Only two games remain in the Summer Split and Clutch Gaming is toeing the line between playoffs and the bottom four. From merging with Dignitas to restructuring their coaching staff, Clutch has experienced major changes in one split. But Tanner “Damonte” Damonte believes the changes will only help push Clutch into a playoff position.
Last split, the team ended in ninth place and it was clear they needed some adjustments. For many LCS teams, a simple player swap is enough to turn them around. But the solution to Clutch’s issues couldn’t be solved so easily.
Beginning in April rumors started spreading that the team was looking to sell their LCS spot. Then on June 6, the team announced it would be merging with Dignitas. While the official rebranding won’t occur until 2020, Dignitas staff have begun integrating into the Clutch work and team environment. The merge with Dignitas has already benefited the players according to Damonte. And it’s due to the organization’s background in esports.
“I would say the new Dignitas staff—they’re kinda creating a much different culture than we had before,” Damonte told Dot Esports. “Everything is a lot different. Wins and losses matter a lot more rather than just coasting through the split.”
He added: “I would say that the Dignitas management staff care a lot more. They have more of an esports history rather than Clutch Gaming [who] has more of a sports history. It seems like they understand a lot more of just what esports is.”
On top of slowly becoming a different entity, Clutch opted for a midseason swap as well. Halfway through the split the team announced the removal of head coach Brendan “mcscrag” McGee and promoted academy coach Thomas “Thinkcard” Slotkin to fill the hole. Aside from a boost in motivation, the swap helped the players understand the importance of discipline.
“Everything is just much more disciplined now,” Damonte said. “A lot of the pro players at heart—they’re like gamers and don’t really understand the team aspect and how much it matters on your individual focus and stuff like that, so I would say a big part of it is discipline and just how serious you’re taking stuff.”
Although it appears Clutch has made strides in improving their team dynamic, they only have one week of practice before sealing their fate this split. Their final opponents will be Golden Guardians and 100 Thieves, both of which have had team swaps of their own. Clutch is currently tied against 100 Thieves while GGS is slightly ahead in fifth place. Since both teams are close in placement, Damonte is confident in Clutch’s ability to win next week.
“I honestly believe that if we’re meant to make playoffs we’ll just -0,” he said. “I think we can and I think we will do it. To be honest, our team has just been gelling a lot and we’ve improved more in three weeks than I think we have over the entire course of the two splits.”
The last two teams Clutch will face are close to them in the standings. And both have also been on an upswing of their own. Golden Guardians came out 2-0 last week, and 100 Thieves ended the weekend with a decisive victory over TSM. And even if Clutch is victorious against both, it will not guarantee them a playoff position.
And that means that, despite an incredible turn of form in a short period, Clutch’s fate could still rely on the performance of other teams this weekend.