On Monday night, over 891,000 viewers tuned in for the first-ever Riot Games-sanctioned friendly match between two professional international teams: Clutch Gaming and Bilibili Gaming. To celebrate Clutch Gaming’s new friendship with Chinese video sharing site Bilibili, the two squads faced off in one serious match, followed by a trio of unorthodox exhibitions.
In the lone serious match of the night, Clutch Gaming, the Houston Rockets-owned 2018 North American League Championship Series newcomers, took home the win, destroying Bilibili Gaming’s nexus after thirty minutes of focused play. Though Clutch fielded a mixed squad featuring representatives of the organization’s LCS and Academy teams, the victory showed the depth of talent on the organization’s roster. The match featured strong performances by jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate and support Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme.
Despite its initial loss, Bilibili Gaming, of China’s Tencent League of Legends Pro League, was able to get its revenge by winning all three of the ensuing exhibition matches. However, Clutch Gaming further modified its squad with the addition of such non-playing personnel as Sebastian Park, the Houston Rockets’ vice president of esports, and Daryl Morey, the Rockets’ general manager. In an arena full of League of Legends professionals, Morey performed admirably, honoring his primary sport of choice by scoring a kill as Dunkmaster Darius. Michael Fertitta of the team’s ownership group also participated under the tag “CG BOSS” and lived up to his name with a 3.4 KDA during an ARAM match.
“We’re excited to have had the opportunity to host the first ever International friendly between the NA LCS and LPL,” enthused Park. “To have hundreds of thousands of people watching our guys go out there and pull out a Clutch victory against BLG was insane to watch, especially as the audience went crazy in-studio.”
The sanctioned friendly between Clutch Gaming and Bilibili Gaming was a notable event in an esport in which intercontinental competition has historically been limited to large events such as the Mid-Season Invitational and year-end World Championships. But Monday night, there was no friction between the two squads, despite their significant differences in composition and origin. Before the match, representatives of each team exchanged jerseys and smiles.
Only time will tell if international friendlies between members of the NA LCS and LPL become a more regular occurrence, but win or lose, last night’s exhibition was a success for both Clutch Gaming and Bilibili Gaming.