Win Conditions: LCS 3rd Place, 2019 Summer

The 3rd-place match between Counter Logic Gaming and Clutch Gaming could go either way, but each team has certain strengths they can focus on and weaknesses they need to protect if they want to come out ahead.

Here are two pivotal interactions that I believe could decide this series, and my personal prediction for the outcome.

CLG Vision Control vs. Clutch Flank Initiations

Last week I called out CLG’s mid and late game vision control as an issue that I’ve seen from them throughout the summer split. If CLG can improve on their vision game, it’ll tip the match much more in their favour, but if Clutch can find the same windows to exploit that Cloud9 found, we could see an upset.

CLG use the standard mid/late macro approach of sychronizing pushes of multiple lanes in the mid/late game, setting up multiple waves to hit enemy towers, and then rotating their pushers between the lanes to apply pressure and find openings in the opponent’s defensive positioning. The problem is that CLG’s rotations are often too vulnerable, especially when their waves are positioned between the river and the enemy base and haven’t yet reached the towers. CLG routinely leave too little ward cover in the enemy jungle during their pushes, exposing their flanks. They should be much more intentional about using timings between minion waves to lay down vision and cover their subsequent pushes.

If CLG have identified this and start buying and placing a few more control wards, it’ll be problem solved, and they’ll be in a great position. If not, CLG may find Clutch exploiting them the same way Nisqy and Cloud9 did, because Clutch certainly have the tools to do it. Vulcan is a very proactive initiator, Lira is excellent as the second man into the fight, and Huni and Damonte are very capable flankers. Cody Sun’s damage follow-up is always ready. If Clutch can start a team fight the way they want to, they typically find strong results.

Watch for Clutch to sniff around for gaps in CLG’s defenses. Their ability to pull the trigger cleanly will be a key decider of their success.

Pathing Wars: Wiggily vs. Lira

Jungle pathing is always fascinating analytically, and today’s matchup is especially interesting to me because of the junglers’ styles.

Wiggily has been pretty equal-opportunity with his early ganks, spreading his attention around the map depending on the needs of the composition. He’ll cover Ruin’s early shoves or work with Stixxay and Biofrost to create a dive. Wiggily’s willingness to balance his own farming with lane-serving pathing that meets the needs of his comp has been a real strength this split, and produced pretty good outcomes for himself and his laners.

Lira is a well balanced jungler as well, but he skews a little more towards personal efficiency. His GXD10 of +465 in playoffs so far is truly impressive, but he’s only been involved in First Blood in 1 of 9 games so far (after putting up 39% FB in the regular season).

I expect to see Wiggily being more proactive and aggressive around the lanes than Lira. He’ll have the choice to attack Clutch’s side lanes if they play aggressively, or boost up PowerOfEvil in the mid lane since Clutch don’t tend to play through mid as much. If Wiggily picks the right targets and finds success with ganks or dives, it will set CLG up to play the lane-focused mid game they prefer. But if Lira is successful with pathing to defend his side laners’ pushes or pulls off successful counterganks while building up his personal farm lead, then Clutch’s jungle control and team fighting will be ready to take over.

Either way, jungle is going to be a pivotal head-to-head for this series, and I believe it will dictate a good part of the outcome.

Prediction

I expect Counter Logic Gaming vs. Clutch Gaming to centre around a pretty direct stylistic interaction: Clutch are going to try to win the side lanes and then bash CLG’s heads in during the mid game, and CLG are going to look for a mid lane advantage and active jungling so they can get ahead and play macro.

I see more volatility and predictability in Clutch, while CLG’s issues should be pretty easily fixable, in theory, so I’m predicting:

CLG 3-1

You can watch the series at watch.lolesports.com starting at 2 PM Pacific today, August 24, 2019.

Photo courtesy lolesports flickr.

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