Esports Report

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

Clutch Gaming had a big week. Twitter

While Overwatch League was on a break between stages, Clutch Gaming took an enormous step forward with another 2-0 week including a dominant performance against reigning NALCS champions Team Solo Mid. The Outlaws signed tank player FCTFCTN (Russell Campbell) and now boast having most of the players that represented America in the Overwatch World Cup on their roster.

Clutch Gaming (6-4; Tied for 3rd Place)

This week Clutch Gaming continued to improve with strong performances against both Flyquest and TSM. In their game against Flyquest, the game was very even for around the first 20 minutes before a strong team fight victory led to an advantage for CG that they snowballed into a victory with a 10-2 kill advantage and only losing two towers the entire match. Sunday’s victory over TSM was even more impressive when Clutch won a team fight around 15 minutes and used that lead to methodically control the map and easily win the game, ultimately giving up only one kill and losing just one tower. The wins propelled Clutch Gaming into a tie with Liquid for 3rd Place. CG looks like a solid playoff contender and the team continues to outperform their preseason expectations, especially Solo in the top lane. Febiven continues to perform at an elite level against the stronger mid lane matchups in the NALCS versus the players he opposed in Europe.   

Predictions (4-2)

This week Clutch takes on Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud 9. Clutch should be able to defeat CLG, who are on a four game losing streak. Cloud 9 will be a much tougher team to beat, and Clutch are predicted to be defeated by the current second place team, leaving their record at a respectable 7-5 with six games remaining in the Spring Split.

Houston Outlaws (7-3) Second Place

The Outlaws big news this week was adding depth at the tank position, and now eleven of their twelve roster slots are filled. The Outlaws enter Stage Two with high expectations of remaining not just near the top, but taking over the top spot, buoyed by their +17 plus/minus when factoring in individual maps won within matches. The other important piece of information is that Stage two will be played on a new patch and the “Mercy Meta” where Mercy was basically required as one of the support players at all times is now over after significant nerfs to the hero. It will be interesting to see how the support meta evolves and if this has any impact on other aspects of team composition.

Predictions (4-0)

This week the Outlaws face rematches from their week 5 schedule. They begin with the first match of the day on Thursday against the London Spitfire who they have now played against for two of their last three matches. (1-1) The Outlaws have a great shot at getting their revenge so I’m going to predict a very closely fought 3-2 victory. Their second game of the week is against the Boston Mayhem around 5 PM on Saturday. After winning an incredibly close five game series two weeks ago, the Outlaws will have a more convincing 3-1 victory over a very talented Mayhem lineup. The 2-0 week leaves the Outlaws at 9-3 overall and a +20 map score.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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