mcscrag interview: on MSI and elevating Clutch Gaming to the next level
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Clutch Gaming’s head coach, Brendan “mcscrag” McGee, joined CG in December 2017 to coach their Academy team. Later, he moved up to coach Clutch Gaming’s main lineup in October 2018. With a few weeks before the 2019 LCS Summer Split starts up, we wanted to catch up again with mcscrag about his thoughts.

While there have been rumors of HBSE acquiring Clutch Gaming and a rebrand, no acknowledgement has yet been made by either side. Because of this, we did not address this topic.

Daily Esports: The last time we talked was the beginning of the 2019 LCS Spring Split. In the first week, the team was tied with FlyQuest and Team Liquid for first place. However, Clutch Gaming ended up finishing in 9th. What are some things you attribute to that result?

Brendan “mcscrag” McGee: As I’ve gone back and watched all of our losses, one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that each loss was unique. Every player on this team had moments on stage that seriously contributed to losses. It wasn’t like we had one weak point or one issue; we just found a way to screw up something huge every time. I guess you could call this inconsistency in the sense that every single player seemed to have a very wide spectrum of performance, from playing exceptionally well to actually running it down. I do think the way we practiced contributed to that and it’s definitely not all on the players. We need better structure and accountability during scrims. This is a primary goal of mine this summer split.

I noticed in a previous interview by InvenGlobal with Lira from Clutch Gaming that he said scrim games were different than games on stage. The practice goes well but does not translate into wins. This situation is also seen with other teams. Why do you think this might happen?

It’s pretty simple. Every coach knows there are picks that could be called “scrim champs” in the sense that these champions have a way of getting fed and carrying games in scrims but being useless on stage. A big part of preparation is trying to identify when a certain pick falls into this category. Even more important is understanding how exactly these picks need to be played in order to reliably snowball. Once you know the conditions you need to try to reproduce them in scrims so that the team can practice the plays again and again. I think we failed to do the latter enough in spring. So even though we would win scrims with certain picks and come into the weekend ready to play them, we just weren’t cognizant enough about how to force their win conditions without relying on the enemy team just handing us kills.

mcscrag interview: on MSI and elevating Clutch Gaming to the next level

EC: How did the name “mcscrags” come about? I saw quite a few kitchen creations on your Twitter. Do you still do this quite often?

It’s an old high school nickname my friends gave to me. They called me by my last name McGee, but one day my buddy Jeff kind of slurred out mcscrrrg and it just stuck. And no, I don’t really have time to cook that much anymore, though I did make a pretty banger strawberry rhubarb pie for the academy guys last year.

What’s your gaming background? Have you played competitively before?

I don’t have much of a gaming background. I played a game called Dawngate competitively a few years ago and won some tournaments. But before that, I was in graduate school and didn’t have much time for gaming.

In our last interview, you mentioned Naser, the Head Analyst, and Earl, the Assistant Coach. Some of the fans in the subreddit were asking about Earl, since he was a new name to many. Any chance we could hear an introduction from him?

Yes, you should definitely do an interview with Earl. I think he’s a very insightful coach who brings a lot to the table that I don’t. He comes over from Korea where he was a coach for KDM and a translator for SKT.

So I think many people understand how players get into the professional scene. However, there isn’t as direct of a path for coaching. How did you end up joining Clutch Gaming?

I started a number of years ago when it was maybe easier to get into. I just volunteered to help out some challenger players who were looking to go through the Challenger Series open qualifier. I tried to help mediate discussions between them after scrims while doing a lot of the analyst legwork like scouting and drafting. While doing that I just tried to soak up as much knowledge about matchups that I could, while also developing good relationships. Eventually, those players found their way onto teams and put in some good words for me. That’s how I got my foot in the door.

I’ve been seeing content creation after competitive play as a more common trend for many in esports. What other roles in esports would you be interested in after coaching?

I’m not sure I would ever do anything content-related other than VOD reviewing games. But there are already loads of people doing that just fine. I think management would interest me.

mcscrag interview: on MSI and elevating Clutch Gaming to the next level

Now I’d like to jump into some questions about the League of Legends 2019 Mid-Season Invitational happening right now. On the first day of the Groups Stage, we saw Team Liquid and Invictus Gaming tying for first, SK Telecom T1 and G2 Esports at second, along with Phong Vũ Buffalo and Flash Wolves at third. While this can’t be used to sum up MSI 2019 as G2 was the only team to play both SKT and IG, what are your predictions or rankings for MSI?

IG is clearly the best team in the tournament by far. SKT can beat G2 for second if they get their drafts in order. I think their drafts have been garbage so far. G2 could also just beat them. I think it will really come down to the draft. TL in 4th.

Thanks for the interview, Brendan. Best of luck with Clutch Gaming this year. Is there anything you’d like to say to the Clutch Gaming supporters?

Thanks so much for supporting us! It’s definitely not always easy being a non-endemic team trying to battle your way into the spotlight. But the incredible support and passion from our fans is such a huge motivator for myself and the players.

We’ll really try our best to make you guys proud this summer.

Ethan Chen is a writer with over 3 years of experience covering esports, gaming, and business.