With being one of the biggest upsets in the NA LCS history, Clutch Gaming has stopped TSM from reaching playoff finals.
Clutch Gaming was seen as the underdogs coming into playoffs. Everyone expected TSM to sweep Clutch 3-0. While game 1 of the series went to as predicted, the games after were to much surprise. Causing TSM to miss their first playoff finals in LCS history, Clutch Gaming is now recognized as a strong contester for the playoff finals seat.
After the games against TSM, Inven Global interviewed the jungler for Clutch, LirA. Let’s see what LirA has to say about TSM’s faults, Doublelift, and Aphromoo.
¤ How do you feel about your win against TSM today?
In regards to preparation, it was really difficult for us. We lost a lot of the scrims we played. It was to a point where our goal in the games were to survive till the 30 minute marker. I started to think “How come all the other teams are so good, and we play so bad.”. I practiced with the mentality of “Are we really supposed to even be here?”. Us as a team played the series against TSM with a “no regret” mentality, and I think it worked out well because of it. All of my teammates played extremely well. It felt like everyone gave more than a 100%. Typically in live games, not everyone plays at a 100%. However for today’s games, everyone played their best.
¤ You seem more happy compared to the last time I saw you. How is the overall team atmosphere now?
The team atmosphere is good. I am happier than usual today just because we have a good chance to make it to Miami now. In the games we have won in the LCS, there were not many games where we won because we played well. But in today’s game, we won because we played better than TSM. On top of this, we broke the record in TSM making every playoff finals. In a majority of our games, we won because the opponent played bad. Against TSM, I believe we won because we were better in the macro aspect of the game.
¤ What do you think were the mistakes TSM made in the series against you?
In my opinion, TSM heavily drafted towards the mid lane and early game in the series. Picks such as Syndra. Because of this, we were a bit thrown off in the first game. After we realized they wanted to play aggressively in the early game, we decided to match their aggressiveness. Through this, I began to see the lack of synergy between the mid and jungle for TSM. Because Clutch is not a team that has a weak mid jungle synergy, we were able to pull out ahead.
¤ Was the Thresh pick planned beforehand or was it more of a spontaneous pick during the picks/bans?
I knew beforehand that Mithy is incredibly good with Tahm and Braum. We originally planned to pick the Tahm or Braum against the either one Mithy chose. However, it seemed like during the drafts TSM had prepared a strong mid jungle combination. I told the team I want to fight a lot early game, so I picked Skarner and Olaf. Since Nick (Hakuho) is a player that does not want to lose lane by farming, he likes playing champions like Thresh, Zyra, and Brand. We ultimately decided to go with the Thresh pick. I honestly thought TSM was going to ban Thresh, but they didn’t. Because they didn’t ban Thresh, we just kept picking him.
¤ In several games today, TSM gave you Skarner even though Skarner is by far your best champion. Why do you think TSM let you pick Skarner?
I think TSM had the mindset of “You probably won’t be able to win even with Skarner.”. TSM picked Olaf as a response, but I had confidence I could win that match up. I always wanted to play Skarner into Olaf.
¤ Yesterday, Doublelift commented on Clutch Gaming being the dream team to meet at the finals. Now that you have beaten TSM, how do you feel about this?
Doublelift is a really good player, so I can understand him saying that. It makes sense that TL views us as the weakest team. We played poorly against them to the point of question whether we were a professional team or not. I guess we'll just have to see. I do want to vs against Echo Fox in the finals. However if we do get to meet Team Liquid in the finals, we are going to try our best to win.
¤ Next week’s match is against 100 Thieves. What are your thoughts and feelings on the match?
I am close with Ryu, been on the same team with Ssumday for a year, and I like both Aphromoo and Meteos. I believe Meteos is a very talented star player. In the tiebreaker games, I saw Cody Sun predict flash Alistar’s Q flash. In general, I think 100 Thieves is a team that performs extremely well on stage. This is why I am very worrisome about going against 100 Thieves. But just like in the regular season, we are not going to get beaten so easily. Ryu also tends to really like screwing me over (laughs). Ryu is probably going to play Ryze or Taliyah. I guess I have to teach him a lesson or two (laughs).
Regardless of not being the finals match, I still want to try my best. I aim to play a series that I will not regret.
¤ Why do you like Aphromoo so much?
Aphromoo looks like he would be fun to be around, and I want to be his friend. He seems like the type of person that you will have so much fun with when playing games. Also last year, I got completely destroyed by Aphromoo when he was on CLG. I never felt the “Oh wow that player is so good. I want to beat them in the future.”. However, Aphromoo is one of the only person that has made me feel that way.
¤ Because of the BO5 format in the playoffs, there is a rise in wild card picks. For example, Impact picked Singed yesterday. Have you prepared any special pocket picks?
Yes, I have. However, they all seem to fail (laughs). I tried it all. I tried Nidalee, Kha’zix, Lee Sin, etc. I just can’t beat the meta junglers right now with these carry style junglers. My team needs to help me make these picks work. But in order to do so, I need to pick my champion 4th or last in the draft. This means that my other laners will give up lane priority and face counter matchups. In the past if I had a bad game on a tank jungler, I would just say “I’ll just carry the next game on Nidalee.”. Now, I am forced to have the mindset of “I’ll just play Olaf next game and farm harder.”. The change is a bit unfortunate. Usually I am able to bring out picks like the Nidalee, but I just receive a lot of pressure. If I do well, the draft was well planned. If it doesn’t go well, everyone blames you.
¤ If your team did do everything in order for you to freely pick any jungler, which jungler would you want to carry with?
I think it would have to be Lee Sin. Nidalee is a carry jungler, but you need to farm heavily with her. Meanwhile, Lee Sin can just snowball the game by consecutively diving the enemy. Lee Sin is also the most likely champion to succeed if my team allows me to pick him.
¤ Lastly, is there anything you want to say to your fans?
When I was having difficult times in Korea, there would be a lot of fans reaching and meeting me. This helped so much. However when I am having a hard time in America, I get this feeling I don’t really have any fans here. I feel so isolated? This is one of the reasons why playing here has been so hard for me. I miss Korea so much. I guess I just have to try my best. Sometime this year, maybe at Worlds, I want to go back to Korea to play. I really want to meet my fans. To all my NA fans, I want to say that we are not as weak as people think. We beat TSM. I want them to know that we still are a brand new team, and it is normal for us to make a mistake. We are still not fully adjusted as a team. Clutch Gaming is not a team that will give up so easily. I hope you guys keep supporting us.