Tanner "Damonte" Damonte has returned to the League of Legends Championship Series after Counter Logic Gaming signed him earlier in the week.
The mid laner made his debut for CLG in its first match of week 7 of the 2021 LCS Summer Split against Team Liquid, and while the team failed to collect a win, the hope is that ultimately, Damonte will be the difference-maker in place of Eugene "Pobelter" Park that will help CLG secure one of the eight seeds for the LCS Championship.
After making his CLG debut, Damonte spoke to the media about playing for 100 Thieves in the 2021 LCS Spring Split, his feelings on joining Counter Logic Gaming in the middle of the Summer Split, and what he feels his role is on his new team.
As someone who has been benched and called up to the LCS a few times in your career, how were those moves communicated to you, and how do you think those conversations should happen?
*laughs* There is no easy way to tell someone they are getting benched. Usually, the way it's communicated to you is just like, 'Hey man, we're looking to change the roster.' *laughs* For the most part, there's nothing to say back when someone tells you that, especially if it's a general manager or head coach talking to you. It varies from team to team, but they're going to tell you how it is, ideally.
If you're not transparent with players in terms of what is going on, that's going to absolutely ruin their mental. That's something I feel like I've gone through. If you're not being transparent with your players regarding benching and how all of that goes, then you're just not respecting the player at all.
How was your break from competitive play?
The break from competitive play was nice. The last year or two have been so turbulent for me. On top of all the COVID-19 stuff, I've been on four different teams in the last two years. Since I joined the LCS, all I've ever wanted was to play on one team for the whole time, something like Bjergsen on TSM. It's just really unfortunate that I have not been able to find that, so the break was a nice little reset because I was really, really stressed after playing for 100 Thieves.
Next week, you're slated to face 100 Thieves. Are you ready for the matchup against Abbedagge, and how do you think your style matches up against his style?
I think the matchup between me and Abbedagge will be just like anyone else. When I watch Abbedagge play, he doesn't seem to have one playstyle, and I don't think I'm like that, either. People can say whatever they want regarding narratives, but I'm just going to do my best against him and we'll play as well as we can with the little amount of time we have as a team.
Aside from the roster changes, was there anything else that was stressful for you on 100 Thieves?
When I got benched on 100 Thieves we were 8-4. I think we were having a rough week or two, but it's just stressful to get moved down and around like that. On top of that, player contracts nowadays have different salaries between LCS and Academy. We were maybe in a bit of a slump, but I thought we were just going to stick it through with the team we had and try to figure out, which is what I think teams should do. Everything happened really fast and it was just really, really stressful.
Your first games after getting signed by CLG are against Team Liquid and Cloud9. Did that factor into your prep?
We didn't really focus too hard on which teams we were going to be playing this weekend. We had 15 games of scrims across three days to prepare for this week of LCS with a brand new roster. All I've been doing is playing solo queue, and while I've been invested in the LCS and watching the different metas, playing is a whole different ballgame when compared to watching. We just tried our best to focus on overall team play instead of who we were playing against this week.
When Licorice was recently transferred to Golden Guardians, the whole deal happened in about two days. Was the speed of your signing to CLG of a similar pace?
The CLG general manager Tafo hit me up two weeks ago and asked me if I was open to playing LCS again. He told me that things had been going south on the team and they were looking for a change-up. He said there was a chance they might want to use me, so I waited a week, saw what happened at LCS that weekend, and then they hit me up Sunday night after LCS. I signed the contract that day.
Has the situation surrounding your signing put more pressure on your shoulders?
Honestly, I feel basically zero pressure on this team. Look at us in the standings — it's already a pretty tough position to be in. We're now three games behind FlyQuest, and the whole point of me coming in is hoping that with me, the team can get to the playoffs.
I don't really see the point in stressing myself out because this is a really tough situation to be put in. I'm just trying really hard to motivate the guys to give it their all for the rest of the year, because...man, I really feel for everyone on the team. I can't imagine how this year has been for them.
This year's LCS schedule is one of the most draining schedules ever for players. You don't get as many days of scrims to practice and at the same time, you're also playing three games per week. I've just been trying to boost the guys' mentalities up a little bit and try to make them feel a bit better. Before the game today, I just tried to hype them up and get them excited to play LCS again.
At the end of the day, we're all living our dreams, and when you're losing a lot and things are really stressful, it's really easy to forget that being a pro gamer is actually really badass.
You recently stated your intention to help CLG qualify for the post-season via Twitter. What do you bring to the team both in and out of game that will help reach that goal?
I think I'm really, really good at understanding how to extend my teammates' leads and get them ahead from my own play. One of the main things I've been focusing on is just making sure that we can get through the early game with a lead, which sounds kind of funny now since we just got rolled by Team Liquid in the early game today.
However, I would say that throughout the week of practice, I think the one thing we actually did really well in was the intentions of our early game and how we were executing upon them. It sucks that we weren't able to pull that off on stage today.
I don't know if I was born this way, but I have a really good way of being able to get people excited and hyped to put their best foot forward. There are a lot of different personalities, and mine is the exact opposite of 'the quiet guy.' I'm always the loudest guy on my team who is trying to get people excited. It works differently with every player and every team, but so far, I'm just trying to get these guys to not be so depressed now.
What are your goals for the rest of the split?
I'm getting slotted into the team on really short notice, so I'm just going to find my way around this meta and the LCS the best I can right now. I got called in like a ringer and I don't think I'm at the top level of my play right now whatsoever. A lot of the stuff I'm going to bring to this team is going to be more about the team play rather than my individual play.
I wasn't playing LCS for the past nine weeks...or twelve weeks? Whatever the hell it's been, it's been a long, long time. On an individual level, I'm going to be really happy with myself if I'm able to play all the meta picks. For the team, the goal is playoffs. If we don't make it, it's going to be really, really sad. I will feel a burden if we don't make playoffs because I'm the guy they're calling in to try to get us there.
All images by: Oshin Tudayan/Riot Games via ESPAT
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