Regardless of the team, this is the outcome many fans hope for, at least a little bit. The Cinderella Story. The full Gauntlet Run. The Dream. All that Clutch Gaming has to do is win one more Best of 5 against TSM, and they punch their ticket to Worlds. But can they do it?
The Run So Far
CG’s Gauntlet run started two weeks ago, when a loss to CLG in the Third Place game set them up to start at the beginning. This reverse sweep was disheartening, but rather than accept defeat, they steeled themselves and prepared for the full Gauntlet run – their last hope for worlds.
FlyQuest were the first hurdle for Clutch to clear, and they did so by a mile. Looking like the better team by far in their 3-1 victory, this was exactly the series they needed to regain their momentum and confidence for the rest of the weekend. Clutch were the favored team in this matchup, but it was still important for more than just moving on to the next match. Coming into the game against CLG off of a win, rather than straight from their loss to the same team, allowed them a mental reset.
Facing CLG again in such a short time span had a lot of people talking, and many doubled down on a CLG victory. Especially after Clutch won the first two games, and CLG took the third, everyone wondered if they could pull off the reverse sweep again to send Clutch home? This was clearly on the minds of the CG players more than anyone else as they came out victorious in Game 4 to move on once again.
TSM, The Final Gatekeepers
After a long road, it all comes down to the matchup with TSM. Though they have long been one of the big names in LA, they have faltered lately, and looked shaky this split. With having to adjust to three different Junglers, and landing on one with very little experience, the team was a bit off-balance to end the split. They have had several weeks to practice, though, and this has likely been their main focus.
TSM has a good, talent-filled roster, especially with Søren “Bjergsen” Bjerg leading things from the Mid Lane. However, the form that they last showed on stage was well below the explosive talent of current Clutch Gaming. Unless they put in a lot of effective work during the break, they will have their work cut out for them as they try to stop CGs run.
Clutch: Ready for Worlds
For all the questions there are about TSM, there seem to be just as many answers on the side of CG. They have two explosive, aggressive solo laners in Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon and Tanner “Damonte” Damonte. Both of whom have been expertly enabled by Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo who is looking in top form once again. The late games have been consistently dominated by Sun “Cody Sun” Li-Yu, who is protected through the early game by Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme and allowed to become a late-game monster. While their main struggles seem to come from inconsistency, the fact that they have so many different paths to victory makes them very hard to shut down.
Clutch want this trip to Worlds as much as anyone. The passion they have been playing with has fueled their explosiveness, and makes them incredibly dangerous even to established teams. Unless they pull out some big tricks that they learned over their break, TSM will almost definitely fall to the surging Clutch Gaming, and be the last stop before Worlds for CG.