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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Esports

Clutch Gaming plummet to sixth place


Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten has led Clutch Gaming all season, but his 11/5/14 weekend was not enough to help the team hold on to third place. | Courtesy of Riot Games

Clutch Gaming entered the final week of the NA LCS regular season tied for third place with a 10-6 record.

With the top seven teams all within a couple wins of each other, every win mattered for Clutch to secure a good spot in the six team playoffs.

But Clutch faltered at the finish line and went 1-3 over the weekend to fall all the way to sixth place.

Battle for third

Clutch Gaming started its weekend against 100 Thieves with third place on the line, with the Thieves riding a three-game winning streak.

Clutch was able to get counter picks in the jungle, mid, support and top lane. The Thieves had a good, long range, disengage comp, while Clutch had a balanced team but without much hard engage.

As the match continued, 100 Thieves made most of the moves while Clutch was reactive.

The Thieves would take gold leads, then Clutch would close the gap, but it never really felt like Clutch had much control of the game.

The breaking point of the match was at 25 minutes, when the Thieves’ captain Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black brought down Clutch’s AD carry Apollo “Apollo” Price and support Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent.

The Thieves took the opportunity to take the baron uncontested and were able to build a 7,000 gold lead with the baron buff, which they used to win the game.

Bouncing back

The next day, Clutch returned to some comfort picks against the last place Golden Guardians when mid-laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten picked Azir and Apollo picked Caitlyn, their most played champions this season.

Clutch also took care of some problems from the Thieves match by picking two hard engage champions. Hakuho picked Thresh instead of Tahm Kench, while jungler Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo chose Zac instead of Olaf.

Febiven bullied around the Guardians’ mid-laner Hai “Hai” Lam, who was playing LeBlanc, and Clutch decided to capitalize on it by sending Hakuho and Lira to attack mid and kill Hai.

Clutch continued to be proactive, but it came to bite the team in the 13th minute of the game, when an attack gone wrong cost four members of Clutch their lives, evening up the game.

But Clutch didn’t panic and spent the rest of the game controlling vision to take objectives, like the baron, and it methodically took the win.

Facing their demons

After a series of wins and losses by other teams, the regular season ended with two teams tied for first and four teams tied for third. This meant the league would have to play tiebreakers to decide who received which playoff seed.

Andres Chio/The Cougar

In the first round of the tiebreaker matches, Clutch faced off against Team SoloMid, who Clutch defeated both times during the regular season.

This matchup started with the teams trading kills. Clutch was keeping up, but TSM slowly took leads by outsmarting Clutch.

It was a slow game with little fighting, but TSM continued to take turrets and dragons without suitable responses from Clutch, and by the 25 minute mark, TSM had a 4,000 gold lead while trailing in kills.

TSM finally opened up the game by starting to take the baron and baiting Clutch into a bad fight, which TSM won. After winning the fight and taking the baron, TSM rolled over Clutch and took the win, sending Clutch to the losers match of the tiebreakers.

Falling

Clutch’s final match of the day was against Cloud9, which Clutch beat twice during the regular season.

But Clutch started out the game with a botched attack on C9’s mid-laner Nicolaj Jensen, which cost Febiven and Lira their lives.

In the top lane, C9 botched their own gank that ended up with Solo killing C9’s top lane Eric “Licorice” Ritchie in a 1v2 fight.

Cloud9 fielded a very beefy composition, and Clutch struggled to cut through C9’s tanks in the later fights.

The crucial moment of the match was when Clutch allowed its vision to lapse in the baron area and C9 rushed to take it. With the baron buff, Cloud9 engaged onto Clutch and quickly killed four members, then ran down the middle lane to win the game.

The loss sent Clutch down to sixth place, and it is now 1-4 in its last five games.

Clutch will have to regroup and recover in preparation for an uphill battle in playoffs as it faces six-time champion TSM on Sunday.

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