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Clutch Gaming proves contender status by beating Echo Fox

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Clutch Gaming 1 - Echo Fox 0

Clutch Gaming kicked off Week 8 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series with a statement victory over the league leader, Echo Fox, on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Clutch Gaming (10-5) needed a win against a top-tier team to be considered a playoff contender and it did just that against the first-place Echo Fox. It didn't look that way from the start, however, as Clutch fell behind in creep score in nearly every lane early on. Clutch seemed content to give up ground in the early game, though, since the mid game is where it continues to shine.

Any move from Echo Fox (11-4) in the mid game was met head-on by Clutch, as the emerging squad didn't want to let Echo Fox to take any objective for free. Throughout the course of the mid-game skirmishes, slowly but surely the tide of battle had shifted in Clutch's favor.

With teamfights now going its way, Clutch began to even out objectives across the map, which culminated in mid laner Fabian "Febiven" Diepstraten's pulling off a sneaky Realm Warp into the Baron pit with his Ryze to help his team secure the buff. The Baron power play allowed Clutch to make up most of its gold deficit and wrestle away control of the game from Echo Fox.

While most of the teamfights were very back and forth, a pivotal fight over the second Baron was quickly won by Clutch, which proved to be one of the final pieces Clutch needed to start setting up for a win. Echo Fox tried to make a last stand over its Nexus turrets, but Clutch wouldn't be denied as it scored an ace before closing out the upset victory.

Echo Fox look to stop its slump when it takes on Counter Logic Gaming at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, while Clutch Gaming continue its hunt for a playoff bye against Team Liquid 3 p.m. ET.

-- Ben Wong

Counter Logic Gaming 1 - FlyQuest 0

Counter Logic Gaming outlasted a relentless attack from FlyQuest to pick up another win on Saturday in the North American League of Legends Championship Series.

In a meta centered around the early and mid games, FlyQuest (4-11) and CLG (6-9) bucked tradition with a marathon 51-minute match in which the winner wasn't decided until a final push from CLG in the closing moments of the game. CLG is now riding a three-game winstreak and might have a shot at the playoffs despite going on an ugly six-game losing streak in the middle of the season.

While the end result was a CLG win, it almost didn't end that way as FlyQuest overcame an early surge from CLG to drag this game on for quite some time. CLG took a 2,000-gold lead at 11 minutes, but FlyQuest quickly battled back through superior objective control that led right into a 27-minute Baron that gave it control over the game. Despite picking up two more Barons over the next 15 minutes and a 5,000-gold lead for the majority of the late game, FlyQuest lacked the confidence to go for the jugular. That opened up a window in which CLG could inch back into the game.

Much like in CLG's comeback win over Cloud9 last Saturday, AD carry Trevor "Stixxay" Hayes's Caitlyn ran rampant around the map, picking up six of his team's 10 kills in the final 13 minutes of the game to complete the comeback. With FlyQuest unable to close out the game, Stixxay scaled into a monster that cut through his opposition with ease, culminating in the 50-minute Baron that gave CLG the final push towards victory.

CLG will now look towards its toughest remaining match on the schedule against the first place Echo Fox at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, while FLyQuest will prepare for a tussle with the Golden Guardians directly after at 4 p.m. ET.

-- Wyatt Donigan

Cloud9 1- OpTic Gaming 0

Cloud9 met expectations with a lopsided victory over OpTic Gaming on Saturday during Week 8 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Split in Los Angeles.

From the very beginning of the game, it was clear that Cloud9 (11-4) was far better prepared than OpTic (4-11). Drafting a double support composition with a mid-lane Karma for Nicolaj "Jensen" Jensen, the team was built around buffing AD carry Zachary "Sneaky" Scuderi's Xayah. On the other side, OpTic put most of its eggs in its own AD carry basket, opting for several disengage champions to protect Noh "Arrow" Dong-hyeon's Draven.

Cloud9 erupted into the game, picking up several early kills and quickly handing Sneaky a massive gold lead. To add insult to injury, the first three dragons of the game were Inferna Drakesl, with two of the three going over to the already ahead Cloud9. OpTic found a small lead in the mid lane, though it was a negligible one given the supportive nature of Cloud9's composition. Staying true to the team's history, however, even though OpTic's mid lane was ahead, the team could not find a way to utilize the advantage to create an impact.

All the while, OpTic showed small signs of life in the game, including sneaking an early Baron, but for the vast majority of the game, the team seemed completely outclassed. Cloud9 was simply on another level, navigating the map with deadeye precision, forcing engagements whenever possible to claim victory. Once it was comfortably ahead, Cloud9 forced a final fight inside of OpTic's base, allowing it to claim the 44-minute victory.

Cloud9's strong performance continues the team's winning streak as it looks to best Team SoloMid at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, while OpTic's poor performance does not bode well for the squad's match against 100 Thieves directly after at 7 p.m. ET.

-- Chase Geddes

Team SoloMid 1 - Team Liquid 0

Team SoloMid claimed an impressive victory over Team Liquid on Saturday during the North American League Championship Series Spring Split in Los Angeles.

With both teams coming into the match fresh off defeats, Team SoloMid (8-7) and Team Liquid (8-7) aspired to turn things around in preparation of the upcoming playoffs. Team Liquid drafted several late-game champions, meaning the team would need to make it through the early and mid game to reach the composition's true strength. Unfortunately for Liquid, TSM had other plans.

From the very start of the game, jungler Mike "MikeYeung" Yeung utilized Olaf to great effect, quickly picking up three kills for his team and rounded things out with an early Infernal Drake. Although the team has struggled to gain momentum in the past, TSM demonstrated a much more organized level of play, moving around the map together with great cohesion. With an early lead, the team simply needed to continue with this cohesive play to claim victory, and that is exactly what it did.

Liquid desperately tried to stage a comeback during the mid game, focusing on objectives, but the team's lack of reliable engage options made finding a favorable teamfight difficult. TSM could not be stopped, however, as it forced fights left and right while slowly whittling away at the enemy base. As decisive as can be, TSM pulled the trigger, forcing a teamfight in the mid lane that resulted in four quick kills that full opened the map and allowed TSM to push up the lane and close things out with ease, handing Liquid yet another defeat.

Team Liquid will look to break its current loss streak when it takes on Clutch Gaming at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, while Team SoloMid will have a difficult opponent in Cloud9 in the very next match at 6 p.m. ET.

-- Chase Geddes

100 Thieves 1 - Golden Guardians 0

100 Thieves decimated Golden Guardians in a one-sided romp to end Saturday's North American League of Legends Championship Series slate in Los Angeles.

Throughout the game, 100 Thieves (9-6) proved itself to be the better team, both in terms of individual play as well as team play. The action kicked off early, with 100 Thieves collapsing on an ill-advised invade by the Golden Guardians (4-11) to pick up several kills. From there, the game would only get worse for Golden Guardians.

After picking up multiple kills, 100 Thieves never let up on the pressure, moving seamlessly from objective to objective, forcing Golden Guardians to fight repeatedly despite being down thousands in gold. The result of each engagement was expected, with Golden Guardians rolling over and 100 Thieves progressing across the map with ease.

After claiming back-to-back teamfight victories, 100 Thieves decisively began to close things out, picking up a Baron and grouping to push into the enemy base. With no way to deal with the Baron-empowered Banner of Command minions, Golden Guardians could do nothing but look on as its base was torn to shambles. Shortly after, 100 Thieves ended its opponent's misery, winning a final fight to close out the game in less than 25 minutes.

With the win, 100 Thieves clinched a spot in playoffs, while simultaneously eliminating Golden Guardians from playoff contention.

100 Thieves will now battle for a higher playoff seed as it takes on OpTic Gaming at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, while Golden Guardians will play FlyQuest earlier in the day at 4 p.m. ET.

-- Chase Geddes