Clutch Gaming are the third LCS team to represent the region at the 2019 League of Legends World Championship. CG earned their spot last night by defeating Team SoloMid 3-2 in the final round of the Regional Gauntlet, putting a happy end to their journey that started from the very bottom of the bracket.
The series started on the wrong foot for CG, though, as TSM won the opening two maps with relative ease and got to a match point early in the series. Despite both teams making plenty of mistakes and had multiple players caught out of position, for a moment at least TSM looked the better team, capable of making a return to Worlds after missing the tournament in 2018.
CG’s comeback started after the team identified TSM’s weak spot — the bot lane — and pressured it hard. Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen and Andy “Smoothie” Ta faced a real hard time and scored only four kills total in the last three games of the series. Even if TSM didn’t let Tanner “Damonte” Damonte signature Qiyana to get out of control, completely lacking a bot lane did not help their cause, and neither did the play of Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg.
The Gauntlet loss reiterates TSM’s persisting jungler problems that has been their bane for years now. Mingyi “Spica” Lu is not only new to the LCS but has really only showed some proficiency on Sejuani, making him a predictable jungler in both the draft and on the Rift. Bringing him in for the Playoffs and Gauntlet to replace Matthew “Akaadian” Higginbotham and Jonathan “Grig” Armao remains a questionable decision, although it seems TSM’s problems run deeper than just that position and it’s likely the org would’ve missed Worlds with our without Spica in the starting roster.
This is also the second time in a row TSM would miss the World Championship, after being present at every single edition from 2012 to 2017. Roster changes are sure to come in the off-season and for TSM’s sake, they ought to be major ones. Whatever recipe the org is cooking with is clearly not working — in four splits, TSM have made it to only one LCS final, and finished 5-6th twice. And if so far they were in conversation for being the third best team in NA, the Gauntlet loss now takes away some of the arguments.
As for Clutch Gaming, this marks the return of Dignitas — the org CG merged with in June and will rebrand to next year — to Worlds after a seven-year pause. Clutch will start Worlds in the Play-in stage.