There are some wins that shock the entire community, and Clutch Gaming’s win against TSM was one such victory that did precisely that. With 3 convincing games, Clutch Gaming closed out the series 3-1 and secured their spot into semifinals.
Izento spoke with CG’s coach David Lim about their unexpected victory, the strange draft phase, being underrated and his journey as a coach.
Your team has beaten TSM, against all odds! What was the preparation like coming into this match? Your boys said scrims weren’t going so well.
Scrims hadn’t been going that well but we got to learn matchups and pick/ban really well. We knew the meta for this series and we adapted greatly, game by game. The team made preemptive judgements even if they won the previous game and we were prepped for the possible bans they would drop. Even in the last game they tried to do something cheeky by trying to bait us into Azir, but we just picked Swain anyways. Azir is good into Swain too, so we could have first picked Azir and expected them to pick Swain. There were some mind games going on that I’m sure not many people would have picked up on. I feel like we had really good prep and that’s really only 5-10% of the game. The guys just played really well and it just kind of came together.
Hakuho did play incredibly well this series. Your team picked Thresh 3 out of 4 games and he’s not really on anyone’s radar as far as a high meta pick. Was this kind of the original plan going into the draft phase?
Thresh was always an available pick. We knew that Mithy likes to play literally two champions, Tahm Kench and Braum. Thresh can play into Braum easily and it’s just one of the options we had in exploiting their champion pool.
I noticed that TSM banned Rakan multiple times, but usually teams ban the other half, Xayah. Was this related to scrims at all?
Braum and Tahm are meta and there was a period in this split where Xayah/Rakan was considered the most OP combo and TSM just doesn’t play Rakan that well, so they just banned it. They banned it against us in the tiebreaker game and they banned it in the late weeks of the season. TSM either worked on playing it or bettering their own style and they decided to not pick it up.
I’ve been a culprit of this as well, but has it bothered you that CG has been underrated the entirety of the split?
No, not at all…well, to be honest, maybe a little bit but it’s deserved the way we picked up some of our wins during our win streak. Some of them was because of the other team throwing, others were because we got everything we wanted in draft. We got Skarner and Azir so many times when they were busted.
We did what we had to do and just kind of won. We didn’t do anything flashy, we didn’t snowball incredibly well, that’s why everyone rated us low. Our name value isn’t the greatest either. Bot lane and even our top lane has played really well, but they’re still overlooked.
LirA is so underrated too because people don’t see him making these crazy level 3 plays or level 6 dives, but he controls the enemy jungler and the pace of the game so perfectly. It’s also harder for fans to understand the intricacies of that. Then there’s Febiven…well, he’s just Febiven of course.
It’s been this meme that Clutch Gaming is this team based upon analytics and statistics. You guys seem to play very consistent and as you said, you’re not a very flashy team. Has this kind of been validation towards your analytics and that it’s a method to your madness…or rather lack of madness?
We just do research and do the same research everyone else does. There are things that we are developing but everyone from Clutch Gaming’s analytics department would say that we’re looking at other things that many teams aren’t looking into. For now, everything is still in development, but we do the standard research everyone does.
How has your first split gone as head coach for an entire split?
I was actually head coach for Team Liquid for a bit but things didn’t go too well. This year, I feel a lot more confident and more experience. My organization supports me in a really productive way and I’m excited to be working with Clutch Gaming; they’ve helped me so much this year. What CG brings in terms of helping me with the support staff that I wanted, just the methodology and philosophies that align are really helpful for me.
How has developing Solo gone? What are his strengths as a player?
Solo has been around for a while, so he’s not actually a rookie. He is pretty much a veteran and the thing with veterans is that they usually have a good sense of the game and they have a way that they want to play. Working with any veteran, they’re stubborn in some of the things they’ve seen succeed before and as a player you have to mold to what the team needs. Certain styles and ways of snowballing the game can be different from team to team. Honestly, he’s picked up several things that he’s worked hard at and I’m excited to see how far he develops.
Anything to say to the Clutch fans? I know you probably have a lot more of them now after that win (laughs).
I don’t know how many fans we do have, but for the fans sticking with us, thanks for sticking with us. I know there were some ups-and-downs this season and there’s all this media talk of our team not being able to beat good teams, but we just beat TSM and we’re just going to be taking this in stride and see how far we can go.