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I have heard this term being used to describe a particular Pokemon in a person's team. It comes out of the competitive scene, although I don't really get what it means.

For example, a blog post about Flygon on Smogon which describes it like so:

Flygon is a staple on many teams as a scout, revenge killer, and all-around reliable clutch Pokémon.

I don't think the term is necessarily restricted to Pokemon as I can recall hearing it in other games such as Counterstrike and Call of Duty.

What does it mean?

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Maybe move to the English stack exchange? –  maxywb Jul 24 at 19:04
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@maxywb - gaming terminology questions are perfectly on topic here –  Robotnik Jul 24 at 22:45
    
it isn't just a gaming term though. It is very common jargon in any competitive activity. And in parts of New England it's a common slang term for "good." –  maxywb Jul 25 at 16:19
    
@maxywb - I (now) know that it isn't specific to gaming, but I didn't know that before. Either way, the fact that it IS used as a gaming term makes it on topic here. Having overlap with other SE sites is quite common, and yes this question could hold its own on ELU.SE, but I wasn't interested in the full breakdown of the term (i.e. I didn't care what its slang for in New England, no offense), only how it was applied in the gaming world. –  Robotnik Jul 26 at 2:16

5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

The term "clutch" was originally used in sports commentary, describing a player that can keep their head cool and perform well during a tense moment in a game, where the outcome of the competition was at stake.

Definitions of "clutch" (adjective):

  1. happening during a very important or critical time especially in a sports competition

  2. able to perform well in a very important or critical situation especially in a sports competition

This term has since migrated to competitive gaming, where is used in similar situations, usually in professional gaming events where there is a lot at stake.

A good example of the term is used in a recent IGN article on the International Dota 2 Championships:

Alliance and Na'Vi. Competitive Dota 2 fans dreams came true when the grand finals came down to an incredibly clutch play in the last match of the best of five series.

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So is it a specific turning point in a match that classifies it as a 'clutch play'? or is it the exact moment/action that caused the win? So to take CoD as an example (I don't know MoBAs that well) if someone got the Match Winning Kill, is that a 'clutch kill'? or would it be say, 10 minutes earlier when someone from Team A took out Team B's sniper who was dominating the game up to that point, and Team B couldn't recover? –  Robotnik Jul 24 at 8:25
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@Robotnik "clutch" play is not limited to a turning point in the game, but it can be in some situations. A match winning kill is only really a clutch kill if it determined the winner of the match. A clutch kill occurs when the teams are tied, or very close in points, and a single kill or killstreak in the last seconds of the game win it for the team. As for the sniper example, that isn't really a clutch kill, because it didn't happen in a clutch situation, for example near the end of the match. –  Caleb Jul 24 at 8:33
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Ok, so there's an emphasis on the match being close at the end rather than just a particular turning point. That makes sense. So when they say Flygon is a good 'clutch Pokemon' it just means it's a good Pokemon to have around near the end of a close battle, as it is "able to perform well in a very important or critical situation", to use your quote :) –  Robotnik Jul 24 at 8:42
    
You are exactly right! –  Caleb Jul 24 at 8:54
    
It doesnt necessarily have to be close when the clutch starts. It can be 5v1, where the 1 annihilates the remaining 5. That is also considered clutch. Clutch can also refer to prevailing against the odds. –  eyeofthehawks Jul 24 at 19:00

It means how well you perform under pressure, for example in the crucial moment of the game when it is decided who wins and looses. So Flygon would be a good Pokémon to have in such situations.

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In FPS games such as Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, I've always heard the term used with a slightly different meaning.

If everyone on your team dies and you are now alone against multiple enemies, and you win the round, we'd say it "was a clutch" or you "clutched".

In this context, it means you won the round against all odds. It doesn't necessarily mean the round was critical or game-changing.

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Instead of describing what 'clutch' is in words, which others have already covered, ill provide an example of what 'clutch' is since, visual examples are always helpful when trying to understand something.

You don't really have to know too much about the game being played, to know that what Daigo (Ken) does in the video clip is 'clutch'. Just listen to the reaction from the crowd! Heres is a short clip of the clutch play:

Its at a Street Fighter tournament, and its largely considered to be one of the most 'clutch' professional gaming moments of all time: http://kotaku.com/5820907/the-10-best-moments-in-pro-gaming-history (It's ranked #1 on that list).

Ya its that clutch, you will get goosebumps.

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For people that don't know about fighting games(or 3rd strike) there are 3 ways you can stop the damage from an attack, hold the opposite direction to the attacker(some attacks will still deal a small amount), dash back, time a press of towards the attack at a precise moment it would hit to parry it. In this situation ken(in white) will die to either of the first two due to the attack which the attacker has to do nothing for as it is a pre-made combo that costs a resource. Ken parries all 15 hits then sets up his own combo into his version the the attack he parried –  Gilsham Jul 25 at 0:09

In Call of Duty a clutch is where you are last alive in say a game mode such as search and destroy vs multiple opponents lets say 4. So its a 4 v 1(You being the one), if you win the round that is known as a 4 v 1 clutch because you killed all enemy's.

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