After breaking their losing streak and securing their first win after six straight losses, Tanner Damonte speaks about some of the problems affecting Clutch Gaming’s performance. He shared his input on the recent Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin interview as well, noting the changes they’ve made in the team atmosphere, as well as their collective will to continue fighting for playoffs.
While he remains confident in his team’s ability, there is a tough road ahead. With no clear answer, Damonte becomes introspective, mapping out the steps to not only return to dominance in the midlane, but become a better teammate.
Clutch just got their first win after the six game losing streak. You have to reverse your record to have a good shot at playoffs. What are you feeling personally after this win and looking at the road ahead of you?
Damonte: I guess right now I’m still a tiny bit conflicted. I think we are kind of on a turnaround right now. I think the fact that we lost six games in a row was kind of a fluke. I think honestly our practice wasn’t really showing that we would just be losing every game. And nobody went to stage thinking like, “Yeah, we’re going to lose all our games.” We were all pretty confident every week. I think maybe one of the weeks over the last three our practice wasn’t great. But this week, and before, we played pretty well in practice. We’ve been getting better pretty consistently. For me personally, the losses have maybe hit me the hardest out of any of the players. Definitely it’s hit everyone, but for me… I got reminded that I have a lot to learn again. After the hype Week One, maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was. I actually need to focus a lot more and put in more effort than I was for the last three weeks.
And what about making it to playoffs? What are your thoughts about playoff potential?
Going forward, it definitely depends on how we do on Sunday against OpTic Gaming. That’s going to be a big game. If we are able to get a 2-0 weekend after going 0-6, that’s going to be a big upswing for the team. Everyone’s mentalities will be much better as well. Everyone is honestly pretty confident that we can still do it, nobody has given up really. I know there was an interview with Piglet where he kind of said some stuff. I’m not sure how exactly it was translated, but Piglet is obviously still trying his hardest. He’s not showing anyone that he doesn’t care. Yeah, he’s still trying his ass off, everyone is trying really hard. And definitely if we 2-0 this weekend, there’s going to be a huge momentum swing for us as a team. And I think it’s going to make for a great story if we pull it off. We obviously had a huge hiccup in these last few weeks, but we can bring it back.
So you mention that you had good weeks of practice and you obviously didn’t expect the 0-6... But are there specific problems you have identified and are able to attempt to fix, or is it harder to pinpoint the things going wrong because you had your expectations at a different level?
Well the problems that Clutch have is that we lose our games on our own. I feel like most of the times we are losing scrims, it’s not that the enemy is outplaying us and we can’t learn from that, it’s usually that we just do some stupid stuff and that will just ruin that game particularly. Like someone will do a greedy play, and then they get punished for the greedy play, and now the game is just different. Like maybe we drafted for a mid lane win condition, and then I die to a random gank at level 3, then no longer can you learn from that game really. It’s not identical to how the stage would be. Cause if you’re playing stage, you’re really not dying to that level three gank unless the enemy pathing is just really, really insane and they come up with something super interesting. Right now we are just focusing on making every scrim game the same as LCS games. For me, I think I’ve been playing a bit different on stage than I am in scrims. It’s something I’m working on now. I mean it’s something I feel like all five of us do. We all play a little bit different on stage than we do in scrims. I don’t know if it’s that people want to look better or something like that. It could be so many different things.
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After the 2-0 weekend, it was obviously very exciting. When you played against TSM, you personally had an incredible game popping off. And in your next few games, you played pretty similarly. But then towards the later end of the losing streak… Maybe you tend to play safer, or just make more calculated plays. Do you feel like that has affected your play knowing that you can’t afford to make any mistakes at this point?
Yeah I think a bit. I think I kind of had this wrong mindset in my head like I need to play super consistently for my team. Let’s say week one and week two I think I played very well. Then I was pretty much doing what was expected out of me, maybe a little bit more. Week one I was definitely doing more than expected, and that’s something I want to strive for every single game. It’s not something I want to just have as a one time thing. That’s how a superstar player is made, they are the ones bringing their team back. I think you saw from me in week three, against 100 Thieves… I mean I didn’t ruin the early game for us completely, but I made some pretty silly choices. At the same time I messed up mid lane, I also messed up bot lane. We almost pulled that game back, and now it’s like, if it’s week nine and we are really close to making playoffs, we brought it to a 52 minute game after dying nine times in 10 minutes. I’m definitely going to look back on that and be really regretful. Now that’s something that for the next four or five weeks I am just going to put in my all so that isn’t the case and we don’t regret anything we did in Spring.
Good to hear that you are keeping spirits up. You mentioned the Piglet interview earlier, do you have any comments you want to make on team atmosphere?
Sure. I mean for our team atmosphere, it’s really not bad in the sense that people are aggro to each other. This is the first time I played on a team where instead of people confronting each other a lot or talking to each other a lot about stuff or being aggressive in that way, just nothing will be said instead. And it’s something I’ve personally been struggling with. I’m the type of person, and I’ve always played on teams like this, where if something is going wrong, you will confront that and address it. Then you’ll see someone be labeled toxic if they confront someone unhealthily. For this team, when stuff is going poorly, people will just shut down instead. I’m not that way, so I think for me it’s understanding what teammates want from me and at the same time understanding what I want from my teammates without putting it off incorrectly. It’s something I’ve been working on a lot more. I’ve been trying to have a more personal relationship with Piglet and [Nam “lira” Tae-yoo]. [Heo “Huni” Seung-hoon] and I are pretty much best friends. We are really close. But right now there’s not really a bond like that with me and LirA and Piglet and it’s something I’ve been working on recently. Because the worst thing that could happen to our team is there being cliques in the team. Like let’s say Huni and I are always hanging out, or [Philippe “Vulcan” Laflamme] and me. Or Piglet and LirA. If the team is separated that way, we will never be able to get to our max potential. So it’s something that now I’m trying to focus on a lot more. Definitely our culture will matter a lot if our team ever wants to be good.
Is that something you can do in the office, or is that something just out of team time?
It’s definitely doable in the office and during scrim time. There’s always downtime between games, and during that downtime is when you bond with your teammates. Like lets say a game is over, Piglet smokes, so maybe I go down and sit with him outside while he smokes. Stuff like that is what I want to start doing more and creating a better bond.
Well good luck, I think that’s important as well. Any other things you want to talk about before we head off?
Just sorry for letting people down for the last three weeks. Pretty sad and embarrassing that we went 0-6. Nobody expected it but we are definitely planning to turn it around now. And if we don’t… No nevermind, we’re going to turn it around.