You may remember Tanner Damonte from his amazing Qiyana plays during his tenure on Clutch Gaming (now Dignitas), in which the phrase “Tanner Time” was created.
Clutch clawed and scratched their way to a Worlds spot last year, and while they did not make it out of group stage, they went further than expected, having gone through play-ins to get there.
Surprisingly, after the re-brand, Damonte was not kept on the main roster and instead was moved to Academy, where he played for the entire Spring Split before being grabbed by Golden Guardians to replace Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer.
After losing to the Cloud9 in the second week of the LCS Summer Split, we chatted to Damonte all about his current team and the best mid laners around.
- Read more: Team Liquid coach Jatt: “I can’t wait to play Cloud9 but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves”
Thank you for sitting down with me for this interview. I know it's sometimes hard after a loss, but you guys had a really strong early game against Cloud9, and that's not really easy to do. It's real quick after the game, but what do you think ultimately was the problem?
I think in particular our game versus Cloud9 we got early leads from just individual skill in our draft, but I think we failed a couple times on the correct time to pull the trigger. Because of that, we kind of just threw our lead and I think Cloud9 is a really good team, so as soon as you make one mistake it's quite hard for us to get back in the game.
Tell me about the matchup against Nisqy. You have Twisted Fate versus Galio. Twisted Fate is popular right now and we saw Jiizuke playing it yesterday. How does Galio compare to the Twisted Fate? Are there any weaknesses that can be punished?
Twisted Fate wins in the lane phase just because you're a ranged character versus melee character, but they both kind of act the same and they kind of serve a similar role in their team where they're both trying to pressure the map and create advantages for your teammates.
So I think Cloud9 had a strategy against Twisted Fate that not many other teams are doing where they tried to match the Twisted Fate ult with the Galio ult.
Speaking of the mid lane, are there any mid laners that you're looking forward to competing against or looking forward to rematch, or are they all the same for you in terms of the mindset?
I think the best mid laners in the LCS right now are probably just Nisqy and Jiizuke. I think that those two stand out more than the rest, and then after that I think everyone is trying to find their place in the midlane.
I’m definitely looking forward to playing against Jiizuke. Just from scrims, I feel like he's the best player that I’ve played versus all the other midlaners, and then for the rest of them, I don’t think any of them stand out in particular; they’re kind of just medium-tier, I would say.
Talk to me about your transition from Academy and back to starter. A lot of people were not happy that you didn't find a home last split. Was there anything that you learned in Academy that helped you be a more solid player, or is it just kind of a push to being in Academy until a main roster gave you a call?
Academy, for me, was an interesting experience for the six months I was doing it.
I definitely did not feel that I was getting tested on mechanical skill or individual skill, so I kind of took the time in Academy as more of an opportunity to increase more stuff outside of a game, like how I think stuff, my mentality towards my teammates, my mentality towards my life.
Just how to have better structure in my life that way I'm more set up to succeeding in the game and I did a lot of that, and I think my life feels a bit more balanced now and I can handle stress a bit better as well.
When you talk about a structure in your life, what do you mean by that?
When I say structure, I mean getting exercise, making sure I'm sleeping at the correct times, make sure I wake up at the correct times, feeding my body the correct nutrients, like, not eating bad, just making sure everything is healthy.
I think that changes, it doesn’t just change how you play, but it just changes how you can show up to practice for all eight hours of the day and stuff like that.
With everyone playing online and staying at home, how is that structure of life affected by the situations we’re dealing with now?
Yeah, 100%, I think the quarantine really messed up a lot. Going to the gym, for example, it’s not too doable right now, I think gyms are opening up, but I know that some teams are not okay with players going to the gym right now especially if they play together and are near each other but you just have to be creative.
I've been going on a lot of walks and just trying to find time to think and have time to myself so I can reflect on my day or reflect on the week, stuff like that.
What hobbies do you keep up with when you're not streaming or scrimming or trying to exercise?
Outside of trying to exercise and stuff, I think the only hobby I really have is listening to music if that's a thing. My entire life has basically revolved around League of Legends, and if I’m not doing that, I guess I'm just watching YouTube videos or listening to music.
You and Closer work really well together. How often do you guys duo together when you're not scrimming, and do you guys work on specific game plans for each game to tighten that synergy, or is it just sort of a natural thing that's occurred?
I think the synergy between me and Closer came pretty naturally just based on the two play-styles that we have as individuals.
When it comes to duoing we try to do it when we can but we just practice in the scrims all day long and it came naturally, I would say.
What about your synergy with the team? I know you've been on Echo Fox for a bit and then Clutch, and now you're on Golden Guardians, so how do you feel this dynamic is different?
I think the Golden Guardians, right now, we haven't really found our play-style yet. I don't think we've actually come into our own yet.
I think you see that with a lot of teams like for instance, with Evil Geniuses. They really came into their own play-style in playing around Jiizuke.
Right now, we're still in the early stages of our team building I would say, because we’ve only been practicing together for two and a half weeks, so we’re still trying to figure out what's the best way to play, and I think you can see that from week one to week two.
We’ve played a lot of different things comparatively. I think we have some time before we get to that stage where you can say our team has a certain play-style.
Final quick question, this was a 0-2 week, which really sucks, but you guys are working really hard and I can see you guys are improving just from last week to this week. Again, putting up a strong early game against Cloud9 and actually putting up a fight against them is no small feat, so what do you have to say to the fans for Golden Guardians and what should they expect in the coming weeks?
I would just say to all the fans that our loss to Counter Logic Gaming is not acceptable. I think we were planning to at least have one win this week and going 0-2 is pretty sad, but I think, if anything, I'm really happy that we get a tough loss early on in the split.
It’s only week two, so hopefully, we’ll learn a lot from that and come back stronger.
GG we 0-2 this week but I don’t think we are showing our best play atm gg fighting 🥺👊— Damonte (@Damonte) June 21, 2020