CG’s Damonte: “We’re peaking right now, and TSM is doing the opposite”

Plus more on how Clutch was able to qualify for playoffs amid so much change.

League of Legends's Icon Steven Paul · 9 Aug 2019

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Image via Riot Games

After a split that could only be described as a roller coaster, Clutch Gaming made it through roster swaps and an entire coaching staff overhaul to secure a fifth place playoff spot for the LCS summer split. Upcomer had a chance to sit down with midlaner Tanner “Damonte” Damonte to discuss the team’s journey to playoffs and his opinion of their quarterfinals opponent. 


Congratulations on making it to playoffs Tanner! We could see the excitement from the players and even some tears from the staff after that win, so walk me through the final few seconds of the game and the excitement you felt when you knew you were going to win. 


Shit, I mean it was surreal at the end. We’re conquered a lot of things this split, you know? At the beginning it was really rocky, and then Cody Sun came in for Piglet, and then halfway through the split we brought in two new coaches and got rid of our other one. It’s been a roller coaster, and to finish this season off with a 2-0 weekend is insane. You saw the emotions that were happening on stage and those were all real. 


Yeah, obviously now it’s a feeling I want to feel again in playoffs. We just have three best of fives, and that means we can actually win NA. It’s a longshot, but we can definitely do it. 


How poetic would it be if in their last split, Clutch Gaming got to hang a banner up in the LCS arena! The only question would be: is it red and black for Clutch, or yellow and black for Dignitas?


*Laughs* I don’t know. It would be pretty crazy, though. You know that would be the legacy of Clutch Gaming. For a while it was only CLG, TSM, and Cloud9 banners up there until TL starting winning the last three splits. I’d love to see something new up there. 


Well what Clutch Gaming is most known for is the legendary quarter finals match in spring split 2018 against TSM, essentially beginning their decline from domination. What do you feel about taking on your rival yet again next week?


I’m super happy. I don’t think it could have played out any better. We’re peaking right now, and TSM is doing the opposite of peaking. I don’t think there could be a better matchup for us. I know we can beat them if we play like we did today. Cody is just on fire. 


Well, you said it yourself, you’ll have three best of five matches to play to win the title, so who are you hoping to matchup against in the semi finals between TL and C9?


Well, obviously the correct answer is it doesn’t matter because we’ll have to beat the best team to win anyway, but I’d like to avoid Team Liquid if possible *laughs*. At the end of the day it doesn’t faze me though. We just have to go on stage and get three victories. It’s as simple as that. 


So if Team Liquid breaks out that glacial comp again, what’s your counter? Demons?

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*Laughs* Yeah I’m pretty sure we’d run full demons! You know, burn their mana so we don’t get CC’d. 


Well Clutch Gaming definitely does feel like they’re peaking right now, so where do you credit the success? What’s going on behind the scenes that’s helping Clutch surge at the end of the split?


Well, I feel like all of our struggles this year are a result of how we see the game and how we want to play the game. We’re not playing the playstyle that other teams are playing, where they just sit around and wait for things to happen. We’ve been focused a lot in these past months actually playing macro correctly and using side lanes to actually do stuff. Also, knowing your job when you can’t side lane as well. 


For example, I played against Tristana today, and she was super far ahead of me, but at that point it’s not my job to go one-v-one the Tristana. Everyone is just learning their jobs and we’re still a very skirmish heavy team. You saw it this game, it was really bloody, but we came out on top in almost every skirmish. I think that’s because we practice that way every day and other teams probably don’t. 


Well with potential of international competition, do you feel that Clutch’s style of play will benefit you against the G2s and the IGs? Is this playstyle something that NA should be embracing more?


I don’t think it’s a necessity or anything. I think the way TL plays the game is extremely hard to punish right now. I would not be surprised if TL could take games off of IG and G2 right now in their current form. 


I mean we saw it at Rift Rivals too, right? TL just has the style perfected and other teams are trying to do what they’re doing too. We’re just doing our own thing. But it’s not even like TL is a passive team. They still make proactive plays. 


So how would you describe Clutch’s style currently?


I think all three of our lanes can carry the game right now. Cody Sun’s been playing phenomenally and is fucking deathless the past five games. Huni is also coming on form again, and I’ve even had a couple of really good games too. Lira has been a huge leader for us, and Vulcan is just the one to start everything. The guy is fearless. Our strategy is just built around our synergy and ability to find fights from unique angles, and everyone contributes their part. 


Well to finish off today I thought I’d give you a chance to throw any shade towards your quarter finals opponents, TSM. Do you have any words for them ahead of your match next week?


It’s Tanner time? *Laughs* but honestly it’s hard to say. Obviously they don’t know what’s going on with their roster right now, so I don’t want to shit on them right now. I’m just hoping we get some good games.

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