Updated 1:10 PM EDT
The time is upon us! After defeating Unicorns of Love in a tie-breaker match on Saturday, Clutch Gaming has secured a 1 seed to for the knockout phase of the play-in stage. The winner of today’s match between Clutch Gaming and Royal Youth will advance to the main event, better known as the group stage, of the League of Legends World Championship.
Most viewers are expecting Clutch Gaming to advance, although they got a little exposed during their matches with Unicorns of Love on days 1 and 3 of the play-in stage. The hope is that they’ll be able to buckle down and perform their best in a best of 5 series. Historically, Clutch Gaming do tend to perform better over a long series than they do in best of 1’s. Stay tuned for all the latest from the League of Legends World Championship.
Game 1 gets underway with a wild pick from Clutch Gaming. Lucian mid is a bold pick for Damonte, but I’m loving the Jinx pick from Royal Youth’s Pilot. We’re at worlds and there’s a Kled, Jinx, and Lucian mid all in the same game. Gotta love play-in stages.
Early game sees some good play from both teams. An embarrassing 2v1 attempt at top lane sees Armut’s Kled get a 1v1 trade. Meanwhile, bottom side Royal fails a 4v2 gank, but turns it into infernal drake. Lots of action early on making for an exciting match.
As we reach the 15 minute mark, Clutch Gaming is finally coming alive. Despite being down two infernal drakes, they’ve now capitalized on an early rift herald and taken mid-lane turret. They lead by 3.5k gold at 15 minutes which is very significant. They’ve opened up 7-4 kill lead and Damonte’s Lucian is officially online.
27 minutes brings us the fight that Clutch was looking for. After forcing Royal off the dragon, Clutch goes to take baron. With no vision control, Royal has to tentatively approach the baron pit and Clutch jumps on them. They take a 3-0 fight and then take baron to take a stranglehold on the game. The gold lead is now up to 8k gold.
Game 1 comes to an end at 29:54 as Clutch takes another team-fight at bottom lane turret. Royal didn’t have much choice but to try and fight there, as Clutch would have just continued to snowball out of control. Clutch takes the team-fight and then pushes for the win. They go up 1-0 in the series.
We’re through picks and bans and game 2 is getting underway. Clutch seemed to like the Rumble, so they go with it again. Kai’sa-Pyke bot lane could be wild. Love seeing Neeko too! Over on Royal, they change some things up. Irelia mid and Renekton top, but they hang on to the Thresh support. Pretty balanced match-up in my opinion, but I think Clutch is overall more well rounded.
The 8 minute mark brings us the first major skirmish of the game. Despite Royal getting the first blood, it’s Clutch who emerge victorious from the battle. They take 4 kills for 1 on the back of a pun-intended clutch Equalizer from Huni’s Rumble. Clutch then shift their focus down to the Cloud Drake. Huni dies at top lane, but Clutch take the drake.
22 minutes and this game is weird. Clutch Gaming have taken three cloud drakes because they’re North American and of course they have. They’ve got a pretty strong lead, and yet it feels like Royal could power back at any moment. The kill differential is 10-6 and a 5k gold lead for Clutch. So why does this match feel like it’s on a razor’s edge?
Okay, so never mind the razor’s edge thing. A huge play at Baron as Clutch takes the buff and 4 kills on Royal. Not just 4 kills, but a quadra kill for Cody Sun’s Kai’sa and he is MASSIVE. Already a mercurial scimitar, guinsoo’s, muramana, and runaan’s…. nope. This game should be over.
And it is! Clutch Gaming takes baron and then closes the game out through bottom lane. Royal makes the desperation play, but it’s to no avail. Cody Sun hard carries Clutch to the victory and they go up 2-0 in the series. Game 3 will be match point and if Royal wants to come back, they NEED to try something different.
Picks and bans in game 3 look wildly different than what we’ve seen so far. Royal doesn’t want to go down without a fight, so they’re drastically changing things up. They pick up both Orianna and Blitzcrank, while also snatching away the Kai’sa from Clutch. Clutch for their part are also looking pretty different. Ezreal top lane and Rek’sai in the jungle should give this team a very different feel. Cody Sun doesn’t get the Kai’sa this time, so he locks in Lucian. I think I like Royal’s team comp better this time, but they’ll need to get right mentally if they want to make a play at a reverse sweep.
12 minutes in and Clutch is picking up where they left off last game. They’re already out to a 5-1 kill lead and over 3k gold. An early rift herald for Clutch leads to a quick top lane turret and I’m not sure how Royal is supposed to get back in this. An Ezreal top lane hasn’t won a meaningful pro game since 2012, but it looks like that streak may be coming to an end.
At 18 minutes, another team fight for Clutch gaming. Clutch get their third ocean drake, because again, it’s North America and of course they do. Two mid turrets down and two more kills in the pocket of Clutch has Royal on the ropes. If Clutch can continue to push the way they are, this will be over in the next 5 minutes.
The baron falls at 28 minutes, but not without a cost. Clutch gets the baron, but loses two members and cannot put more pressure on Royal just yet. However, Royal gives one back on a bad pick. Clutch leads 13-5 in kills, 7-3 in turrets, 5-0 in dragons and over 10k gold. The road back into this game for Royal is a road not often seen.
The second baron is the game-ender. Clutch take the baron, knock down all three inhibitors, ace Royal, and complete the sweep. A well played series by Clutch Gaming will see them 3-0 their opposition and now secure their spot at the main event of Worlds 2019. They’ll now turn their attention to which group they get seeded into and begin prepping for the group stages this weekend.