eSPORTS REPORT

The week in Houston eSports: Updates on Clutch Gaming and the Houston Outlaws

The Outlaws returned from a one-week break. Twitter

The Houston Outlaws returned from the one week break between stages looking like possibly the strongest team in the Overwatch League. A solid 2-0 week has them sitting at 9-3, one game behind New York. They are 2-0 with a +5 differential in stage two and a +22 overall map differential. Clutch had a week with one good win against CLG before losing against Cloud 9 after getting counter-picked in the top lane and experimenting with Lee Sin in the jungle.

Clutch Gaming (7-5; tied for third place)

Clutch’s game against CLG broke open with a team fight around the 20 minute mark and very strong play from Solo on Sion. They likely would have won faster than the 47 minute match time, except for CLG getting two very effective picks off on Febiven in the late game. Against Cloud 9, Solo got punished early and often on Ornn against Licorice’s Kled. The C9 lead in the top lane snowballed into a 24 minute win as Lira was unable to turn things around with the Lee Sin pick in the jungle. Clutch’s Academy team is in 7th place with a 5-7 record and looks to continue to improve and gel as a team now that ADC Piglet has returned to the roster.

Predictions (6-2).

Only six games remain this season. At this point a 4-2 record down the stretch is needed to guarantee a playoff berth, though they could still make it in with a weaker record. Barring a collapse by either Echo Fox or Cloud 9, getting a top two seed and a first round bye is highly unlikely. This week Clutch takes on Optic and Flyquest. A 2-0 record this week should happen and put the team much closer to a playoff berth. Week 8 has games against Echo Fox and Liquid. Unfortunately an 0-2 week is probably the likeliest result as so far, Clutch has seemed to be the fourth best team behind those two and C9. Clutch wraps up the spring split against 100 Thieves and the Golden Guardians. Clutch should be able to beat GGS, and the matchup against 100 Thieves will likely be a match where Clutch wins and locks in the four seed for playoffs. Final Split results: 11-7 and No. 4 seed for playoffs. Once playoffs get closer I’ll look at potential qualifying scenarios and likely opponents for playoffs.  

Houston Outlaws (9-3, tied for second place)

The Houston Outlaws began Stage Two with a hard fought 3-2 victory against London and a 4-0 victory against Boston which was much closer than the final map scores indicates. The Outlaws continue to perform very well with Linkzr and Muma taking on a lead role in the victories for the week. The meta for the new patch is already starting to emerge as compositions with extra tanks and a wider support meta are already coming into play.

Predictions (6-0)

The Outlaws are on a roll and this week will present very tough matches against Philadelphia and New York, two of the three teams that beat the Outlaws in Stage One. Philadelphia will be a tough test and New York was the champions of Stage One, but I think the Outlaws avenge their earlier losses with a 2-0 week, even though a 1-1 week is more likely.

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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