After their stunning quarterfinal upset over Team SoloMid, I spoke with Clutch Gaming’s mid laner Fabian “Febiven” Diepstraten about Swain, Thresh, and the failings of TSM’s bot lane.
Miles Yim: Febiven, you’ve just done what no team has ever been able to do in NA LCS: Beat TSM in a best-of-five outside of a domestic final. I’m still in shock. How are you feeling?
Febiven: It feels really good. I don’t really care too much about TSM’s legacy, but it feels good to knock out five of those players who are really good. They’re a really big org. There’s going to be a lot of hype around it, so it’s going to be good for the media and good for us as well.
As a European player, is there something special about eliminating three other European players?
Actually, I didn’t even think of that. It does feel good to knock out that bot lane. I thought it would be way harder. But I think [Jesper “Zven” Svenningsen] and [Alfonso “mithy” Aguirre Rodríguez] really underperformed today. Their plays were probably the reason why we won. They were exposed all the time, and we capitalized. We played really well.
You’ve played against Zven and mithy before in EU LCS when they were on incredible Origen and G2 Esports squads. Today, they clearly weren’t at their best. Do you have any theories why?
I think the competition in NA is actually stronger this year, for sure. I think the bot lanes in NA are really good. My bot lane really, really hard-carried today. I think most of the EU bot lanes wouldn’t do as well as our bot lane, besides maybe Fnatic’s bot lane (but I doubt it). It’s surprising.
Obviously, if the teams and players are better, you’re going to struggle more. I also think it’s the fact that they have three new players. The jungle is a big change as well, they don’t seem to be on the same page. Even drafting-wise, I think they drafted pretty poorly, and it showed in game. When we would take away something from them, we’d play it better than them, so they were already kind of messed up. Also, they gave me Swain two times.
Swain has been rising in priority since his rework in Patch 8.3. From your perspective, what makes Swain good? What does that pick enable your team to do?
First of all, it’s like a Mage/Bruiser. He’s like a tank, and you have so much healing, so much damage as well, so much catch. He’s really good with hyper-carries because you’re in front, and it gives your AD carry more time to hit. His 2v2 is really insane because his ult is too OP. He still has matchups that aren’t good for him because he’s short range, and if you don’t hit the E you can’t really trade. His wave clear is not the best either, so I think there’s definitely counters. I had my counters ready for Swain, so we will see about that in the future.
Let’s rewind the clock a bit. A week ago, you had to play TSM in a tiebreaker despite being the only team to 2-0 TSM during the regular season. You lost that tiebreaker. Did it feel bad, having to play that game at all?
It’s really weird…To answer your question: No, because obviously I like to play more games, and it doesn’t really matter if we lose or win, the seeding it kind of whatever. Even though we won 2-0 against them, I felt like they were a better team than us going into the series. I think it was fair to have this thought going in, because I lost some confidence these last weeks because we have been losing a lot of scrims. It’s making us stronger as well, but I still had the feeling in the back of my mind that they could beat us. But we showed up today, and they had no chance.
It’s odd to me that after playing so well against them on stage—beating them twice—you still thought they were the better team. What contributed to that belief?
I think was really the scrim results. If you play 50 games of scrims, and you lose 40 of them, and the majority of scrims we’re losing against TSM, you get this feeling. You don’t get scared, but you have in the back of your mind that they are just a really strong team. I really think they just didn’t show up today. They’re still really good. I think our playstyle against theirs is good, because going into playoffs, I feel like they played really passive. Teams like us, Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, Echo Fox, they all play really aggressive in the early game. TSM is more like the team that plays around 20 minutes, mid-game late-game, but we didn’t even get to mid-late game because whoever gets the first Baron wins the game. It was all about the first Baron. They fell behind a lot of the games because we just straight up made better plays than them, had better lane matchups and better plans.
Well, you thought TSM were a good team coming into this series, and they showed you exactly how good in Game 1. What was the talk like amongst the team immediately after that game?
Well, after the first game, obviously I made a huge mistake. I died to the gank, and then my pick fell behind, which it should not be. But after that, I thought we played pretty well trying to come back. I think we had some good fights, and we actually won out of those fights. But then they went for this Baron play, a 50-50, and they just got the Baron. And whoever gets the Baron ends the game, right? They just won off that. It didn’t really feel like they outplayed us, because when some team goes Baron and they just 50-50 it, it’s a coin flip. The second game, we had side selection, so we knew we could get Swain.
No, not really. I think their picks allowed MikeYeung to do that. They had Taliyah-Olaf and Tahm Kench, so their Level 1 was really strong. They had the push mid, so it’s normal that we’re going to lose this stuff. We just had to think about how we were going to play around it, or maybe take the champions out that are annoying. Olaf with a pushing mid laner, you don’t want to play against that.
I have to ask you about that 4-man dive bot by TSM early in Game 2. You did not take Teleport first on Swain, but popped Cleanse alone thinking you had trying to help [Apollo “Apollo” Price] and [Nickolas “Hakuho” Surgent].
[Laughs] Well, usually in that matchup, I take Cleanse because if I get ganked, I’m just dead. I cannot play aggressive, and Cleanse allows me to play aggressive. I’m so used to playing with TP on Swain, so I just pressed my Cleanse and say I’m TPing, but then I was like “Oh shit, I’m trolling,” and I realized I used my Cleanse.
And yet you guys came back to win that game, after giving up two kills bot and burning Cleanse for nothing. That must have taken real mental fortitude.
I think [Lira] played really well. That gank bot just turned the game around. I don’t know what happened after that, I just know we came back. They had nothing to kill Kog’Maw, their composition was just trash against Kog’Maw. They lost, and then the next game they tried to pick Kog’Maw, but Kog’Maw cannot lane. We took every turret and we had three Infernal Drakes.
Let’s get to that bot lane. I knew Hakuho’s Thresh was good. I didn’t know it was that good.
I think he played really well. I hadn’t seen him play Thresh like that either. I was confident that he would be capable of doing that kind of stuff. He talked so much during the series, and he played really well too. It was a perfect combination. Did it surprise you that TSM let his Thresh through in three straight games? [Laughs] Yeah, after the second win, I thought they should have definitely banned Thresh. They fucked up in draft.
I noticed they banned Rakan in the first round of all four games. Were they more afraid of Hakuho’s Rakan, or playing Rakan themselves?
I think mithy was afraid of playing Rakan himself. I think he’s really boosted with Rakan. Their bot lane just didn’t practice Xayah-Rakan for the last fucking six weeks. His Morgana was really bad too. He should have just kept playing Braum or Tahm Kench.
I think if they really want to be the best bot lane again, mithy has to start stepping it up. Zven…I don’t know what happened to Zven today. He seemed really lost, and that is not what anyone expects of him. He was legit int-feeding, he died five times in a row! I don’t think this is specifically a team problem. You don’t die five times because of your team. This is probably a mental problem, and a play problem. Support is not really helping either with his picks, not performing and having to ban a support every game. It sucks for them. They can pick it up, but I don’t think mithy is the kind of guy who learns really fast. It’s going to be tough for him, but there’s still Summer Split, and they can practice so much. They should be on the rise again.
I’d like to get your take on the two semifinals next weekend, starting with Echo Fox versus Team Liquid. Do you have a prediction?
That matchup is going to be super explosive. [Kim “FeniX” Jae-hun] against [Eugene “Pobelter” Park], I think Fenix is going to win. I think Fenix is the best mid laner left in playoffs. This guy, he reminds me of [Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok]. His mechanics are really good, his decision-making is meh but still really good. His team plays really well around him. Then there’s [Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon] against [Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong]. Bot lane is kind of TL-favored, so I would say TL is going to win 3-0 or 3-1.
As for Clutch, you face 100 Thieves for a spot in the final. They swept you during the regular season. What do you think of your chances against a team that is clearly playing well?
Well the games we played against them, the first game we should have won for sure. We were 10k gold ahead. This was all the way in the beginning of the split. Second game they played really well, they snowballed off roams and deserved to win. I don’t think they’re a team that’s really scary. I’m way more scared of Echo Fox or Team Liquid. I really don’t think 100 Thieves is better than Echo Fox or Team Liquid. Maybe they show up and they sweep us, but I think we can do really well against them.
I think [Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook] is actually really consistent. He’s not the flashiest player, he’s not the type of guy that you look at and think, “Oh, this guy is carrying every game! This guy is making the plays!” He’s playing a lot of control mages like Taliyah and Ryze. Then he just roams for his team, and his team is really good. I’m going to out-perform this guy for sure.
This transcript has been edited for clarity.