Before the North American Regional Qualifiers started, I predicted a 3-1 victory for Counter Logic Gaming over Clutch Gaming. Following Clutch’s win over FlyQuest on Friday, here are some strategic notes for Clutch that could help them beat my prediction.
1. Clean up the communication.
Most of Clutch’s weak-looking moments in their series against FlyQuest came from communication desyncs between their frontline and backline players. There were several moments, especially in the game 2 loss, where Huni, Vulcan, or Lira initiated an aggressive play while Cody Sun or Damonte were not yet in position to follow up with the damage needed to finish off a target. Synchronization between initiators and carries has been crucial to Clutch’s success for the last several weeks, so when that fell apart, Clutch looked pretty shaky.
Clutch’s coordination improved noticeably in games 3 and 4. That needs to continue for the entire series vs. CLG, because CLG will punish unforced errors harder than FlyQuest did, and the need for successful proactive plays will be higher since Clutch will having a harder time winning team fights through simple skill and execution advantages in the late game.
2. Protect the bot lane in draft.
Expect CLG to design drafts that attack Cody Sun and Vulcan in the laning phase. Stixxay and Biofrost will want to control the pace of the lane, gaining tempo so they can lead the rotations once the laning phase breaks. It’s not just about beating Clutch’s 10:00 Rift Herald rotations; it’s about CLG giving themselves the option to make that play themselves, or send Biofrost to mid or top lane while Stixxay is recalling, or get vision to control Lira’s pathing, or… anything, really. The point is that Clutch gain a lot when they’re able to unlock their jungler and support between 10 and 15 minutes to make macro plays. If CLG can take over that control for themselves, they’ll not only gain value directly, they’ll also deny Clutch from the game plan they’re most comfortable with.
To get a little more specific, I want to see Clutch counterpick their support whenever possible. Clutch want to get playmaking tools into Vulcan’s hands, but they shouldn’t do it at the expense of sacrificing the 2v2 matchup.
3. Win the early vision game.
Clutch want to not only lead the macro game with tempo out of bot lane, they also need to protect that tempo with effective vision control. I’ve previously pointed out CLG’s difficulties in certain aspects of the vision game, especially protecting their flanks in mid-game tower pushes, but river and shallow jungle wards will be key to allow Clutch to reach that phase of the game in good health. Clutch need to prevent Wiggily from having too much influence on the lanes in the first 15 minutes, and they need to deny Biofrost from roaming. If Clutch can get the right information about CLG’s movements, they should be able to rely on their mid-game team fighting and Cody Sun’s ability to carry, and that will give them a very good chance to take the series.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/lolesports