For the first time since 2019, Juan “Contractz” Garcia has remained on the same team through the off-season. Contractz was part of a successful year one rebuild for Counter Logic Gaming in the 2022 League Championship Series season, and his contributions led to the retainment of his spot as the team’s starting jungler for 2023.
Contractz has incredible redemption arc in 2022
CLG ended their season in the 2022 LCS Championship, settling for 5th place after being eliminated from the post-season in a narrow 3-2 loss to Team Liquid after finishing 4th in the Summer Split. This was a substantial improvement from the Spring Split, which saw CLG’s young roster stumble a bit out of the gate and finish in 8th place. At the center of many of CLG’s issues was Contractz, who — not always at full fault of his own — often seemed on a different page than his teammate in instances of decisive aggression.
In summer, however, Contractz looked like a completely different player. CLG was one of the best early game teams in the LCS and no one could secure First Bloods as reliably early as Contractz. The CLG jungler often teamed up with top laner Niship “Dhokla” Doshi — who joined the roster from CLG Academy before the Summer Split — to secure the first kill of the game before the four-minute mark.
“I think going to Korea and individually improving on my own gameplay, my own habits, and my own fundamentals definitely kind of kick-started us meshing better as a team,” Contractz said regarding CLG’s improvements between spring and summer.
Contractz not only turned his season around to maintain his starting LCS spot for the entire season — something he had not done since 2019, but he earned LCS Most Improved Player honors for his dramatic summer upswing.
Keeping the band together
CLG was the only roster in the 2023 LCS that kept all five of their starters from last season but, like every organization, many options were considered. In an interview following the 2023 LCS Kickoff, Contractz spoke candidly about how his off-season led him back to CLG for a second season: “I’m definitely gonna be blunt here — it was not ‘all in’ on us five in the beginning.”
As someone who made their LCS debut in 2017, Contractz is no stranger to the uncertainties of the LoL Esports off-season.
“I understand League is a business. You always try to get the best players available… They’re always looking at options, so my future was pretty uncertain for a bit,” the CLG jungler explained. “I was even considering, like, if I wasn’t able to play LCS, maybe taking a split off, or two. So it was definitely an anxious offseason for sure, but I’m definitely glad it worked out. There’s no bad blood or anything, I’m just ready to go to work again.”
El Contrato addressed the @clgaming fans after today’s #LCS Kickoff. #SKE2023 #CLGWin pic.twitter.com/r8ldDgDk0e
— Nick Geracie (@NickGeracie) January 10, 2023
Contractz re-established himself as a bonafide LCS starter with his 2022 performance, but the 23-year old jungler knows he still has a lot to prove.
“I wasn’t able to start spring off strong and continue into summer. It’s kind of like a dip and then a rise again,” Contractz said of his 2022 season. “I think going into this year, I’m just trying to really improve on consistency. And I think I have a pretty good formula and a way of thinking to achieve that from my experience last year.”