Clutch Gaming is the only organization in history to eliminate TSM in an LCS Quarterfinal Series. Last weekend, the LCS cowboys rode again, defeating TSM 3-1 in the Quarterfinals of the 2019 LCS Summer Playoffs. CG will face Team Liquid in the Semifinals next weekend.
Only one member of Clutch Gaming was also on the roster for the team's last victory over TSM in the Quarterfinals of the 2018 NA LCS Spring Split: Nam "LirA" Tae-yoo. The veteran Jungler joined Inven Global's Nick Geracie to discuss the win over TSM, the team's improvements throughout the summer, and his thoughts on rest of the Junglers left in the playoffs.
Congratulations on qualifying for Semifinals. Do you think you played well today?
Obviously, I feel pretty good. We played pretty well. There are some things TSM struggled with, but there were still some things they were able to do pretty well. At the same time, we did play better than TSM, so I'm pretty happy about that.
Last year, Clutch Gaming knocked TSM out of the Quarterfinals for the first time in LCS history. As the only player on CG who played in both of those series, was there anything you could take from your series last year that helped you win today?
I don't think it's necessarily specifically about 'us vs. TSM' or anything like that. The main factor is that it was a best-of-five match. I'm really good at playing against other Junglers in bo5s, so it's doesn't matter if it was TSM or another team. We played well today.
TSM started Mingyi "Spica" Lu in the Jungle without Matthew "Akaadian" Higginbotham or Jonathan "Grig" Armao on the playoff roster. What was it like playing against him, given how many years of experience you have as a pro Jungler?
Its notable that before Quarterfinals, we played a few games with TSM Academy. I personally think Spica is better than both Grig and Akaadian. I don't think it was specifically a matter of experience in our matchup, I just think that I'm currently a better Jungler than him. I think I played really well today, and I'm happy we won.
In the 2019 LCS Spring Split, Clutch Gaming finished in 9th place at 5-13. Now, you're one of the last four teams left in the Summer Playoffs. Aside from adding AD Carry Cody "Cody Sun" Sun to the starting roster, what else did the team change or improve on between spring and summer?
In the Spring Split, I wasn't really as comfortable as communicating with the other players as I am now. It feels like now that in every single laning phase and every macro call all players are not only getting better individually, but syncing up better as well. Everyone got so much better at these things, so it's made it a lot easier for me to understand and communicate with my teammates.
Personally, I have 0 problem communicating with my teammates. I trust my team; we have a lot of confidence, but we're also just a better team and better players than before. I'm in a much more comfortable spot with the players on my team.
Aside from CLG's Ramyond "Wiggily" Griffin, the other two Junglers in Semifinals aside from yourself are Cloud9's Dennis "Svenskeren" Johnsen and and Team Liquid's Jake "Xmithie" Puchero. What are your thoughts on your fellow veteran Junglers?
I don't think it's that they're really good individually, they just play with good teammates. Personally, I think I'm better than both of them in bo5's as a Jungler. They have good teammates around and they make good plays with them, but I haven't really thought about which one of them is stronger individually or anything like that. Both Junglers have a lot of help from their teammates.
You've spoken confidently about your play in bo5's. What is it about the format that you feel makes you so fierce?
In a best-of-five, if you lose a game you can understand how your opponent is strategizing against you. After a game, I can change my playstyle and adjust to the way the opponent is playing. It's kind of easy to catch up if you can learn a lot strategically from the first game and know when to change your own strategy or stick with the same plan. I have a lot more options in bo5s in how I can play when compared to bo1, since the latter is just a single game.
It's beneficial that you're able to adjust throughout a series and get a lot out of each game regardless of result. When you lost Game 3 after being up 2-0 in the series, did the team have to make any adjustments to win the series in Game 4?
After losing the third game, we thought we should increase our tempo of play in the fourth game. We wanted to play faster than normal and make quick, proactive decisions. Unfortunately, we made some mistakes in the fourth game, so we weren't able to finish TSM as quickly and easily as we should have. I was a bit scared, but we pulled it out really well.
One of Clutch Gaming's big turning points this summer was re-structuring the Coaching Staff mid-split. Do you think that change has been a positive one, and if so, how has the re-configured staff helped you and your teammates?
I wasn't really affected by the changes because I already was aware of the mistakes I was making and knew how to fix them on my own. However, the new coaches have given us a lot of positive energy and a good environment. It really elevated the level of the team's synergy and helped us a lot.
Last question for you, LirA. You proved that you were the better team today, but you also said there was more your team could work on. Is there anything specific you think Clutch Gaming can do better in the Semifinals?
I think it's going to be a 50/50 match, so I just want to reassure my teammates to not be scared and play the way that we play in practice.