Clutch Gamers Are Going Home To Defend Manila
Looks like TNC isn't the only world-class Philippine Team
After a riveting campaign in the Philippine Qualifier for the Manila Masters, team Clutch Gamers beat out tournament favorites TNC Pro Team for the slot into the main event. In case you haven't heard of Clutch Gamers yet, it's time to get to know them now.
Though by now the world has heard of TNC Pro Team, little is known about Clutch Gamers outside of the Philippines, and even then they are a relatively new team in the PH scene. The team was formed only December of last year just after the Boston Major by owner of Power Gaming, Jaseem Khan.
Despite being based in Malaysia, the team has an all-Filipino roster that has so far done well in Southeast Asian tournaments. Most notably, the team has won two of the Prodota Cup Southeast Asia tournaments this year, as well as the SEA Qualifier for The Summit 7, on top of their recent victory in the Manila Masters PH qualifier. So far the team has put up good fights against most of Southeast Asia's prominent names including Faceless, TNC Pro Team, WG.Unity, Geek Fam, Mineski, HappyFeet, and Fnatic.
It would be a disservice to CG to say it was entirely an upset: Clutch Gamers has always been hot on the heels of the top Southeast Asian teams since their inception. The difference is that now they're starting to get the accolades to back it up.
The team is currently made up of Philippine hometown hereoes that had previously been part of supposedly more star-studded teams. Gabbi and Rappy were part of Execration's dominant 2016 roster which also included DJ Mampusti and Abed Yusop. Boombacs is another PH scene staple, having been part of, most notably, the Philippines' infamous Arcanys squad from Cebu. Flysolo, also, is well known locally as a capable captain, and brought with him his teammate from Acion Arena, the talented playmaking core Armel.
Though for many fans, these names have only ever been on the fringes of the Philippine scene (and all the more unknown to the international Dota 2 scene), these are names well worth remembering as they form what may be a new generation of Filipino star players.
When Clutch Gamers closed out an intense 5-game series against TNC Pro Team, a video of them celebrating their victory was uploaded to Facebook. The video shows the boys jumping and cheering, unable to contain their excitement at having bested the world-renown team. One thing that made fans from the Philippines react was when Armel Tabios, the team's hard carry, started shouting "I'm going to see my family!". The Overseas Worker is a story that is close to many Filipino's hearts, and Clutch Gamers being an overseas Filipino team moved audiences.
The team bootcamps in Malaysia and so the boys have been far from home for months at a time and for Clutch Gamers, going to the Manila Masters also means going home. We got to talk to Armel about his team and just what this victory means to him:
So everyone is moved by your shouting, "Makikita ko na pamilya ko!" (I'm going to get to see my family!) after CG won against TNC in the Masters PH qualifiers. Can we know more about your family?
I was also shocked when I saw everyone's reactions. I didn't expect that I would draw so much attention, haha. I don't know how I'm going to explain about my family because they're very clingy with me. They treat me like their baby most of the time, especially my mom. She's the one whom I'm closest to in my family.
How do you feel about bootcamping so far from home? What do you do when you miss your family?
I was a little bit nervous at first about bootcamping because living far away from my family so hard for me. It's also my first time to go outside the country. But then when I got here, the nervousness went away and was replaced with excitement. When I miss my family I always think that I will instead make them my inspiration to succeed in Dota.
It took a while for PH fans to notice but CG is already one of the top teams and you're getting a lot of fans. Does it make you nervous?
I'm happy because we have a lot of supportive fans and friends right now and I hope they keep on supporting us even if we lose, because we will always be trying our best. Actually, I'm not nervous at all -- I'm more excited because of what's happening with my team. This is my dream and I guess step by step we are already achieving what we want in our lives. But this is not yet the finish line; this is just the start and I hope more good things will happen in our team.
Just a few months ago you were on Acion Arena's roster for the MPGL 8, and now you're qualified for The Summit and The Manila Masters with Clutch Gamers. How did you feel when Jaseem got you for CG and how do you feel about the team now?
When Jaseem talked to me about the team at first, to be honest I was excited but I didn't think much of it yet because we were an all-new team and I didn't expect anything. But when we started to play I'm really glad that I saw my team united and determined in achieving what we want. I'm so comfortable in my team because from the start we all became fast friends and we've become really close as teammates.
Lastly, any shoutouts?
Shoutouts to all my teammates (Flysolo, Gabbi, Boombacs, and Rappy), Clutch Gamers managers Jaseem and Jamal who helped us to reach this far, and most importantly my mother. If I don't have you guys, I am nothing.