While roster changes may come without warning and are sometimes upsetting for fans of players, teams operate with much more information and make decisions accordingly. But what do we know?
Clutch Gaming has shown poor stage performance the past two weekends of NA LCS, going 0-2 in Week 5 – even losing to TSM who they had consistently beaten before – and barely squeezing by in a 1-1 the previous week. Clutch has decided to shift their starting players around in hopes of returning to the strength they showed in the Spring Split. Moon, Piglet, and Vulcan have all been confirmed to start for Clutch for their Week 6 matches against 100 Thieves and Team Liquid, two of the teams battling for 1st, ahead of LirA, Apollo, and Hakuho.
Is it really advantageous to make a change right before facing two really strong teams?
Well, Apollo and Hakuho had a very strong Spring Split and a similarly strong start of the summer, with Apollo being the kill leader in the league. However, Week 4 and 5 saw them unable to have the same pressure as before, often times shoved under turret and dying to early game dives. Without their usual presence on the map, LirA has seemed to struggle in finding ways to impacting the game as well. These factors lead to putting more pressure on Febiven in the mid lane, who often plays for lane priority to be strong in skirmishes and teamfights as they transition into the mid and late game. This is a very effective strategy when the bot duo has priority and LirA has freedom to roam and invade where is needed. But, without pressure on the map from others, Febiven has been unable to gain as much priority. Even when he does, the rest of his team is usually behind, and, therefore, they do not want to enter in skirmishes and teamfights anyway. Febiven even went as far as to play a game on Galio, which he had not played in over 30 games, likely spurring from the need to cover for his bot lane’s loss of pressure and propensity of teams diving them in the early game.
Directly after the team announcement, VP of Esports for the Houston Rockets, Sebastian Park, tweeted out that this change was not a lack of motivation or drive – which has plagued other prominent veterans throughout the season – but rather they needed to try something to get them back on their feet. These three players moving up from Academy, he says, have been performing very well and deserve a chance to prove themselves. He also mentions at the end that this allows them to use the full strength of their ten-man roster, and allows for them to gauge the strength of each player at an LCS level which will prove useful in the long term.
I believe it is also worth noting, Academy has a single import spot rule, unless under emergency – which this isn’t. If the team was only looking to move Moon up, that would leave the Academy team with both LirA and Piglet, meaning Apollo would need to make the switch as well. It may also be the case that because of either synergy or shot calling/general vocal role, they moved Hakuho alongside Apollo as well.
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