So far, Clutch’s journey at Worlds would best be described as a rollercoaster. The squad came into the tournament as North America’s unlikely hero, a team that overcame adversity and took down the LCS’s giants. If they were able to take Team Liquid to five games and reverse sweep Team SoloMid, a bunch of teams from emerging regions should mean nothing.
In reality, Clutch struggled to find its footing in the fast-paced tournament. Unicorns of Love was the challenger, and the European-turned-Russian team got the better of Clutch twice in the group stage. It came down to a tiebreaker to determine the final seeding.
Unicorns of Love should’ve known that no one defeats Clutch three times in a row.
Unicorns of Love stomped Mammoth Esports in the first tiebreaker and looked to keep the momentum going versus Clutch. To everyone’s surprise, Clutch took over the game in the early levels and, 11 minutes into the match, had an 11,000 gold advantage.
Through the play-in stage, Clutch has proven they’re capable of adapting and growing from game to game. The team that destroyed Unicorns of Love in the tiebreaker is not the same team that played on the first day of the event.
Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon has fully embraced his role as the leader of the team and it’s showing on-stage. On Irelia, Huni outplayed a two-versus-one gank and walked away with the first blood. Most of the plays in the game would come from Huni.
Nam “Lira” Tae-yoo stood out during the match with Elise, one of his comfort picks during the regular season in the LCS. Lira has been criticized due to his poor performance at Worlds. In his first appearance on an international stage, the jungler struggle to play at the same level he had in the LCS. When Clutch is playing from behind, Lira is a non-factor, and oftentimes a liability, for his teammates. The tiebreaker game could be the start of a redemption arc for Lira.
Clutch keeps improving from its debut at Worlds and that’s a positive sign now that the team is getting ready for the best of five. Because they won first seeding, Clutch will likely avoid Splyce and Damwon Gaming, who should be the winner in Group D.
Clutch’s gameplay is far from perfect, the team still overextends and gives up unnecessary kills. A better team will punish those mistake and take the game from Clutch. If the team ultimately advances to the main event, they will be seeded either into Group B with FunPlus Phoenix or in Group C with SK Telecom T1, Fnatic and Royal Never Give Up. Out of the two, Group B is the easiest path out of the group stage. At its current level, Clutch will have a tough time against teams from the major regions.
It’s far from over for everyone’s favorite underdog, Clutch has proven to be a good team in best-of-five series.
Clutch continues to make North America proud, the team will return next week for the knock out stage.