In the newest article in our Flop or Top series, we take a look at the all new Clutch Gaming roster.
Firstly, the most important thing you need to know about this new team is that they’re owned by the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Thanks to the new franchising rules, there are a lot of new NA LCS rosters. After a long time operating under NDA agreements, they were finally able to come out loud and proud and this is now the new Clutch Gaming Roster, from top to bottom.
Solo in the top lane
Clutch Gaming welcome back Colin “Solo” Earnest into the NALCS. With previous stints on both Echo Fox and Team Liquid, Solo has had a decent career so far. He hasn’t yet had his ‘breakout’ season, so to speak, and will definitely be relishing the opportunity to have one this time round.
For those of you familiar with the NALCS last season, Solo was playing for Gold Coin United. They were constantly challenging for the promotion spot in both spring and summer, missing out both times to Team Liquid and eUnited respectively. This seems like a bit of a strange pick, but obviously, they needed an NA player, and maybe Solo was the only option left.
LirA in the Jungle
LirA has become infamous in both the NA LCS and in NA Solo Queue. He is known for his almost sixth sense when it comes to tracking the enemy jungler, and knowing when to gank & counter-gank. You would be hard-pressed to find a jungler more knowledgeable and talented than Clutch Gaming’s new Korean jungler.
LirA is known for his fancy Lee sin plays, and his early game domination on champions such as Elise and Lee Sin. Despite his team’s poor performances in Spring 2017, LirA was their shining star. They managed to hold on to their NA LCS spot, defeating his new team-mate’s roster in the Summer Promotion Tournament 2017. After this their form changed, and they made it all the way to the playoffs, where they were eventually beaten by CLG. LirA is an exceptionally solid pick, and should be able to help carry his team to some success.
Febiven in the Mid-lane
Febiven is another highly anticipated European mid-laner who has been brought to NA. He will join the likes of Bjergsen, Jensen, Huhi and Powerofevil, in what seems to be an upward trend. Perhaps European mid-laners are simply better? There are now only 2 NA mid-laners left in NA, Pobelter (Team Liquid) and Hai (Golden Guardians). Both of these players will be looking to boost confidence in NA mid-lane home-grown talent.
Febiven found a lot of success in EU. In their EU LCS Summer Split 2015, Fnatic went unbeaten, with Febiven playing a huge factor in their success. Although he had a good season with H2K, Febiven was not able to replicate the same highs he experienced with Fnatic and now, he has made the big money move across the Atlantic.
Apollo & Hakuho in the bot lane
Little to anyone’s surprise, Clutch Gaming decided to pick up an already completed bot lane. The risk of creating an entirely new duo, with only a few months before NA LCS Spring 2018 was just too high. Clutch Gaming didn’t only benefit from teams like EnVyUs being rejected to the NA LCS because it meant they got their spot, they also got their players. Hakuho and Apollo will join their old team-mate LirA to round out this roster.
Flop or Top? The Analysis
The NA LCS roster changes have been massive this year. With the introduction of so many new teams and with old teams losing their spot, players have moved around. Now that the dust have settled, the all-new Clutch Gaming roster have come out somewhat average. This is especially true when you consider the amount of purchasing power behind them. You can’t help but think that they could’ve built a better roster.
Febiven and LirA are fantastic pickups, and they definitely have the potential to carry the team to at least a top 5 spot. But, if you asked the boss of the Houston Rockets if they were happy with a top 5 finish, they’d probably say not.
Apollo and Hakuho were part of the EnVyUs team which just never got off the ground. Although, as previously mentioned, LirA was also part of that team, he was their standout player. This bot lane never particularly stood out, and as such, they may be seen as a weak link in this roster. Furthermore, Solo hasn’t been playing in the upper echelons of the NA LCS for a while now, and unless the coaches at Clutch Gaming have spotted something others haven’t, he could potentially be another weak link for them.
Potential to Top?
LirA and Febiven are seriously good players. Underestimate them at your own peril; their mid-jungle synergy perhaps has the largest impact of any partnership on the rift. Much of the success of this Clutch Gaming roster depends on how well they can gel together. If they do that, they have a decent shot at making Top 3.
Solo might be better than his record gives him credit for, Apollo and Hakuho may just have been on the wrong team, at the wrong time. Furthermore, the complete change around of the rosters has left space for anyone to emerge victorious. If Clutch Gaming’s backroom staff have a better grasp of gluing players together more quickly (maybe from their NBA experience) then they could shoot to the top before anyone has even tied their shoelaces.
They will face some incredibly competitive rosters, and it does seem that in many cases they are outmatched and outgunned. It really is up to the coaching staff to coax their weaker players into an unstoppable frenzy, whilst also simultaneously ensuring that LirA and Febiven have all the correct tools at their disposal. If this can happen, they could be at the top.
What are your thoughts on this Clutch Gaming roster? Do you think they could’ve done better? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.