ESPORTS REPORT

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

Clutch Gaming had a good week. Twitter

Overall, last week was a very successful week for Houston-based eSports teams. Clutch Gaming went 2-0, improving their record to 4-4 on the season, and the Outlaws also went 2-0 on the week, improving their record to 7-3. The Outlaws strong record also qualified them into the playoff as the No. 2 seed to become champions of Stage 1 of the Overwatch League. Unfortunately, they lost to the eventual Stage 1 champions London Spitfire by a score of 3-1.

Clutch Gaming (4-4; Tied for 4th Place)

This week Clutch Gaming had their best week yet with victories over Team Solo Mid and Optic Gaming. Against TSM, Clutch Gaming fell behind very early after a disastrous level one team fight left them down 2-0 on kills and facing a huge lead for the TSM bottom lane. After that, the team played very patiently, eventually taking the lead thanks to Apollo getting steals on his Ezreal on both a dragon attempt and more importantly, on Baron. CG eventually won a late game team fight and pushed in for the win. Against Optic Gaming, CG also faced an early deficit, but with the scaling and stronger team composition, it was only a matter of time before Clutch Gaming fought back, won a series of skirmishes and a big team fight, leading to a solid team win. Overall, Clutch Gaming looked much improved this week in terms of their tenacity and team play. Hopefully this gives them some momentum moving forward as they try to climb up the standings.

Predictions (3-1)

This week Clutch Gaming takes on Flyquest on Saturday and TSM on Sunday. I predict they will defeat Flyquest, looking fairly dominant, but lose to TSM as they get revenge for the win that Clutch stole from them last week. Clutch finishes the week at 5-5 with 8 games remaining in the Spring Split regular season.

Houston Outlaws (7-3)

Second place in their Division and overall, but current third seed for end of year playoffs due to divisional structure.

The Houston Outlaws had another great week with a 3-1 victory over the London Spitfire and a hard fought 3-2 victory over the Boston Uprising. Linkzr, Coolmatt, Jake, Muma and Rawkus continue to perform very strongly as a team and have a lot of upside regarding the long term outlook of this team. After finishing Stage 1 with a 7-3 record, they earned a spot in the playoffs for the end of Stage championship. The Spitfire got their revenge in the 2nd versus 3rd semifinal match with a dominating 3-1 performance after the Outlaws won the first map. The Spitfire would then go on to reverse sweep the New York Excelsior to win Stage 1.

Predictions (4-0)

There are no Overwatch matches this week. Overwatch league will resume with Stage 2 beginning Wednesday the 21st. I’ll post predictions for their matches against the Spirfire and Uprising next week.

Bonus Coverage

There is a group of individuals that have competitive speed runs through ROMS of classic video games, often with some sort of randomization artificially added into the game. These runs include such classics as Final Fantasy, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Megaman X and more. Check them out on their twitch channel: Speedgaming.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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