This week in Houston eSports: Clutch Gaming earns its namesake; Outlaws get held up
Clutch Gaming continues to improve their play in the North American League Championship Series and after a 2-0 week, lock up a playoff berth at 9-5 with four games remaining in the Spring Split. Unfortunately, the Houston Outlaws had a frustrating 0-2 week experiencing losses to both Philadelphia and New York.
Clutch Gaming (9-5) Third Place
Clutch Gaming continues to beat the teams they should beat, with a 2-0 week against Optic Gaming and Flyquest. The team controlled the game from the beginning against Optic with a 2k gold lead by the 11-minute mark and a final tally of only giving up one kill without losing a single tower or objective throughout the swift 26-minute game. CG also had a solid game against Flyquest, breaking the game open after securing the Baron buff at around 21 minutes and applying methodical, safe gameplay in their 43-minute win. Solo and Febiven also finished the week with zero deaths apiece, and the team only giving up four deaths across both games. Their two wins were enough to secure them a guaranteed playoff spot as they have 4 games remaining and a four-game lead over 7th place Counter Logic Gaming while already owning the tiebreaker for their 2-0 split record against CLG.
This week is Clutch Gaming’s chance to step up into the top ranks of the NALCS. With games against Echo Fox (11-3) and Team Liquid (8-6), they face a tough week. Last week I predicted ahead of time an 0-2 week, but those predictions are now revised to 1-1 with a loss to Echo Fox and a victory over Liquid. Clutch Gaming clearly has already adapted well to the changes in the new 8.4 patch.
Houston Outlaws (9-5) 5th Place
Last week the Outlaws lost a 3-2 heartbreaker against the Philadelphia Fusion after going up 2-0 and losing three straight maps against the Fusion. Four out of the five maps were decided by only one point, including all three victories by the Fusion. The Outlaws were similarly frustrated in their 0-4 defeat against the New York Excelsior with the maps either being dominated by the Excelsior or a close defeat, each decided by only one point. The Outlaws retain a +17 overall map differential which will serve them well in any tiebreakers. However, if the Outlaws hope to participate in the stage two playoffs, they will need to get back into form quickly as they sit tied for 7th at 2-2 with a 0 differential within Stage Two.
After the Outlaws failed to avenge two of their three stage one defeats, the Outlaws face the Los Angeles Valiant (10-4) for the first time this season and the Florida Mayhem (1-13) who the Outlaws defeated 4-0 during Stage One. The Outlaws will likely play the Valiant with a chip on their shoulder and after the 0-2 week are likely to not underestimate the Mayhem. The Outlaws will return to form with a 2-0 week.
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