrong call in hindsight, but isn’t disappointed that they went for it.

“I think it’s really a fine decision to go for it,” Palafox said. “Losing a game like that sucks, but I know at the end of the day we should have won that game, I’m not gonna be too beat up about it.”

Palafox noted that he thinks his team actually lost the draft too. Despite the team losing the draft (and the game after that missed call), Palafox knows everything is going to be alright because he trusts his teammates and himself to work hard and keep improving as the season continues. Looking towards future competition, Palafox isn’t worried about much.

“Evil Geniuses is like, the team to beat, and past that it’s, like, TL and C9, and then every other team just doesn’t matter,” Palafox said. “I think when I look at our scrims, every other team really just doesn’t matter.”

Palafox said his team is ready for EG too; CLG’s undefeated record may be no more, but they’re all set to ruin EG’s undefeated record as well. With everyone on CLG at peak confidence, Palafox knows there isn’t a team in the LCS that CLG can’t take down.

“Even after today’s performance, I know Luger and Poome are going to be confident they can win two versus two, I’m going to be confident I can beat Jojo, (Contractz) is going to be confident he can out-jungle Inspired and (Dhokla) is going to be confident he can smash Impact.”