Melany M. March 18, 2019
Team Liquid secured first place and a pass to the semifinals after taking down Clutch Gaming.
For the second split in a row, Team Liquid is qualifying directly to the semifinals where they will wait patiently for their opponent. Before preparing for playoffs, the defending champion must still complete the remainder of its regular season schedule.
The match against Clutch Gaming went heavily in favor of Team Liquid. In the early game, Clutch focused on neutralizing Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng on Vayne. This pick on patch 9.5 was popularized by Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk from Gen.G after that team defeated Griffin, breaking the latter’s 12-game winning streak.
Vayne requires two complete items before she is ready to fight, so Clutch tried to delay that power spike. In the meantime, the rest of the Liquid’s squad secured kills and neutral objectives across the map, including Nicolaj “Jensen” Jensen’s 1,000th kill in North America.
Despite the efforts from Clutch’s squad, Doublelift found his way back into the game and reached that dangerous power spike with Vayne. At 25 minutes, Team Liquid aced Clutch and just four minutes later secured the first baron buff. It was enough to break open the enemy base, but not enough to go for the end.
Throughout the course of the match, Team Liquid stacked five elemental drakes that would provide the necessary edge in the late game. At 38 minutes, Team Liquid secured a powerful elder drake and a second baron.
Recognizing that it was their last chance, Clutch went all in for a fight only to be aced a second time. Team Liquid marched into the enemy base and added another win into their record.
This result puts Clutch in a difficult position and at risk of missing the spring playoffs. Since summer 2018, Clutch has been in a freefall that hasn’t been fixed even after significant roster changes.